With the opening matches for this year's FIFA World Cup well underway, it has to be said that there have already been a few surprises. From the dismal French start to the tournament to last night's blunders by the England soccer team, which resulted in a 1-1 draw with the USA, it does seem that expert and pundit predictions of results could well prove inaccurate.
England vs USA, 12 June 2010 (1-1) - FIFA World Cup 2010
Despite the fact that England are heralded as one of the top six favourites to win the World Cup, this match has proved, once more, the lack of quality and cohesive playing in the English team.
England's squad for the match against underdogs, America, was announced as an attacking 4-4-2 format, particularly the choice of midfield players classed as being strong in attack roles. Selecting Heskey to play alongside Rooney was a surprise choice by Capello. Milner in place of Barry was a mistake and replacing him with Wright-Phillips early in the match was definitely the right decision. Defender King played the first half of the match but his longstanding injury problems were still apparent and he was replaced by Carragher after half time.
With a world-class goal by new Captain,Gerrard, after only four minutes, England seemed to start off well and there were some beautiful moments of play and examples of excellent English passing in the first half of this game. Unfortunately, a stupid mistake by England goalie, Green, allowed the USA midfielder Dempsey, who plays for Fulham, to equalise after 40 minutes of the match.
England really seemed to underestimate the strength of the modern USA soccer team. After all, this team beat Spain's unbeaten record with their 2-0 win in the Confederations Cup (2009).
France vs Uruguay, 11 June 2010 (0-0)
From a spectator's point of view, this was a boring game. Although France had the advantage of playing 11 against 10 men from the 80th minute, after Uruguay midfielder, Lodeiro was sent off, they proved unable to create goal scoring opportunities. When all's said, France were extremely lucky to qualify for this tournament and their present team is ineffectual.
Uruguay present a far more solid team and look more likely to achieve success in the tournament.
Argentina vs Nigeria, 12 June 2010 (1-0)
Unfortunately, there was only one goal for this match but hopefully it will be a sign of more to come for Maradona's team. Although Argentina dominated the match, Messi did not manage to score at all but he proved his footballing genius with some excellent dribbling and vision. Argentinian defender Heinze scored in the sixth minute of the game.
Nigeria managed to create a number of great chances but were unable to satisfactorily conclude their moves. They proved their worth as an up-and-coming world-class team.
South Korea vs Greece, 12 June (2-0)
Another surprise result, although South Korea were semi finalists in the 2002 World Cup and many of the side play for European teams. South Korea's first goal came from defender Lee Jung-soo and the match was wrapped up by a fantastic goal from Manchester Utd's Park.
In conclusion, there is a long road to go on this World Cup and doubtless many more surprise results will follow. The opening match between South Africa and Mexico was an entertaining game and although South Africa is an unusual venue for the international World Cup, so far it has worked well and proved a great choice. The stadia are full and spectator excitement and interest is high, indeed the overall impression so far is of a far more stirring event than was achieved in Germany.
See Also: England Squad Line Up for World Cup 2010