Well then, the Germany football machine truly got off to a heck of a start yesterday, putting the rest of the football world on notice and announcing they were here and ready to go to the finals.
Remember you can always check right here for my pre-tournament predictions, and see how off they were.
Today’s matchup’s saw Le Oranje taking on Denmark, a battle of European nations and a nice first test for a perennial under achieving Dutch side.
The second match of the day gives us as much excitement as watching tumble weeds go by, with Japan taking on African side Cameroon. The only bonus here is that we may see another African side pull off a win and the celebration in the stadium after that is guaranteed to be explosive.
Last up we have the defending World Champions taking on an underrated but equally dangerous Paraguay side. Italy have been known as slow starters in most tournaments and will be looking to change that, as anything but a win will be seen as a disastrous way to start their defence of the Jules Rimet Trophy.
Netherlands 2 – 0 Denmark
Instead of their usually attack, attack, attack mentality, the Dutch seemed happy to pass the ball around and wait for an opening, however, as the first half carried on and there score was held at nil-nil, the Netherlands started to go for it.
The best chance of the first half however went to Denmark, who were playing a boring long-ball game, when Arsenal boy Nicklas Bendtner sent in Thomas Kahlenberg , who put in a tight angle shot that Maarten Stekelenburg stretched to tip around the post.
Only seconds into the second half the Danes fell apart after a cross from Robin Van Persie is cleared by Simon Poulson only to go off Daniel Aggers back and into the net, just outside of the reach of goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
Reacting to the goal the Dutch pushed forward and imposed their will upon the game, all the Danes could do was put 11 men behind the ball and brace for wave, after wave of Orange coming forward. In the 75th minute Denmark seemed ready to go for a goal and introduced youngster Christian Eriksen, but even his introduction didn’t spark the Danes and Dirk Kuyt put the game out of hand sweeping the ball into the back of the net and giving the Dutch a 2-0 lead.
Man Of The Match: Robin Van Persie
Japan 0 – 0 Cameroon
Well, I would be lying if I said I was excited for this match. Cameroon can be an exciting side, but Japan isn’t exactly known for their football skill.
The first half lulled me into a deep sleep and was quite a bore, with both sides lacking any finish or real quality chances. Against all odds, Japan opened the scoring in the 39th minutes after a cross into the box was missed by two Cameroon defenders and striker Keisuke Honda put it away easily.
Cameroon would throw the kitchen sink at Japan in the final moments, but were unable to pull back a goal and get a draw. Cameroon will be disheartened after they controlled the pace for much of the game but just couldn’t find an answer.
Man Of the Match: Keisuke Honda
Italy 0 – 0 Paraguay
After Germany threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the teams in the tournament, the pressure was on defending champions Italy to shrug of their usual slow starting mentality and pick up the full points against Paraguay.
The craft South Americans however were not ready to go down without a fight and it set the stage for an exciting match.
Italy dominated the possession for much of the opening half, while Paraguay seemed more than happy to sit back, stay disciplined and wait for counter-attacking opportunities. They made the most of their opportunities and took a shock lead in the 39th minutes courtesy of a Antolin Alcaraz header on a free kick. The striker made it look easy as he towered over both Fabio Cannavaro and Daniele de Rossi.
Italy managed to scrap into the half, still down by just one goal, but were dealt a major blow when Gianluigi Buffon was taken off at half time with a back injury.
The champions continued to press and try to find an equalizer and were gifted a goal due to another horrendous goaltending gaffe, and Daniele de Rossi was there to put the ball away.
The Azzuri picked up their game and came close a few more times before the end of the match, but will be disappointed to only walk away with the single point.
Man Of The Match: Daniele de Rossi
– A big kudos to the CBC live streaming of the games, I had to watch Japan v Cameroon on my laptop and got perfectly streamed football, without any glitches. This is a great boost to fans of the game that are stuck at work or don’t have access to the matches via television.
– After watching, re-watching and watching again, I am thoroughly convinced that the red card to Tim Cahill was in fact no more than a yellow card offence. It’s a shame because even if the Australians are justified in their appeal, he’ll still be out for the next match against Ghana.
– Thoughts go out to Paul Gazza Gascoigne, former England star, who was in a terrible car accident last evening and is ‘seriously injured.’ After a long battle with alcohol and drugs, it’s terrible to see another tragic event surrounding the English start of the 1990 World Cup.
Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.