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.

amokachi

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!

 

 

 

 

The Football Neutral World Cup: Uruguay vs England

Soccer - World Cup Italia 1990 - Semi Final - West Germany v England - Stadio Delle Alpi

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 Match:

Oh god, we’re on ITV.

The wife is home and watching this with me.  She’s both Welsh and utterly hates football, so expect some zingers from her corner.

There’s a stand behind the goal that looks really unsafe. Proper Maude Flander death territory.

It is a seriously jaunty anthem, the Uruguay one.

Whilst an England win would of course be the preferred option (see previous blogs for an explanation of who I support internationally and why I still like England), if they do lose and go out tonight it would mean that my gig in Coventry next Saturday night will go ahead.

Hands up if you’ve done this Simpsons joke today?

1: OH PLEASE SHUT UP ANDY TOWNSEND

2: Muslera in the Uruguay goal is properly wank. And whilst I am commenting on his football skills, the wife is referring to him as “a human refresher”.

3: Wife on Suarez: “he’s got teeth, hasn’t he?”

4: Suarez, as if hearing the abuse from my wife, tries to score from a corner like the cheeky little bitey racist that he is.

6: Wife just asked if the players can tell the difference between a whistle blown by the ref or one in the crowd.  I said that they can’t. She is now patenting a special whistle that has a frequency that only footballers can hear.  Of course, this could then be bought by the fans and we’re back to square one.  I don’t think she’s as emotionally invested in this game as me right now.

7: England free kick. Uruguay make a wall. Wife asks me if it’s called a “ball wall” because they have to stop the ball AND they guard their nether regions.  I reply in the negative.

9: MAN IN CHAINMAIL SPOTTED. Possible UKIP voter. They just look the sort, you now?

10: Rooney had a free kick and hit it within 20 yards of the goal. BIG IMPROVEMENT ON SATURDAY, WAYNE!

13: Debate about heading the ball led by the wife. Quote: “How can they head the ball when it’s coming out of the sky but roll around like little whiny girls when they get tackled?” Good point.

15: I miss England wearing navy shorts.

17: The Uruguay defender Pereira has a face that looks like it has been sucked into a hoover.

18: Rooney a lot better than the other night. Unfortunately Uruguay are also a lot better than the other night.

19: Still baffled at the unsegregated seating for the games.  Can anyone else imagine this happening a few years ago?  Tis madness.  Seems to be a tad more segregation for England games, although there are still are pockets of England fans sat with Uruguay lads and Brazil neutrals.  Very odd indeed.  Although if everyone is behaving, fair play. That said: It’s not fucking rugby, is it?

23: Feels like a nil nil right now.  I’m saying that so this ends up 4-3 and proves me wrong.

25: Wife just shouted “topknot wanker” at Martin Caceres.

28: Diego Godin may as well just have hit a lariat on Daniel Sturridge there.  Commentators saying he’s lucky to be on the pitch, but it wasn’t an elbow nor intentional.  The same guys were saying that Muller was scum for going down under a similar challenge the other night. DOUBLE STANDARDS, LADS!

31: England hit the bar – and they’re having a decent spell. Rooney SHOULD have scored if we’re being honest, but it was harder than it looked.  I’ll give him some credit.  ITV commentary team DESPERATE to have him score.

34: Still a lot of fight in England. They are not the most gifted side for sure, but it means a lot to the fans that they seem to be trying as hard as they can.  As a neutral, it means a lot to me knowing that both of their matches have already been more entertaining than the whole world cup.

39: GOAL – URUGUAY – LUIS SUAREZ: Had to be him, didn’t it? Headline writers demanded it.  Edinson Cavani – who had done NOTHING thus far – loops the ball in from the corner of the area and Phil Jagielka isn’t close enough to Suarez who heads home.  Glen Johnson should have been picking Cavani up really.  Sturridge heads straight up the other end with a chance, but now Uruguay are in charge.

41: Rooney takes a corner and it doesn’t beat the first man. So frustrating. Let Sterling or Baines or Gerrard take them for crying out loud.

43: What’s annoying is that this has been a BRILLIANT World Cup so far and a limited England have been doing OK in a tough group.  If England go out tonight, does that overshadow how excellent the tournament as a whole has been?  Not for me, but I suspect it will for a lot of people.

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Half Time:

Really not sure how England are losing.  Good header from Suarez and proof that a finisher of his calibre is hard to come by, but England have had enough of the play and decent enough chances to be winning, or at least level.

Fairly sure that Adrian Chiles breaks a journalism rule by referring to England as “us”. Especially as there are people watching in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland…

Andros Townsend seems a good lad. Surely his press pass says “A Townsend” on it? Just saying we could have him in the commentary box instead…

I’m eating a fruit pastille lolly. Annoying that lemon is the most prevalent flavour.

46: Wife Quote: “I’d be well good as a steward. I’d happily not watch the game”.

49: Suarez keeps trying to score from corners. Greedy bastard.

51: England not at it right now, still asleep. Cavani and Suarez scaring the shit out of Cahill and Jagielka.  Wife sums it up with “I know Uruguay are doing better because I keep seeing the little green man”.  That’s Joe Hart.  The Uruguay keeper is the little orange man, apparently.

53: There is the little orange man, Muslera.  Great save from Rooney, who is still searching for his first ever World Cup goal.  Great work from Leighton Baines down the left leading to the chance.

55: Multitasking whilst Muslera is down faking an injury.  Starting a campaign to get the awful new iPhone “Chicken Fat” advert banned from our TV. Why? The song is AWFUL and I hate Apple.  Part crusade for better ads, part personal vendetta against a massive company that I despise.

59: England pressing but just don’t have a load of ideas. And who do you throw on? There’s nobody better on the bench really, although I’d like to see Ross Barkley get a runout.

61: Pereira takes Sterling’s knee to the temple and is knocked out. Horrible moment as he’s splayed on the pitch in real trouble, but toe medics bring him around and he then throws a massive tantrum as the doctor tries to insist that he is substituted.  That’s some passion right there, good lad.

64: Barkley now on, yay! But for Sterling, boo.

67: England just don’t look like scoring. Suarez then hits a hit and hope at Joe Hart, known within World Cup circles as a “Ronaldinho against David Seaman”.

68: I’m sure the commentator just said the population of greater London was 3 and a half million.

70: Lallana on for Wellbeck, who has done nowt.

72: Wayne Rooney’s hair-hat is the reason that a balding man like me doesn’t bother with hair implants.

73: Sturridge does a little turn and rattles off a shot. Muslera holds it easily. Uruguay aren’t doing anything much, but England aren’t really pressing them at all.

75: GOAL – ENGLAND – WAYNE ROONEY: Wonderful work by Sturridge, even better work from Johnson and a tap in for Rooney. He finally scores at a World Cup and is delighted. Great seeing the England fans surge forward in their “end” – and it’s what England have deserved.

77: Sturridge close now.  England could actually win this, you know.

79: Atmosphere has been properly booted up a notch now, I tells thee.

80: Not so much in this house, mind. The wife has buggered off elsewhere.

83: It would really be excellent if England got another now. They have, on balance, been the better team and Uruguay sat back until Rooney’s goal.  They’re now charging forwards too and it’s like watching a game from the knockout stages.

