Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Viva Espana

Now that's a thumping. Ukraine looked like what they were - a country playing in its first World Cup game against a powerful opponent. Shevchenko was clearly rusty, though it's unclear how much that would have mattered considering the dominance of Spain in the center of midfield in the first half (Marcos Senna is quite good, perhaps better than either of Brazil's central middies, wonder why they didn't want him?) The three man attack of Torres, Villa and Garcia looked exceedingly dangerous, though perhaps a little lightweight if faced with a physical defense (which they are likely to face in the second round vs. France if I had to guess). Sergio Ramos was fantastic in both attack and defense.

2-0 at the half was probably fair. Unfortunately, Ukraine never really had a chance to see if the replacement of their midfield at half-time would have any effect - the penalty given was harsh, but I don't mind shirt and shorts-pulling being harshly penalized. The red card, however, was ludicrous. The "professional foul" rule (automatic red card for fouling to stop a clear goal scoring chance) made perfect sense when it was only for fouls outside of the box - I think a penalty and a yellow card is much more appropriate a punishment, as a red card essentially ends the game as a contest. The fourth goal was one of the best of the tourney so far.

For their sake, I hope Ukraine realises that they still have an excellent shot to advance given the need to beat Saudi Arabia and Tunisia - not exactly two powerhouses.

A good take on why Spain looked so good while other "big" squads (such as Brazil, England and Portugal) is here.

MoM: Tough to pick one of the Spaniards, as they were all excellent, but I'll go for Fernando Torres who was a handful all game and struck his goal well.

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