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The Cup Running Over


June 20, 2010 5:00 PM

Monday Preview: The Return of Spain, the Most Defensive Match in the Tournament on Paper (and one more)

The last day of the second set of games in the first round -- which was a lot better than the first set.

PORTUGAL-NORTH KOREA

Don't expect many goals in this game; in fact, it might be foolhardy to expect any. Portugal is one of the best defensive teams in the tournament but struggles mightily to put the ball into the net. North Korea isn't as talented defending but makes up for it with a formation that looks like it sometimes features six at the back. If Brazil had trouble breaking down the North Koreans, what does that portend for the Portuguese? On paper, a 1-0 game at best that either team needs to win to preserve its chances of advancing.



cristiano-ronaldo-portugal-captain.jpgWill Cristiano Ronaldo ever get going for Portugal?



CHILE-SWITZERLAND

With a spot in the next round at stake, this promises to be a spirited contest. Despite tallying only one goal in its opener, Chile features one of the most open offensive styles in the tournament. For its part, the Swiss have already shown the world what it can do in its last game against Spain and will be looking to counter early and often. Just because the Swiss upset the Spanish doesn't mean this game is a gimme. So far, remember, the five teams from South America have yet to drop a game. These are two emerging sides on the world stage that bear watching, if not at this Cup, then in 2014.

SPAIN-HONDURAS

Poor Honduras. This always promised to be a one-sided affair but now that the Spanish unexpectedly dropped their first game, they'll be looking to more than make up for it in this match. So far no team at the tournament has tallied more than four goals in a game but that mark is certainly at risk here. One nice note for the Hondurans: This game will set a World Cup record with four -- count 'em -- players named Palacios on the team, three of them brothers, one unrelated. (Sadly a fifth Palacios and brother of the other three was kidnapped and killed  several years ago.) In any event, expect mucho goals and mucho Palacios.
 

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