84: GOAL – URUGUAY – LUIS SUAREZ: Steven Gerrard fluffs a header and merely directs it into the path of the sprinting Luis Suarez who puts the ball past Hart.  And that’ll probably be that for England.  Two decent chances for Uruguay, two goals.  Steven Gerrard manages to top his slip against Chelsea in the league with a pretty decent assist.

88: People on Twitter rightfully pointing out that Gerrard has been awful during both games.  They’re right. The system Liverpool play mean that he can play that “quarterback” role that people bang on about. He can’t for England.  Everyone else is putting in the effort, he’s just past it.  But he’ll “retire” from England duty before the next manager (because Hodgson will be sacked, unfortunately – it’s not his fault he doesn’t have the players to choose from) has time to not pick him, just to save his own face.

90: Five minutes of injury time. Suarez now off and crying on the bench. Mate, you’re winning! Wacky South Americans.

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Full Time:

England are probably out, barring Italy winning both of their remaining games and England somehow twatting Costa Rica out of sight.  They’re not good enough.  It’s not the fault of Roy Hodgson; he’s trying his best but there just aren’t the players available for him.  Gerrard is past it, Rooney (I know he scored, but still) isn’t as world class a player as the entire nation seemed convinced he is, at the back England are a bit static and slow and the rest of the team – small glimmers of hope for the next four years in Sterling and Barkley to one side – just aren’t very good.

Suarez, like him or not, is an amazing centre forward.  He gets two chances and he scores two goals.  He is the difference between Uruguay being an also-ran South American team and a pretty decent one.  They won’t get to the semi finals like last time around, but they remain a tidy side when he’s fit.

I don’t think that England fans are shocked by the result, because nobody would have seriously expected England to win the World Cup.  There needs to be a better focus on team spirit and work ethic going forwards.  The 1986 and 1990 World Cup sides were full of unfashionable players who grafted as part of a team.  The next England manager (because let’s be honest, Hodgson will be sacked shortly) needs to take more chances on unfashionable players from smaller teams; Lallana and Lambert from Southampton are a start, but there are more players hungry to pull that shirt on and push the “superstars” in the side harder for their place.

We await the Gerrard memes.

Man of the Match: Luis Suarez

Match Rating: 5/10

The Football Neutral World Cup: Iran vs Nigeria

Iran_national_football_team,_1977

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 Match:

Thank god we’re on the BBC. Rio Ferdinand, Neil Lennon and Phil Neville in the studio.  Mr Neville seems to have taken all of the criticism he got for the England game with good humour, bless him.  Can’t fault him for that.  Also, as Danny Baker pointed out: the BBC are rather to blame by taking a new pundit over to Brazil and giving him the England match as his first job.

That said, Phil Neville just used the phrase “he can catch pigeons” to describe a Nigerian player.  I don’t know what that means.

If we’re honest, this is the game that we’re looking forward to least out of all the opening matches, right?

I’d quite like to see Iran win.  I remember Leicester signing an Iranian fullback a few years back.  We expected a lot based on videos of him.  In reality he was five foot three and awful.

I was hoping it would be raining so an Iranian player would slide when changing direction and that I could make a really niche Prince of Persia reference.

Still no drawn games so far.  So now I’ve said that, this’ll be goalless.

The arm folding animations when the teams are announced really are stupid.

1: Based on the amount of time the camera spent on him prior to the match, Ashkan Dejagah is the best player in the world.

5: Well, at least the crowd are up for this.  I’m trying really hard to not remember that I have Watch Dogs to play on the Xbox One.

6: A Mexican wave is going around the stadium. Nobody cares about this match, not even the fans who are there.

8: All Nigeria so far. Really hoping that Shola Ameobi comes on and scores a sackful.

13: No idea how I’m still awake.

20: All the talk on commentary is of how to pronounce the name of Reza Ghoochannejhad.  I’d go with “Reza”.

25: That’s it, I’m having a nap.

Full Time:

Fucking hell.  Oops.

I closed my eyes for a bit hoping any excitement would wake me up.  It seems that there wasn’t any at all.

TOLD YOU THIS WOULD BE NIL NIL, DIDN’T I?

Watch Dogs time now.

Man of the Match: You if you managed to stay awake for it

Match Rating: 0/10

The Football Neutral World Cup: Germany vs Portugal

Jurgen-Klinsmann

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 Match:

Debate on who is leading the Germany attack.  Whoever it is, he’ll be better than Wayne Rooney is at the moment.

Oh god, we’re on ITV again.

1: I really do enjoy the ITV font, mind you.

2: Mario Gotze doesn’t half look like Justin Bieber.

4: Considering how hot it is, they aren’t half running around a lot.  Commentators mentioned the temperature by stating that ALL Germans go on holiday to Portugal.  Surprised they didn’t get an outdated towels on the sunbeds reference in.

7: JAPANESE THEMED JOKE: Paulo Bento is the Portugal coach. When he was a player he was good in the box. EH? EH?

8: Khedira should have scored.  Awful clearance from Rui Patricio in the Portugal goal straight to the German midfielder who hits it first time and misses the open goal by a couple of feet.  Not the easiest of chances, but still a golden one with the Portuguese keeper nowhere to be seen.

9: Portuguese keepers are usually mental, aren’t they?  I used to love that they had one called Quim.  Still makes me laugh now.

11: GOAL – GERMANY – THOMAS MULLER: Another penalty.  Mario Gotze is brought down in the box by Joao Pereira who could well have been sent off for denying the goalscoring chance.  The Bieber-alike looks lively, and one would imagine Miroslav Klose trying desperately to get onto the pitch as the penalty was given so he could break the World Cup scoring record.

14: Sami Khedira just ran faster than I have ever seen him run in a Real Madrid shirt.  There’s no way that his speed rating in FIFA Ultimate Team is correct based on that.

16: I’m led to believe that Helder Postiga is still playing for Portugal. Unbelievable. I’m surprised he’s still even a professional footballer.

18: Nani actually fouls Philip Lahm in the middle of the park. What a terrifying turn of events for the lightweight midfielder.  Not seen Nani even put a tackle in for about five years now, and that was by accident.

21: I think the German kit might be the nicest of the tournament so far.  Although the Bosnia one is pretty smart too.  The Portugal one however is over complicated and makes it look like a 1990s J-League strip from Japan.

24: They’ve just called Nani “capable”. I think a lot of Manchester United supporters would beg to differ.  He has still had a decent shot from outside the box though.

25: Just heard the stat that Hugo Almeida has scored one goal in the last three months for Besiktas, but he STILL has a better goalscoring record than Helder Postiga who is their other option.  This is why Portugal won’t ever win anything: They have one AMAZING player and pretty much nobody else.  Everyone in the German side would walk into every Premier League team.

27: Almeida now hurt and off, with Eder replacing him.  Almeida has an amazing moustache.

30: Honestly, supporting Portugal isn’t much better than supporting Wales.  If that one player doesn’t play well then you’re doomed.

31: Wonderful ball from Kroos to Ozil who cuts the ball back to Gotze and his shot is deflected out for a corner. Germany are terrifying.

