In this writer’s opinion, for one of the first times in this world cup, we’ve seen the mold and tactics of absolute defending and half-hearted attacking efforts broken. Not because of the three goals scored by Uruguay – two by Diego Forlan – but because of the number of opportunities that were created by two teams playing and accepting the risk that they may get countered. What’s the reason? We’ll come back to that in just a second.
The first twenty minutes of the game saw these two sides exchange possession again and again, after attack after attack failed to penetrate the opposing defenses. However, in the twenty-fourth minute, Diego Forlan had space and took a touch to set himself up for a shot on goal – at first appearing to have had a simply inexplicable Jabulani mid-air dip in change of course – which deflected off of the shoulder of Mokoena. Regardless, for the first time in the tournament, the Vuvuzleas fell near silent and the discontent of many of the 51,000 supporters in the stands was felt as few, if any, cheers urged on the Uruguayans.
Luck would continue to run out for Bafana Bafana as a challenge against Suarez would see Khune off. Diego Forlan made short work of the newly subbed in goalkeeper, and Uruguay were up 2-0. The coffin was nailed shut in the closing minutes by Álvaro Pereira receiving a fantastic ball from Suarez.
However, the overall tone of the game – especially in the first half – was one that, as previously mentioned, is not characteristic of World Cup matches this year. Despite losing, South Africa retained 58% possession and continually challenged Uruguay by having eleven chances – three of which were on target. At the same time, Uruguay had nineteen with six finding their way on frame.
So, what’s the reason for this change? One thought is that, given this was the second time these teams played, that the defensive nature that teams took in opening matches for the group stage is no longer beneficial – simply too costly. Teams only have 180 minutes remaining to be one of the top two in their group – and anyone familiar with the game knows that’s not a lot of time. Teams are needing to take chances and expose themselves at the cost of scoring a goal and securing a valuable points to see them through to the next round.
The only way to test the theory is to tune in tomorrow! Be sure to check back on the site and see our analysis of everything and every match of the day!