Five things from….France 2 Nigeria 0

The big question before this game was which Nigeria team would turn up.  They had stumbled through the group, flattering to deceive in their single win against Bosnia, yet putting on a real show in the 3-2 defeat to Argentina.  Once again, it seemed that their build up to the game was being derailed by talks of player bonuses, or the lack of them.  Of course, the fact they are representing their country on the biggest stage in the world isn’t enough for some players.

The 5pm games during the working week serve up a big dilemma as to when I should go home.  I’d love to say that my 3g/4g network in London is good enough to support even radio commentary but alas I am still tied to EE/T-Mobile (they change their name in rotation to blame each other for poor service) I struggle to raise an analogue signal on my way home.

1. Why play a centre-forward on the wing? – Benzema is a decent centre-forward with pace and a goal every 3 games ratio at international level.  So what was going through Dechamps mind when he stuck him on the wing?  Even (even!) Rio Ferdinand saw that was a strange move when analysing the first half. He hardly got a sniff of the ball in that first period, but after the break when he was let loose as a traditional centre-forward he caused the Nigerians all sorts of issues, and can feel aggrieved his second half effort that was cleared off the line hadn’t given the French the lead.

2. France away kit again – So I know I was banging on about this last week but it really bugs me.  Why do they need to wear the off-white away kit?  What colour clash could there be with a lime green kit?  Called me an old cynic but I have a feeling that a certain US sportswear company may have a say in what kit is worn.

3. John Obi-Mikel – What exactly does he offer any team?  He has always been the poor man’s Dechamps, Makalele, Essien with a poor disciplinary record.  But on at international level he takes wandering around letting the play pass him by to a new level.

4. Celebrating an own goal – On first watch we all thought that was a smart little flick by Griezmann to seal the win in the last minute.  He wheeled away, arms stretched out to receive the congratulations of Valbuena.  But he hadn’t scored.  He didn’t even get a lucky touch.  The ball hit Yobo’s knee and went in.  Man up and give credit where credit is due.

5. France are the new France – They are going to win it…you all know that deep down.  Unfancied before the tournament, slowly progressing towards a semi-final win against Brazil and then beating Argentina in the final.

Beer World Cup

Obvious (!) no beers whilst I was still at work, or on the train home but as soon as I walked through the door I had a 1664 thrust in my hand.  With no Guinness Export left it was a comfortable win for the French.

France 2 Nigeria 0

Five things from….Netherlands 2 Mexico 1

I could get very used to weekends like this.  The beauty of having games on at 5pm and 9pm is that you can do a day of family stuff, get home, watch game one, cook dinner/do chores and then settle down for game two. The heat was always going to be the deciding factor in this game as to whether we were going to see a match of all out attack like the Brazil v Chile one, or a more tactical one like Colombia v Uurguay.

1. Holland v Netherlands – Are ITV right in referring to the Netherlands as Holland?  Holland is actually a region and former province located on the western coast of the Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used as an informal term to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. This usage is generally accepted, but some individuals, particularly from the other parts of the Netherlands, dislike the use of “Holland” as a substitute for “the Netherlands”. So it’s like New York being part of New York, right?

photo (2)2. “Let the ball do the work, the chance will come” – Exactly how will this happen?  Clarke Carlisle is suggesting that if the players simply play it to feet without any running then someone will get a chance?  Did he not see Germany v Austria in 1982 where this was exactly what happened?  Then 10 minutes later Carlisle bemoaned the Netherlands play as they did exactly what he said they should do, saying that it was “dull and defensive football”.  Wisdom of a former professional player.

3. Cooling Break – Preparation for Qatar 2022?  Imagine the temperature 10 degrees hotter and you will need breaks every 15 minutes.  Whilst I can see the medical sense in it, who benefits the most out of that five minute break in the first half?  The TV companies who can sell an additional TV advert break? Absolutely.  The coaches who have a chance to alter things? Correct.

4. Girl in the crowd – Surely a record for “most number of attractive girls given a close up on TV at a football match”?  There must be one cameraman whose job it is to troll the crowd looking for attractive girls to zoom in on.  Hard life.

