Brazil (2) – (0) Mexico
No matter how good this side is (or thinks it is) I really have no time for the Brazilians and it is all down to one player – as I can’t call him a man – because quite frankly his antics are embarrassing. Yet again we had another exhibition from the self-proclaimed best player in the world, Neymar, showing the petulance and over-acting that are more likely to be associated with a five-year-old child.
There is an inevitability about Brazil’s progress to the Final that frankly fills me with dread.
Belgium (3) – (2) Japan
If the antics in the Brazil game showed the downside of the game, then it was a mighty relief that Belgium and Japan showed why football is so loved. The game was in the balance at the break with the score at 0-0, but within seven minutes of the restart Japan had scored twice through Haraguchi (48′), and Inui (52′) and it looked like another upset was on the cards. Then on sixty-five minutes, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez made a double substitution with Chadli and Fellaini replacing Carrasco and Mertens. Within four minutes Belgium were back in it, somewhat fortuitously as Vertonghen’s header looped into the goal. It was the spark the European team needed and on seventy-four minutes they were level, as Fellani outmuscled the Japanese defence to head in the equaliser. Japan though simply kept going and just when it looked like Extra-time was on the cards, Belgium broke superbly from a corner and in a devastating move swept in the winner courtesy of Chadli. Breath-taking stuff. So, so cruel on Japan, but what a comeback by Belgium,
Today the final two games in the last sixteen phase takes place and by this evening the full Quarter-Final line-up will be known.
Sweden v Switzerland
These two have never met in a Finals tournament, but have played in the Qualifiers on five occasions. The first of these was in Group 1 for the 1962 World Cup in Chile, when in May 1961 Sweden beat the Swiss 4-0 in Stockholm. In the return game in Bern, Switzerland turned the tables winning 3-2. Both sides finished with six points and it meant a play-off was required to see who would progress to the Finals. The game was played at a neutral venue, the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, and the Swiss came from behind to win 2-1 and take their place in Chile. The sides were next to meet in the Qualifiers for the 1978 World Cup, in Group 6, which also contained Norway. Switzerland hosted Sweden in October 1976, It was the same score-line in June 1977, when the side met in Solna, as Sweden topped the group and take their place in the Finals in Argentina.
A cagey European encounter given what is at stake? I’ll go for the Swiss given their strike force, but it may take Extra-time to separate the teams.
England v Colombia
1998 World Cup (France) 26 June 1998 – Group G
England (2) 2 – 0 (0) Colombia
Anderton (20’), Beckham (29’)
David Seaman, Gary Neville, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Graeme Le Saux, Darren Anderton (80’ Rob Lee), David Beckham, Paul Ince (83’ David Batty), Paul Scholes (73’ Steve McManaman), Michael Owen, Alan Shearer (captain)
It’s the only time the two countries have met in the Finals and all I respectfully ask the football gods is that they can deliver a similar result tonight. It’s an evening for keeping a clear head and in true football cliché style, just take one game at a time. Yes we know how the draw pans out, but please, please let’s get through tonight first.