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The Cup Running Over


June 17, 2010 4:30 PM

Thursday Wrap-Up: You Want Goals? We Got 'Em!

For the first time in the tournament, we got a full slate of open games -- and one minor surprise.

SOUTH KOREA-ARGENTINA

Going into this game we wondered whether South Korea really was a sleeper or whether it was Greece that had made it look good. Now we know. We also know that Maradona -- for all the criticism -- may have built a powerful Argentine squad capable of going a long way. This team is great at the back: Because of the sheer attacking talent in his squad, Maradona can afford to play four defenders who do nothing but defend (although get Jonas Guttierez out of there - he's terrible as a right back, and every time Nicholas Burdisso comes in he makes Guttierez look like an amateur). And the forwards handled their burden brilliantly: today, Gonzalo Higuain was at his deadly best, and even though Lionel Messi didn't score, he was pulling all the strings in a one-sided 4-1 victory. Opponents beware: This Argentina side is good.


GREECE-NIGERIA

Stop the presses: Greece has finally won a game at a World Cup! That means Greece has finally scored at a World Cup! More good news for the Greeks among us? Greece broke its habit of conceding in the first 10 minutes of games. (This time it waited until the 16th minute.) And it found the perfect strategy: Start off getting dominated but then get one of the opposing players to kick yours so he gets thrown off and you get to play 11 against 10. So it was that the Greeks dominated this one due its sheer numerical advantage, and only another superb game from Nigeria's keeper Vincent Enyeama kept the Super Eagles in the game at all. He's a really special talent, and one to watch. Unfortunately, the Super Eagles will likely be flying home after this 2-1 loss, though they still have a chance to get out of this weak group if they can decisively get by South Korea in the final group game.

FRANCE-MEXICO

At the start of the tournament we wondered - how bad can Raymond Domenech make this team? Tonight we have the answer. France was thoroughly, thoroughly outclassed 2-0 by a spunky Mexican side that now looks set to progress. Many thought that Domenech had come to his senses when he announced that the in-form Florent Malouda was to start, but few thought he would bench play-maker Yoann Gourcuff in the process. France never once looked like scoring, and despite starting with a little more purpose than usual, fizzled with an attack line weighed down by an ineffectual Nicholas Anelka and Sidney Govou, who resembled a lost Obama supporter at a tea party convention today more than an international footballer. Did the horoscopes predict that, Raymond?

Still, all credit to an excellent Mexico which defeated a former World Cup winner for the first time in its history. It attacked superbly, and could have had more goals if not for wasteful finishing within the first 30 minutes. Javier Hernandez looked great once he came on, and Cuauhtemoc Blanco seemed to have made a deal with Mephistopheles for eternal life, reigniting the team once he entered play. Rafael Marquez had a much more convincing defensive performance, and Giovani Dos Santos was superb, attacking with flair and even making several crucial tackles. This side is sharp, and will want to beat Uruguay in the final group match to take first place, paving the way for a very possible path to the quarterfinals.


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