32: GOAL – GERMANY – MATS HUMMELS: And as I type that, from the corner Hummels powers in a header that is of the proper old-school centre back style. Portugal could get hammered here.

34: I’ve been spending most of this half so far on Twitter making terrible puns based on the aforementioned Portugal keeper Quim.  We’ve now moved on to the funniest names in football – mine being the tremendous Berdnt Haas.

36: Literally none of the German team have a haircut that their Dad would be disappointed in.

37: RED CARD – PORTUGAL – PEPE: From bad to worse for Portugal as their best defender is sent off for clashing with Thomas Muller.  Flails an elbow and then sticks his head in afterwards.  Muller makes too much of it to start with, but a definite straight red card.

42: I’m still not sure who the centre forward is for Germany, but I do know that it could be any of five players based on how they keep attacking.

44: Already planning a kebab. Damn these days filled with football where there is no time to cook.  THAT’S MY EXCUSE, OK?

45: GOAL – GERMANY – THOMAS MULLER: Bloody hell. Who saw this coming, then? Portugal couldn’t clear a corner, Kroos pumps it back in to Muller who easily holds off a weak challenge from Bruno Alves and puts it in off the legs of Rui Patricio. Let’s not forget that Portugal will probably still qualify from this group, but cripes.

Half Time:

Adrian Chiles has told us that they’ve nearly come to blows in the ITV studio. Presumably because he’s an annoying prick.

Back from the break and Adrian Chiles has just said that play-acting on the field is “dangerous”.  Please shut up.

Pepe’s perm is magnificent, mind you.

Fabio Cannavaro has not got any more interesting since we last saw him. His English is excellent, mind you. A lot better than my Italian.

Chiles is getting so angry that he’s turned crimson.  He needs to learn that he’s a host, not a pundit.

I am definitely a fan of Germany being managed my that lass out of the band Sleeper.

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45: Hardly anybody is back in their seat.  Presumably every fan is as angry as Adrian Chiles.

49: This will now go one of two ways.  It’ll stay 3-0 to Germany and they’ll have a rest, or they’ll press on and batter Portugal even more.  I really hope it’s the latter.

51: Ronaldo loses the ball in midfield and doesn’t bother trying to win it back, leading to a decent chance for Ozil that is saved, the rebound a tricky header for Muller who puts it over.

52: Portugal are now tackling each other.

54: Germany are passing the ball around in little triangles and essentially taking the piss.  Am hoping they make a substitution sooner rather than later as a squad player comes on to try and prove and point and livens things up a tad.

56: HEY KIDS! DO YOU LIKE PASSING THE BALL IN TRIANGLES? HAVE WE GOT THE GAME FOR YOU!

59: Freekick to Portugal outside the box. Ronaldo lines up. Commentators DESPERATE to have him score, like they’ve got some kind of line rehearsed for him doing so.

62: Ozil off, Andre Schurrle on.

MaxheadroomMpegMan

63: Fabio Coentrao pulls up injured.  Sad to see anyone get injured, not least someone with hair as magnificent as his.  He truly is the second coming of Limahl.  His name is a nightmare to spell, mind.

68: Gotze should have had another, selflessly put in by Schurrle.  Germany need to bring Klose on because he’ll be desperate to score.

70: Kebab ordered. I am a monster.

73: Former Everton player Shkrodan Mustafi comes on for the injured Hummels.  I did not know that he used to play for Everton, making it thee first decent fact that I have ever learned from ITV commentary,

77: Toni Kroos should move to Chelsea.  He’s the best defensive midfielder I’ve seen in ages, and we all know how much Mourinho loves players like that, especially with Fabregas directly replacing Frank Lampard.

78: GOAL – GERMANY – MULLER: They always say you should hammer it low across goal and cause panic.  It worked here; Schurrle whipping it in from the right hand side, Rui Patricio palming it straight into the path of Muller who claims his hat trick.  Commentators desperate to call him a pantomime villain, even though Pepe was totally correctly sent off earlier.

80: Even the commentators are starting to acknowledge the rage of Adrian Chiles now.  They’ve just said that the hat trick for Muller will mean he’ll need a “long walk on the beach”.  Let us not forget that it was 2-0 before the sending off.

81: And now Muller is replaced by Lukas Podolski.  I think he’s had a fairly decent day at the office, right?  Now leading scorer in the whole tournament.

85: Ronaldo takes every free kick.  You can see Raul Meireles behind him on every one with a look that says “you know, Cristiano… I can hit them as well”.

88: Ronaldo now doing stepovers as it’s revealed on commentary that he’s only ever scored two World Cup goals – against Iran and North Korea.

89: Raul Meireles looks like he should run a barbers shop in Shoreditch.

90+1: Ronaldo finally does something decent. His previous free kick managed to find the wall of ONE, this time he smashes it over the wall and Neuer makes a good save.

Full Time:

Far, far too easy for Germany who looked excellent.  Portugal looked exposed; yes, they were down to ten men and yes, they suffered injuries but it’s never been more apparent that they’re a one man team.

They’ll talk about the red card but it WAS a sending off; Pepe was stupid enough to put his head to Muller so deserved to go.  Adrian Chiles presumably got Portugal in the ITV sweepstakes, hence the sheer level of anger.

Bring back Quim.

Man of the Match: Toni Kroos

Match Rating: 7/10

 

The Football Neutral World Cup: England vs Italy

anglo-italian_prog_1975_

Quick note: If you like these mini blogs then do please download my mega-huge 2013-14 season compendium ebook for less than £2 from Amazon now! I’d be well grateful. Ta!

Pre Match:

ANGLO ITALIAN CUP TIME!

To explain: I am still technically neutral for this. For whilst I want England to win, my Dad is Welsh, I live in Wales and am married to a Welsh.  So my international team since being a kid is Wales.  But I like England and obviously want them to win the world cup until Wales somehow qualify for one.

On the other hand, I’m not working in a comedy club tonight because the World Cup is going to ruin all gigs as long as England are in the tournament.  So paying my debts off will be easier if England are out.  WHAT WILL HAPPEN?  I haven’t got a clue.

Of course, this is going to be a nil nil draw after that brilliant game earlier.  And Costa Rica will somehow be top.  Isn’t football brilliantly mental?

The BBC seem to insist on making awful, quasi-arty intro videos for every game.  These are not needed.  We’re football fans.  We get why we’re watching this.  You don’t need to convince people who don’t like the game.  They’re watching QI on Dave right now (I suspect).

Pre match interview with Roy Hodgson makes me like him all the more.  He’s doing the best he can with what he’s got, and isn’t there in his job just because he’s a gobshite.  He’s dull as fuck and I like it.

I’ve heard that Rio Ferdinand is a really clever man and erudite businessman.  So why does he sound like the thickest man in the world?

Rooney is playing in the hole, apparently. Might put a bet on him getting sent off after him seeing Van Persie and fuming at that high five with Van Gaal last night.

Sirigu in goal for Italy instead of Buffon.  His name when shouted sounds like part of Eddie Murphy’s James Brown impression.  I’ll leave that here.

It’s at 1.20.

