World Cup Day 2: Notes

Peralta (19) was in the right place at the right to knock in the go-ahead score. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Peralta (19) was in the right place at the right to knock home the go-ahead score. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexico vs. Cameroon

1st half:

-the rain poured down from the start in Natal, and sporadically increased, having at least some effect on the players on the field; nevertheless, it did not impede the Mexican ball movement, as passes remained sharp and crisp

-at first, Mexico’s offensive incursion into the Cameroonian defense was met with little resistance, only the Mexicans could not convert on any chances, much less take assertive strikes on goal; once The Indomitable Lions pressed back on a counter-attack, they gradually developed more opportunities, and possession evened out just a bit more

-referee gaffes played a big part in WC Day 1 headlines, and in Day 2’s early game, they have unequivocally robbed El Tri of two goals; both a result of  flagrantly incorrect offside calls, the first came on a perfectly curled ball that met a running Giovani dos Santos who coolly slotted it home, and the second from a corner kick that skipped off a defender’s head to dos Santos in an offside position (of course, offside occurs only when another teammate passes the ball)

2nd half:

-after failing to show the extra push to cap off several dangerous attacks for 60 minutes, El Tri and the rest of Mexico can finally exhale after Oribe Peralta cleaned up on a deflection off an initially-parried dos Santos shot at the 61st minute; produced out of game-long, efficient, unified ball movement, the goal was more than deserved by the team

-Cameroon has sprung animatedly to life in the last 10-15 minutes of the game, puncturing through the Mexican defense and generating chances too close for comfort; the Mexicans could have easily capitalized on a few promising counterattacks in this period, but ultimately escape with a 1-0 victory


Spain vs. Netherlands 

1st half:

-Spanish have attempted several long passes in the air to forward Diego Costa during the early stages

-runs by fullbacks Cesar Azpilicueta (who particularly has so far impressed and fit well with teammates in his first WC action) and Jordi Alba have buttressed the Spanish attack, and consequently allowed for more possession in the offensive third of the field

-despite showing considerable control on the game, Spain commits a mistake, leading to a Dutch through ball that catches Wesley Sneijder behind the defense–he fails to accurately place his shot, with a look that should have been converted into a goal

-26th minute: Spain is awarded a penalty shot, that Xabi Alonso barely slots home under the extended glove of the Dutch goalie, a product of the team progressively piercing through the opposing defense; pedantic, incessant, and harmonious ball movement has lead to truly dangerous opportunities, but only after the team had settled itself in the contest (around the 15-minute mark)

-44th minute: seemingly out of nowhere, Robin van Persie explodes off his man and meets a cross originating close to the spot where the midfield line and sideline meet, and flawlessly heads the ball into the net, leaving GK Iker Casillas motionless; only minutes apart from the halftime whistle, the Dutch have completed the necessary job of capitalizing on one of their breakaway chances (disparate from the methodical and slow offensive style of their opponents) in order to stay competitive

2nd half:

-the Dutch D/MF once again quickly turns a minor Spanish mistake into a fast-break opportunity: Arjen Robben receives the pass in the space in the middle of Spain’s back four, and then creates room for himself to score (53′) on a slightly-deflected strike; akin to its previous goal, the Dutch attack has simply outrun the opposing defense–catching it off guard and flat-footed–en route to landing fantastic chances in the goalie box

-64th minute: a defensive weakness on set pieces factors into a Dutch goal off a free kick coming in from the left side, as the Spaniards cannot clear out the cross (3-1 Netherlands)

-72th minute: an uncharacteristic error by Casillas (losing control of his touch on a regular pass-back to the goalie) leaves van Persie with an open shot on goal, contributing to this all-too-stunning development of the game, as the Netherlands has turned the most anticipated group stage game (and 2010 Finals rematch) into a shocking blowout (4-1 Netherlands)

A 4-goal performance by the Dutch left Spain embarrassed. (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

A 4-goal performance by the Dutch left Spain embarrassed. (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

-80th minute: in a game that will likely go down as one of the most unprecedented debacles in World Cup history, mainstay captain Casillas has again poorly played a Dutch attack within the box, as Spain concedes yet another goal (5-1 Netherlands); the Spanish might have to seriously consider replacing Casillas–who has looked like a shell of his former, unyielding self–going into the next match against Chile

-in retrospect, goals that resulted from Dutch speed exposed an unstable and even porous Spanish defense (as well as a midfielding group that did not adequately retreat back enough to help), but the display in Salvador revealed even more about the Netherlands’s counterattacking might–and the potency they have to truly impact this tournament, in addition to putting themselves in position to win Group B

-slippery terrain from continual rain probably disturbed Spain’s tempo as well: while still maintaining a strong 64% percentage of possession, the usual passing expertise was visibly disrupted; nevertheless, changes might have to come to La Furia Roja’s lineup, that failed to operate with the same functionality seen in prior major tourneys


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