The World Cup’s biggest surprise so far was the rapid exit of Spain who lost heavily to Holland initially and then went under against Chile on Wednesday.
The World Cup winners from the last tournament only have pride to play for against Australia on Monday. The plucky Socceroos will be without Tim Cahill who is suspended. Easily their best player, Cahill scored in defeats against Chile and Holland and at 34 is unlikely to be at the next World Cup finals so the manner of his exit is thoroughly disappointing, considering how much quality he adds to the side.
The volley the New York Red Bulls midfielder scored against Holland was one of the best goals so far.
Soaking up all drama and excitement in the Cayman Islands is Manlio Connolly, a former captain of local side Tigers. Connolly expected Spain to get to the semifinals at least and is surprised that they have gone out so early.
“I think some Spanish players thought they did not have to do much to progress, whereas Chile were far more hungry,” he said. “Spain were over-confident and some of their key players did not perform.”
Connolly added that Diego Costa must regret electing last year to play for Spain although he was a Brazil international twice. Portugal-born, Costa chose Spain because,as an Atletico Madrid player he received Spanish citizenship.
A big Barcelona and Lionel Messi fan, Connolly hopes Argentina will win the tournament but, because of their defensive frailties, believes Germany are a better choice.
“Messi should be the star in this tournament but the Germans have the best chance of winning it because they consistently get to the semis and final and have won it three times,” he said.
He expects the Germans to cruise past the haphazard Ghanaians on Saturday because “they are stronger in every department.”
Argentina play Iran on Saturday and Connolly sees Messi shining again after impressing in their first match, a 2-1 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina that he scored in.
Connolly, who has Honduran connections, will watch intently when Honduras take on Ecuador on Friday in what looks like an even pairing. “It’s all about who wants it the most,” he said. “The coaches have traded places so each one knows the other team’s strengths and weaknesses really well.”
Connolly expects some rough, physical play from Honduras again, something they were heavily criticized for in their opening 3-0 loss to France and in warm-up matches against Brazil and England.
“Honduras have always been known to be a physical side,” he said. “Their players don’t come from the better academies so they get by on raw talent and physical strength.”