Portugal 2 – Iran 0
Before I write about the real group of death, there was another match played in Group D. Portugal beat Iran 2 – 0 to book their place in the last 16. I didn’t watch the full match but managed to catch some of the action. Deco’s goal to give Portugal the lead was a superb strike. Figo did the work and passed to Deco who smashed a first time shot into the goal. The second goal came off another Figo foray which saw him hacked down in the box. Christiano I’m only 21 Ronaldo scored from the spot to seal the win for the Portugese.
The shocker of the day was the match between Ghana and the Czechs. Ghana scored in the 2nd minute courtesy of a defensive mistake. The stats won’t tell you that they dominated the game but they did. They had so many attacks and it was only Petr Cech’s superb goalkeeping that kept Ghana from routing the Czechs. Oh yeah, and Ghana missed a penalty as well.
Ghana sealed the win with a lovely goal in the second half and will now fancy their chances against the US. The Czechs didn’t look like the team of a few days ago. No Koller, no Baros, no attack it seemed. Also, they seemed to be trying to lob long balls in or around the box to exploit the height advantage of their strikers. The commentator mentioned something about the goalkeeper not being able to deal properly with aerial balls, but he did just fine.
I thought the Czechs used the wrong tactics. Instead of using the talents of Rosicky, Nedved to play on the ground, they went away from the type of football that gave them success against the US. I didn’t like the movement of the players off the ball as well. The Ghanian midfield dominated and every time a Czech attack was foiled, Ghana looked threatening on the counter. There were huge spaces in the midfield to be exploited and Ghana took control.
The Czech defense did not play well either. They struggled with the pace of the Ghanians and didn’t seem like a confident bunch at all. An early goal does that to you I guess. A poor display by the #2 ranked team in the world. They must do better against the Italians.
In the other match in this group, USA and Italy drew 1 – 1 to keep everyone’s hopes alive. There were 3 red cards in this match and an elbow from an Italian player that left Brian McBride bleeding. USA played with 9 men against 10 of the Italians and hung on, after Italy scored two goals–one for themselves and one for the US.
If Ghana plays the way they did yesterday, they should beat the US. However, they’ve lost two key players for the next match (second yellow), so it should be interesting. The Czechs will need to play the way they did against the US to beat the Italians. It’ll be a pity to see them out of the tournament because they were so exciting to watch in the first game, but they might be headed for a disappointing end to the World cup.
The supposed group of death wasn’t quite, but this one is looking like it could be the group of death.