Don’t worry, kids, I’m not going to give a rundown of all sixty-four games of the tournament. I did watch the first two, however, and the game between Poland and Ecuador held my attention (although by then my laptop battery was dead). Also remember that I don’t know crap about this game. My observations could be so far off base that soccer (they call it fotbal here) fans will laugh uproariously.
The difference in style between the two teams was apparent from the beginning, and is what made the game interesting to me. Poland’s snappy short passes and ball-control philosophy were effective early on in each period, and at first I thought the game was going to be lopsided. Somehow, though, one of the Ecuadorians managed to get back in time to break up the opportunity every time. The Ecuadorians, meanwhile, were playing a flow game, with big, looping passes that their teammates would leg out. The tactics seemed to give the cameramen difficulty as well; many times I could not tell what was happening where the ball was going to land, until at the last inistant a player would come into the frame. Perhaps European-style cameramen are not well-suited for the South American-style game.
As the game progressed, Ecuador looked more and more in control. The difference, I think, was conditioning. Once Ecuador established the open running game Poland couldn’t keep up. Ecuador held off a charge late in the game to win, 2-0.
Poland had the feet, but Ecuador had the legs.
Edited to add impression from day two: Argentina is a bunch of whiny dive artists. Get up and play, you babies!