Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 13: Potrugal 0, Ivory Coast 0

The story within a story was the early hostilities between the Ivory Coast players and Portugal star Christiano Ronaldo who is on the short list of best players in the world but has a reputation for going down a bit too easy....and playing to the refs in other ways. (He famously winked at the Portugal bench after English striker Wayne Rooney was sent off in a quarterfinal match in the 2006 World Cup.

On the one hand there was a quick yellow card against an Ivory Coast defender. On the other, they goaded him into an altercation after a foul that got him a yellow card for...well, for being fouled. Given the emphasis on diving, once Ronaldo had a card the Ivory Coast could be a little more aggressive in defense, so they probably got the better of the in game.

This was the first game in the so called "Group of Death" and I think the draw helps Ivory Coast a little more. Portugal probably has a slightly better shot at tying or beating Brazil, but given they are the higher ranked team, the burden is probably on them to get the result against Ivory Coast rather than relying on doing better against common opponents. Portugal does get Brazil last, which means that as long as they put a number up against North Korea they may have the option of battening down the hatches and playing for a tie against Brazil. Then again, Ivory Coast will go into the North Korea game knowing what they need to do.

Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast did play about thirty minutes. He had his arm broken in a friendly leading up to the competition and has to play with a cast on his arm. Drogba is far an away the team's best goal scorer, so having to play large portions without him and still getting a draw helps make this tie, like the U.S. result against Engalnd feel like a bit more like a victory.

Drogba had a shot in the 90th minute but he had to go down and the shot went well wide. Playing with an injury, did he have to be a bit more cautious about attacking to protect his body? Oddly enough Ivory Coast had a corner kick in stoppage time and they played it short rather than crossing, never getting a shot. I think you have to take a shot there; it's a bit like holding on to the ball with one second on the clock rather than trying a half court shot.

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