Switzerland shocked the soccer world and beat Spain 1-0 with a great defensive effort Wednes-day. The Spaniards seemed to try to play a little too cute, always going for the extra pass instead of looking for the shot. They had racked up 337 passes at halftime in a tournament were the pass total per game sat at 317. The Spanish finished with a total of 574
While this is their style of play and usually a good strategy to break defenses like the Swiss’, it backfired Wednesday. The Spanish squad was fun to watch, but they couldn’t get themselves in a position to score, even though they outshot the Swiss squad 25-9; only five of the 25 shots were on goal.
La Furia Roja had a couple of close calls. Xabi Alonso rifled a 25-yard shot off the crossbar after 70 minutes. David Villa had a good chance just ten minutes into the match, but Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio dived to strip the striker of the ball. Benaglio had a great game and helped his quad to the surprising victory.
With at least one match in the books for every team, we will look at Thursday’s action.
Argentina is looking to improve on its scoring after opening the tournament with a 1-0 win over Nigeria. They are looking for star striker Lionel Messi to come out of a little funk. He hasn’t scored for the Argentinian squad since November of last year. The match against South Korea could be the perfect opportunity to get going again.
While South Korea surprised in their opener against Greece, the 2-0 win can’t be used as a measuring stick for the rest of the tournament. Greece played a really bad game, and the South Korean’s didn’t face a real test.
Their sole star player, Park Ji-Sung, showed his skills when he dribbled through several defenders and scored in the 52nd minute of the squad’s opener. However, the South Koreans lack the talent to play with a perennial power like Argentina.
Argentina is the heavy favorite and I can’t see any other outcome than La Albiceleste beating North Korea. I think the Argentinean offense will get going and we will see several goals by Diego Maradona’s squad.
In the second match of the day, Greece and Nigeria will face off, and looking at the lines this could actually be an interesting game as a bettor. Greece played poorly in the opener and their defensive style doesn’t allow them to score many goals. Once they find themselves behind, the match is pretty much lost.
Nigeria will come out firing to make up for the loss they suffered at the hands of Argentina. I think Nigeria will win this one handily. Pinnacle has them winning outright at +109, and 5Dimes offers $105 on your $100 moneyline bet, should Nigeria come through. I see them as a much bigger favorite, so this is definitely worth a look.
France and Mexico face off in the third match of the day, and anything can happen in this one. The French squad showed their usual unmotivated self in their opener against Uruguay and they need to bounce back to avoid being in a tough spot for their final game of the group stage.
Mexico disappointed in the first match of the tournament tying host South Africa. Their goalkeeper is a liability, and the French could take advantage of his poor positioning. However, the Mexicans have it in them to draw with the French or even come out on top of this matchup.
This is a tough one to call and the odds don’t offer a lot of value. France comes in as the slight favorite, and if you believe that the 2006 runner-up will show up to play you should give the moneyline at 5Dimes a look. The sportsbook will pay you $139 for your $100 bet should Les Bleus come through and beat El Tri.