The BBC just blotted their copybook by playing the worst trail I have ever seen, featuring Mary Berry doing backflips. ARGH.

Me and my Dad both agree that Gianluca Vialli is a bloody good lad.  Great memories of us going to Chelsea the day he was sacked and seeing Leicester somehow win down there.  That was a nervous walk back to the tube.

During the warmup, Mario Balotelli appears to be wearing Pat Butcher’s earrings.

Steven Gerrard is not the man you want to give a rousing, inspiring interview, is he?

1: England fans are much more likely to take flags with them than anybody else, aren’t they?

3: My Twitter feed is already full of grown men talking about how dreamy Andrea Pirlo is.

4: I just celebrated a Raheem Sterling goal.  Even the BBC thought it was in.  Great strike from a properly exciting player.  Took me a good few seconds to realise he wasn’t celebrating.  If it had been Balotelli going so close we wouldn’t have known until the replay.

5: Now Henderson has a smash. Fuck me, this is already more exciting that I expected.

8: This is already better than expected.  I mean, both teams seem to be actually attacking and everything.

11: I’m a fan of this new England approach – picking players who seem to want to run at their opponents rather than pass the ball sideways before lumping it up towards the forward.  Also, it looks like it’s Veratti that England need to fear, not Pirlo.

15: Still a lot of empty seats.  Looks like there are more England fans there, but sounds like more Italy fans.

18: Some prick has started a Mexican wave. Nobody is 4-0 up, lads.

19: Shot from Candreva from a way out, ball bounces off the chest of Joe Hart as headline writers sharpen their pencils to destroy him.  Fuck me, I wouldn’t want to be a goalkeeper.

20: Talk of swapping Rooney and Wellbeck around as the former isn’t in the game.  Why should they?  The latter is and is doing ok.  Rooney is having a sulk.

22: Great first touch on the left wing from Raheem Sterling who drives a cross in front of goal.  Sturridge stretches and can’t get it.  Sterling looking quality at the moment.

23: Balotelli has a shot from 30 yards.  I wonder who he shares a room with?  I bet he’s a nightmare, hiding fireworks in the bathroom.

24: Wellbeck with a great cross, blocked away by the Italian defence.  Corner follows, Sirigu looks suspect.  England are really having a go and it’s pretty bloody fun to watch at the moment.

27: Me and Dad just noticed the BBC stats graphic reads “shots” and “shots on goal”. It’s the same thing. You mean shots on TARGET, lads.

30: Twitter is literally full of abuse for the commentary of Phil Neville right now.  How is he so much worse than his brother?

32: Wayne Rooney’s hair is like a car crash.  Horrible and yet you can’t take your eyes off it.

33: Dalmian finding some decent room down the right hand side from full back, at present the only repeated threat from Italy because Rooney can’t do a marking job and help out Leighton Baines.

34: GOAL – ITALY – CLAUDIO MARCHISIO: Described as “a simple goal” on commentary, a corner from Italy is dummied by Pirlo on the outside of the box before Marchisio fires it in low from outside the box.  Great strike and was starting to look on the cards in the last couple of minutes.

37: GOAL – ENGLAND – DANIEL STURRIDGE: Rooney not being able to defend led to the corner that Italy scored from; now he takes a pass from Sterling and hits a great cross into the path of Sturridge who sweeps home.  Parity restored.  Weirdly, physio Gary Lewin seems to have got injured during the celebrations.

40: Waiting to hear on the injury to Gary Lewin, but we need to hear from the England Physio for that… oh.

41: As a Leicester fan, I remember hearing Steve Walsh on commentary when we beat Crystal Palace in the playoff final, going INSANE.  That’s commentary. Come on Phil Neville, you PLAYED for England.  Cheer up a bit.

45: Balotelli tries a cheeky lob to beat Hart who is outside his goal, but Cahill clears.  From the corner Candreva hits the post.  Halftime whistle as Sterling keeps niggling away at Veratti.

Half Time:

Is a decent match so far, with honours about even.  England are doing well, but Phil Neville is being so negative that you’d think that they were 4-0 down.  Here’s a picture of Phil on the day his lottery numbers came up and he became a Father.

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My Dad is napping through the interval because Phil’s voice has properly ruined him.

Sterling looks brilliant for England, but Wellbeck is also putting in a shift.  Going forwards England look very good indeed, but at the back they’re not as hot.  Rooney isn’t the complete player his salary would suggest because he just cannot defend.  Alan Shearer pointed out that England struggle to defend set pieces; the Italy goal would suggest that although it apparently went through “two or three players legs” according to Phil Neville (it went through one).

At this point England shouldn’t take a point.  May as well press on.  Italy are not great by any stretch.

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45: Tons of empty seats right after half time.  JUST LIKE WEMBLEY!

48: You know when someone makes a proper landscape around their train set out of papier mache and coloured sand?  That’s how they made Rooney’s hair.

50: GOAL – ITALY – MARIO BALOTELLI: Right hand side problems for England again. Deep cross from Candreva, Balotelli with an excellent hanging header.  He even celebrates, which is odd to see.

54: Rooney now on the right hand side (it’s for the best), he powers forwards and shoots from a mile out.  Close but not quite good enough.  Still goals in this though, I reckon.

56: Steven Gerrard could have had a penalty, but is too sporting to appeal.  Apparently.

57: Veratti off, Thiago Motta on for Italy. Presumably to stop Raheem Sterling being a crazy little dribble wizard.

58: I think I’m not speaking out of turn when I say that Georgio Chiellini is not exactly a looker.

60: Wellbeck off, Ross Barkley on. NOW DO GOOD PAUL GASCOIGNE LIKE THINGS! As in scoring goals, skill, trickery. Not crying and snapping your leg fouling Des Walker.

62: Terrible miss by Wayne Rooney as he’s slipped through by Baines. His anger level rises to “orange”.

64: Sterling sportingly helped out with cramp by two Italian players – as of course, the England physio is injured.

68: Has to be said that the Italy kit really is a smashing blouse.

71: Ciro Immobile about to come on for Italy. Hey! That striker is a bit IMMOBILE! GET IT? EH? I’m so tired.

72: Immobile on for Balotelli; Jordan Henderson replaced by Jack Wilshire.  The Italian assistant manager is wearing a pair of Dame Edna’s glasses.

75: Phil Neville just used the phrase “thigh burners”. Anybody else would have made me laugh. He then said Chiellini “likes to feel men against him”.  Nothing.

76: Nice free kick from Baines. You know he was listening to Ocean Colour Scene before the game.

77: The worst corner I have ever seen from Wayne Rooney.  Jesus.  He makes Diego Forlan look like Steve Guppy from the corner flag (shut up, he was ace).

79: Sturridge limps off, Adam Lallana on. So Rooney up top, you’d imagine.  Where he can do the least harm.

82: If it’s one thing Italy know how to do, it’s defend a one goal lead.  They are the BEST at it.  Even better than 1990s Arsenal.

86: Barkley scampers through the defence, Rooney takes the ball off of him and has a shot. Barkley looks perplexed.  Rooney not helping himself at the moment, would he still be on the pitch if Sturridge hadn’t have picked up a knock?

88: Sterling’s turn to meander through the defence.  He looks really good based on tonight, at least he’s having a go.

