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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spain 1-0 Portugal

The Line-Ups:

Spain: 1-Iker Casillas; 15-Sergio Ramos, 3-Gerard Pique, 5-Carles Puyol, 11-Joan Capdevila; 14-Xabi Alonso, 8-Xavi, 6-Andres Iniesta, 16-Sergio Busquets; 9-Fernando Torres, 7-David Villa

Portugal: 1-Eduardo; 2-Bruno Alves, 21-Ricardo Costa, 6-Ricardo Carvalho, 23-Fabio Coentrao, 16-Raul Meireles, 15-Pepe, 19-Tiago, 7-Cristiano Ronaldo, 11-Simao Sabrosa, 18-Hugo Almeida.

The clash everyone was waiting for saw Spain edging bit time Portugal even when the result was obtained only by the minimum margin, 1-0.

Portugal playing with 4 central defenders, 2 defensive midfielders meant that that would want to go all the way down to the excellence of Ronaldo or heading for the penalty-kicks after extra-time. Guess Portugal did not learn from their second half performance against North Korea that saw them playing their best football over of the last 2 years when they were able to perform as a whole rather than individuals and in that game regardless the opponent it was a true Portugal (3rd best nation in the world according to FIFA rankings).

When you go deeper into the game that sees a nation defending all the way expecting the 90+30 minutes to finish to rely on lottery of penalties then the chances of advancing in a World Cup competition are slim and it is a pity with the fantastic team that Portugal had regardless the injuries in a tournament fulfilled with injuries in all of the teams represented.

The turning point of the match was when Portuguese coach Queiroz decided to change the strategy from 5-4-1 to a 5-5-0 with the introduction of Danny to replace Hugo Almeida. So you take the only natural born striker for a winger and then move a winger to a non-natural position that is Ronaldo ( that is the best worldwide playing on the wing but it is ordinary playing as a central forward and time has comfortably shown that…but then again we have felt that a coach like Queiroz with his experience would not go and try to gamble on mistakes from the past…but he did in the knock-out phase that you are not allowed to experiment, you need to stick to your plan from the beginning)

It was only a matter of time for Spain to score and the clock was ticking 63 minutes when a splendorous play from the Spaniards saw Villa scoring the opener and deadly goal for La Roja. That goal puts El Guaje on top of the table in terms of individual goals scored alongside with Higuain (still on the competition) and Vittek (out of the competition already).

The game headed for the last 15 minutes and Queiroz still surprises the pundits. He makes a double swap with Mendes and Liedson going in for Simão and Pepe. What can we think about this substitution? Was it the Portuguese coach not wanting to suffer a bigger defeat or else strategy?

In a space of ten minutes he changed the formation into something that only he understood what he was trying to achieve because in the end he sent Ronaldo back to the wing and Mendes to occupy the same position of Pepe (that is a central defender and not defensive midfielder even when his adaptability levels are high, but then again you don’t make experiments on a world cup knock-out stage) just to see Liedson alone up-front. Players got so confused that we even saw Ronaldo asking Queiroz what were they to do after that… Guess that tells you all how the fairy tale ended for Portugal.

Kick in the teeth for Queiroz that early this year shoved Portuguese journalist and UEFA delegate Jorge Batista because he had the same views as Nelson Motta regarding the handling of Queiroz affairs as Portuguese coach. We will once again reproduce our perspective: Queiroz is indeed one of the best if not the best coach in terms of youth level, but when it comes down to senior level on the prime role Queiroz does not have what is needed to be a successful coach and hardly they will change unless he changes himself on his perspectives.

The last thing we need to say is that Villa alone has had almost more shots than Portugal had the whole game and that tells you the story.

In the other match of the day Paraguay edged Japan in the shootout (5-3) after a 120 minutes match with the game finishing 0-0.


Spain 1-0 Portugal (Highlights)

Simão | MySpace Video

Paraguay 5-3 Japan PEN

Perry | MySpace Video

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