22 June 2006

WC: Argentina, Portugal Win Groups

Another day, and two more groups closed out.

Group C

Holland 0-0 Argentina: It's too bad that this was on the last day of the group. It could have been a fantastic game, but instead it was ho-hum. I don't think either team really cared whether they will play Mexico or Portugal, and while there was some effort, it wasn't focused. I could say more, but why bother? It was boring, end of story. With the win, Argentina win the group and face second-place Mexico, while Holland will match up with Portgual.

Ivory Coast 3-2 Serbia & Montenegro: This was the game to watch. I know I made a (tiny) joke yesterday about 'playing only for pride', but it was anything but a joke to these two teams. Serbia & Montenegro were eager to prove their worth to the home fans, and if anything, Ivory Coast were even more hungry.

The game itself was kind of a mess, though exciting. Seven yellow cards, two reds, and two penalties will put the referee front and center. But Ivory Coast combined a headlong attack with a rather casual defense to offer both threat and opportunity to S&M. I was glad to see Ivory Coast win, as they had played well against two excellent teams and deserved soemthing to show for it. Still, as exicting as the match was, it affects nothing really at this World Cup.

Group D

Portugal 2-1 Mexico: Mexico's fate wasn't certain, which made this game a bit more interesting. When Portugal went up 2-0, that put Mexico pretty close to elimination and brought some excitement to the proceedings. But then Mexico scored, which eased the pressure. As the Angola game progressed, it became clear that Mexico were safe, and so they took their foot off the gas.

It was another really snippy game, with 10 yellows and a red, when Luis Perez was carded a second time, for a dive. It probably was a dive... but compared to some of the histrionics observed, it certainly wasn't card-worthy. I'm sure the players are at sixes and sevens trying to figure out how they're supposed to comport themselves, with all the heavy-handed refereeing going on.

Anyway, Portugal win the group and face Holland, while Mexico are rewarded with Argentina. That's probably the most interesting matchup anyway, as Mexico are less likely to be impressed by their hemispheric rivals than the European side would be.

Angola 1-1 Iran: This was an incredibly exciting game for about 15 minutes, after Angola scored. But they waited too late, and built too little threat, so in the end it never looked likely for them to progress. Overall though, both Iran and Angola represented themselves well in the tournament. While they'll be disappointed to be going home, they can at least say that they gave a good effort in a tough group.

So the games could have been better -- particularly Holland-Argentina -- but they weren't bad either. Today could be even better; certainly there's more to play for. Hang on to your hats!

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