Slovenia, the side we're backing in the World Cup to the tune of one pound lest you forget, got their campaign underway today. And the good news is that the pound is still safe! In a pretty dull game, Slovenia took advantage of Abdelkader Ghezzal's dismissal and some comedy goalkeeping to secure a 1-0 victory, the nation's first ever at the World Cup finals. Ghezzal was a second half substitute and picked up two soft bookings in quick succession, the second, for handball, earning him a red. Seven minutes later, Slovenian skipper Robert Koren hit a tame shot almost right at Algerian keeper Faouzi Chaouchi, but he palmed it into the net with nobody really clear as to what he was actually attempting.
Goalscoring opportunities were few and far between. Samir Handanovic had to be alert as a lazy clearance from him almost fell to Karim Ziani and he pulled off a smart save early on from Nadir Belhadj. Chaouchi also saved well from Valter Birsa. The goal put a scarcely deserved gloss on the performance for Koren who was unusually slack in midfield. The country relies heavily on his distribution, but he gave the ball away far too often and the performance was disjointed as a result. The win is great, but the performances against England and the USA will have to be much better.
Elsewhere in the competition, Serbia are going to have to have a look at things following a loss to Ghana. Milos Krasic looked a bit-part player stuck out wide on the right. He constantly came inside searching for the ball and the shape went as a result. Ghana deserved the win, but it only came as a result of an inexplicable handball from Zdravko Kuzmanovic which handed Ghana a penalty. Goals have been in short supply in the opening round of fixtures with most sides seeming more keen not to lose rather than go and press for a win. Hopefully once the opening game nerves are out of the way, it'll open up.