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Posted by Tom Kundert on 06/15/2010

A poor display, an average result and some unhelpful fall-out. The 0-0 draw against the Ivory Coast was certainly not the best of starts to Portugal's World Cup campaign.

While it was obvious that both sides were petrified of losing this match - which effectively would have ended their chances of making progress out of Group G - the complete lack of spark from Portugal was a worrying sign.

Save Ronaldo's early shot against the post Portugal did not fashion a single serious goalscoring attempt. The midfield was overun by the stronger physical players and none of Ronaldo, Danny, Simão or Liedson looked like they had the guile to break down the well organised Ivorians.

Deco had a far from memorable game and his outburst post-match, saying that Queiroz made the wrong substitutions, will do little for morale or unity among the squad.

The individual player ratings reflect the disappointing display produced by the Selecção.

However, there are positives. As everyone knows, it is rare for teams who come racing out of the blocks to progress deep into tournaments. The most important thing is not to lose your first game. And Portugal did not lose.

Impenetrable defence
The defence continues to look rock solid. Carlos Queiroz's side have now conceded a just 3 goals in their last 16 matches - a quite remarkable record.

Fábio Coentrão confirmed what an increasing number of pundits have been saying about the Benfica man. The winger converted into a left-back has the ability to become a truly world-class performer. That he can attack menacingly we all know. What he proved today was that even in a pressure cooker situation against tough opposition he can defend tenaciously and skilfully.

Meireles impresses
Despite his poor season for FC Porto, Raúl Meireles continued his excellent showings in a Portugal shirt. He has none of the dazzling skills of a Ronaldo, a Nani or a Danny, but every team needs a tireless worker buzzing around the centre of the pitch and Meireles plays that role to perfection.

To sum up, while the mood right now is somewhat sombre, this match may be looked back upon as merely another example of a team starting slowly before going on to play a memorable tournament. A win against North Korea and the mood will swiftly swing.


Posted by Ramos on 06/20/2010

I agree with your assesment Coentrao was man of the match for me he was fantastic at left back probably the best left back I've seen play for portugal in quite some time. Deco was awful and he looked overmatched in the midfield as the physical play from ivory coast was too much for him. I hope Danny starts in Deco's place and they play Simao out wide.

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Tom Kundert first delved into Internet journalism as Soccernet's Portugal Correspondent for the 2002 World Cup. He liked the experience so much he built a site that is today visited by over one million people a month (PortuGOAL.net). English born and bred, he has lived in Lisbon since 1994.

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