90: FIVE MINUTES of added time. But England need some serious inspiration.

90+3: Italy free kick about 35 yards from goal.  Pirlo smashes it against the bar with Hart nowhere near it. Didn’t half bend, mind.

Full Time:

General consensus seems to be that England were not too bad at all, and I’d agree.  They were a damn sight more exciting to watch than they’ve been in a long, long time.  Italy are a VERY good side and will win the group, no doubt about that.  Can’t see Uruguay beating Italy and England, so maybe it’s Costa Rica that England need to be most prepared for.

Raheem Sterling was excellent throughout, Ross Barkley looked good when he came on and Sturridge and Wellbeck worked well.  What is worrying is the form of Wayne Rooney; asides from his excellent cross for the England goal he looked poor.  Terrible set pieces, always trying for too complicated a pass and missing a complete sitter.  He seems to be in the team more on reputation than merit, and that’s a shame.  If Hodgson has the balls to drop him then maybe he would be fired up enough to work harder when he got back into the team.

All the talk on Italy was about Pirlo and Balotelli, but for me Veratti and Candreva were both excellent.  They’re not at their absolute best (Sirigu is suspect for sure) but they could do well.

Man of the Match: Antonio Candreva

Match Rating: 6/10

The Football Neutral World Cup: Uruguay vs Costa Rica

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Pre Match:

Watching this match with my Dad.  Just seen the Colombia goals, was nice to see a stadium at least look properly full.

Of course, Uruguay are famous for being a big part of one of the best jokes ever on The Simpsons.  Homer is looking at a globe and says to Bart “look at the name of this country, boy: You are Gay.”

For the record, the best ever Simpsons gag is the “may I play Devil’s Advocate for a moment” joke.  If you’re laughing at that now, then you know what I mean.

As soon as we put ITV on and Adrian Chiles was on the screen my Dad said “for fucks sake, I hate him”.

Much discussion of how tight the Uruguay shirts are.  To quote my father: “they look fine on an athlete, bet the fans look terrible”.  Horrible moment as I remember that Puma are making the Leicester kit for the foreseeable future.

The Uruguay national anthem is one of those that takes five minutes to start.

The font they use for the team lineups on ITV is the best thing about their coverage by a million miles.

1: Commentators just used the phrase “Group D for Difficult”. Christ.

2: Uruguay play a 4-4-2.  Making them the only team in the world that still do that.  False nine my arse.

3: Joel Campbell is a wonderfully non Costa Rican name.

8: Went for dinner with my daughter earlier. Watching the Uruguay team in those tight shirts is making me have sever body dysmorphia.

9: Joel Campbell reminds me of Paulo Wanchope.  But slightly less gangly.

12: Ben Dunbar on Twitter has asked me and Dad to try and spot the shorts of Martin Caceres. We have, and they are massive.  1950s massive.  He looks like he’s wearing culottes.

14: Disallowed goal for Godin, although the whistle went waaaaaaay before.

16: Cavani misses a properly decent chance, but Uruguay aren’t dominating.  Would be hilarious if Costa Rica could get anything out of this.  Their fans are easy to spot in two tiny pockets on the right hand side of the screen, all wearing red.  For some reason they’re wearing their white away kit to play in though, which strikes me as a tad daft.

19: Sad to see that Bryan Ruiz has both had a haircut AND doesn’t just have “Bryan” on the back of his shirt.  There must be a Brazilian player called Brian or Kevin or Dave by now.  They’ve got a Fred and Bernard, after all.

21: Really wish it was Dragon Gate USA wrestling star Johnny Gargano playing in the Uruguay midfield.

22: Diego Godin looks like he works in a branch of Millets.

24: GOAL – URUGUAY – EDINSON CAVANI: Ref gives a penalty for what Andy Townsend thought was a handball, then a handball by Uruguay’s Diego Lugano, then eventually realises it was a great decision for what was a rugby tackle on the Uruguayan centre back.  Cavani smashes in the penalty although the keeper goes the right way to his left.

26: Considering how slow he’s meant to be, Diego Lugano looks like he’s at least ten years younger than he really is.

27: Joel Campbell looks properly good.  Keeps trying the spectacular.  We’ve decided that Leicester must sign him ASAP.

30: Dad has just noticed the different coloured Puma boots thing that some players are doing.  I await the “I remember when everyone had black boots” speech.

31: Gonzalez hits the side netting for Costa Rica.  Want them to score for their loyal cluster of fans behind the goal.

34: Dad believes that Costa Rica aren’t wearing red because of the chances of them washing the kit in the hotel and the colours running.  Really.  This is how he thinks.

38: This isn’t exactly scintillating stuff, but I’m willing to bet that it ends up being more entertaining that the England game later on.

42: Just remembered that Fray Bentos is in Uruguay.  That’s where your Nan gets her meat pies in tins from.

43: The Uruguay keeper is terrifyingly bad on crosses.  Or as my Father referred to him: “A typical South American keeper”.  Dude has a point.

44: Deflected shot from Forlan, great save from Navas in the Costa Rica goal.  The replays show the brilliant look of determination on his face to keep the ball out.  Forlan is then taking Uruguay corners.  Why?

Half Time:

Costa Rica really aren’t too shabby.  Uruguay slightly better, but the more exciting stuff seems to be coming from Joel Campbell up front for the Central Americans.  You can’t see England steamrolling over either of these sides, but you know what England are like for crying out loud.

The England team has been announced, and Raheem Sterling is playing.  At least it’s attacking, so you never know.

The voices of Gus Poyet and Fabio Cannavaro remind me of something else.

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46: So much complaining about where England are having to play tonight.  I think they’ll be ok, some pitches in this country are shite.

47: Dad has buggered off to make an omelette. He likes to think his are better than mine, but I am the motherfucking OMELETTE WIZARD.

48: Luis Suarez seems to be getting ready to come on.  Everyone on the Costa Rica side should immediately wear Rick Steiner like ear protectors.

51: Costa Rica trying to get back into this, and certainly aren’t sitting back.  They’re not a bad side at all.  Although Andy Townsend keeps talking about them like they’re a third division club side.  I mean, they’re at the World Cup… unlike Townsend’s side Ireland.

53: Those mismatched Puma boots as sported by three Uruguay players are really starting to make me unreasonably angry now.

54: GOAL – COSTA RICA – JOEL CAMPBELL: Campbell is class, but WHAT a cross in from Gamboa on the right wing for Costa Rica as the ball was about to go out.  Ball part cleared, falls to Campbell and he smashes in from 15 or so yards.  Celebration is excellent, taking the ball and stuffing it up his shirt as if pregnant and saluting the Costa Rican fans. GAME ON!

58: GOAL – COSTA RICA – OSCAR DUARTE: Bloody hell.  Free kick from Christian Bolanos is wonderfully headed in at the far post by the diving Duarte.  Copenhagen midfielder with the assist, Club Brugge defender with the goal.  Costa Rica a LOT better than people expected and Uruguay look rattled.

60: Diego Forlan off, Nicolas Lodeiro on. Walter Gargano off, Alvaro Gonzalez on. Still no Suarez.

