The first round of the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup has now ended and something that has never happened in any previous World Cups has happened – both the defending champions *and* the runners-up have crashed out! Holders Italy were beaten 3-2 by Slovakia, perhaps not too undeservedly, as their creaking and aging defence crumbled against the sprightly Slovakian attack. France crashed out of what has been a dismal tournament for them after a 2-1 loss against hosts South Africa. With the home team also not going through to the next round, it has been a pretty disastrous world cup for the holders, runners-up and also the hosts!
England just about scraped through to the next round with a narrow 1-0 win against Slovenia but more dramatic was the USA’s last-gasp winner against Algeria – Landon Donovan tapping home in the 92nd minute to get a 1-0 win and top group C. Germany eked out a 1-0 win against Ghana and though Australia beat Serbia 1-0, earlier results mean that its Germany and Ghana which go through.
Argentina beat a defensive Greece 2-0 and The Netherlands came up 2-1 winners over Cameroon and they are the only teams with 3 wins out of 3 matches and hope to be continuing the good form into the knockout rounds. Japan and South Korea are also though to the next round after impressive results against Denmark and Nigeria respectively. Brazil versus Portugal didn’t turn out to be the classic we all hoped for, perhaps because both were already safe. Spain beat a dogged Chile side in the last match of the round as both progress through to the next round.
All that means that the line-up for the round-of-16 matches looks like this:
Uruguay Vs. Korea
USA Vs. Ghana
England Vs. Germany
Argentina Vs. Mexico
Japan Vs. Paraguay
Netherlands Vs. Slovakia
Brazil Vs. Chile
Spain Vs. Portugal
Some tasty ties in there, right? Its warming up quite nicely…
The second round of the group stage of the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup ended as I’m typing this and the upsets and dramas just keep on coming. I think it’ll be fair to say that the tournament hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts and one hoped that the second round of matches would be much more exciting and enthralling. Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was the best but the second round clearly shaded the first round – both in terms of performances and in terms of goals. And Red Cards!
While we lauded the free-scoring Germany team and hailed them as the team to watch, they went ahead and lost 1-0 to Serbia, with Klose sent off (rather harshly) and Podolski missing a penalty! But that was not the only upset of the round as reigning champions Italy were held to a 1-1 draw by New Zealand – who don’t even have a professional league. France succumbed to a 2-0 loss against Mexico as their tournament went from bad to worse as striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home after a bust-up with the coach. Another unexpected result, that had more far-reaching repercussions was England’s dour nil-all draw against Algeria.
The quality of football played has risen a notch in the second round and so did the number of goals scored. The ball was set rolling by a free-scoring Argentina, who came out 4-1 winners against South Korea, with Gonzalo Higuain scoring a hat-trick. Brazil didn’t quite roll out the style but did get the goals as a Luis Fabiano brace helped them to a 3-1 win over Ivory Coast. Spain shook off the disappointment of a shock first-round defeat by cruising to a 2-0 win over Honduras, in a match that could – and should – have had more goals. But the score of the tournament thus far came in the second kickoff today as Portugal hammered 7 (yes, Seven!) goals past a hapless Korea DPR. Tiago scored a brace and Raul, Simao, Almeida, Liedson and Cristiano Ronaldo added a goal apiece to make it a truly crushing win, that comes in handy as well…since they get to play Brazil next.
Whilst the first round saw only 25 goals, the second round of 16 matches have produced 42 goals – at an average of 2.6 goals per game. There were a couple of nil-alls and close 1-0 wins but overall, it has been better. I expect the last set of the group stage matches to include both dull games – where both teams know a draw would be enough to see them through – and also some exciting football from teams with their backs-to-the-walls. So c’mon England and be wary France!!!
- Game of the Second Week: Slovenia 2 –2 USA
- Yawnfest of the Second Week: England 0 – 0 Algeria
- Surprise of the Second Week: Serbia 1 – 0 Germany
- Disappointment of the Second Week: England’s draw against Algeria
- Most Impressive Players of the Second Week: David Villa (Spain) & Gonzalo Higuain
- Howler of the Second Week: The Referee in the Brazil Vs. Ivory Coast match who Red Carded Kaka
- Goal of the Second Week: Diego Forlan (Uruguay) Vs. South Africa (told ya so )
Mani Rathnam’s magnum-opus Raavan hit the screens two days ago and I hit the plush chairs at PVR to catch it up on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. In hindsight, maybe I should’ve hit the sack and rested those wearisome muscles rather than risk a jaw-ache from all those yawns! Coz it wasn’t as high and mighty as its made out to be.
“Old wine – new bottle” is passé! Old wine, re-distilled (read re-interpreted) and served up in rustic yet beautiful khullads is the new mantra. Vishal Bhardwaj did it with Omkara. Prakash Jha did it with Rajneeti and now Mani does the same with Raavan.
Beera (Abhishek Bachchan) is the scourge/saviour of a fictitious place Laal Maati. He’s the son of the soil, who rights the wrongs of the law enforcement officers by killing them or burning them at a stake! Locals deify him and none dare defy him. SP Dev Pratap Sharma (Vikram) is the man set out to hunt him down, at any cost. The hunt becomes a personal one when his wife Raagini (Aishwarya Rai) is kidnapped by Beera and held hostage. The age-old good vs. evil struggle commences amidst the backdrop of jungles, waterfalls, caves, canyons and sleepwatching audiences!
