Based in London and writing for a global audience our aim is to produce EliteFootballTalk. Enjoy the site and feel welcome to join in our discussion on the beautiful game.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

South Korea v Togo, France v Switerland, Brazil v Croatia

South Korea v Togo turned out to be more of an interesting, if not exciting, game in the second half. The one point of interest in the first was Togo's goal, Abdel Kader Coubadja (official listed name with FIFA) poised for a high ball with two South Korean defenders, both of whom left it to the other to deal with, Coubadja took advantage of the confusion and took the ball towards goal to finish it off in the bottom right corner. The South Koreans had a poor first half but then seemed rejuvenated come the second half, as 10mins into the half Park Ji-Sung seized onto an opened Togo defence to grab a loose ball towards goal with little to stop him from attacking. Captain Jean-Paul Abalo put paid to that by clipping the Man Utd man, and with another Togo player in close proximity it was not deemed a professional foul but a booking, Abalo's second, and he was off. From the freekick, little seemed to be on for South Korea until the bleached haired Lee Chun-Soo stepped up and drifted over an A-1 freekick into the net. Keeper Kossi Agassa looked unsighted until it was too late.

From then South Korea pursued a relentless charge for another goal as Togo took in the simultaneous shocks of the dismissal and the equaliser from a side who looked out-of-sorts in the first 30mins, much less 45. South Korea coach Dick Advocaat put on 2002 hero Ahn Jung-Hwan for Jin-Kyu Kim, and with South Korea's charge after Lee Chun-Soo's goal revitalisng the second half, Ahn forged out a second almost 20mins later. An attack down the right allowed for a pass into the centre near the Togo goal, Jae-Jin Cho ran to meet it but Ahn suddenly took it over and dragged it to the right. The one-man advantage held as no one tracked Ahn or could reach him in time as he aimed a right foot shot that deflected off a Togo player and over Agassa.

The commentator was calling the game a shock for Togo to be in front against a side who beat off Italy and Spain to end up 4th best in 2002, but South Korea for me are not that fantastic a side, keen playability and stamina but they were not vibrant in the first half, so it was not so much of a shock. What could be was how they pursued at Togo in the second and it paid off twice, albeit Abalo was too hasty with his challenge that cost Togo the game.

I have little to say about France v Switzerland. I found the game quite a bore, it hasdn't been the only one in the tournament but it is there with another and that is it so far. Thankfully the other games have been entertaining, even the South Korea second half was better than this. Well, you cannot help but have expectations when you start with Theirry Henry, fiery and energetic starlet Franck Ribery and Slyvain Wiltord, the midfield guidance of Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makelele and Patrick Vieira. With Phillippe Senderos alongside Patrick Muller, both are capable of dealing with attacks that bowed more to ineptness than to actually causing a threat on the Swiss goal. Ribery ran on into the box with the keeper at his mercy yet unselfishly squared it to Henry and the chance was thwarted.

In the second half Daniel Gygax came on for Marco Streller and Gygaz entered into the box to meet a delightful cross with his head with the goal at his mercy yet inexplicably touched more than headed his chance at Fabien Barthez. Raymond Domenech poked at Henry's aid and took off Ribery and Wiltord for Louis Saha and Vikash Dhorasoo, 69th and 84th minute respectively. Dhorasoo then went close with an effort that went diagonally wide. In the close of injury time, Ludovic Magnin, who had been putting good thought into his deliveries, crossed over for Alexander Frei to raise his hand instead of his head or foot to the ball, mere inches from goal, for which the Rennes man was booked. Would I be unfair in describing France's opening performance as 'nondescript'?? Zidane may have felt so, at one point having stern words with his colleagues, the ever opinionated William Gallas replying to the captain.

One could say the same for Brazil in their opening bout with Croatia. I expected a 3-0 win with Ronaldo, Adriano and either Ronaldinho or Kaka scoring. Brazil were not that bad for they looked as if they were trying, and during the first half they seemed more or less in control of the first half. Croatia depended deep and it was Robert Kovac and Josip Simunic who marshalled an astute eye over Adriano and Ronaldo. Fuss has been made of Ronaldo's weight and for some reason he was not as troublesome and inquisitive as the Croats expected. Kovac's brother, skipper Niko, fell on his right side challenging Adriano and though it could have looked innocuous, particularly to commentator John Motson and his co-man Mark Lawrenson, but Niko Kovac clearly showed from then on that his right side was causing some discomfort. After a booking for bringing down Kaka, he eventually had to come off, replaced by like-for-like Jerko Leko but the impetus was temporarily lost.

Captain Cafu took up the attack down the right and as he looked for options, Kaka is seen making a move in the centre and indicating for Cafu to pass. The opportunity is spotted by the Croatian midfield and two close in on Kaka but they allowed the Milan man to rely on his left foot, to which he is well accustomed, and the inevitable shot ensued past keeper Stipe Pletikosa. Down 1-0 in the first half, Croatia kept their resolve and came at Brazil with fierce intent to equalise. Usually at such a point the Brazilians would up their tempo and increase their lead, but Dado Prso had impressively pushed down the right on occasion in the first half and did more of the same in the second, a changed man from that I saw for Rangers v Villarreal in the Champions League. He gathered and turned Juan to be denied by Dida, and Werder Bremen's Ivan Klasnic also shot at the Brazilian keeper to produce another stop.

Ronaldo was hardly in the game, both he and Adriano just couldn't make enough moves to out-think their markers, there had been no waiting on the defedners' shoulders, anticipating a through ball to sprint onto, no dribbling towards goal, only a superb shot by Ronaldo that just went over. He was taken off after for Robinho. Brazil almost increased the lead when Cafu ran down the right and then crossed over for Ronaldinho to meet with a good header but Pletikosa saved well from the Barca man. Sub Ivica Olic, on for Klasnic, raced down the left towards goal and could have possibly squared for Dario Srna at the far post, but Olic instead cut back and the danger was subdued. Brazil came back when Robinho fed Adriano, but the striker's effort went wide but Croatia finished the better when Niko Kranjcar bursted into the box to head over Prso's cross.

Not a vintage Brazil game but they are to be beaten. That could have happened in this game, which is something not said often. Brazil's last show of weakness was against Argentina in a qualifier. They will need to show more aggression and finish with the Australians on Sunday, and as for Ronaldo, who at 12 goals is two goals shy from Gerd Muller's record in the tournament, one would scoff at their peril.



Post a Comment

<< Home


Locations of visitors to this page