Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Game 13: Ivory Coast vs Portugal
Ending in a 0-0 draw, Ivory Coast looked the be the better of the two sides. They constantly pressed their offense while still maintaining a strong defense, two basic but integral parts of any successful team. In truth, it appeared that Portugal were playing for a nil-nil draw, as they did not look very impressive, certainly not as good as teams long since passed.
An interesting thing about this game was the officiating, especially in the first half. Up until this point the officials had been impeccable, utterly beyond criticism, but the Uruguayan official today missed quite a few calls. In the opening three minutes Ronaldo took a dive after not being touched, it fooled the official and Portugal was awarded a spot-kick, along with Zokora receiving a yellow-card. A little while later in the 21st minute, Ronaldo would be clearly fouled, and after the official gave to order to play on some arguing would ensure that would not only see Demel (the man who committed the foul) booked, but also Ronaldo. This would continue into the second half after some reckless and dangerous tackles from both sides would be overlooked, I pray this official improves as each team was denied some valuable free kicks. The final highlight was at the very end of the game when Ivory Coast plays a short corner, only to hear the official blow the whistle to end the game. Maybe the rules of officiating have changed, but you never blow the final whistle on an advantageous possession chance.
The best chance for Portugal would be from the 11th minute after an absolutely beautiful run of play shot from Christiano Ronaldo would collide off of the post. Many fans had been waiting for someone to do well with the much criticized Jabulani ball, and Ronaldo did not disappoint. For Ivory Coast it would come in stoppage time when Didier Drogba just missed out on getting his foot wrapped around the ball, after having been played into the box from a lovely through ball.
In order for Ivory Coast to improve they would need to be a little less aggressive in terms of challenges, otherwise they would be risking a lot of yellow cards. Furthermore, they must practice their finishing, as there were some amazing goal chances, but the shot takers would kick the ball right at Eduardo, Portugal's goalkeeper.
Portugal on the other hand has a lot of work to do. They were not aggressive enough in their counterattacks, relying, it seems, to much on Christiano Ronaldo to see them through. If Portugal wants to advance then they will need to have some players step up to score and run at defenders, a very disappointing game from the former semi-finalists.