World Cup – Monday 21st June

Dancing in the streets of Lisbon

Today in a nutshell: Ronaldo’s Portugal thrash North Korea. Spain thrill on the pitch to get points on the board and set up an exciting tie with Chile who maintain their 100% record with a win over Switzerland. It’s official – the World Cup is no longer boring!

Results – Monday 21st June

  Group G: Portugal 7 – 0 North Korea
  Group H: Chile 1 – 0 Switzerland
  Group H: Spain 2 – 0 Honduras
Post Match Review
Ron Atkinson Some in the media have been guilty of taking their eye off the ball. They were busy talking up the likes of Brazil and Argentina and forgot about little old Portugal. Well people with football manager coats like me never took them lightly and their 7-0 demolition of North Korea sends out a reminder that Ronaldo’s team are not just here to make up the numbers. Neighbours Spain meanwhile could have scored a similar amount against Honduras and those two teams could find themselves up against each other in the next round. What a special tie that would be – something like Crewe against Port Vale on a wet Tuesday evening in the Johnson Paint Trophy.

Fixtures – Tuesday 22nd June

  Group A: Mexico vs Uruguay
  Group A: France vs South Africa
  Group B: Nigeria vs South Korea
  Group B: Greece vs Argentina
Gazza’s Daily Football Factoids
 Nigeria has a population of 129 million yet none of the players in the National Squad actually play in the Nigerian League.
Mystic Ron’s World Cup Horoscope
Mystic Ron The final round of matches starts tomorrow and we find out who will stay and who will go. Let me help you with your betting slips as I ask folk from the spirit world to help with the predictions…

…I’m hearing a voice. I think it’s Dickie Davies! What’s that Dickie? You think Mexico and Uruguay will draw? What else? France and South Africa also to draw. That’s good Dickie. Now what can you tell us from Group B? Argentina to beat Greece. Yes – I got that… and another draw between Nigeria and South Korea. That’s a lot of draws Dickie – are you sure? What’s that – you’re going faint…. well there’s no need for that kind of language from beyond the grave! I’ve never heard such crude profanity from the netherworld!

What a sweary man – I was only asking. I’m going to have a fig roll with my cocoa to get the blood back in my cheeks.

Hang, on, isn’t Dickie Davis still alive?

Pundit Corner
In a strip bar somewhere in South Africa I would like to imagine the following exchange…
The tournament reached its half way stage today with 32 of the 64 games completed and we have seen each team play twice. Which players have put in the eye catching performances so far? Well the player that entered the tournament with the most expectation against him was Lionel Messi and it has to be said that he has certainly been the dominant influence for Argentina. Would you agree with that Sven?
 
For sure Messi is capable of great things. He would walk into any team in the world, but the tournament is bigger than one person. I have been impressed by other South Americans too. Here’s a young talented Brazilian that I have been keeping an eye on.
We must also mention a young German – the talented playmaker Mesut Ozil. Many viewers will have got their first sight of him in the last week and I have to say he really lived up to expectations with some wonderful touches. He really does look a star in the making.
 
There is certainly a lot of German talent on show. I have been on the look out during the matches this week and here’s another young German that aroused my interest.
I know England have barely got out of the blocks and most fans would feel that all of the players have underperformed, but do you feel there is anyone we can look forward to seeing before this tournament is out?
 
Well it’s not been the best start for England and we can only hope to see better later on this week. That said,
it’s been hard for me to ignore the WAGs. They see to be getting a lot of coverage and I can’t help but watch.
That’s a good spot Sven. Let’s just hope that JT doesn’t take his eye off the ball with these sort of distractions in the back of his mind.

View from the sofa

We are at the half way stage of the tournament which is a good or bad thing depending on whether you are a tournament half empty kind of person. With one group game left it can all change but at the time of writing there are some huge potential shocks in store and most of them concern European teams. Consider this:

  • 1998 World Champions France are in disarray. If they don’t beat Mexico it will be au revior. Oh, and very funny.
  • England almost certainly have to beat Slovenia to progress, despite their “easy” group
  • Germany could still slip out if they lose to dangerous table topping Ghana. Why do I have visions of a penalty shoot out with them at some point later?
  • World Champions Italy have to beat tricky Slovakia to ensure qualification
  • Surely Portugal won’t lose 2nd spot with a plus 9 goal difference over Ivory Coast! Except they play Brazil, while Sven’s men take on the North Korean whipping boys. It couldn’t happen. Could it?
  • Spains unbeated qualification campaign counts for naught as they take on mightily impressive Chile in a game they must win to be sure of progressing further

Only the Dutch have made light work of qualification from the group phases as far as European teams go. The African teams had little genuine hope resting upon them and only Ghana have a better than 50% chance of qualifying. The predominant force so far has been the South American contingent with Brazil and Argentina looking like they could go the distance and Chile and Paraguay also set to progress.

We may still be in the group stage but from now on every game is effectively a cup game. Lose and you are probably out. This is when the competition really begins…