Portugal and Ivory Coast squared off in the first Group G matchup this morning and finished with a very unimpressive 0-0 draw. Did you know that FIFA ranked Portugal as the 3rd best team in the world? These rankings don't mean much anyways, but putting Portugal 3rd really lessens the credibility of the rankings. They barely qualified for the World Cup and it showed in their first game. They looked completely lost and played one of the more boring first-halfs I have seen thus far in the Cup. Denmark, who lost 2-0 to the Netherlands looked better than Portugal.
All they hype around Portugal is of course for the star of stars: Cristiano Ronaldo. Since Ronaldo would likely be the first person to tell you that he is really the only player on the field that matters, lets chronicle his first-half of the Cup:
5:05 - First significant touch. Dribbles to the sideline. Dances and then falls over the foot of the defender. Foul called.
6:24 - Receives a pass and touches the ball around the defender. But instead of running onto the ball he takes the dive instead. Replay confirms that the defender didn't touch him. He really had the momentum and if he wouldn't have taken a dive he might have created a good scoring opportunity with his teammates. This way however he gets to roll on the ground for awhile and is awarded a free kick from 40 yards out. This gives him the opportunity to show off his magnificent free kick skills. Although he's 40 yards away, he still tries to shoot on goal. Lots of build up for the ball to only go into the wall 10 yards away. No where near goal.
10:30 - Receives the ball, pulls a move on a defender and cracks a shot from 30 yards out which bounces off the post. It's an amazing shot really. This is the reason players and teams put up with Ronaldo. He's a "me-first" player and a total hot head, but his flashes of brilliance surpass most every other player that even the harshes critic (or blogger) has to admire his skill.
19:54 - Ronaldo booked for a yellow card. He actually was fouled on this one outside the box and it was a cheap yellow. The players were jawing at each other, but neither players should have received a yellow. The ref should have just told the players to calm down.
32:55 - Receives pass. Taken down from behind. Gets up limping. Replay confirms that he wasn't actually touched.
34:30 - Good touch and dribble through the middle.
36:11 - On the sideline. Pulls a move and dribbles out of bounds. Looks at the ref in dismay as if the ref was supposed to give Portugal the ball even though Ronaldo dribbled it out of bounds.
39:25 - Receives a pass. Bad trap. Loses ball.
43:10 - Heads the ball going out of bounds.
And that was the half. First half recap: One shot. One yellow card. Lots of complaining and falling.
In his defense, Ronaldo did play better and more team play in the second half. Regardless, Portugal lacked a lot of creativity and played as though they had never seen or played with the other players on their team. They seemed to play for a draw, which makes no sense because they have Brazil looming in the background. If they play like this against Brazil, they will lose 4-0. They had no offense.
Ivory Coast on the other hand gave it a valid attempt. Drogba did actually play despite having a broken arm. He came in a sub in the second half and gave the Ivory Coast a nice spark. They had some chances.
Again though, I don't know if it was the nerves or what, but I expected more out of these teams. Well, I expected more out of this game. Either team could come out and shock Brazil, but it's unlikely. Since they tied, both teams now have to try and beat North Korea by more goals than the other team and lose to Brazil by less goals than the other team. If either team would have won this game, they would have likely advanced with a win over North Korea and they wouldn't have had to worry about Brazil. I'm sure the teams knew this and weren't playing for a tie, but you would have never guessed it by watching most of that game.
But the first act of the Cristiano Ronaldo show comes to an unimpressive end. It's going to have to get a lot better if Portugal wants to play more than two more games.