Samba, carnival and football. The most entertaining soccer tournament begins in the beautiful, lush land of Brazil. With four games played, wrong flag hoisted, controversial decisions made, the most anticipated soccer tournament in the world takes center stage.
One can’t help but notice the introduction of a new element into this tournament, The Vanishing Spray. This awesome spray is being used on free kicks, so opposing players forming the wall do not encroach on the player taking the free kick, while they protect certain areas on their bodies with both hands. Most importantly, it disappears in less than two minutes.
Onto more serious matters, Brazil opened the mundial with a competitive, well-played game against Croatia. With controversial tackles and penalty, the Brazilians got away with a 3-1 victory in front of 68,000 fans at the Arena São Paulo, after all, Brazil scored all four goals of the game, really!
Croatia went up 1-0 through an own goal by Brazil’s left-back Marcelo, then Neymar equalized with a left kick goal in the first half and put them in front from the penalty spot after the restart, when Fred was supposedly fouled in the 18 yard box. Oscar sealed the victory with the third goal with a clinical right kick during a counter-attack.
Though the score line doesn’t give Croatia much credit, they deserved more than a loss with their performance, which showed their readiness to compete for the second round qualification from Group A.
The El Trí finally beat the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 1-0 in the group’s other game. The Mexicans also had to overcome the refereeing as the officials waived off two clear goals from Giovanni dos Santos, mistakenly calling offsides that were not even close. In a match with Alex Song and Eto’o scarely playing below average, the Lions couldn’t quite hit it off. In the second half, Mexico finally scored their goal, as Oribe Peralta scored and got three points for the Mexicans.
Personally, I think this tournament has more than one group of death, as B is turning out to be. In its first game, which was a replay of the 2010 World cup finals (now dubbed The Revenge Match), the Netherlands practically tore Spain apart in a dominant performance to thrash the defending World Cup champion 5-1.
Spain looked like a team that just met for the first time some minutes before in the tunnel and tumbled to their second consecutive loss in the opening match of a World Cup and its heaviest defeat in the tournament since their 6-1 defeat to Brazil in 1950.
Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben both had an entertaining game with each getting a brace for his troubles and Stefan de Vrij grabbed his first international goal to stamp their authority in the game.
In the other group match, Alexis Sanchez produced an impressive performance to lead Chile to a 3-1 win over Australia, scoring one goal and setting up another for one of the dangerous underdogs in the tournament. Showcasing its best ever squad for a World Cup, Chile has been strongly tipped by many — including Pele — to go far in Brazil despite being thrown in the same group as the 2010 finalists.
It promises to be a mouthwatering encounter when the Spanish, ripped apart by the Dutch in Salvador, host Chile in their next game on Wednesday, with the holders’ title defense on the line. Of course, Spain’s players are not ignorant of the threat Sanchez represents, as he has spent the last three years at Barcelona, and as the quick footed forward has shown against the Australians, he still in the best form of his life.
(One a lighter note) As the games come and go, I find myself praying that Mr. Nishimura isn’t the man at the center for any of Nigeria’s games and they hoist up our green and white flag the next time Nigeria is mentioned :D.
Looking forward to more games…
Omitiran Adeola is a BSC Graduate in Mass Communications with news, sports & lifestyle journalism experience for over 3 years. As an avid lover of sports, she is living her dream of keeping the football world on its feet.