Firstly, why the place is named Laal Maati is beyond me. Given there’s not as much as a sand dune but acres and acres of jungle, humungous waterfalls, ravenous canyons and caves, black rocky cliffs with an idol of Shiva atop and also what looked like a poor-man’s Angkor Vat in between! Agreed, the locales and picturesque and breathtaking but it scarcely looks like North India. It rains almost throughout the movie (Kerala?); there’s a huge river & a huger waterfall (Karnataka?); lots and lots of jungle (Madhya Pradesh?); we see tribal folk and sweater-wearing policemen (Bihar/UP?); rusticness & artistry abounds in the mud-walled villages and mountain-top temples (Rajasthan?). Clearly, Geography is not the movie’s strong point!
Its not exactly a week but all 32 teams participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup have finished playing one match apiece and though it is far too early to judge who’s on top and who’s fading out, let’s cast an eye over the bygone five days of World Cup action.
Draws, and goal-shyness as well, seem to be the forte for the opening round, what with 16 matches producing 6 draws (2 of them goalless), 6 1-0 victories and just the 2 matches with 3 or more goals. And only 25 goals scored at an average of 1.5 goals per game!
Owing to the rather odd work hours (I work in the GMT shift), I rarely got to see the early and mid-day kickoffs but have caught few of the late kick-offs and though there were a couple of dour draws in there, I’m inclined to believe things will pick up soon. Of the matches that I’ve seen, France Vs. Uruguay pips the Italy Vs. Paraguay one to being the most dour one, mostly coz it was a nil-all! England Vs. USA was a nervy affair but I was ROFLing when Robert Green made than horrendous miss to gift USA the draw. Brazil Vs. Korea DPR was a lively affair too, but undoubtedly the pick of the round was Germany’s 4-0 drubbing of hapless Australia.
Lewis Hamilton nursed his McLaren with badly grained tyres to victory at the Canadian Grand Prix and led home a McLaren 1-2 with Jenson Button finishing 2nd. Ferrari had a mini-resurgence of sorts with Fernando Alonso finishing 3rd. The Red Bulls had a rather sedate race, with Vettel finishing 4th and Mark Webber 5th. Nico Rosberg finished 6th with Robert Kubica behind him in 7th and Sebastian Buemi in 8th. Force India had both their cars in the points as Vitantonio Liuzzi led home teammate Adrian Sutil for the 9th and 10th places.
The tyre degradation issue that the teams feared all weekend did play a part in the race, with the front-runners electing for a two-stop strategy and the mid-tablers going for a three-stopper. Some teams even had to go for a four-stop strategy as they tyre graining was just too much to handle. The race delivered several overtaking manoeuvres and interesting incidents up and down the order but surprisingly, there was no Safety Car period to juice it up!
Before the race started, Mark Webber dropped down from P2 to P7 because of a gearbox change and that pushed up Sebastian Vettel to the front row, where he might have harboured hopes of a good clean start and get past pole-sitter Hamilton. But that was not to happen as almost all the front runners had a clean getaway, except Vitantonio Liuzzi and Felipe Massa, who had a tangling together and had to pit immediately for front wings and tyres. Michael Schumacher had a good start as he jumped upto 8th place from 13th on the grid. Other first lap incidents included a jump-start from Vitaly Petrov, which saw him take a drive-through penalty.
F1 returned to the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit outside Montreal and Lewis Hamilton dominated the Saturday Qualifying sessions as he scored the fastest times in each sessions en route to wrapping up Pole position for the race. It was his third consecutive pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix – he had won from pole in 2007 and crashed into the back of Kimi Raikkonen in 2008.
Mark Webber will start 2nd with Sebastian Vettel 3rd. Ferrari seemed to be back on track with Fernando Alonso taking 4th place whereas Jenson Button could only manage 5th. Vitantonio Liuzzi scored his best quali position in 6th with Felipe Massa 7th, Robert Kubica 8th, Adrian Sutil 9th and Nico Rosberg completing the top ten.
Q1 got off to a sedate start with the top teams content to let the lesser ones take to the track and rubber it up nicely before making their move. Renault, Force India, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren all held P1 at some time or the other but as the clock wound down, it was the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets, heading the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Force India were the surprise team as both cars were in the top seven at one time. The ones to drop out at the end of the session were Kamui Kobayashi, Jarno Trulli, Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok.
Q2 saw the times a-tumbling with the fastest times set in the range of the 1:15.5s and it was again the same drivers in the top three positions – Lewis Hamilton heading the charts, with Sebastian Vettel & Fernando Alonso behind him. Jenson Button almost didn’t make the cut but he salvaged that with a last-ditch lap that took him upto 8th fastest but one driver who didn’t get that lucky was seven-time winner Michael Schumacher, who could only manage the 12th fastest time. Joining him in the relegation were Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg, Vitaly Petrov, Sebastian Buemi, Jaime Algersuari & Pedro de la Rosa.
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