Tuesday, June 29, 2010
World Cup 2010 Game 56: Spain 1, Portugal 0
Even before Diego Maradonna ran through England and Belgium and almost single handedly (pun intended) delivered the World Cup to Argentina in '86, one of the subplots of the tournament has been which player will establish himself as the best in the world.
Today it looks like Spain's David Villa may come out of the tournament as the alpha male of the sport, besting Christiano Ronaldo (who looked more petulant than threatening as he called out his teammates and the referees) and Portugal. Argentina's Lionel Messi has probably had a better tournament, but as his own strikes haven't found the back of the net and Villa's have, Villa will have the advantage unless or until the two teams go head to head. The fact that Brazil's goals have been modest and distributed amongst the team also makes it easier for players from another team to strike their claim. Then again, if someone does something special in the next three games, that is what will be remembered, not the player who had the lead after 54 holes (metaphorically speaking).
Portugal was a disappointment in this game, and their 0-0 draw with the Ivory Coast was more indicative in the long run than the 7-0 explosion against North Korea. Yes, they hadn't given up a goal in something like 12 matches, but excepting the game against North Korea, they hadn't scored in this World Cup either. I could be wrong, but they looked a bit intimidated by Spain, a bit tight.
With Spain's victory, seven of the eight group winners advanced. Only the United States failed to win its round of sixteen game.