Time to kick it up a notch. Four matches a day to finish off the Group Stage and there’s still A LOT to play for. Only a few teams have qualified through as yet, so these last Group matches will be do or die. We could see some of the expected teams, France and England especially, miss out on their shot at the big trophy. Amazing, isn’t it? That’s why we love football. 🙂
Match Day 11 was the David Villa coming out party. Actually, the entire Spanish squad played miles better than their first match loss against Switzerland. Honduras were outgunned from the beginning, failing miserably to contain the wide attack of Spain and David Villa made them pay early. Villa’s first test of the Honduran keeper came on just 7 minutes as he fired from a good 25 yards out and hit the crossbar with a screamer. For all the attack though, Spain were rather profligate in the early going, failing to close on some real quality chances. The opening goal came on some fantastic individual work by Villa at the 17 minute mark. Collecting a cross-field pass near the left sideline, Villa drove direct into the box, splitting two defenders along the way, then rifled a shot around a third defender and into the far side of the net. Xavi nearly put Spain up 2-0 on 24 minutes on a header, but the cross from Jesus Navas was a wee bit too high to connect with. Fernando Torres gaffed a header on a cross from Sergio Ramos on 33 minutes, and it was exactly this kind of wasted opportunity that permeated the half for Spain. Despite loads of possession and tons of passing, there was no end product aside from Villa’s strike. The second half got off to a mirror start, with Honduras offering no sustained threat to the Spanish side of the pitch. Just 5 minutes into the half Spain broke out on a 4-on-4 which went Xavi to Jesus Navas to Villa for a deflected shot from outside the box to make it 2-0 to Spain. All too easy, really. Jesus Navas drew a foul in the box on 57 minutes but Villa put the resulting penalty kick wide right. An extremely poor effort by the Spanish striker. The remaining half hour or so of the match continued along the same path, with Spain controlling, passing and generally making the Honduras players run around the pitch chasing the ball.
Captain Fab Makes First World Cup Appearance
Cesc Fabregas finally got off the bench. And what an impact he almost had. Subbing for Xavi on 66 minutes, the Arsenal Captain was everywhere on the pitch. Much of that I’m sure was due to pent up energy as he somewhat resembled a chicken with his head cut off in the first minutes. Just a minute onto the pitch Cesc took a brilliant diagonal ball over the top while breaking the high line trap of the Honduran defense, collected well at the top of the box and made his way round the keeper to get a shot on goal. While it was a clear shot, it wasn’t strongly taken and the ball was cleared off the line by a trailing defender. It really would have been a brilliant entrance to his World Cup had he scored though. Cesc was really trying to get some action going and there was a brief spell where he actually chased the Honduran possession between 4 or 5 players, running probably 75 yards in the process. It was a bit of pressing, really, and who can blame him after zero minutes in the first match. Cesc took a free kick from the left on 79 minutes, about 30 yards out, but it was rather weak and cleared easily. With 26 minutes under his World Cup belt from the match, Cesc’s time on the pitch saw a Spanish side more concerned with closing things out smoothly than exerting any great effort to add to the lead. There was the odd cross and probe into the Honduran goal area by Spain, but it was mopping up duty mostly for the Arsenal Captain. The final match of the Group Stage comes against leaders Chile in what will be a nervy affair. Switzerland sit third, a goal back of Spain in the standings, so it’s all still to play for and we hope Cesc will have more of an impact on the qualifying match.
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Football Nomad is South Africa bound! Andy makes the flight to SA today, so be sure to check out his exclusive coverage as the World Cup continues. Germany V Ghana, Portugal V Brazil and a knockout stage match will feature in upcoming coverage. Get yourselves over to Football Nomad sharpish for all the latest videos, commentary and craziness.
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