Day four of the World Cup and we’ll be hoping for something a bit prettier to watch with only an impressive German display worthy of note so far from the so called contenders.
Today the Netherlands take on Denmark at 12.30pm in Soccer City, Johannesburg. No one is giving the Dames much of a chance especially as their star centre back Simon Kjaer is injured. He has been touted as a possible replacement for Nemanja Vidic at Manchester United and is highly rated.
Yet Denmark has some good players, among them Thomas Sorensen in goal and Daniel Agger in defence. There is the veteran forward Jon Dahl Tomasson who has bags of experience. He forms a partnership in attack along with Nicklas Bendtner who is talented but not as good as he thinks. This is the fourth world cup for Denmark and their coach has been in the job for 10 years, so the team is sure to be organised.
The Dutch have an awesome attack which has scored 10 goals in the last two games, but a leaky defence which could cost them later in the tournament. Look out for midfield playmaker Wesley Sneijder, deadly winger Arjen Robben (who may be on the bench for the first match due to injury) and surefire striker Robin Van Persie as possible stars of the tournament. As always the biggest problem for the Dutch is themselves and they will be keen to avoid the usual infighting.
In the afternoon Japan take on Cameroon. The Japanese are fast and organised but give away a huge height advantage to most teams which could be costly from set pieces. They have also never won a world cup match on foreign soil. Nakamura is their talisman, a star player in Scotland for Celtic. Cameroon have three time African footballer of the year Samuel Eto’o but are unable to get the best out of him at tournaments and are unlikely to go far. They are a very popular team though, and that quarter final appearance in 1990 will live long in the memory.
In the evening the defending champions Italy take on Paraguay. No one has had much to say about this aged Italian team at the World Cup, and although it is very dangerous to underestimate them, I’ve already made my pre-tournament predictions! Their lack of pace was brutally exposed by Holland in the previous European championships and they have lost some star performers like Francesco Totti and Andrea Pirlo. However they still have bags of experience with coach Marcello Lippi, Fabio Cannavaro and Gigi Buffon. For such a small country though Paraguay have punched above their weight beating Brazil and Argentina in qualifying. Striker Roque Santa Cruz is probably their best player, although I still expect he Italian to make light work on them this evening.
Holland 5 -1 Denmark
Japan 1 – 1 Cameroon
Italy 2 - 0 Paraguay