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Old 12-01-2022, 08:38 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winx View Post
I am amazed that Germany lost.
Well done Japan!
Germany didn't lose, they won 4-2, but went out on goal difference, ceding their place to Spain when Japan took top spot.
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Old 12-02-2022, 08:53 PM   #42 (permalink)
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Day 13

Group G

Cameroon v Brazil (Result: 0-1; Cameroon go out)

Nobody had ever expected Brazil to have any trouble progressing, nor had they, while for Cameroon it was all or nothing - only a win would allow them to go further. Against a rampant Brazil, who never like to lose, even when it doesn’t mean anything, not the idea situation for the Africans. Unsurprisingly, all the play went the Brazilians’ way, Cameroon finding it hard to even get the ball in the first half, though they did manage to keep Brazil out, which was an achievement in itself. They even had a good shot in the last minutes of the first half but the keeper hacked it away.

Cameroon played much better in the second half, a few decent chances as Brazil seemed to take their hand off the throttle and ease back, though they came back into it from the 56th on, the keeper even spilling a shot but no goal for Brazil. Cameroon continued to threaten down their half, Brazil’s keeper quite busy, and with only one goal needed they eventually scored when it looked like they were going out. Brazil almost spoiled the party literally in the last minute but the ball bounced high and over the top, and Cameroon held on for a historic win. They were in touching distance now of the round of sixteen, but it all depended on the result of the other match in the group.

And here it is.

Serbia v Switzerland (Result:2-3; Switzerland go through )

Cameroon’s fate lay in the hands of both these teams. If Switzerland won, they would go through instead of Cameroon, but if Serbia won by at least two goals, they would be the ones to go through. A lot of other permutations, but I can’t be bothered. Look it up if you want. Basically, after their last-gasp win, Cameroon could still find themselves going home, depending on how this game ended. Three shots for the Swiss missed (sorry) but I can’t tell you at what time because yadda yadda yadda you know what I’m going to say. Serbia had a corner but didn’t score either. At this point, Cameroon must have been hoping it would keep going like this; a nil-nil draw would certainly send them through. But someone was bound to score, and it was Switzerland, no doubt prompting groans from the Cameroon team.

Then Serbia netted, and a draw, again, would have given Cameroon hope. Such a result would not help either of the teams playing though, and neither were likely to settle for that. It was Serbia who sent Cameroon hearts fluttering, scoring a second and now edging closer to qualification for the next round. Switzerland levelled it just before half-time, which would have made the Cameroon ECG calm down again for a while. Second half saw Switzerland take the lead, with little chance for the Africans now unless Serbia scored again, and the Swiss did not. A free for Switzerland almost saw them snuff out both Serbia and Cameroon’s hopes, but it went just wide, then in added time Serbia nearly did it, but the Swiss held on to go through, and break Cameroon hearts. And Serbian ones too.

Group H

Korea Republic v Portugal (Result: 2-1; Korea go through )

With Portugal already qualified, Korea needed a win to have any chance of getting through at all, and even then, that might not be enough, as they would need to depend on the other result in their group as Ghana took on Uruguay. Facing the mercurial Ronaldo was probably not a great factor for the Koreans, nor was the fact that again we have no times on screen, but at any rate Portugal scored in the first five minutes, I’m reliably informed. Not a good start for Korea, and surely made their job, if not impossible, much more improbable than it had seemed at the start. Portugal in fact had a record of their own to reach; they wanted to be the first team to win all matches in their group, and they weren’t about to take their foot off the gas here. Korea managed to get one back, but it was flagged offside,

A long free kick ended up as a corner for them and this time it was in, though this would not be enough for them to qualify as they had to win. Only the 27th minute, the announcer said, so time yet to capitalise on that one goal, that depending of course on Portugal not scoring again, which they seemed likely to do, never letting up on the pressure. Korea hung on though right to the death, however they had not added to their tally. Six minutes of extra time saw them finally achieve what might be the impossible and score in the dying minutes with a lovely breakaway after a Portuguese corner went nowhere. And that was it. Korea beat Portugal. Now they just had to see how the other game went; they’d done all they could do and it was out of their hands.

