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John Barnes World Cup Analysis - June 15th

ImageToday's matches started with a bit of a shock when Slovakia drew 1-1 against New Zealand - everyone expected Slovakia to win by at least three or four goals. While New Zealand didn't play particularly well and Slovakia had quite a few chances, the longer it went on, the harder it was for Slovakia to get back into the game. They only equalized in the 93rd minute, three minutes into extra time. It is always a danger when there is only that solitary one goal lead. Slovakia really needed the three points in this match if they had serious ambitions to proceed as their next two matches are the more difficult ones against Paraguay and current World Cup Champions Italy.

In the second match of the day, the Ivory Coast and Portugal drew 0-0 which was a bit disappointing for both teams. The Ivory Coast is the better side and deserved to win, but there just weren't any real chances for either team and the Ivory Coast were disappointing. Didier Drogba came on in the second half though – even with a broken arm. His presence went some way towards inspiring his team, but it just wasn't enough. On the other side, Christiano Ronaldo was disappointing for Portugal. He hasn't played well for his country for the last six months. This can happen with certain players who always seem to play better for their club than for their country. This can be down to different set ups and different teams. It happens sometimes. In a way, it was a shame that this match-up had to be their opening match, as teams tend to be more cautious early on.

The match that everyone was looking forward to today was between Brazil and the People's Republic of Korea. Everyone expected Brazil to win by at least five or six goals but the People's Republic of Korea defended very well and got numbers behind the ball. They kept the game very tight and tried to catch Brazil on the break. They had a number of half chances for breaks in the first half but their ball seemed to let them down. This made it difficult for Brazil who were lucky to walk away with a 2-1 win. Robinho played well with most of the creative spark coming from him, but Kaka was disappointing.

This is another example of how the so-called weaker teams are playing well and making it hard for the stronger teams to perform. They are fighting hard and not letting the stronger teams walk away with big wins. The days of 6-0 wins are over.

Based on today's results, Group G could be even tighter than people originally anticipated as the Republic of Korea could cause both Portugal and the Ivory Coast some real problems. It is still wide open as to who will go forward from this Group.