Give the Brazilians credit, the playing surfaces held up remarkably under the heavy rain. So did the quality of play, mostly.
Mexico 1 Cameroon 0 · I tend to know and like Mexico because they’re often the big dog in the pool Canada plays in; and I’ve thought that one of these years they should be able to win it all. On the other hand I’m an unabashed fan of joyous run-and-gun African soccer.
Anyhow, Mexico may do well this year, but today wasn’t evidence; Cameroon was entirely lacking in cohesion and discipline. The execrable-again refereeing robbed Dos Santos of two pretty good chances; 3-0 would have been a fairer reflection of the result. Still hoping for an African breakthrough in my lifetime.
Spain 1 Netherlands 5 · Now that was a show. No, I don’t think Holland is actually that good; although the Robben/van Persie combination spells raw fear for any defense in the world. I also don’t think Spain is that bad in general (but I don’t think any more that they’re contenders); and in particular, I don’t think Casillas is that bad. Only one of the five goals (van Persies’ second) was soft; people grumbled at him for coming out of the goalmouth on the first goal, but if he’d held back van Persie would have brought the ball down and blasted it left or right. That said, Oh my God what a header! And I don’t think any keeper in the world could do much with either of those Robben cannonballs. On his second goal, I particularly enjoyed Robben’s old-fashioned I-can-run-faster-than-you approach.
The Dutch defense looked solid, only I think whoever wins this tournament is going to have to have defense that looks wonderful. But still, I’ll make a special point of watching the rest of their games.
Chile 3 Australia 1 · Didn’t catch much of this one, a bit at the front and a bit at the end. Give the Aussies credit for not collapsing; I was flabbergasted when I came back to the game with only ten minutes left to find the score just 2-1 and Australia attacking. But still, you have to think FIFA should rejigger that Oceania pool because Oz just isn’t soccer territory, and it shows. [Update: OK, people in the comments, it’s Asia not Oceania. But there’s still a problem.].
Chile? We don’t know yet.