63: Father still making his omelette. He has been distracted by both goals.

64: Joel Campbell tries for the top corner from 35 yards and the commentary team think he’s scored.  Bloody hell he looks like a player.

66: Now Bryan Ruiz wins a HEADER in front of goal and goes close. BRYAN RUIZ, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

69: Another great save by Keylor Navas.  He looks half decent too.

73: Dad is back.

74: Jose Miguel Cubero on for Costa Rica, replacing the brilliantly named YELTSIN Tejeda. Yeltsin! Top marks for that lad’s parents.

76: Of course, Costa Rica balance out that name with having two lads called Roy Miller and Patrick Pemberton.

80: Costa Rica aren’t even holding on; Uruguay look devoid of any decent ideas right now. Still no Suarez either, with ten minutes left.

83: Cavani has done bugger all in this game apart from score a penalty and look like a lion.

84: GOAL – COSTA RICA – MARCO URENA: Just on as a sub for Bryan Ruiz, Urena takes a wonderful through ball from Joel Campbell and slides the ball past the onrushing keeper.  His first touch of the ball and he looks ecstatic.  Brilliant goal and a great second half.  Well chuffed for the Costa Rica fans.

89: Uruguay look broken. They have not got a bloody clue what to do.

90: Five minutes injury time.  At the minute, could well be Costa Rica that score again rather than Uruguay nicking one back.

94: Horrible challenge on Joel Campbell by Maxi Perrera. RED CARD. Stupid challenge as he lost his patience. Uruguay self destructing.  Utterly clueless.  Andy Townsend quote ahead of the sending off: “He’s getting the big card out”.

Full Time:

Another result we didn’t see coming, right?  Wow.  What an amazing second half from the Costa Rican players.  Uruguay without a clue after they’d scored, whilst Costa Rica played with confidence and skill.  They’ve won over many a neutral with that performance, and showed England fans that Uruguay aren’t to be feared.  Costa Rica on the other hand…

Cavani does not look like a world class player, Forlan looks past it and with the exception of Diego Godin working on his own at the back, all Uruguay have is Suarez.  And speaking as a Wales supporter, one amazing player does not win you a world cup.  Or even qualify you for one.

Man of the Match: Joel Campbell

Match Rating: 9/10

 

The Football Neutral World Cup: Spain vs The Netherlands

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Pre Match:

So we’re on BBC for this one. Already a load better, although you can really tell when Rio Ferdinand is reading rather than talking off the cuff.  Everyone talking this game up, so it’ll probably be completely terrible.

I think I’m supporting the Netherlands because Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities and Ajax one of my favourite clubs based on how their fans treated me and the wife earlier in the year.

Seems to be a lot of empty seats again. At least it’s not raining like earlier on.

During the national anthems, Xavi must have deliberately positioned himself between two massive players knowing that it would make me spit my vimto out.

No fans seem to be that bothered about their national anthem if the big screen camera focuses on them.

The pre match graphics with the whole arm-folding mini-video is bloody ridiculous. Bruno Martins Indi did it the best.  Big smile.  Everyone else took it far too seriously.

Both teams in their away kits, which is daft.  I always like the Dutch kit.

1: Don’t wish to alarm anyone, but apparently Ron Vlaar is a good enough defender to play at a World Cup.

2: Usual long ball tactics from Spain there. Then Busquets boots Sneijder up in the air in a 1960s “let him know you’re here” tactic.

4: Belgium now on the rise, Netherlands on the decline. How long till Luxembourg start making a splash?

6: Everyone watching is hoping that Xabi Alonso gets revenge on Nigel De Jong in a proper Mortal Kombat style.

8: Sneijder powers through, Casillas makes the first save he’s made in about two months.  Spain defence look at each other as if to say “Oh! They’re allowed to run at us with pace and intent! Cheeky fucks.”

10: Iniesta now looks like my GCSE English teacher. He used to make us watch videos about Kate Bush and Morrissey on the last day of term.  I think they may constitute abuse.

12: Diego Costa getting booed with every touch for essentially being a high level glory hunter.

13: I take it back about Vlaar. Proper sorted out Diego Costa then.  Would be fun to see Costa’s reaction if he scored.  Also, you know that there is a hack somewhere trying to come up with a story to fit the headline “Costa Coffee”.

15: Mark Lawrenson on Nigel De Jong: “He likes hitting people in the chest, doesn’t he?”  He followed this with “I don’t think De Jong is a World Class footballer, but he’s got World Class tattoos.  Dude needs to see mine.

20: Arjen Robben has been trying to untie his boots since the last comment.

23: Diego Costa looks more like the Hulk than Hulk.

25: Cross from the Dutch, crying out for a Van Basten. Instead a lame pass back inside.

26: GOAL – SPAIN – XABI ALONSO: Diego Costa in the box, felled by De Vrij who takes out his trailing foot. Cillessen in the Dutch goal tries to have words with Xabi Alonso who smashes it into the bottom right corner.  Keeper guessed right. Goal line technology replay happened again. Really not needed.

31: Kind of hoped that Diego Costa playing up front would mean Spain just deciding to switch it up and play long ball.  This has not happened.  Brazilians booing him to death though.  Is a brave man who abandons his home nation in favour of where he lives BEFORE a World Cup in said home nation.

37: So far Jonathan De Guzman has swapped bodies with Nigel De Jong and is booting people left, right and centre.

38: Imagine David Silva with a moustache, shorter hair and wearing a white vest. Dead ringer for Freddie Mercury.

43: What a pass from Iniesta to David Silva.  Cheeky chip well saved by Jasper Cillessen, corner comes to nowt. You watch Spain and just think that there is no chance that any other team could pass the ball as well.

44: GOAL – THE NETHERLANDS – ROBIN VAN PERSIE: I watched Daley Blind for Ajax in January; he hits an unbelievable 35 yard pass from the right wing to the edge of the box where Van Persie dives to head the ball over Iker Casillas. Best goal of the tournament so far, albeit a little undeserved on the balance of play.  Blind is a real talent, although seems to be being used out wide rather than in the defensive midfield role I watched him.  Van Persie celebrates with Louis Van Gaal, brown-nosing so hard that somewhere Wayne Rooney can be heard swearing.

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Half Time:

The best thing about this game is that it isn’t awful, because that’s what you’d expect to end up happening after all the hype.  The save from Cillessen kept the Dutch in the game, and from there Van Persie levels it.  69% possession to Spain though, unless they make mistakes or you get a wonder-pass like the one from Blind then they’re hard to break down.

Pundit panel is Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry.  Rio’s tone and comments make Shearer sound insightful, intelligent and bubbly. The word is “think”, Rio. It has a “th” sound in it. Not “fink”.

Now the latest from the England camp! It’s hot. England probably won’t win.  That’s about it.  Keeps Gabby Logan in a job.

Phil Neville is now insisting on being called Philip.  He looks like Bez with a touch of henna in his hair.

Halftime snack was a Nobbly Bobbly.  What an ice lolly that is, although the wife calls it a “lolly ice”.  Utter madness.

46: And here comes the rain! Proper rain, too.  Like what we get here in North Wales.

47: Daryl Janmaat looks exactly like Owen Hargreaves.

