The second round of group games are now done and we picked the…..
Best Game: Colombia 2-4 Argentina. A South American special: hot sticky night; stadium crammed with flag waving, drum beating, ticker tape throwing fans and two teams with plenty of talent and no little edge between them. Colombia go in front. Argentina answer with three goals – one dodgy penalty, one classic toco y me voy and one Riquelme free-kick – before half-time. Colombia come out in the second half and give it a go, pulling one back and putting Argentina under the cosh before losing a man for one brutal tackle too many and conceding late on. It was the thought of watching games like these in towns with names like Maracaibo that got me to South America in the first place.
Worst Game: In a tournament with plenty of flair, committed attacking play and goals Bolivia 0-1 Uruguay was about as welcome as spotting a sewer rat scuttling across the floor of your favourite restaurant. If inclined you can see ‘highlights’ here.
Biggest Disappoint I: For most of us it remains Brazil. Okay, in their second game they grabbed three goals against Chile following the blank against Mexico. Okay, Robinho’s second and third were sweet. But this was dire. Almost like watching a Chelsea-Liverpool game. As we’ve pointed out elsewhere here this was a Brazil midfield of four Dungas come the second half. Not what we or perhaps more importantly Brazilians are interested in. Let’s hope the rumours from Brazil that Dunga is just a patsy sent in to keep the seat warm until Felipão is free of his Portugal commitments are true. Because if not and Dunga is the future face of Brazilian football then the dream is dead.
Team to put your money on: Still Argentina for us.
Best outside bet: We said Chile after the first round of games and they made us look like monkeys with their rather rubbish performance against Brazil. Okay the Brazil penalty was hardly a penalty but if you are going to be dark horses you should expect to put in one or two surprise performances against the big boys and despite going ahead this Brazil was playing poorly and a better team would have sussed them out. Chile didn’t. So now we’re going with Mexico. Castillo has been the revelation of the tournament, they’ve Marquez at the back and have in the past surpassed themselves to push Brazil and Argentina hard. They’ve already done Brazil so maybe they can halt Argentina? Would need some performance but that’s what you are betting on with an outside bet. Nearly did it last summer when no-one gave them a hope.
Best Goal: Paraguay’s first against the USA. Brilliant football. Are you watching Brazil?
Pick of the next round: Will Ecuador go all out and try and grab their slimmest of chances of going through by thumping Brazil? Will Brazil do another Dunga and play more of their bureaucratic football or will they suddenly explode into life at the thought that another slip-up and they’re out? Also, hosts Venezuela against Uruguay could be tasty if not silky. Venezuela (and maybe CONMEBOL?) will be desperate for the hosts to progress. But sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay are used to being the stone in the chosen one’s shoe.