FIFA World Cup 2014 – Sunday 15 June 2014
Columbia (1) 3 -0 (0) Greece
A comfortable looking win for Columbia, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of this game. The South American team went ahead on 5 minutes, from a Amero shot which Greek defender Kostas Manolas should have cleared, but instead scuffed it and it crept agonizingly away from keeper Karnezis’s despairing dive. Greece had two good chances in the first-half both falling to Kone. The second of which, just before the break, brought a decent save from Columbian keeper Ospina. 1-0 at half-time.
Columbia made Greece pay on 58 minutes, when poor defending from a corner left Gutierrez unchallenged to knock over from close range. The Greeks though could have got back into the game, but with the goal at his mercy Gekas managed to direct his header against the bar when it seemed easier to score. The points were secured in time added-on when Karnezis in the Greek goal offered only a weak hand allowing Rodriguez’s shot into the corner.
Post-match question. Why wasn’t Samaras booked for a blatant dive in the second-half?
Uruguay (1) 1 – 3 (0) Costa Rica
A shock result in Group D as the side expected to finish bottom turned a 1-0 half-time deficit around with second-half goals from Campbell (54 minutes), Duarte (57) and Urena (84).
Post-match question. Are Uruguay a demoralised outfit after this defeat or will they be now a very dangerous animal come next Thursday?
England (1) 1 – 2 (1) Italy
So we didn’t get the mauling I feared, but the reality is that England have lost their opening game and so the pressure is cranked up for the Uruguay and Costa Rica fixtures.
On reflection from the game last night, I feel like a parent receiving their child’s end of term report. It’s not what you had hoped for, but can’t be too hard on the kid as you know they have tried hard.
‘Sir’ Roy will always have a special place in my heart for what he did at Fulham and feel that he is one of the last football ‘gents’ (witness him shaking hands with all the Italians substitutes prior to kick-off). He gave us last night a glimpse of a younger England team which whilst raw and sometimes naïve did provide some cause for optimism.
Italy are a decent side and their possession and ability to slow the tempo will mean for me they are Europe’s main threat in these Finals.
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Well by the time I’d got up, one game had already finished as the Group C fixture between Japan and Ivory Coast was at 02:00 this morning. Japan took the lead through Honda with a sweet left foot shot but were beaten by two second-half headed goals. They both came within the space of two minutes, first a flicked header from Bony and then one from Gervinho, which the Japanese keeper should have dealt better with,
The rest of today follows with the familiar pattern of games at 17:00, 20:00 and 23:00
Switzerland v Ecuador
The Swiss qualified for the Finals after finishing top of their group and going undefeated. However, the achievement is tempered when you look at who they played – Albania, Cyprus, Iceland, Norway and Slovenia. Ecuador took the last of the automatic spots in the CONMEBOL group finishing fourth.
Within the Swiss ranks, Reto Ziegler had spells in England with Spurs and Wigan Athletic, and a player I can’t believe is an international centre-back, Philippe Senderos. He (incredibly) lists Arsenal, AC Milan and Valencia amongst his clubs, but can only say he was for me a liability every time he pulled on a Fulham shirt. Villa fans you have been warned. Also boasting Arsenal as a previous club is Johan Djourou, with a brief loan spell at Birmingham City as well. Midfielder Valon Behrami was at West Ham between 2008 and 2011, whilst fellow midfield partner Gelson Fernandes was signed by Sven-Goran Eriksson for Manchester City and later Leicester City.
Watford fan’s will be anxious to see the new summer signing from Ecuador, Juan Carlos Paredes, in action, having moved from Barcelona (the Ecuadorian version, not the Spanish). Antonio Valencia Ecuador’s captain is the biggest name in their squad, the striker having joined Manchester United from Wigan in 2009. Another player with experience of Manchester (this time at City) is Felipe Caicedo, although he was unable to claim a regular starting spot.
This is a difficult one to call and may end up as an attritional draw.
France v Honduras
France had the dubious pleasure of being in the same qualifying group as Spain, so had to settle for a runners-up berth and only got to the Finals after a dramatic play-off victory against Ukraine. The French lost 2-0 in Kiev and seemed to have a difficult task in the return leg. However, France had wiped out the deficit by half-time with goals from Sakho and Benzema. Sakho emerged as the hero of the hour getting his second and the goal that sealed qualification for Brazil. Honduras took the last automatic qualification spot in the CONCACAF Group, finishing third behind USA and Costa Rica.
France could nearly field an entire team from England, with 10 players currently plying their trade in this country. They are, Lloris (Spurs), Debuchy (Newcastle United), Evra (Manchester United), Sakho (Liverpool), Sagna (Manchester City), Sissoko (Newcastle United), Schneiderlin (Southampton), Giroud (Arsenal) and Remy (QPR). In addition, Yohan Cabaye was recently at Newcastle United and Paul Pogba had a very brief spell at Old Trafford.
Honduras too can boast some British connections with Maynor Figueroa (Hull City), Juan Carlos García (Wigan Athletic), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic), Wilson Palacios (Stoke City) and Roger Espinoza (Wigan Athletic).
As England can testify from their friendly in Miami, Honduras won’t be afraid to put their foot in. It could be an uncomfortable test for France, but I think Les Bleus will have too much talent and come through to win.
Argentina v Bosnia-Hercegovina
The ‘panto-villians’ that are Argentina, who count amongst their squad the Manchester City trio of Pablo Zabaleta, Martín Demichelis and Sergio Agüero and of course the World’s Best Player Lionel Messi. However, despite all the talent in their ranks, they just aren’t cuddly are they? How I’d love an upset Italia ’90 style in this game.
Bosnia-Hercegovina qualified by winning their group, but it was on goal-difference after they finished level on points with Greece. This game will be a bit of an Etihad reunion as Edin Dzeko is likely to lead the front-line for Bosnia. The Premier League connection is added to by Stoke City keeper Asmir Begovic, who will need to be at his very best to keep Argentina at bay.
An imperious 3-0 win for La Albiceleste could well be on the cards. Oh no it isn’t…oh yes it is…