50: Not a day goes past when I don’t wish that a certain Spanish player was called Sergio Biscuits.

52: GOAL – THE NETHERLANDS – ARJEN ROBBEN: This is why I’m not a pundit.  Spain give the ball away, pass their way upfield and a long ball to Robben is brought down outside the area.  He runs a few yards forwards, turns Pique and Sergio Ramos and slots it home.  Commentators say “what an upset we have on our hands”.  Er… no.  IT’S THE FINALISTS FROM FOUR YEARS AGO!  It’s not Honduras or Algeria, is it?  It’s the bloody Netherlands!

54: Diego Costa headbutts Bruno Martins Indi, who probably keeps the Spanish striker from getting sent off by not flailing himself around like a tool.  As the ref warns Costa, Martins Indi gives him a death stare that would terrify most people.

56: Spain keep giving the ball away, almost like they’re a tad overconfident in their ability to pass wherever they want.  Crucially they’ve not carved out an incisive chance as yet; The Netherlands have made three – the Sneijder miss, the Van Persie wondergoal and then the great team movement to lead to Robben’s goal.

58: End of an era chat from the commentators now.  Spain are losing by one goal to one of the best teams in the world.  Shall we calm down a bit and just enjoy the game?

60: Pedro and Fernando Torres about to come on. FEAR THE PLAYERS THAT NEVER GET IN THEIR CLUB’S FIRST ELEVEN!

61: Great run from Robben, pass helped on by Janmaat, Van Persie hits the bar. The Netherlands have come to win this, that’s for sure.

62: De Guzman off for the Georginio Wijnaldum. Dutch names are brilliant.  For Spain, Xabi Alonso off for Pedro, Diego Costa (who has done nothing but headbutt Bruno Martins Indi in the second half) off for Fernando Torres.

64: GOAL – THE NETHERLANDS – STEFAN DE VRIJ: Free kick from the right wing foolishly given away by Gerard Pique under pressure from Daley Blind.  Kick swung in from Robben, Casillas goes up with Van Persie and they both miss it, De Vrij nods in right on the post to make it 3-1, redeeming the penalty he gave away earlier.

66: Robin Van Persie booked for a wild swing on Pedro as it all starts kicking off.

68: GOAL DISALLOWED – DAVID SILVA – SPAIN. Silva offside as the ball headed at the Dutch goal, Cillessen makes a good save but Silva taps in, only for it to be disallowed.  Turning into a proper good game now.

71: They keep showing pictures of three Spanish fans wearing hats that have tiny bulls on them. They look proper bloody miserable.

72: Crowd doing a Mexican wave. SIT DOWN, IT’S IN BRAZIL.

72: GOAL – THE NETHERLANDS – ROBIN VAN PERSIE: Casillas properly arses up a backpass, Van Persie pounces on it, stays on his feet despite being fould by the Spanish keeper and slots home.  And based on the second half, this is completely deserved.  The Netherlands look brilliant with their three “stars” in Sneijder, Robben and Van Persie with the wingbacks of Janmaat and Blind looking impressive too.  The Dutch fans are now doing the conga.

76: Spain free kick, ref gets the spray out. Gets some on Bruno Martins Indi’s leopard print boots and he properly kicks off.  Brilliant.

77: Joel Veltman comes on for goalscorer Stefan De Vrij. I swear he motions to Veltman that they’ll have a smoke later on. Oh, the Dutch.

79: Van Persie off now for Jermain Lens who is seriously bloody quick.  As it looks at the minute, Spain have no pace whatsoever at the back.

80: GOAL – THE NETHERLANDS – ARJEN ROBBEN: Sneijder wins the ball, pumps it upfield towards Robben who is at least 10mph quicker than Sergio Ramos.  Robben eventually beats the keeper to make it 5.  I am now thinking of all the Dutch fans we befriended on our trip to watch Ajax.  Hope they’re having a party there now!

82: If the Dutch fans were singing in English now, I imagine the song would be “You can shove your Tiki-Taka up your arse”.

87: Wijnaldum should have scored, then Robben is well saved by Casillas. The Dutch want six. I’ll be honest, I want six. I don’t dislike Spain, but this is properly mesmerising.

89: Even Nigel De Jong is breaking forwards now.  If he scores against Spain then they may as well go home now.

90: 4 minutes of added time. Torres clean through and he somehow gets robbed by Daley Blind to rather arse it up.  FIFTY MILLION QUID MATE.

Final Whistle:

Bloody hell.

Well, I don’t think anyone expected that, did they?  Spain losing to the Netherlands isn’t a shock, the scoreline certainly is though.  An ageing Spanish side looked slow and although The Netherlands don’t have a wealth of star players the three that they do have are still terrifyingly good on their day.  Robben, Van Persie and Sniejder could well light up the whole tournament.

Their formation also works: Three defenders who can pass the ball, two tireless wingbacks, two strong midfielders, two attacking midfielders and a striker at the top.  They let Spain play their game in the first half and then just exploded on them.  I’m almost speechless.

And what now for Spain?  They’ve got to bounce back but the group isn’t too hard; they’ll beat Chile and Australia and be safe, but they’re not going to win the group now.  The confidence amongst the Dutch players must be massive.

Man of the Match: Daley Blind. Started pretty much every attack by winning the ball or providing a killer pass.

Match Rating: 9/10

 

 

The Football Neutral World Cup: Mexico vs Cameroon

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BEFORE WE START! Remember to buy my Football Neutral 2013/14 Compilation Kindle Ebook. Less that £2 and genuinely good fun. Go here!

Pre Game: I only just switched the telly on in time to see the National Anthems.  Based on the rain, is this game being played in Oldham?  I imagine conditions are what my late mother would have referred to as “muggy”.

The advert break has just reminded me that I’m watching this on ITV.  Oh good lord.

Mexico manager Miguel Herrera doesn’t look Mexican at all. He looks like he’s from Durham.  Also, my Sky Plus box mentions “evergreen” Samuel Eto’o in their programme description.  HE IS YOUNGER THAN ME, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

Right then, here we go.  Minute by minute observations from now on.

1: Commentators seemed to be concerned primarily about the weight of the Mexico players.  How odd.  Mexican fans are PROPERLY loud, and at least one has been seen wearing a luchadore mask.  And it is still pissing down.

3: Benoit Assou-Ekotto is playing.  Notorious for turning up to his games in London on the tube, I imagine he isn’t using public transport in Brazil.  Mainly because the press here would have us believe that it’s on fire.

4: The Mexican kit is a proper 1990s horror, isn’t it?

5: Trying to avoid lots of niche Mexican wrestling references right now.

6: If you’ve got the Panini sticker album, have you noticed how leathery some of the Mexican lads are? At least one of them must be 60 years old.

7: With all of the rain, Assou Ekotto’s hair currently weighs more than Carlos Vela.  On a side note, why isn’t he here? If he’s as good as Arsene Wenger thinks he is, surely he should be?  Bad week for Arsenal fans.  Imagine reading that you’ve signed a player back from La Liga who you had a buyback clause concerning… then finding out is was Vela for £3.5m whilst turning down the chance at Fabregas. Madness.

