WORLD CUP JUNE 11, 2010
South Africa, I think, has actual reason for elation about the result. The Carlos Alberto Parriera system worked. His defense is barely good enough (and counterattacking capabilities sufficient) to keep them in any match in their opening group. South Africa will be more than content to retain their viability and hope that some gust of luck and homerism carries them through. Mexico, on the other hand, somewhat disappointed me. As a Barca fan, I’m pleased that Rafa Marquez scored his gimme goal. But you can see why Barca doesn’t use him regularly anymore. He looked creaky and gave away the ball that lead to Tshabalala’s fantastic goal. Everyone has droned on about how players like Rafa signify the return of the sweeper. Yet, there's a clear cost to pushing your back-line so far up the field. A few other beefs: Franco doesn’t seem the best forward to capitalize on Mexico’s great possession. And while Dos Santos looked plenty exciting, Mexico didn't have much width in the attack. Finally, Blanco is one bloated corpse. How uncomfortable was it watching him huff his way across the field? Sometimes retirement is the honorable course. Playing in the opening match against the home time is a nasty assignment. But South Africa did expose Mexico’s weaknesses. I’m afraid León will be despairing, as he does every four years.
PS—During the match, Goal Post contributor Matt Weiland sagely pointed out that Guillermo Franco and Jimmy McNulty were separated at birth:
Surely Omar would have finished better.