How can I not mention Switzerland upsetting Spain, my pick to win the tournament today! What this result should do is put England's draw against the US in perspective. The US is ranked just 6 places below England in the FIFA rankings (8th and 14th) - Spain are ranked 2nd in the world, the Swiss are 24th. This is an upset; England drawing against the US was not.
The Spanish press has bemoaned the country's "nightmare" start to the World Cup in South Africa in which the European champions received a "lesson in humility" from unfancied Switzerland. "Huge disappointment in Durban. Spain blew up against Switzerland and its iron defence," the country's leading daily El Pais opined on its website. "A nightmare has started," said El Mundo.
It was a one-sided affair, but football is a great game because only one stat counts Switzerland 1 - Spain 0. Here are some interesting facts from ESPN Stats and Information:
- No team has ever won the World Cup after losing its opening match. Only three teams have ever won the title after losing ANY match, most recently Argentina in 1978.
- Spain completed more passes (574) and created the second-most chances (18) of any team thus far in the tournament. The Red Fury failed to net a goal against a Swiss team that now has five consecutive World Cup clean sheets, a streak of 484 minutes that dates back to 1994.
- Switzerland's 480 touches were the second-fewest of any side to win a World Cup match since 1966.
- Switzerland's 163 completed passes were the second-fewest of any side to win a World Cup match since 1966. Spain's 574 completed passes were the most of any side thus far, and the most of any side to lose a match in the World Cup.
- Spain outshot Switzerland 24-8 and held a 63-37 percent edge in possession, which matches Brazil for the largest margin at the tournament thus far.
So the First round of games is in the books, and the goals per game ratio that I talked about in a previous post has not yet improved. All 32 participating nations have now played one game, and the 16 matches produced just 25 goals at a rate of 1.56 goals per game. In 2006, we would have had 37 goals and in 2002, more than 40 goals by now; so in terms of encouraging Americans towards the beautiful game, it's not going well for FIFA!
ESPN have a nice summary of the first round of games; read it via the link below...