Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 31: Chile 1, Switzerland 0

Chile gets a second win yet they aren't guaranteed to advance. They have a final game against a Spanish team that will need a result, and the Swiss get the weaker Honduras side. (That is, of course, unless Honduras ties or beats Spain later today.)

The story of this game was simple. After Switzerland had a man mysteriously ejected (straight red for a challenge), they tried to buckle down and just play for a tie. For awhile it looked like they would do it, but a goal line crossing shot to a header put Chile on the verge of advancing.

Switzerland is primarily a defensive, countering team, so the pressure is on them since goal differential will likely determine which two of the top three go through, again, unless Honduras can get a result against Spain. Because of that, this is a bigger loss (and they were hurt more by the referees sending the player off) than the Spain upset was a big win.

In the area of small consolations, Switzerland broke the record for most consecutive World Cup minutes without conceding a goal. So, while there was no guarantee that they would not have given up a goal any way, the red card really, really, hurt them.

That said, it is not a foregone conclusion that Spain will beat Chile in the last game of the round robin. Chile will have several things to play for...they will want to win the group so as to avoid Brazil in the next stage. And Spain will be playing against a side that knows it needs only a tie. While other games show the danger of playing for a tie (if you let a goal in all the air seems to go out, like it did to North Korea, because you've psychologically convinced yourself that you can't score), Chile is also aggressive enough that it can score even against a defensive minded team. So I don't expect them to go into a complete shell against Spain, but I do expect them to push forward less and for Spain to have fewer opportunistic chances (as opposed to chances they create).

Switzerland had an open shot from within the box in the 89th minute for a chance to tie. If they don't go through that miss, as much as the foul, will probably haunt them.

Other news of note, Chile player got a yellow card for diving in the box. As I mentioned earlier, the risk reward of that rule is all wrong. The reward for pulling it off is a penalty kick (see Italy/New Zealand). In a group that may come down to goal differential, that's worth a shot to try to draw the penalty call. The penalty for a dive in the box should be more severe. That said, I'm not sure what it should be. A red card may be too severe, as would a penalty kick the other way. Maybe a suspension for the next game? (That would make sense if FIFA would be willing to review calls between games, but...)

No comments: