FIFA World Cup 2014 – Monday 30 June 2014
It is some sort of conspiracy?
Fulham get relegated in the 2013/14 season and then in this World Cup, those with a connection to Craven Cottage suddenly turn into world-beaters. So you think I’m exaggerating? Okay, Clint Dempsey. Left us under a cloud and after a spell at Spurs returned last season (just to keep himself in trim pre-Brazil) and has been inspirational for USA as Captain America. You want another example? Bryan Ruiz. Captain of Costa Rica. His time by the Thames was as lightweight and fragile as filo pastry. In Brazil he scores the winner against Italy and was instrumental in the victory over Greece to see his team into the Quarter-Finals.
But hey, what am I complaining about, I could be a Mexican fan. With two minutes to go against Netherlands, they were on their way to a Quarter-Final place. Then Sneijder smashes home from a corner and then in time added-on Huntelaar slots home a penalty. Just think how good the Dutch could be if Sneijder spent less time arguing with the officials and Robben stayed on his feet…
Today’s drama will come from the following ‘Europe v Africa’ fixtures:
France v Nigeria
Only one friendly international fixture between these two teams which came in 2009 and was won by a goal by Nigeria’s Joseph Akpala. Nigeria showed against Argentina in their last group game that they are dangerous opponents. Are France the real-deal or was their qualifying group one of the weakest of the tournament? Super Eagles to fly through or the French cockerel to strut into the Quarter-Finals? I don’t care as long as it’s another barn-stormer of a game!
Germany v Algeria
Much has been made about this Quarter-Final as it brings back memories of the 1982 World Cup in Spain. The pre-unified West Germany lost 2-1 to Algeria in the group and going into the last game against Austria knew that a 1-0 or 2-0 win would be enough to see both of the European neighbours through. West Germany scored after ten minutes and that was about it as far as any meaningful action went as the game was reduced to a walking pace so ensuring a mutually beneficial result. The Algerians were outraged and exited the competition. As a result FIFA decided that the final group games in future tournaments would kick-off at the same time to try and lessen the chances of sides manufacturing results. Revenge is in the air for the Algerians, but I can’t see it happening tonight. And anyway the Germans are my sweepstake team!