Going into this year’s tournament, the one group game that seemed more exciting to the public at-large than the rest was Portugal-Ivory Coast, and with good reason. Assuming Brazil does not slip up, this game was going to ultimately decide who joined the Brazilians past the group stage.
Problem was neither side seemed the least bit interested in picking up three points this morning. Play-by-play man Ian Darke’s rather frank assessment of Portugal’s first half was well warranted, but the African outfit were not much better themselves. The fear of defeat seemed to far outweigh the riches of victory.
The first half was an absolute snoozefest. The only close chance came from a Cristiano Ronaldo rocket from 35 yards out that shook the woodwork. This was one of only two shots in the run of play from either side in the first 45. The Ivory Coast, Gervinho specifically, made some threatening runs that saw no end product.
The first 10minutes of the second half looked promising as both sides were getting creative in the final third. These 10 minutes were nothing more than an apparition, as the rest of the half delivered just a few chances for each side, none of which were truly great scoring opportunities. The best of them came from the injured substitute Didier Drogba, who received a ball inside the box with just the keeper to beat. Drogba was stretched and decided to cross rather than shoot.
Cristiano Ronaldo seemed more interested in showing off his acting ability as opposed to his footballing prowess. Though he looked the most threatening on a toothless Portuguese team, he once again was unable to shake off his goal scoring drought for his country. Ivory Coast’s forwards were slightly more creative, but still never really looked like grabbing a goal.
So one of the the most glamorous games of the group stage turned out to be a huge disappointment, continuing a trend of negative games to start World Cup 2010. What does it mean for both teams?
Assuming Brazil beat them both, Portugal and the Ivory Coast are banking on besting one another in the goal difference department. It would be an absolute shock if the fourth team in this group, North Korea, did not get demolished in all three of their games. So whether it is keeping things respectable with Brazil or blitzing the “Fighting Kim Jong-il’s”, Portugal and Ivory Coast are in the same exact situation headed into their final two group contests.