For 3 quarters of this game, #Nigeria managed to hold #France to 0-0 and keep their hopes alive of progressing to the next round of #WorldCup #Brazil2014. But then there was the French quarter, where #LesBleus peppered Enyeama’s goal and the breakthrough that came via #PaulPogba’s header and then the final nail in the coffin via the young impressive #Griesmann’s flick, both big young French talents that are being courted aggressively this summer for big money transfers. With France moving on, we’re heading towards quarter-finals with a lot of big names on show! As we get to see #Brazil, #France, #Argentina, #Germany, #Netherlands and #Colombia progress, it’s seems, for now atleast, they are teams with genuine weaknesses and flaws, except, on evidence, the Colombians, who have been deserving winners in all their games. At the beginning of the World Cup, that would be a crazy thing to say, but now Brail goes into their game against them worrying way more than their penalty shoot-out against #Chile!
All #Russia needed to do was to beat a team that they would have seen as their inferior prior to coming into the #WorldCup. What they didn’t do was play with the same heart and hunger as the 11 fighting souls from #Algeria and they paid the ultimate price – an early exit from #Brazil2014. The World Cup’s most expensive coach and it’s 2 most expensive players are home early. (Perhaps #Rooney and #Ronaldo can now focus their attention to negotiating higher contracts?) While it’s unlikely that Algeria will find a way past the mighty Germans, even a #Germany not exactly firing on all cylinders but they won’t care – they have already achieved way beyond their wildest expectations and for that, kudos #LesFennecs! Group winners #Belgium will now take on #USA in a game that is going to be too close to call!
The last day of this group promised so much – in theory: #Germany needed a win or a draw to top the group convincingly and avoid #Belgium; #USA needed a win to top the group, a draw to go through and a loss as long as #Ghana didn’t win; #Portugal needed to win handsomely and the Ghanians needed to push hard for a win. So on paper, 2 absolute humdingers to watch, right? Wrong. All 4 teams played like this was a friendly with a stadium spectator ban! The Germans looked bereft of ideas and barely squeaked past an average US team. That famous American hustle was on a break today, it seemed. The Portuguese had a few chances initially but generally looked like a team that plays in slow motion and their 2-1 win against a Ghana side that looked like they weren’t told that a win would still take them through, thanks to a gifted goal to #CristianoRonaldo by the Ghanian keeper’s idiotic flapping of his arms, was lucky at best, boring and labored at worst! Germany will now play either of #Algeria or #Russia, while the US take on #Belgium – pre tournament, that would have been a daunting ask, now, based on what we’ve seen, it’s really anyone’s game.
A clinical hat-trick by their best player, #XheridanShaqiri and the inability for #Ecuador to break down table-topping #France sends #Switzerland through to the next round. A rare group where both the European teams made it through at the expense of the teams from the Americas. Shaqiri belongs to #BayernMunich currently and a lack of first-team action has him squirming for a transfer this summer to potential suitors #Liverpool, which while still on cards, just became a far more expense transfer than either club had thought – or will this performance convince #Pep that his time may have come to step into the fancy shoes of the #Ribery’s and #Robben’s of the world and maximizing what clubs will still be willing to pay for their 30+ year old stars is good long-term business for the Bavarians?
As #Argentina top their group with a 3-2 win over #Nigeria who still stutter their way into 2nd place after #Iran lost 3-1 to already eliminated #Bosnia, the #Messi magic is starting to show up a lot more frequently than one has seen in the last 12 months. He’s now tied with #Neymar for the Golden Boot. That’s the good news for the Argentines – when he’s on fire, he can produce goals out of nowhere. The bad news though, is that they look entirely toothless when he’s off the pitch, as was evident after he was subbed out in today’s game. Against the lesser mortals like #Iran and #Nigeria, this still works. It won’t against #Holland #Brazil #Germany and on recent form, #Colombia. They’ll need a little more bite across the board and as we all know, that apparently is the prerogative of a certain Uruguayan.
