Three quick thoughts: Serbia-Ghana
Three quick thoughts on Ghana's 1-0 win over Serbia in Group D:
1. More pace, please. There have been nine goals (and three red cards) in the first seven games of the World Cup, and two of those have been courtesy of friendly goalkeeping from Group C duo Robert Green and Faouzi Chaouchi. Teams have been terrified of losing their first matches and that approach so far has seen a lack of daring and, more significantly, pace. Ghana did go for it in the second half, even before Serbia's Aleksandar Lukovic was sent off, but the two most impressive attacking performances have come from South Korea and Argentina, specifically Lionel Messi, who ran at their opponents and created plenty of chances. Ghana right-back Prince Tagoe was a dangerous outlet when he burst up the flank, unlike Serbia's much-hyped winger Milos Krasic, who was disappointing. The fact that Serbia midfielder Nenad Milijas, probably the slowest man in the stadium let alone on the pitch, lasted one hour, says it all. But Ghana deserved to win this one, as it was the only team who was not just trying to NOT lose it.
2. Referees have not been afraid to make big calls. The last Argentine to officiate a World Cup match was Horacio Elizondo, the man who dismissed Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 final. His compatriot Hector Baldassi made the right decision in sending off Lukovic for a second bookable offense (it was borderline red) with 15 minutes left, and he spotted the inexplicable handball by Zdravko Kuzmanovic that led to Ghana's match-winning penalty. This tournament has seen some major decisions -- Mexico's disallowed goal against South Africa, France's shouts for a penalty turned down -- and they have all been correct so far. We can't wait to criticise when decisions are wrong (see below), so credit where it's due. The referees have been spot on.
3. FIFA is not filled with brotherly love. A pedantic quibble it may be, but they are often the ones that rankle the most. FIFA did not allow Argentina's Carlos Tevez to have "Carlitos" on the back of his shirt, nor was Sergio Aguero allowed to have "Kun." And yet Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was allowed to have "Prince" on his shirt, even though he was born Kevin Boateng and only added Prince, his father's name, later on in life. Surely FIFA didn't take that decision to avoid the inevitable "Boateng-Boateng" photos when "Prince" comes up against his half-brother, Jerome Boateng, in Ghana's final Group D match against Germany? Anyone would think Fifa was making up the rules as they went along: surely not.