1. Mexico 1, South Africa 1. The opener, with its multiple goals, mass of scoring chances, and up-and-down play, seems in retrospect a bit like a tease.
2. USA 1, England 1. Maybe a bit biased here, but this was another back-and-forth match where both teams looked like they were trying to score all game long.
3. Germany 4, Australia 0. The Germans did play an attractive, pinball-passing kind of soccer, but a tournament is not in good shape when a four-nil rout is one of its best games so far.
Through 11 matches, we still haven't had a single game where both teams scored but one team won: no 2-1s, no 3-1s, no 3-2s. Here's hoping the dearth of goals and of entertainment ends today, with Ivory Coast vs. Portugal, today at 10 AM EST. This is arguably the most interesting match of the Cup so far -- both clubs are among oddsmakers' top 10 teams with a chance to win in it all (#10 and #9, but still).
The game also pits the second and third favored teams in what has universally been declared the Group of Death. A winner here looks in great shape to progress (and possibly play Spain in the next round), while a loser will be required to gain at least a tie from its matchup with Brazil. Ivory Coast and Chelsea star Didier Drogba will wear a cast, but will definitely play today. As for Portugal, Zonal Marking says they have the talent, but wonders about their tactics and creativity. I say the Drogba-Ronaldo showdown is entertaining, but I've been scared straight from predicting too many goals. How about a 1-1 draw?
The last time NoKo made the Cup, in 1966, they came in as 1000-1 longshots but set the tournament on fire. They won the hearts of English crowds, beat Italy 1-0 to make the quarterfinals, and then jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Portugal. Of course, they ultimately lost that match 5-3, after which, according to some rumors, they spent the rest of their lives in hard labor camps.