Three wins from three games and they’ve yet to really hit third gear. This Holland team seem to like 100% records having also won all their games in qualifying for the tournament. An awful lot is expected of them as a result and they will need to raise their game when they line out against giaint-killers Slovakia on Monday afternoon. The return of Arjen Robben is a major boost and should Holland find their feet there may be no catching them this time.
Robin Van Persie
Following a torrid injury-related season, the Arsenal striker will be delighted to open his World Cup account. Threatening throughout, it is paramount that Van Persie remain fit for the duration of Holland’s campaign.
A comprehensive victory over a poor Danish side was capped off by the scoring of not one, but two free kicks.
Lived up to all the “hilarious” engine-related humour by running the game for his country. The midfielder has impressed thus far with goals, assists and workrate. Japan will be relying on him to keep, ahem, driving them forward against Paraguay.
The Jabulani ball
Turns out you can score free kicks with it.
Unfancied but in the end unbeaten. The South Americans have shown grit and determination and set up a match against Japan that could surprise many.
Nobody expected them to get this far, especially at the expense of the Italians. Similarly, nobody expects them to give Holland problems on Monday but as the Eastern Europeans have proven, surprises can happen.
By not scoring against Italy, his employers Napoli will probably just hold back on issuing his P45.
Touted as whipping boys, the Kiwis brought pride to their nation by not only finishing their campaign unbeaten, but placing higher in the group than Italy.
Slightly took the gloss off a famous victory by play-acting and time-wasting at the death. They won’t care though.
Farewell to the 2006 champions. Then again this Italy was barely the same one that took the crown on penalties in Germany four years ago. While some names remained, the spirit did not. Fabio Cannavaro and Marcello Lippi will wonder just why their country has crashed out of their first World Cup at the group stage in 36 years, but the writing was on the wall even through their qualification.
While they may have topped their group, it was a far from convincing. In truth, Ireland should have taken at least four points off them instead of two. Their frailties were exposed in most of the games they played, frailties
The Napoli striker will never win an Oscar with acting that melodramatic. Trust an Italian to go from the ridiculous to the sublime though, netting one of the goals of the tournament shortly after his “I’ve been shot in the face” antics.
Three games, three losses and no points brings a hugely disappointing campaign to an end and leaves only one African team in the last sixteen.
Can have no complaints. Not good enough.