Joe Strange - Spain are still favourites
Published: 17 Jun 2010 - 15:49:03
After almost a week of complaints about the lack of goals, action and on-field quality, the World Cup suddenly sparked into life yesterday - although not in the way that many of us had expected.
The evening fixture saw Diego Forlan-inspired Uruguay comprehensively defeat hosts South Africa by three goals to nil - only the third time in 17 games that three or more goals had been scored.
But while the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria played host to an impressive, if somewhat anticipated victory for the South Americans, it was the three o'clock game in Durban which stole the show on day six of the World Cup.
Despite boasting just the one goal, Spain versus Switzerland produced arguably the most enthralling 90 minutes of football seen at the tournament thus far.
Prior to kick-off most pundits were predicting three points and another irresistible performance from Vicente Del Bosque's mesmerising side.
But while maximum points failed to materialise, few could argue that David and Villa and co put in a performance worthy of their lofty status, despite falling to a 1-0 defeat.
It was the Spaniards and not the Swiss who dominated proceedings - racking up 74% of possession along with 12 corners and 21 shots. In comparison, Ottmar Hitzfeld's side kept hold of the ball for a just over a quarter of the game and could only muster five efforts at goal.
Despite the one-sided statistics, Gelson Fernandes' scrappy strike resigned the World Cup favourites to only their fourth defeat in 49 games. But it's that sort of form, plus the nature of yesterday's loss which should still make them favourites for victory on football's biggest stage.
If you're going lose a game of football then Spain showed us exactly how to do it in the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday afternoon.
The quick passing and fluid movement which has become synonymous with them in recent years was all on display, but a mixture of bad luck and a stubborn Swiss defence left them ruing their missed opportunities.
On a different day they could've easily stuck four or five past Diego Benaglio in the opposition goal - they were that good.
Some of the more foolish among us might write-off Spain after yesterday's result but don't be surprised if they come back better than ever in their next Group H fixture.
Honduras beware, you could be in for one hell of a backlash.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
- A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.
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