Monday, 23 June 2014

Down to the Nitty Gritty

Today sees the the opening of the last round of group matches, with there being 2 games being played at 16.00 GMT from Group B and the last 2 games from Group A kicking off at 20.00 GMT.

The first games are Spain V Australia and Chile V Holland. The result of the Spain V Australia game will decide who avoids the wooden spoon (the award supposedly given to the team finishing bottom of the group) but apart from that it has no bearing on the rest of this tournament.

We can not go without mentioning that probably 98% of the population of the world who follow football would not have expected the reigning champions Spain not to make it past the first round.

A little nugget for you, this is now the 3rd time in the last 4 world cups that the defending champions has not advanced past the first round. France in 2002 and Italy in 2010 being the other 2 teams to have achieved this dubious status. I suppose 4 years is a long time in world football.

The second game could be a classic, on the one hand as both sides have qualified, one may think they will just rest on their laurels and play out a quiet game with no team wanting to risk injury or unwanted suspensions due to yellow or red cards to their players.

The reality though is very different. The runner up in this group (at the moment slated to be Chile) will play their last sixteen game against the winner of Group A, which will most likely be Brazil. It might be stating the obvious to say that if Brazil are not going to win this tournament (even though they haven't played very well so far) then someone has to beat them, but that team would rather it be in the final, than before then.

So we should expect both teams to go for the win although a draw would leave the Dutch in first place on superior goal difference, (they are 8-3 giving them +5 and Chile are 5-1 giving them +4).

A new feature, 2 players to look out for, Robben for the Dutch and Sanchez for the Chileans.

I can't decide so I will sit on the fence and go for a score draw.

In the later games, all is still to play for except for Cameroon who have already been eliminated after 2 woeful performances, highlighted by these 2 incidents.

What Alexander Song was thinking I don't know, but at least he hit an opponent as compared to this.

Assou-Ekotto, he of the great hair, tried to get at the same player as they went down the tunnel after the game, it is no wonder that Cameroon, haven't scored any goals yet and have let in 5, plus another 2 which were wrongly disallowed in their game against Mexico.

Song received a red card and is suspended and Assou-Ekotto, escaped without punishment but will probably not play as he is not flavour of the month in Cameroon at the moment.

Brazil, will be happy they are due to face Cameroon and should have to much firepower which will see them safely through as group winners.

Brazil to win

This leaves us with the game between Mexico and Croatia, a draw will suffice for Mexico, Croatia have to win. Croatia could be considered to have been unlucky against Brazil and they have a lot of talent on offer. Mexico have been solid and their goalkeeper was outstanding against Brazil. Can they keep Croatia out for 90 minutes to progress. I am going with a Croatian victory

2 players to look out for, Modric for Croatia and Oscar for Brazil

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