Category Archives: Winners and Losers

Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Day 7

Winners


Irish fans

Yes we are that bitter. And yes, watching France lose and possibly bow out this soon was damn sweet.

Mexico

Took full advantage of France’s apathy to put themselves firmly in the driving seat. A point is all that is required from their game against Uruguay to progress beyond the group stage. With the exception of Germany, the South American teams have played the most attacking and exciting football and Mexico kept up the standard.

Javier Hernández and Cuauhtémoc Blanco

The future and past of Mexican goalscoring talent combined to see off France. The future is bright for  Manchester United’s newest acquisition having now scored eight goals in fourteen appearances for his country while the 37-year-old Blanco added to his legend with a well-taken penalty to seal a famous victory.

Argentina

Repelled a South Korean fightback in style to make it six points from six and should finish the group with the maximum number when they face Greece. Diego Maradona’s men have been impressive without having to go to too much trouble. It’s early days yet and Messi has yet to hit the back of the net but the early signs are good for a team that struggled greatly through the qualifying campaign.

Gonzalo Higuain

A cool, calm and collected hat-trick makes the Real Madrid forward YOUR World Cup top goalscorer.

Greece

Lesson learned. Following the wretched anti-football that led to their demise against South Korea, the 2004 European Champions woke up and took the game to Nigeria. An especially impressive result considering they came from behind to win, scoring their first ever goals in the World Cup finals in the process.

Alexandros Tsorvas

A very lucky boy. Coming out on the winning side should make people forget about his Bruce Grobbelaar-esque goalkeeping that led to Greece conceding the opening goal.

Losers


France

Karma is a bitch. Outclassed and outplayed, the 2006 finalists looked disinterested throughout. Perhaps Raymond Domenech has finally broken his team’s spirit. In any event, France appeared content to let Mexico play and barely put up a fight.

Thierry Henry

And speaking of karma, all the former French captain could do was watch from his designated spot on the bench. Safe home Thierry.

Nigeria

In relative control following an early lead, the Super Eagles were mostly untroubled until one man threw it all away…

Sani Kaita

A moment of utter stupidly from the Nigerian midfielder led to his dismissal and the subsequent Greek revival. It might seem harsh to place the failing of a team on the shoulders of one player, but Kaita’s assault on Vasilis Torosidis cost his team the match and effectively booked their ticket home.

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Dave Hanratty’s Winners & Losers – Day 6

Winners

Switzerland

Who saw that coming then? Considering even the word Switzerland hardly conjures up feelings of excitement, it was no surprise that the first half was an especially drab affair with the Swiss playing ultra defensive and rarely looking threatening. Mick McCarthy repeatedly scolded them for “being happy not to score” but thankfully once the second half rolled around they spat in the face of that particular assessment.

The opening round of games have proved to be mostly very tight affairs with teams playing very defensively, and while this has attracted criticism from viewers who crave goals, can it not be argued that certain teams simply need to play defensively? You can practically set your watch to the amount of times Arsene Wenger will complain about teams not allowing his beloved Arsenal to play their beautiful brand of football by suffocating his team and being happy to come away from the Emirates Stadium with a point.

While Wenger has a point, surely it’s nothing more than suicide for certain teams to repeatedly attack those clearly superior to them? Had Switzerland adopted a free and easy approach against the European champions they would surely have been crushed. As it was Spain had plenty of opportunities to win the contest and failed to do so, while Switzerland grew in confidence and pulled off a famous and deserved victory. This was not anti-football, nor was it winning ugly. And it certainly was no fluke.

Ottmar Hitzfeld


The wily veteran manager got his tactics absolutely spot on.

Eren Derdiyok

Made the goal and was cruelly denied a particularly sweet one of his own by the post. While the commentators were reluctant to heap praise upon the Swiss striker due to his direct nature, he made life difficult for the Spanish defence and his tenacity led to the decisive goal.

Chile

Impressive, but expectedly so. Having finished second in their South American qualifying group, many pundits have touted Chile to do well in South Africa. The 1-0 scoreline flattered their opponents, as Chile dominated the game and really should have come away with a more impressive goal tally. With Spain losing, it makes their upcoming clash all the more interesting.

Alexis Sanchez

The 21-year-old Udinese forward is one to keep an eye on.

Uruguay

Showed the creativity and killer instinct that was absent against France. With four points on the board and one game to play, they should be looking to win the group.

Diego Forlán

And he’s off. The man who destroyed the Europa League dreams of Fulham (and Liverpool) opened his World cup account with a spectacular brace. Both goals, in addition to his crossing, demonstrated that Forlán has little problems controlling the much-maligned Jabulani ball. One of the top strikers in world football, the Uruguayan is definitely worth a punt for top goalscorer should his country progress further. Please come back to Old Trafford Diego…

Losers

Spain

Oh dear. Just when they were beginning to shake off their choke artists tag, this happens. And yet I find it hard to be moved, considering their conduct. Spain, like their native Barcelona, have a quiet arrogance about them. While they do indeed play beautiful football, they seem to believe they have a divine right to victory simply because of their attractive output. Not so. Petulance was on display along with whinging and diving and in the end all that pouting, all that complaining merely amounted to a loss.

A shocking loss due to the identity of the opponent yes, but that Spain were defeated is not shocking at all. Hype is a killer, and as tournament favourites and with a history of failure in major competitions, don’t be surprised if Spain take the high-profile early exit this year.

Fernando Torres

Is it harsh to pick on a player who isn’t fully fit? Perhaps, but when you are labelled the greatest striker in the world (is Messi strictly a striker?) and you have thirty minutes to make an impact and proceed to scupper any and all opportunities that come your way, you certainly don’t belong in the winners column.

South Africa

May well suffer the ignominy of not qualifying for the second round of their own tournament.

Steven Pienaar

Sacrificed for the substitute goalkeeper after another poor performance. The new Premier League season can’t come soon enough for the Everton midfielder.

Itumeleng Khune


Perhaps unfortunate to receive a red card, the South African goalkeeper may well have played his final part in the competition.