The Football Neutral World Cup: France vs Nigeria

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Before we start… should you like the stuff that I write, do feel free to download my Football Neutral 2013/14 season review on Kindle.  Well over 300 pages of daftness. Less than £2! Thanks!

Pre Game:

My daughter is supporting France during the World Cup because in her own words: “England are rubbish and the France shirt is nice”.

Last night I listened to a penalty shootout on the radio for the first time in ages.  You feel nowhere near as tense when you can’t see players shitting themselves as they step up to take a penalty.

Nigeria are of course one of the teams who played in the worst game of this world cup so far, against Iran.  I fell asleep during it, you may recall.  I missed nothing.

1: Vincent Enyeama kept 21 clean sheets last season in France for Lille.  I already knew this, but I imagine we’ll be told this fact several dozen times.

2: First commentary mention of the above fact.

4: “And here’s Cheryl Tweedy’s brother playing in midfield for France, young Blaizema”

6: Well, Nigeria are having a go. Which is nice. But remember: They have Peter Odemwingie up front, so twenty minutes before the end of the game he’ll be driving to the Costa Rica training camp in his Range Rover to see if he can play for them next week.

12: The entire French team has been selected based on an old version of Football Manager.  Varane, Giroud, Valbuena… they were all great back in the day.  Not that they’re not yet, but you get me.

16: Nigeria really having a go, although you know they’ll be weak at the back. Was stunned Joseph Yobo is still playing.

18: Disallowed goal for Nigeria, with Emmanuel Emenike tapping it but being called offside.  Seems a lot of the neutrals in the ground are supporting Nigeria.

21: WHAT A SAVE from Enyeama. Pogba has a chance from point blank range but the keeper palms it away acrobatically. Commentary team state that Enyeama may well be the greatest African keeper of all time… what, no Bruce Grobelaar? This doesn’t sound like the usual BBC Liverpool bias…

24: I think the commentary team were expecting France to be ahead by now, but Nigeria are good value. Although Ahmed Musa just took a terrible corner, keeping the trend in this World Cup of nobody being able to take one properly.

28: Paul Pogba is a beast in the France midfield.  A beast that Sir Alex Ferguson thought was a worse player than Anderson and therefore let leave.  I’m not saying his judgement was wrong, more likely the obvious self-sabotage of Manchester United that he enabled when he left to ensure nobody ever looks as good as him.

32: A graphic on screen tells me that Andy Murray has a tennis match on BBC Two. Somewhere the middle classes are going mental that they’ve been relegated to the secondary channel.

36: Commentators talking about Yohan Cabaye potentially not being as good a player now because he’s not always first choice at PSG. Because being in the Newcastle midfield is the perfect place for a world-beater to prosper.

39: Point above proved by Newcastle right back Mathieu Debuchy missing a decent chance from a few yards out.  Didn’t even test the keeper.

40: The tension of a knockout game starting to show a little bit; the relentless pace of the opening few minutes has given way to slightly more conservative play now.

41: I miss the old France away kit; white shirt with thin navy horizontal hoops. If you wore a beret with it you actually looked French. This one:

dzn_France-away-kit-by-Nike-244: Mathieu Valbuena is tiny. He is essentially a borrower.

Half Time:

Much talk of how rubbish Karim Benzema is. Apparently only had 16 touches in the entire first half because he’s out on the left hand side rather than in the middle.

Danny Murphy on Olivier Giroud: “He’s not easy on the eye even at his best”.  I beg to differ.  As a straight man, even I know he’s pretty.

It seems the BBC believe that football fans are desperate to see Strictly Come Dancing so have put a football inspired promo together for it. NO. JUST NO.

We’re now being told that Gonzalo Jara’s penalty miss for Chile against Brazil was the most tweeted about moment of all time.  Is it wrong that I find that vaguely depressing?

There’s been as many goals in this World Cup so far as there was in the whole of the last one.  And the fact that I’m talking about that means every game I watch from now on is doomed to be scoreless.


48: And we’re back. Nothing has happened. Tempted to bet on this going to penalties already.

51: Players seem to be flailing around everywhere and dropping like flies.  At present, Raphael Varane with a head injury.  Hard to believe he’s still only 21; I’ve been signing him on video games for years now.

54: Matuidi booked for an AWFUL challenge. Proper 1970s studs-on-ankle.

58: Nowt much in the way of proper chances in this half.  Atmosphere seems decent though.  As I typed that, Valbuena slides Debuchy in down the right but it comes to nothing.

59: Ogenyi Onazi off – the talented Lazio midfielder is replaced by who was released by Kilmarnock and now plays in Belgium for Waasland-Beveren. The World Cup is mad. Incidentally tonight the only Leicester player at the tournament could be playing against Germany – the very talented Riyad Mahrez.

62: Antoine Griezmann on for France in place of the totally ineffectual Giroud.  The centre forward has been playing like his first season at Arsenal rather than his second.

65: Just seen on Twitter the official apology from Luis Suarez where he admits that he did bite Georgio Chiellini.  Well done mate. Only four cameras in the stadium, a crowd of 60,000 and about a billion people at home saw it.

68: Regarding the above point, obviously the ref missed it.

69: Benzema through, Enyeama sprints out and makes himself big but the ball squirms through.  Victor Moses clears it off the line, the first bit of defending I’ve ever seen him do.

72: Karim Benzema really isn’t the player that he’s always talked up to be.  Plus he looks a bit like a less muscled Dave Batista.

75: Griezmann definitely making the difference now, his cross thumped out by Enyeama. France corner but it leads to nowt because NOBODY CAN DELIVER A DECENT CORNER.

76: I type that, then from a Valbuena corner that Odemwingie should have cleared Benzema has a chance that is cleared off the line by Mikel, then Cabaye hits the bar from outside the box.  Corner was still weak if I’m being a pedant in my own defence, which I certainly am planning on doing.

79: GOAL – FRANCE – PAUL POGBA: First remotely decent corner of the World Cup from anyone (Valbuena), Enyeama flaps at it and the ball falls to Pogba who heads it home. He’s no Eric Djemba-Djemba though, is he Sir Alex?

83: Enyeama at fault for the goal, but a great save from Griezmann who surely MUST start the next France game if they go through.  Another lad who is too good looking though.  The swine.

90: I’ve been too busy talking about how good Valbuena is on FIFA rather than watching the game. Nigeria don’t really have a plan B.

90+1: GOAL – FRANCE – JOSEPH YOBO OG: Speak of the devil, great work from the tiny winger who crosses low from the right.  Looks like Griezmann scores with a deft flick, but it’s actually in off the Nigeria defender.  Valbuena then immediately substituted.

90+4: There are more empty seats in the stadium deep into injury time than a game at the Emirates.

Full Time:

France certainly the better team, but they got a lot better as Griezmann came on to shake things up.  They’ll now face Germany or Algeria.  It seems that Didier Deschamps knows how to make a decent tactical change, and it’s paid off.

Presumably it’s only a matter of time before Valbuena or Griezmann are touted as moving to Arsenal?

Let’s all be honest: the knockout stages aren’t as much fun as the group stages, are they?  And it’ll only get more and more tense the closer we get to the final. Calling it now: Brazil vs Germany in the final, 0-0 and then Germany on penalties. PUT MONEY ON IT!






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