Happy Father’s Day, everyone. What a day of soccer that was yesterday. Four games full of goals and many story lines. The night cap between Ivory Coast and Japan ended up being a little disappointing for me. I’ve always admired this Japanese side and tipped them to do well in Brazil. But yesterday, they fell flat in the second half. There was no energy, no drive. Once Didier Drogba went in, it was like they gave up – even though they were 1-0 up at the time. That isn’t to take credit away though from the Ivorians, who really stepped up to earn the three points that put them in a great position alongside Colombia at the top of Group C.
I was mildly impressed with Arsenal target Serge Aurier, a player I had yet to see in action. He looks like he might prove to be a viable replacement for Sagna. It was also nice to see Gervinho crack a smile after his goal. For all the downs he had at Arsenal, he deserved more respect from the fans. As an Arsenal supporter, I feel partially responsible for his loss of confidence, something I’ve felt bad about since he left. I’m glad to see he landed on his feet and has rediscovered some semblance of self-belief.
Now, I myself face the daunting task of rediscovering belief in my ability to pick games correctly. After a dismal showing yesterday in my predictions, I will try my best for the next set. But hey, going 0-4 is impressive in its own way, no?
Switzerland 1 Ecuador 0
Ecuador will be the first South American side not to win a match in Brazil in this Group E opener. Switzerland will prove a tough side to crack, as Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side have excelled with Gökhan Inler and Valon Behrami sitting in front of the back four. Xherdan Shaqiri will provide the goal in the second half and the Swiss will take all three points. It will be an emotional day for Ecuador, who are still mourning the tragic death of striker Christian Benitez last July. But with few offensive weapons beside Antonio Valencia, Ecuador will fail to convert their few chances.
France 3 Honduras 0
Despite the surprising stat that France have only won one of their last nine World Cup group stage matches, the French will coast in their opener. Even without Franck Ribery, this French side has more than enough quality to get by Honduras. Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba will stand out in the midfield for their excellent play. Karim Benzema will score two on either side of the break, and Mathieu Valbuena will provide another one for Pogba. Honduras won’t make much of an impact in this game, overmatched by the French.
Argentina 4 Bosnia & Herzegovina 2
Argentina will make a stunning debut in Brazil, showcasing the offensive weaponry at their disposal. Bosnia will start the match cautiously, but an Angel Di Maria goal followed quickly by one from Sergio Agüero will force the Bosnians to open up the match. Edin Džeko will pull one back before Lionel Messi will join in the scoring. Messi will improve as the match goes on, finding his comfort zone the more Bosnia are forced to press upfield. He will set up Argentina’s fourth for Gonzalo Higuain, showing the world his relative struggles at Barcelona were merely a fluke. Vedad Ibišević will give Bosnia some consolation with a late goal off the bench, but it won’t be nearly enough to compete with Argentina’s vaunted front line.
Even with all the soccer, the best of today’s sporting events might be Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Here’s hoping San Antonio will close it out and we can all watch the end of the Big 3 era dissolve before our eyes. Please check back later for analysis on all the games. Have a great day. Make sure you spend as much of it as possible with your dad if you can.