Few would have given the Greeks a chance to make their way out of this group. Few thought they would survive with 10-men against #Japan in the last game and almost no one expected them to beat the stars from #Coted’ivoire and yet, a display full of heart and energy (to compensate for the pure talent the Africans had on show) combined with a lackluster and possibly overconfident display by the Ivorians took them to a 2-1 win via a last minute penalty. In the other game, #Japan were dumped out of the tournament by a #Colombia team that absolutely no one should take lightly – they defend well and when they attack, they are lethal, thanks to the biggest star evolving from this #WorldCup the young (he’s 22) and fantastic #JamesRodríguez who will likely not remain at #Monaco come the end of this summer. Viva Colombia!
The soundBITE from this game is not going to be #Uruguay knocking #Italy out of the #WorldCup with a 1-0 win on the shoulders of a brilliant man-of-the-match performance by the #Atletico and Uruguay rock #Godin but the absolutely obvious bite that the brilliant and completely crazy #Suarez took out of #Chiellini’s shoulder. The referee nor the officials took action on the pitch – Suarez should have been sent off and would have likely changed the result of this tie but it would be very surprising to see Suarez play any further part in this World Cup or play ever again (this is bite incident 4!) – if he does, #FIFA really needs to think about the example they want people to take away from what has otherwise been nothing short of a spectacular show on the field.
The Italians should be incensed from this result, from the questionable sending off of #Marchisio that left them with 10 men for much of the second half but most of all they should be incensed by their lackluster performance (and team selection) against #CostaRica that left them in this position in the first place. #England on the other hand brought their disastrous campaign to a right-boring end with a 0-0 draw against group toppers #CostaRica – let all the inquests begin!
The goal-filled extravaganza that this #WorldCup has been continued in style as hosts and favorites, #Brazil put 4 past a hapless #Cameroon to win the group and set up a mouth-watering knock-out game against a very impressive #Chile. This won’t be an easy game for Brazil and while they will fancy their chances to advance, taking it for granted against messrs #Vidal and #Sanchez would be a very bad idea. But the highlight of the day just has to be the fighting Mexicans, who put 3 past a disappointing #Croatia – these guys really do belong on the big stage and their game against the mighty #Dutch will be a real test of their mettle, especially for the brilliant #Ochoa, who for the most part has kept out everything that has been thrown at him. But what #RVP and #Robben throw at you, is quite another kettle of fish!
That the brilliant #Dutch team would top their group was always likely but their hard fought 2-0 win over 2nd place #Chile showed just how solid they are as a team, even in the absence of their goal-machine, the amazing #RVP. More significantly though, it showed just how amazing a player the sometimes frustrating #ArjenRobben is, whether he’s scoring himself or using his speed and cunning to set up goals like the 2nd one in stoppage time for the young and impressive #Depay to finish. There is little doubt that at this stage, #Robben is the best player at this #WorldCup. I suspect #Brazil is probably more relieved to avoid the Dutch than vice versa but would be silly to think they an waltz past this Chilean side because #Sanchez #Vidal and co can hurt just about anyone on their day. (Ask a certain #DelBosque)
#Spain ended their disastrous title defense with a face-saving 3-0 win over #Australia in a dead-rubber but on evidence, it’s done little to address the issues this Spain side will have to seriously deal with before the #Euro.
Outside of #Portugal, I cannot imagine anyone was rooting for the Portuguese to win today because all they are is 11 independent football mercenaries who seem to care only about holding the ball, dribbling with it and shooting at goal themselves, especially one of whom also happens to be the current Balon holder and a prima dona who did nothing all game aside from that fantastic cross (really, a #CristianoRonaldo pass to another player) that ended up tying the game 2-2 against TEAM #USA. 11 guys who play as a unit, with little stardom or expensive contracts to boot, just hustle and heart and the respect that they are rapidly earning in the eyes of the neutrals of the world, watching this incredible #WorldCup continue to dish out exciting games and last-minute results. If #Nani had not scored off that unfortunate deflected clearance for the opener and #Bradley had taken his goal-mouth chance a little better, this would have been adios to #CR7 and his rag-tag bunch of mercenaries and the passage to the next round for a much deserving team USA. Instead, we now have a group where any 4 can go through and the last 2 games between Germany v USA and Portugal v Ghana take on huge significance for all. All the US needs is a draw against the Germans and both of them will go through leaving a valiant #Ghana and 11 or so Portuguese to go home early.