Ghana v Uruguay (Result:0-2; Both go out )

Ghana had to lose for Korea to go through, even a draw would be enough for the Africans to make it to the next stages. Uruguay needed a staggering three goals to make it, so this would be a real scrap, and Korea would be watching anxiously. In the 16th minute Ghana player sent sprawling in the box, a penalty resulting. Saved though, a bad penalty and Ghana must have thought luck was against them. Especially when they lost possession in the box in the 22nd and only just cut out the Uruguay shot, which was goal-bound. After such a scare though it wasn’t long, another three minutes, before the South Americans were netting their first goal in the tournament, followed quickly on 31 minutes by their second, a real class goal. Ghana’s heads surely dipping now.

Uruguay looked like they would get a penalty then in the second half, but the ref said no, even though it seemed a stonewall to everyone else, but no dice. One more goal was all they needed, so they must have been really annoyed. Into minute 80 and Ghana were surely out and Korea going through, but Uruguay still searching for that elusive and vital third goal. Another penalty shout for Uruguay in added time at the end of the match, and were they going to be cheated again? Seemed they were. Again, no penalty. Four minutes left of the extra time and Uruguay were pushing hard. A free in the dying seconds went straight into the keeper’s arms and it ended in misery for both sides.

Group G
1st: Brazil (6 points)
2nd: Switzerland (6 points)
3rd: Cameroon (4 points)
4th: Serbia (1 point)


Brazil and Switzerland go through; Cameroon and Serbia are out.

Group H
1st: Portugal (6 points)
2nd: Korea Republic (4 points)
3rd: Uruguay (4 points)
4th: Ghana (3 points)


Portugal and Korea go through; Uruguay and Ghana go out.

The Round of Sixteen

All groups finished now, all matches played, here’s how it shapes up for the next stage:

Netherlands v USA

England v Senegal

Argentina v Australia

Japan v Croatia

France v Poland

Morocco v Spain

Portugal v Switzerland

Brazil v Korea Republic


Tomorrow’s matches

Tomorrow sees the first of those matches in the round of sixteen, as four teams bid for a place in the quarter-finals:

Netherlands v USA

Argentina v Australia


I’ll have my Week 2 roundup tomorrow.
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Old 12-03-2022, 11:14 AM   #43 (permalink)
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Trollheart’s 2022 World Cup Roundup: Week Two

The second and final week of the group stages saw things kick into higher gear. Disappointments, triumphs, surprises, giant-killings; the easy stride into the next round of those who were expected to progress, the often surprising qualification of those who had not, and the uncertainty as poor initial performances told against teams, and goal difference began to look critical. Those who had stamped their authority on the tournament from the first continued to move forward, while those who had fallen behind had to quite literally up their game. This was the last chance, and failure here meant a short and subdued trip to the airport and a long and morose plane trip home. Over this week, titans would fall, Davids would topple Goliaths, and two teams would wait anxiously till the very last whistle to see if their slim hopes of progressing were to be realised.

But before we get to my roundup of the second week of group matches, there are some results from the first week, that spilled into the second, that we need to take care of, as they gave us potentially huge results.

Japan met Costa Rica on Sunday, and to everyone’s surprise - especially the Japanese, who were riding high on an unexpected victory themselves over Germany in the first match - the Costa Ricans beat them, while two megastars of the competition went head to head, Spain and Germany drawing 1-1, a better result for Spain, with their seven-goal demolition of Costa Rica, while Germany were struggling to make up the deficit after having suffered a somewhat ignoble defeat at the hands of Japan. Of course, nobody would have counted the Germans out at this stage, but they were going to have to make up some ground if they wanted to avoid a humiliating group exit. Belgium were doing badly, having failed to realise the potential of their squad and again came up empty against Morocco, being beaten 2-0, while Croatia breezed past the fledgling Canada, thumping them 4-1 and putting them well on course for the next stages.

Monday saw Cameroon and Serbia play out a gritty thrilling 3-3 draw, good for the goal difference, if it should play a part, but nil points for either team in terms of moving ahead, one point each. Both teams were in dire need of points, Serbia in need after their 2-0 kicking by Brazil and desperate to qualify, Cameroon also smarting from a 1-0 defeat by the Swiss. Brazil put Switzerland to the sword, while Ghana pulled off an unlikely victory against Korea, leaving them with just the one point after their scoreless draw with Uruguay. Their opponent in that game didn’t do well either, failing to score against Portugal, who took them for 2-0 and raced to the top of the group and qualification.

