It was called the Group of Death and it could’ve proved to be that, but in the end the traditional powers advanced.
Argentina 6 – Serbia & Montenegro (S&M) 0
This is what you call a good ol’ fashioned butt kicking. If Spain looked good against Ukraine, Argentina looked awesome against S&M. They scored one goal which had around 24 touches from eight different players. (Harsha Bhogle counted this a couple of times and it was irritating.)
They had different players scoring. They had substitutes scoring. They got Lionel Messi on and he created one for Crespo and scored one himself. They dominated the game, they ran beautifully off the ball, it was an exhibition of total footbal. Cryuff would’ve been proud.
Saviola didn’t score but he created two chances that led to goals and he deserves a lot of the credit for the win. Teams will now look at Argentina and wonder about how to defend them. S&M was supposed to be a strong defensive team and look what Argentina did to them. If Argentina continues like this, I doubt if anyone can stop them.
This was, without doubt, the best performance by any team at this world cup.
Holland 2 – Cote De Ivoire
Cote De Ivoire is probably the best team that will not be in the second round. They play exciting football, they are fun to watch, and they don’t look like a team that’s making its first appearance at the World cup. Oh yeah, they didn’t deserve to lose against Holland.
With the score at 0-0 in the first half, Giovanni Van Bronkhorst brought down Eboue in the box, clearly wrapping his hands around Eboue. Referee says play on, no penalty.
Robbie Van Persie was fouled a little later and he curled the enusing free kick past the Ivorian goalkeeper. 1-0 Holland. Why you put the shortest man on the field on the ‘wall’ is beyond comprehension.
Robben created one for Van Nistelrooy a little bit later and Ruud finished nicely to double the lead. This time the left fullback played Ruud onside, while the central defenders had moved into a position which would’ve made the pass an offside. Yikes.
Didier Zakora beat Van der Saar but the crossbar came in the way of what would’ve been a spectacular goal. No problem, Kone, dribbled past a couple of defenders and drilled a shot past Van der Sar. Holland 2 – Cote de Ivoire 1. The game was suddenly open again. It remained that way till half-time.
In the second half, the Ivorians outclassed the Dutch. There was a lot of desperate defending and the attacks kept coming but the goal never came. It was a pity because the Ivorians deserved a point at the very least. They had more shots on target, they had more shots, they had more corners, they simply took the game to the Dutch but could not find that little bit of luck.
They were also unlucky to pick up idiotic bookings. Drogba didn’t deserve a yellow for accidental contact with Van der Saar. Van Bommel, who’ll get offers from Hollywood soon, ‘simulated’ a foul and got another player booked. Van Bommel stepped on an Ivorian player but didn’t get sent off. Shame on you Holland.
Even with all that, if they had a little luck the Ivorians would still be in this tournament. It’s a pity that they’ve exited because their brand of attacking, fast football is a treat to watch. Let’s hope that they’ll be playing the next time around in South Africa.
Hats off to the Ivorians, they certainly did their country and continent proud.