One day in the books. I watched both these games off TV after doing the England training (more on that below), but here's some instant impressions and a look ahead to tomorrow:
Germany 4, Costa Rica 2: The opener contained no surprises, but plenty of thrills. An exquisite opening goal by Philip Lahm, cutting on his defender and planting a shot from just inside the top angle of the box in off the far post -- pretty. But the pre-tournament projections look pretty close to the mark. Germany can really attack, albeit this was a very dodgy defence. And they will be shredded at the back by a good and well-organized side with a scorer. And Jens Lehmann is not the answer. On one of Costa Rica's goals, he would've been better off, maybe, trying that move he pulled in the European Cup final. Y'know, tackle the guy.
Ecuador 2, Poland 0: Good start by the South Americans. Rubbish from the very ordinary Poles, who go into their next match, against Germany, with absolute desparation. With Ecuador up 1-0 going into the second half, Poland stormed around for the first 15 minutes after the break, looking for the equalizer. But rarely did they threaten, Ecuador got one on the counter, and then it all fizzled into long balls and hopes that were very nearly answered when a half-chance went off the bar and another really good late shot hit the post. Big smiles and huge sighs of relief for Ecuador, who have large motivation for their next game, against Costa Rica: a W there would make their final game against Germany not such a big deal.
England vs Paraguay. I think Paraguay will be pesky, but England has a bit too much savvy. England 1-0.
Trinidad & Tobago vs Sweden. T&T just can't match up. Sweden 3-0.
Argentina-Ivory Coast. Group of Death begins with a doozy. A 2-2 barnburner.
Quote of the day
“I don’t know if we’ll win, but this is the best chance we’ve had in my lifetime, since 1970. If we don’t win, it’s going to be at least 20 years before we have another squad like this.” England fan Dave Rabone.
One last link
The Fiver has this one Friday, on the latest from the Brazil camp:
Luckily, it's at times like these that a nation rallies round to take the pressure off its representatives and Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was quick to do his bit. "Nobody will consider the idea that Brazil will not win the cup. It will lift the self-esteem of the Brazilian people," hurrahed el presidente in a video conference with national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, slamming his fist on the table in encouragement. The sensitive commander-in-chief even managed to spare a thought for big-boned striker Ronaldo - low on confidence after a spate of injuries and increasing media speculation over his weight. "So, what is it? Is he fat or not?" pondered Silva out loud as he put the finishing touches on a Slimfast care package, before encouraging the coach to "give a chance" to back-up forward Robinho.