Wednesday 16 June 2010

The Left falls behind in opening World Cup skirmishes

Socialist Spain's defeat in their opening World Cup game completes a disappointing first round of matches for the World Cup Left, which this blog is supporting at the World Cup, following our political guide to the tournament.

The democratic right will be pleased with comfortable wins over left-wing opponents for Germany over Australia and South Korea over Greece, and might claim consensual Switzerland's defeat of favourites Spain for the centre-right too.

Only Argentina (against Nigeria) have won a left v right clash for the democratic left so far. And hopes of an all-left final between Spain and Brazil look considerably less strong: our two top left prospects may well now meet in a second round knock-out clash.

Still, there are reasons to be hopeful.

Our democratic left teams have provided five of the ten teams to win their opening game, even though none except Argentina have seen off opponents from the right. Brazil beat a left dictatorship, Ghana beat social democratic Serbia, while Slovenia and Japan defeated semi-democratic opponents who don't fit easily on the left-right scale.

For the right, Holland and Chile similarly won games against fellow right-of-centre opponents.

So qualification hopes remain evenly balanced.

And we might also ask whether the left has been throwing away the chance of a landslide.

The distinctive feature of the first games has been how often the left has failed to hold onto a lead against the right. In drawn left v right games so far, it has usually been the left which has gone ahead before finishing level. South Africa (against Mexico), Slovakia letting in a late goal against New Zealand, and Paraguay failing to hold on against Italy saw the left let one goal leads slip on three occasions.

Only right-wing England has quite literally thrown away a lead to the left-of-centre USA, while Uruguay v France was a left-right stalemate.

If we can deal with those mid-term equaliser blues, there is everything to play for.

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