South African kids playing the beautiful game

With every countries first match now in the books, the biggest story has to be the upset of World Cup favorites Spain by the Swiss. Till today, it had been a relatively uneventful and boring first series of matches. It’s been a World Cup lacking in goals, horrible goal keeping and questionable quality.

The lack of quality has mostly to do with the defensive minded play of most teams. It seems that these teams have adopted the Greek model of play from Euro 2004. Play 9 men back and hope to capitalize on 1 or 2 chances or even a mistake. It makes for very boring football.

However, there have been some quality moments. Germany looked top-notch, did they not. They surely should be considered the early favorites. The bafana bafana delighted with their draw with the first match of these 2010 games. What a sublime strike that was from Siphiwe Tshabalala. Say his name five times fast. Truly a great way to open up the World Cup.

England showed their dominance with their control against the US, but lacked finish. England deserved better than a draw, but thanks to their poor goal keeping, that is all they could manage. Argentina and Messi looked dominant, if not for the Nigerian goal keeping, that score line might have been disproportionate. Italy squeaked by with a draw against Paraguay, thanks to yet another horrible mistake by the Paraguayan goal keeper. Italy has work to do. Italy has one thing in their favor, they are notoriously slow starters. Let’s see if that’s also the case in 2010. Brazil looked out of sync, uncomfortable, and got by thanks to the brilliance of Maicon, Robinho, and Elano. Kaka’s play was very disappointing and Fabiono was invisible. If Brazil are to verify their favorite status, they must get much better play from those two. Leaving Ronaldhino off the team could prove to be a costly mistake.

Where does Spain go from here? A monstrous upset at the hands of the Swiss, the Spaniards are in a bind. Their offense looked very passive. David Villa’s play left a lot to be desired. Xavi looked uninterested. Their defense seems spotty at best. They were coming in as favorites along with Brazil and the defending Euro 2008 champs. This loss must be crushing to their confidence. How will Spain rebound? Surely they must shore up their defense and their stars must play better. On the other hand, the Swiss confidence must be at heights never experienced.

Thanks to the Swiss, this World Cup went from boring to interesting and intriguing.

 

Iniesta celebrating after scoring in the 93rd minute to send Barcelona to the Champions League final.

Iniesta celebrating after scoring in the 93rd minute to send Barcelona to the Champion's League final.

It took 3 minutes of extra time for Barcelona to finally find the key to the lock that was Chelsea’s defense. Iniesta’s beautiful strike at ’90 + 3 booked Barcelona a ticket to Rome for the Champions League final on May 27th.

 

What an incredible game, with an even better finish. Considering the 1st leg went without a goal, it took Barca 183 minutes to finally solve Chelsea. Chelsea struck early at Stanford Bridge, scoring in the 9th minute off the foot of Essien. Chelsea then did what they do best for 84 minutes, defend. It looked like it would be an all England final, till Iniesta broke Chelsea’s hearts in extra time.

It was an absolute bullet of a shot just outside the box on a pass from the great Messi. It was Unexpected, Unconciounable, Unbelievable.

Barca is off to Rome to face Manchester United, in a rematch of last years Champion Leagues semi-final, in which Man U were victorious. Barca should have a much better showing against Man U this year; coming off today’s sublime finish.