Whilst many England fans may still be wondering what went wrong in Manaus, and whether it was Gary Cahill or Glen Johnson to blame for the defeat, the rest of the footballing world will be moving on to day four of the tournament; Sunday sees three more matches in a (Don’t say it too loudly) exciting start to the tournament. Adam LeRoux takes you through it.
The early kick off sees Switzerland face Ecuador; we all saw what the South Americans have to offer when they held Rooney and co. to a draw in Miami last week. If they can reproduce some of the football they had on show in America there could be some real fireworks in group E, and that’s not just the reaction of Antonio Valencia when he gets tackled. Ecuador tends to struggle away from the high altitude of their home ground in Quito though, so may find it tough. Switzerland will be looking to win their opening game just as they did against Spain in 2010, although a victory here will not be as much of an upset. The Swiss have an experienced side with players scattered in the Italian and German leagues, Aston Villa new boy Philippe Senderos at the back may not fill too many with confidence, but the Swiss will be confident of a victory in Brasilia.
Next up sees Didier Deschamps’ French team face another team known well to England fans in Honduras. Wilson Palacios et al. will be resolute in defence as they showed in Miami and will be looking to contain the French from the off, maintaining discipline will be essential. Les bleus will be thanking their lucky stars to even be at the tournament, after nearly crashing out in the playoffs to Ukraine in November. If there’s one thing for certain, there is always drama with the French around. Whether it’s Paul Pogba introducing himself on the world stage or another team bust up, drama will always be close at hand. The French will feel they are due a decent tournament, with finals appearances in ‘98 and ‘06 patterned with dismal performances in both ‘02 and 2010. The results reflect on what can be a very temperamental side, and if Honduras manages to steal a goal – something they failed to do in South Africa – we could well see another capitulation here.
With only a few days gone in the competition so far there are already signs of a goal glut to follow in the next four weeks and the final game of the day should be no exception. The spotlight will be on Brazil’s biggest foe, and the team many people say are their biggest challenge for the trophy this year, Argentina. With a front line boasting Messi, Aguero and Higuain any defence would be trembling in their boots, let alone world cup debutantes Bosnia and Herzegovina. If the new boys crumble under the pressure you could be seeing well in advance of the 3.5 goals a game we’ve been averaging already in Brazil. Bosnia front man Edin Dzeko will know the Martin Demichelis style of defending from Manchester City; as effective as it may be the pony-tailed maverick is always prone to the odd mistake and Dzeko’s clinical finishing could well make an impact on this tie. If the Argentines take an early lead there’s only one way this will go.
It may be early days, but Brazil is once again showing us why football is the beautiful game. This time it’s not just on the pitch; with the samba beats and goals galore this could well be turning out to be the best world cup for quite some time. No pressure.