(photo courtesy of Anorak.co.uk)So the first round of group games is in the books. Thank god!! It has been an absolutely dreadful tournament so far. Teams playing not to lose made every game almost unwatchable - sitting back and defending for 90 minutes. It's strange because this is never a theme with the World Cup. Sure you'd expect it since a loss in the opening match puts you in a deep hole, and at risk of not progressing to the knockout round. Although looking back at the last 6 World Cups, the numbers tell a different story...
South Africa 2010 - 25
Germany 2006 - 39
Korea/Japan 2002 - 46
France 1998 - 37
USA 1994 - 30 (only 6 groups instead of 8)
Italia 1990 - 27 (only 6 groups)
There were less goals scored in this first set of matches than in 1994 and 1990 when they had 2 less groups! 8 less teams! The only thing I can think of is that injuries played a roll. With so many star players going down before the tournament, perhaps these managers instructed their teams to play a bit conservative, get through the first game, and by the time the last 2 matches came around all the players would be fit to go. Or maybe these balls is just soooo crazy that less goals hit the back of the net with the many clear cut chances. Any takers???
I'm reaching a bit here but I need to give you something to ponder. Although let me just clarify my last point - after watching every game this past week, the players are to blame for these bad shots. Terribly poor technique on all of their parts. It's one thing for the ball to inch past the post or over the bar. But these guys are launching them into the stratosphere! Unless we're on the moon, which we aren't, no ball would do that if it was struck properly. So the players suck big time, not Adidas.
I hope, though, that all of you forget about this past week and look ahead. These games ended with a bang - Spain losing. And the next round started with one - Uruguay thrashing South Africa 3-0. You only needed to compare Uruguay's 5 defensemen and 2 holding midfielders in the first game to their 4-3-3 attack minded formation last night. Teams MUST go for it now. So neutrals and high score lovers out there, I promise you that free-flowing and attacking football in addition to many more goals are on their way.