Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger, and some growing whispers about Yossi.
Let's start with what we know:
Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger both played a full 90 today in Johannesburg as the Dutch grinded out a 2-0 victory over the Danes. The first half was frustrating for the Dutch, who were unable to string much together and were stifled by a well-organized Danish midfield. Agger had himself a fine half as well, honing in on the Dutch attacking core and making a number of important tackles.
The second half saw an immediate turnaround, however, at least on the scoreline. In the 46th minute a failed header from Simon Poulsen deflected off Agger's back and past a helpless Thomas Sorensen. It was harsh given the circumstances, as Agger was one of Denmark's best to that point and the Dutch were starved for ideas.
The Dutch gradually began to exert a little more influence, but despite all their attacking talent, they weren't able to find another until late in the match, and it was all to familiar for Liverpool fans. Wesley Sneijder brilliantly played in Eljero Elia, and while the young winger's shot beat Sorensen, it ricocheted staight back off the post. The familiar piece here for any Liverpool supporter was the presence of Dirk Kuyt to punch it home---he's got an uncanny knack for being in the right place around the goal mouth, and today he sealed it for the Dutch. Robin van Persie may not prefer him in the starting eleven, but his ability to come up with a big goal for both club and country is remarkable.
That does it until tomorrow for Liverpool in South Africa---Martin Skrtel and Slovakia will square off with New Zealand in a match that has to favor the Slovaks. And if things stay as-is in the Paraguay v. Italy match, Skrtel and co. have a great chance to sit atop Group F heading into the second round of group play. No guarantees, but the All Whites have to be underdogs here.
The other big news of the day is a stretch at best, but I've read it in enough places to feel that it warrants a comment. Granted, those number of sources are all in the British press, but it's still something that's been around for awhile.
I'm talking around the exit of Yossi Benayoun, whose exit has been all but confirmed. The reports range from him merely being linked to having finalized a deal, and while they're all third hand at best, at this point it's not going to be surprising to see him leave. The original source, it seems, is the Jewish Chronicle, mentioned here in a Setanta Sports report.
If you've been around the site in the past few months, you're likely able to anticipate my reaction, which will involve denial, crying, cursing, and heavy drinking. The prolonged nature of the exit does make it a little easier to deal with, but in the end it's still a reality that Liverpool are very close to losing one of their most consistently passionate squad members.
You'll read that he's Joe Cole's replacement, and Chelsea fans will probably not be jumping out of their seat at the prospect of picking up the Israeli. But since he cracked the first team in the second half of last season, he's been an integral on-field presence for both the measurable and the immeasurable. And in this season, one that saw far too much pouting and petulance from other, more noticeable first-teamers, Yossi was a fine professional who never caused any questions about his effort. And as I've mentioned in the past, if you watch any highlight video in which Liverpool score and Benayoun's around the goal, you know you're getting unbridled joy---not just for himself, but for the club and his teammates.
It's still a little early to eulogize him, as there hasn't been any agreement on terms and no direct comments from any of the relevant parties. You have to get the feeling that it's coming, though, and when it does it'll be a sad day for Liverpool.
Anyway, get yourself back to the World Cup coverage. As I noted earlier, there's a vested Liverpool interest with Slovakia and Martin Skrtel in action tomorrow, but you really shouldn't need an excuse.