10: “The looked shaky against Cape Verde” is surely a lost rap lyric that they wove into the commentary.

12: DISALLOWED GOAL – DOS SANTOS. Never offside. Commentators now regretting talking Cameroon up and Mexico down because at present the former look useless and the latter look a lot more eager.

15: Mexican boss suspended as a player for punching a photographer?  I presume he was taking a snap of him. Otherwise that’s just weird. Twatting people whilst they take pictures of landmarks.

16: DISALLOWED GOAL – CAMEROON. I was closer to the defensive line at the point the ball was played.

17: Sam Matterface is commentating.  Once I was a guest via phone on TalkSport and he publicly rubbished professional wrestling.  When he’s back from Brazil we should send him to a training session or two to see how he feels.  This is a genuine suggestion…. hmmm.

19: Trying to work out if the stadium is actually full, or if they’ve done what they did at that stadium in Portugal for the Euros a while back and painted the seats all different colours.

22: Good chance for Eto’o there. Thought the keeper saved it, but he hit the post.  Remember when he was the best player on Pro Evo by a mile? Usain Bolt levels of pace.

23: The Mexico socks look like part of a Jyushin “Thunder” Lyger costume. See?

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24: Mexico are playing like a team where they’ve all just gone “fucking hell! We forgot to practice defending corners!”

27: Up the other end, Rafa Marquez doing the defending for Cameroon there with a beautiful header. Mexican fans still utterly brilliant.  Surely there are more than 10,000 in the stadium?

29: In Manaus, a groundsman is waiting for this rain to turn up.

29: GOAL DISALLOWED – DOS SANTOS. That’s not offside either, Dos Santos off but the ball nodded through by a Cameroon lad.  Referee looking panicked.  At least this one doesn’t have to worry about Stipe Pletikosa helping the result along as well.

33: I can only presume that Dos Santos isn’t having these goals allowed as punishment for never being as good in real life as he was on Football Manager.

34: Am surprised the advertising hoardings around the side of the pitch aren’t the usual massive sponsors.  Keep seeing regional ones rather than… no, wait. All Adidas now. And someone in the stadium is getting fired.

36: I can’t hear the name “Vasquez” without thinking of the film Aliens.

37: I don’t care how much it’s raining, if you wear a poncho you’re a prick.

39: Ref clueless. That was a red for M’Bia. Proper elbow.

43: Not that I’m bored, but the actress that played PFC Jenette Vasquez in Aliens was called Jenette Goldstein. She doesn’t act anymore, but instead runs a bra shop called “Jenette Bras”. Their catchphrase is “the alphabet starts at “D””. Brilliant.

44: Based on last night, that challenge on Dos Santos was a penalty, sending off and possible hanging.

45: Dear Mexico. If you have a dangerous header on goal, the linesman will be raising his flag. Ok? Thanks. Bye!

Half Time

Thoughts so far: It is wet. Cameroon are properly rubbish.  Mexico are better than we’d expected, and let’s be honest, Dos Santos is playing like a man promised a Harry Redknapp signing on fee.

Franz Beckenbauer banned from all FIFA activity for 90 days, apparently.  So no bribes for him!  Well, not for ninety days.  He’ll have to find an other way to fuel his massive mansion until then.

Fabio Cannavaro is the worst pundit since… actually, fuck it.  There are a LOT of bad pundits.

The blonde Aussie lad in the Fosters advert is far too in shape to advertise lager.

45: If Cameroon have been playing with 6 at the back against Mexico, what will happen when they play Brazil?

46: My most pressing thought right now is when to order my kebab. If it arrives too early I can’t type. AND I AM SO HUNGRY RIGHT NOW.

47: Oribe Peralta should have scored. Anyone remember Sixto Peralta, on loan at Ipswich years back? Still playing, apparently. Also, Argentinian, not Mexican.

50: That was the world’s shittest two footed lunge. Come on, Alex Song. Commit properly to cheating!

53: Layun is wearing the new Puma mismatched boots. I know it’s meant to be cool, but it makes you look like you’ve got different sized feet and couldn’t buy a matching pair.

54: Kebab ordered.

55: Dear Alex Song. You can’t even fake an injury right.  Also, I miss your blonde hair.

57: Now M’Bia is flailing around like a knob. Why? You’re big, muscular lads. We can tell by your shirts that seem to have shrunk in the thundery rain.

58: If the ref uses that defensive wall spray to just once spray “El Barto” on something then I’ll be happy. Or nWo on the World Cup trophy.

61: GOAL! MEXICO! PERALTA! About bloody time.  Itandje saves from Dos Santos, ball breaks to Peralta, 1-0.  Well deserved.  Crowd shots show one man wearing a luchadore mask AND a sombrero, ticking as many stereotypes as he could.  Everyone already loves the Mexican coach Miguel Herrera based on his celebrations.  He’s like a Sunday league Dad.

63: Hector Herrera fluffs a chance because he presumes the linesman was about to flag.

66: Samuel Eto’o caught having to commit to lying about being fouled there, and the game is held up for a minute or so. Nowt wrong with the lad, obviously.

67: Just given the goal line technology replay.  It’s fine lads.  We’re certain about that one. We saw the net move, that’s usually a giveaway.

73: Javier Hernandez is coming on. He last played a full game when he was 8 years old. That might be a lie.

74: Hernandez wants to be a staring striker.  Well then mate, be less shite.

75: Lots of Johnson’s Baby adverts around the side of the pitch. Not sure if Joe Hart is their spokesman yet, but I’m sure he will be soon.  To butcher a phrase, that lad would happily be paid to try and sell snow to the Eskimos.

76: Of course, a reminder: Tonight Chile vs Australia. THE BATTLE OF THE NON FRENCH OR ITALIAN WINE PRODUCING NATIONS!

77: Wall spray out again. The ref needs to paint the shape of a body around the next player who fakes an injury, just to entertain me.

79: Pierre Webo is an “old fashioned striker”.  By that they mean “doesn’t score many goals in an Emile Heskey goal return way”.

82: Kebab has arrived. Early. Keyboard will get greasy.

83: The Cameroon boss is the most miserable man I’ve ever seen in my life. He looks like a zombie that has been put on a brains ban.

86: Clarke Carlisle just used the word “perpendicular”. What a fucking legend.

90: Cameroon don’t really seem to interested in scoring. 4 minutes of added time.

90+1: Great saved from Ochoa. Apparently he was selected for being the most acrobatic keeper.  The others couldn’t do a forward roll or cartwheel, one would presume.

90+3: Hernandez misses from point blank range. Doesn’t even get it close with bags of time.  Peralta, now on the bench, laughs to himself and strokes his voodoo doll of Chicarito.

Final Whistle:

Cameroon look nothing like their exciting sides they always seemed to have in the 1990s, just nothing interesting about them at all – so lucky this is an ITV game and it’ll be the deadpan of Hoddle, Viera and Cannavaro dissecting the match.

Mexico are pretty exciting though – they probably don’t have a ton of pressure on them and their manager is easily going to be one of the highlights of the entire tournament.  Good value for their win, but they’ll be out in the first knockout round as usual.

Man of the Match: Giovanni Dos Santos

Match Rating: 5/10