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The World Cup yet to get going

By | 16th June 2010

Some blame the Jabulani ball, some the altitude, others the vuzvuzelas, but for whatever reason this World Cup is yet to really take off.

Granted this is being written before the Spanish kick off their campaign, but the sight of the Brazilians, an eternal symbol of footballing flair and skill, laboring to a narrow win over North Korea perhaps summed up a cautious start to the tournament. Brazil are second favorites in the World Cup 2010 odds, so maybe they were just keeping their powder dry for the tougher games that lie ahead.

Like a race car stalling at the start line we need a decent game to really kick-start the spluttering competition into life. I think that will happen in the second round as the fear of losing their opening games has influenced the tactics of many of the teams so far.

Of all of the results to date, only South Korea and European powerhouses Germany and Holland have won by more than one goal, while no team has conceded a goal and then gone on to win the game.

The six draws, often in games featuring evenly matched teams, suggests a safety first policy which is perhaps the right approach in a cutthroat competition like the World Cup, but it is far from ideal for the viewer.

My biggest hope going into the opening round of games was the Portugal v Ivory Coast clash. With Brazil lurking, a victory for either side would put them a great deal closer to second place, presuming the five times World Champions claim top spot. But instead we saw a more cautious game with the Portuguese in particular openly playing for a point late on.

It is only the start of course, and perhaps some patience and a bit of consideration for the pressure the players are under is required before we rant and rave about the lack of goals.

The number of close games now means the all the groups are finely poised, which should reduce the number of dead rubbers in the final round of matches. It will certainly keep anyone who’s placed a World Cup bet on the edge of their seats.

The initial fear of losing may have dried the goals up, but the rewards on offer for winning should drive the players on in the next set of games, hopefully resulting in the glorious attacking play we all hoped for.

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