Today’s games were the final first round of games for the groups and the first game of the 2nd round.
Belgium vs Algeria
The first game of the day was the promising Belgium team, against an most’s tip to finish bottom of this group Algeria.
Belgium on paper are an excellent team with many people tipping them with an outside chance of winning the world cup. However the concern with Belgium is a getting them to play as a team and the fact that this is this group of players first major tournament together.
Algeria started the game well and a foul by Jan Vertonghen on Sofiane Feghouli gave Algeria the chance to take the lead for the spot. Vertonghen was yellow carded and Feghouli picked himself up to convert the spot kick, 1 nil to the under dog.
Belgium urgency was evident as they found getting back into the game difficult with Algeria happy to sit back and defend the lead. 2nd half substitute Marouane Fellaini was able to make the difference and headed in Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 70th minutes, the relief through the squad was clear with their excessive celebrations.
The games decisive goal was scored when another Belgium sub Dries Mertens latched on to Eden Hazards pass to smash the ball into the top corner. The 4th game of this world cup won after initially going behind, the records 9 and if any world cup could beat that it would be this one.
Algeria’s dogged performance was encouraging enough to believe they can finish higher than the predicted bottom of the group. Belgium were disappointing, their best player Hazard performances didn’t match those seen for his club side this year. This world cup will be good experience for this team but is a tournament too soon for them to match the expectation heaped upon them. However look out for them at the next world cup, with experience gained and the tournament being held on European soil , this will be the team to watch.
Brazil vs Mexico
This was the 2nd game for host Brazil and Mexico, Brazil expected while Mexico hoped to win and book their place into the next round. Brazil s performance was lackluster and they were up against a well organised and determined Mexican team. They struggled to break Mexico down, when they did manage to get through and create chances they came up against the unbeatable Mexican keep Guillermo Ochoa. An inspirational performances make 6 saves, more than any other keeper in this tournament, each save more impressive than the last.
Brazil were poor and they will need to improve and recapture the form which saw them dominate the confederation cup 12 month earlier. Mexico will see this as a chance missed,although that said if you had offered them this result before the game I’m sure they would take it. It will be interesting to see if Brazil give another team a chance to beat them.
Russia vs South Korea
This game will be remembered for only one thing, the worst performance of any goalie at any major football tournament in the history of football.
Igor Akinfeev was once touted as been the next big goal keeper to look out for, but for one reason or another he never lived up to the hype.
The final score was 1-1 but it could have easily been more has Akinfeev spilled shot after shot from the Korean team. The game itself was lacking in action unlike the rest of the games of this tournament. On paper Russia were the favorites to win this game but after a haphazard performance from their keeper and a unimaginative display from the outfield players they will be glad to come away with a point.
Akinfeev was beat by a 25 yard shot from Lee Keun-ho. The shot wasn’t impressive, it didn’t swerve nor was it hit with an venom to excuse Akinfeev inability to hold on to the ball. Akinfeev had given several indication of what was to come from several long range shots which he failed to keep a hold of.
The equaliser from Aleksandr Kerzhakov saved the Russian from defeat, a goalmouth melee finished when Kerzhakov managed to from the net with a swivel and shot.
Akinfeev is an excellent keeper with bags of experience but he will have give former England manager Fabio Capello a dilemma for the next game. should he stick with Akinfeev and give him a chance at redemption and risk a repeat performance which would cost Russia’s hope of progression into the next round. Or does he give Yury Lodygin (Zenit St Petersburg), Sergey Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan) a chance of making a claim to be his 1st choice keeper?