5. “Van Gaal must be dreading this going to penalties” – Another great Carlisle line.  If you are trailing 2-1 in injury time do you think the Dutch manager will say..”tell you what, it is a bit hot out there.  I don’t want us to equalise and take this game to extra time.” So when Snejder’s 88th minute equaliser went in, he would have been absolutely fuming.  Almost as good as Glenn Hoddle’s comment that the final minute challenge on Robben was a “double penalty”.

The Beer World Cup

After a trip to the sunny Kent seaside it was a very pleasant beer match enjoying a cold Sol in the first half, with a twist of lime of course, against a chilled Amstel in the second.  Tough choice and one that eventually went to penalties with a bag of Totilla chips against a chocolate pancake….close but there could only be one winner.

Netherlands 2 Mexico 2…Netherlands won 3-1 on penalties


Five things from….Colombia 2 Uruguay 0

So how do you follow that game?  Brazil v Chile was nearly three hours of pure football gold, as Partridge would have said.  Penalties are the cruelest way to settle such an enthralling tie but you had the feeling that neither side would have scored again if they had played for another hour, such was the tiredness of all the players.  But football is about winners and losers so whilst Chile would be heading back home across the Andes, Brazil would be able to go out on the piss until Friday night.  But who will they play?

It’s fair to say that most football fans across the world would be shouting for Colombia in this game.  Not just for the ridiculous stance taken by Uruguay over Suarez – and let’s not forget that if the average man in the street had done what he did, he could be charged with assault but because the Colombians style of play is nice on the eye, not to mention the frequent close ups of some of their more photogenic fans in the crowd.

1. Clever corner-kicks – So what was wrong with that Colombian corner-kick where he tapped it and then left it to his mate?  Not enough of this type of sneaky innovation in the game today so it should be applauded rather penalised.  There is always the danger that they will go wrong, as Thierry Henry and Robert Pires will testify.

2. Proper goal – Rodriquez’s opening goal – wow.  Wow. WOW.  Perfect control, outstanding shot and to make it even better it hit the underside of the bar.  Goals are always so much better when they hit the underside of the bar and bounce down. Not quite in the Johnny Metgod class but close…Uurguay’s response?  Keep their 5-4-1 shape…of course.

photo3. Empty seats – Where did everyone who was sitting on the halfway line go?  Ten minutes after half time and it was still a mass of empty yellow seats?  The Brazilian authorities must have been taking lessons from Club Wembley.

4. The flappy man – Remember the bird man of Colombia from Italia 1990 and France 1998? Well Gustav Llanos is back here in Rio, although he has been stuck in the corner behind the goal. But when his moment came, with a corner to Colombia, he sprung to life and flapped his big wings.  The TV cameras seem to have been told to just focus on the pretty females in the crowd in this tournament.

5. Bogie team – The last four games between Brazil and Colombia, outside of the Copa America, have all been drawn – with three goal less games.  Expect next Friday’s game to be a corker now.

Five things from….Brazil 1 Chile 1

Out of all of the weekend’s games, this one promised to be the most fiery.  Two teams who don’t appear to have a defensive bone in their bodies (I mean, David Luiz plays centre-back for Brazil!), some pre-match hype about the pressure on the referee and the fact it was on BBC, which meant we would not have any stupid advert breaks or Gordon Strachen’s bare legs.  Chile had surprised many in the tournament so far, easing past Spain to qualify alongside the Dutch.  Huge expectations from the millions of home fans would surely put pressure on the home side too.

1. A large block of empty seats – The hottest ticket in Belo Horizonte bar none, with locals lining the streets on the way up to the Estádio Mineirão pleading for any spare seats yet behind the goal (to the left of the TV cameras) there is a large block of completely empty seats. By half time a large number of stewards had appeared to take the seats.  I can just imagine a coach, broken down somewhere outside Belo Horizonte with 50 fuming Brazilians standing on the hard shoulder.

photo (2)2. Colour – Almost every game has been filled with fans wearing the (home) shirts of their nations – makes a fantastic spectacle on TV and one that I cannot remember seeing at any other tournament – well apart from the three largish chaps in the front row on half-way line who had whipped off their tops to reveal some impressive man-boobs.

