So we've had 4 days of the World Cup in South Africa; that's 11 games, just 18 goals and 4 reds cards...I have to say that overall, while it's exciting that the tournament has finally begun, so far the action itself has been pretty disappointing.
World Cups tend to get off to slow starts as teams are desperate not to lose their opening match and leave themselves a mountain to climb from day one; we shall have to see if things improve as we get into the second round of games on Thursday. But the lack of goals has been disappointing, given the fact that this much discussed ball was supposed to lead to more! So far we've averaged 1.64 goals per game, and a large chunk of that average is thanks to the Germans who scored 4 against Australia. Just to put that into context...
Average goals-per-match for each World Cup tournament:
5.385 : Switzerland 1954
4.667 : France 1938
4.118 : Italy 1934
4.000 : Brazil 1950
3.889 : Uruguay 1930
3.600 : Sweden 1958
2.969 : Mexico 1970
2.808 : Spain 1982
2.781 : Chile 1962
2.781 : England 1966
2.712 : United States 1994
2.684 : Argentina 1978
2.672 : France 1998
2.553 : West Germany 1974
2.538 : Mexico 1986
2.516 : Korea/Japan 2002
2.297 : Germany 2006
2.212 : Italy 1990
1.636 : South Africa 2010
Now, let's give it a chance as we've yet to see 3 of the tournament's favorites, the best 3 teams in the world - Brazil, Spain and Portugal - but so far, well to be frank, it's been a litle dull!
The England v USA game was a notable exception, and Germany's demolition of Australia was pretty impressive. Argentina looked excellent (and exciting for about 30 minutes) against Nigeria, and Italy showed signs of life late in today's game, but the rest has been pretty forgettable. No screaming free-kicks, no really special wonder goals (although South Africa's opener was pretty good, as was Park Ji Sung's goal for South Korea against the woeful Greeks). It's all been a bit below par...
6 of the 8 main seeds (plus the US as my country of residence and adopted home!) have now played - Brazil play their first game on Tuesday (as does fancied Portugal) and Spain (my favorites to win it all) play on Wednesday. But for now, based on the English grading system (A for excellent to F for fail) here are my marks for the main teams we've seen so far... Happy to hear your views and grades...
France - Rubbish! F
Argentina - Patchy - great going forward, wobbly in defence - C+
England - Disappointing (as expected) but a few signs of life - D
USA - Equally disappointing, but happier than England - C
Germany - So far the team to beat...but it was Australia A-
Netherlands - Job done, but not up and running yet... C
Italy - Uninspired for about 75 minutes...then woke up...D
As for England USA in a little more detail, well I thought it would be a draw and as such I'm not too disappointed - other than the manner of the equalising goal obviously.
But the US are ranked by Fifa as the 14th best team in the world, so I think a draw is not too bad of a result. Should we have won? Would we have won but for Mr Greenfingers, probably yes. But Italy (ranked 5th) just drew with Paraguay (ranked 31st). Cameroon (19th) lost to Japan (45th), and Greece (13th) lost to South Korea (47th).
So in many respects a draw is a credible result for both teams. Algeria (30th) and Slovenia (25th) are our upcoming opposition, but the pressure is now on as these games are must wins...and games we must win well to ensure finishing top of the group and avoiding Germany in the next round.