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.
Comment feed for ongoing:
From: Grahame Grieve (Jun 13 2014, at 21:57)
Australia is a problem for FIFA - we're consistently borderline good enough to qualify, but not more. Not good enough to win in this group, but we'd be a chance in another group. But the rest of Oceania isn't in the same ball park.
I'll be happy if we get walloped less than Spain in our next two matches
From: Bob Monsour (Jun 13 2014, at 21:59)
That Netherlands-Spain was indeed quite a show! We tuned in just a few minutes before the first Netherlands goal. My wife and son were rooting for Spain, so I took the underdog spot and enjoyed the hell out of it.
From: Paul O'Keeffe (Jun 13 2014, at 23:16)
Australia qualified as part of Asia. We're no longer in the Oceania conference.
From: Matthew Walker (Jun 14 2014, at 02:22)
We (Australia) have been back in Asia now for a couple of World Cups, for the very reason that the play off for the half spot allocated to Oceania was always difficult. Now doubt we would return to Oceania if a full spot was available. We did make the round of 16 the time we qualified via Oceania (2006) but we're not much chop this year.
From: Leo (Jun 14 2014, at 02:35)
Don't Australia qualify through Asia these days? The Oceania winner goes in to a playoff against the 5th or 6th South American country, and I belive the Australians got hacked off at waltzing through the Oceania group, only to lose out in the final playoff against teams like Uruguay.
From: Sam Kington (Jun 14 2014, at 05:52)
FIFA *did* rejigger the Oceania pool. Australia competed in, and qualified from, the Asia group. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_(AFC) vs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_(OFC) . The Oceania qualifier was New Zealand, who then had to play off against Mexico to get to the World Cup, and lost.