3. Big decisions – In the run up to the game, the appointment of Howard Webb caused a media storm “We are going to talk about this only once,” Paiva, senior press officer for the Brazilian Football Federation, said. “This is immature at the moment in football and the world we are living in today. This is ridiculous.Talking about this is not just a lack of respect to Fifa and the Brazil Selecao, but the whole of Brazil and the Brazilian people. It is a lack of respect. Brazil does not need a referee to win a match. You are insulting Brazil and the Brazilian people.”  Just to show there was no home bias, Webb agreed with his English assistant to rule out Hulk’s second half goal for a dubious handball.  He also showed some real inconsistency by failing to book Fernandinho despite 5 or 6 bookable offences.

4. No Mexican Wave – See it is possible to have a game at this World Cup without the spectacle of a Mexican Wave. They aren’t “fun”; They don’t add to any atmosphere…or any sloooooow motion replays.

5. Nicknames – “He has the nickname of the South American Xavi”.  Now I have to take exception to you here Mr. Mowbray.  Who calls him that?  It’s hardly a nickname, is it?  Nicknames are “Giggsy”, “Robbo”, “One size” (love that one for Fitz Hall”.  I can hardly imagine his team mates shouting across the pitch when he has the ball…”Oi! South American Xavi…over here”.

Beer World Cup

For a chance we’ve gone with a beer to celebrate the officials, which in this case were led by Howard Webb.  I have it on very good authority that his favourite tipple is a Timothy Taylor’s IPA so we put that up against his assistant Darren Cann’s possible favourite beer (he’s from Norwich), a Greene King Gold.

Five things from…Belgium 1 South Korea 0

The second set of games so far this week have produced little in the way of excitement bar the antics of the Mexican coach, with all of the drama taking place when I have been in meetings in the office. But that was surely going to change tonight?  Whilst Belgium were through, and only a miracle meaning that the South Korean’s could go through, it was a game full of promise.  Or was I just too excited by the prospect of 90 minutes drinking a variety of Belgium beers?

1. It must be a bad game – When the TV producer decides to cut to a slow-motion replay OF A MEXICAN BLOODY WAVE.  Not content with us having to view the game through the emotions of various young girls in the crowd, the recognisable cheer as the ridiculous wave passes around the stadium sends TV producers into raptures about how fanatical these fans are.  Bad enough at normal speed, but to see it in slow-motion is unbearable. Every minute or so the cameramen found a female in the crowd wearing face paint and pulling a silly face.

image2. There’s no need for that – I know they are in Rio and I know it is hot but who suggested it would make good television to put the ITV team in shorts??  Children up and down the country will now be having nightmares about seeing Gordon Strachen’s legs. Fortunately someone must have had a word during the first half because at the break they had put their strides back on.

3. The Red Devils – Once again, why are BOTH teams playing in their away kits?  The Red Devils versus the Red Tigers yet neither are wearing red.  What’s next?  A special Knockout round lime green number? Simple rule in future – one kit allowed – if there is a clash of shirts then one team plays in skins.

4. Taking it for granted – Two weeks of wall to wall football comes to an end tonight when the tournament takes a break for 24 hours.  Shocking scheduling – Who is this tournament for, after all?  The players or the TV audiences? In living rooms up and down the country, couples will be forced to have real conversations.  Or you could do what I am doing and going to the pub, as CMF automatically assumes the football is on every night.

5. Technically his foot is offside – No Andy, he was OFFSIDE.  Your foot is still part of your body. If you cannot say anything to add any value then please just shut up.

The Beer World Cup

Back after a brief period of abstinence, this was one we had been looking forward to all week.  A quick visit to the Belgium Beer company at half time saw a number of the countrymen make it into my squad for the evening (i.e, my carrier bag) to line up alongside OB, the South Korean challenge.

Floris Passion White 11 OB 1

The Kit World Cup – Day 14

Adidas – 40pts
Nike – 40
Puma – 28
Lotto – 10
Burrda – 6
Marathon – 4
Uhlsport – 1