FIFA World Cup 2014 – Saturday 14 June 2014
Today for me (and I presume most of the country) is all about the last game of the day. However, as I write there’s a tension in my guts and its hard to concentrate. Anyway, first to yesterdays fixtures:
Mexico (0) 1 – 0 (0) Cameroon
As with the opening game yesterday, the major talking point concerned the inadequacies of the match-officials. Mexico should have been 2-0 ahead at half-time, as Giovani dos Santos had two efforts disallowed. Both were given offside, but on each occasion, the officials made the wrong call. However, it wasn’t just these decisions that were poor. Cameroon midfielder Mbia deliberately put his forearm into his Mexican opponents face, but wasn’t even booked. The African team offered little in the opening forty five minutes, although Eto’o did have one chance which hit the post. 0-0 at half-time.
Into the second-half and the torrential rain that had been a feature of the opening half continued. On 61 minutes, Mexico deservedly went ahead. A good move ended with a ball into the box where Giovani dos Santos had his shot saved by Itandje, however, Peralta was on hand to sweep the rebound home. This forced Cameroon to come out of their shell and they did improve in the last 15 minutes. They nearly snatched an undeserved draw in the final minute when Benjamin Moukandjo was free in the box, but Guillermo Ocho in goal saved the header well. Mexico nearly got a second when in the last of the four added minutes, Javier Hernandez was unmarked in the box, but he blazed wildly over.
Thankfully despite the poor officiating, Mexico were deserved 1-0 winners.
Note to Clarke Carlisle, every sentence doesn’t have to end with the word ‘Sam’.
Spain (1) 1 – 5 (1) Netherlands
Well who saw that coming? With a minute to go in the first-half the World Champions were ahead 1-0 through a Xabi Alonso penalty (which had come on 27 minutes) and Spain were looking on course for a winning start to the defence of their title. However, a stunning diving header from Robin van Persie just before the break changed the momentum of this fixture.
Incredibly Spain conceded four goals without reply in the second-half to suffer a mauling at the hands of the marauding Dutch 5-1. The once imperious Spanish keeper Casillas looked as vulnerable as his back four as the Netherlands were able to play through the middle, almost at will. Casillas was helpless on 53 minutes as Robben brilliantly controlled Van Persie’s long ball, cut inside and lashed home for a 2-1 lead. However, the Spanish keeper must take the blame for the next two goals. First he flapped at a cross allowing de Vrij to head home on 64 minutes and worse was to follow 8 minutes later, when Casillas miscontrolled a back-pass gifting Van Persie his second of the game. The rout was complete 10 minutes from time when Robben outpaced the cover, taking the ball past Casillas and firing home with two Spanish players helpless on the goal-line.
One game doesn’t mean that Spain are suddenly a bad side, but their coach Vicente Del Bosque had a haunted look about him at the final whistle.
Note to Louis Van Gaal – work needed on the ‘high-five’ celebration.
Chile (2) 3 – 1 (1) Australia
What more can you ask for? A spine-less defensive display from Australia that was as yellow as their shirts. Two goals down within the opening 15 minutes after goals from Sanchez and Valdívia, the Aussies looked like they were in for a heavy defeat. However, 10 minutes before the break Tim Cahill outjumped his marker to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
The second-half was a more even affair and Chilean keeper Bravo made a smart save to stop an effort from Bresciano. Chile though had their chances and the goal-line technology was called into play after a Vargas effort was cleared by Alex Wilkinson, and showed it was not a goal. The South Americans weren’t to be denied though as in the closing minutes Beausejour scored a third to secure the points.
Taxi for the Socceros!
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So that was yesterday, but before England take to he field there are two other fixtures being played.
Columbia v Greece (17:00)
Columbia qualified having finished as runners-up in the CONMEBOL Group to Argentina, whilst Greece came through the UEFA runners-up play-offs after a 4-2 aggregate win over Romania.
This is a game I’ll be avoiding as any appearance by Greek skipper Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Mitroglou, will only serve to remind me of their part in Fulham’s relegation. Although in the case of Mitroglou, Fulham fans might not recognise him, given that although he was signed in January 2014, he started just one game.
For their part in Fulham’s downfall, I’m hoping the Greeks suffer defeat.
Uruguay v Costa Rica (20:00)
The hosts of the first World Cup (1930) Uruguay qualified after a 5-0 aggregate win over Jordan in the AFC/CONMEBOL play-off game. Costa Rica came through after finishing runner-up to USA in the final round of qualifying from CONCACAF.
Another game to be avoided for me, as Costa Rica feature the prolific Bryan Ruiz. Well, prolific at every club he has played for apart from Fulham.
Uruguay to pinch all three points with a 1-0 win.
England v Italy (23:00)
Just dreading watching the game. The dark cloud that hung over me as Fulham were relegated from the Premier League, has followed me into the World Cup. I just can’t see anything other than an Italy win, and I fear it could even be as bad as a 4-0 drubbing.
Perhaps I’m just better off not watching today…somebody tell me when it’s Sunday.