I am sure our more accomplished experts will be checking in with their thoughts following the first weekend shortly, but here are five takeaways from the first three days of the World Cup.
Germany Steals The Early Favorite’s Role … Of the teams that played in the first three days of the tournament, the Germans clearly stole the headlines with a 4-0 win over Australia. Argentina looked very dangerous, also, but only tallied once against Nigeria. Germany, meanwhile, could have gone for six or seven.
South Africa Can Advance … It doesn’t seem to matter who the host is or how unlikely their advancement is, playing at home in the World Cup always seems to mean magic. South Africa should have beaten Mexico in the tournament opener, but will gladly take the tie. Then, the other two teams in the group – France and Uruguay – looked very beatable in playing to a drab 0-0 draw. Should it advance, South Africa would join the 1994 U.S. squad as hosts that most surprisingly moved forward. But, one way or another, every host until now has gone on to the second round.
Referees Solid – So Far … Short of a slightly-harsh red card against Australia, the officiating has been spot-on. Controversy will undoubtedly come at some point in the tournament, but for the first weekend there was little to complain about. And I hand out referee compliments as often as it snows in Miami.
The U.S. Result Against England Was Good, But … No complaints on stealing a point from the England match, but the U.S. will still need a result in each of its final two group contests to advance to the second round. A tie and then a win might be enough, but with Slovenia already claiming three points, the U.S. would be wise to claim a victory Friday.
Now The Stars Come Out … The Netherlands, Brazil, Italy and Spain all make their tournament debuts over the next three days. We’ve yet to see a soccer superpower lose in the first three days of the tournament – will either of these four see their advancement hopes damaged in an unlikely upset?