And so we moved into Tuesday, Day 10 of the competition and the final round of matches in the group stages. As always, things got going with Group A, where Ecuador found themselves the second team to go out as Senegal took them 2-1 and assured their own qualification to the next stage. Qatar were of course the first time to go, and the first ever holders of the tournament, but Netherlands did not allow them to go gently into the quiet night, blasting two goals past them on their way, which certainly lifted them into the qualification places. In Group B the USA beat Iran by a single goal and sent them out of the competition, while in the home countries clash it was the lion who savaged the dragon, England kicking Wales 3-0 and assuring their own qualification at the top of their group while also sending Wales back to the valleys.

Wednesday saw another giant take their place as Argentina went up against Poland in Group C, a 2-0 victory for the South Americans and a place in the round of sixteen for them, while Poland, despite losing, still qualified in second place on superior goal difference to Mexico, who went out at their expense. So despite a 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia, both teams were eliminated, while there was a shock in the Australia v Denmark match as the Danes, unable to score, went down to a single goal from the Aussies, who went through and Denmark were ringing for taxis to the airport. As expected, France went through at the top of their group, but not before they had their tails singed by Tunisia, who departed with a warning shot perhaps for next tournament, beating the French 1-0.

Thursday was a major shock. Costa Rica did not beat Germany - in fact, the Germans thrashed them 4-2, though it was a close-run thing and they did look like they were going out till near the end, when they started playing. The shock was that, even after their last-ditch and totally traditionally German heroics, having seemed to have turned it around, Germany were still eliminated due to similar heroics by Japan in their game against Spain. The Spanish were of course already through with minimal effort, but Japan were fighting for their lives, and won a deserved victory. That meant they moved above Germany in the group and the German were “was ist los?” as they found themselves on the bus heading for Qatar International Airport, or No Gays International, or whatever the hell it’s called.

In Group F, then, Croatia played out a scoreless draw against Belgium, but it was enough to send the Belgians, who had disappointed and not scored once, back home, while Canada went down 2-1 to Morocco, and out of the tournament. This left the final eight teams to play in the last two groups, and this played out on Friday.

Group G saw Cameroon able to dream of making it through, as they beat the mighty Brazil by a goal to nil, but sadly their hopes were comprehensively crushed by the teams in the other crucial match, as Serbia and Switzerland played a game of “my goal, your goal” until finally the Swiss knocked out Serbia, going through and in the process also ending Cameroon’s hopes and sending them home. Talk about ecstasy to agony! In the final group game, then, Group H saw Korea pull an unexpected rabbit out of the hat and beat Portugal, but like Cameroon, qualification for them depended on the result of the other match. In the end, Uruguay won but could not get the precious third goal they needed to assure their progress, so both went home and Korea go through.
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Old 12-03-2022, 08:30 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Day 14

With the surviving teams through to the Round of Sixteen, it was knockout time. No second chances: matches could not end in draws (extra time/penalties would decide those that did) - victory was the only thing that would keep each of the remaining sixteen teams in contention for the quarter-finals. So there was no more room for clever strategy, biding your time or hoping to make up lost ground. As Pink Floyd once wrote, “one slip, and down the hole we fall”, and this hole had a big fat EXIT sign. Only eight teams could go through to the four quarter-finals matches, so it was every man for himself, and everyone had better bring their A game, because this time, winning was everything.

Netherlands v USA (Result: 3-1; USA go out)

The first to face off, one team well used to these stages, the other carrying high hopes after progressing with victories in every match of the group stages, one carrying the hopes of a country, the other those of a continent. Somehow, though it seems nobody in the US is too bothered about football if it doesn’t have the word American before it, whenever their team is in, and doing well in, the World Cup, they all get invested. So maybe there were more eyes watching this back home than would be interested in the other matches. Either way, it was USA who made the first real move but Pulisic missed - may have been offside anyway but still a good chance for the USA to stamp their intentions on the game. Netherlands were being held back in their own half until almost ten minutes when they pounced and scored.

USA nearly shot themselves in the foot in the 25th, with some surely unnecessary close passing in the goal, almost letting the Dutch steal the ball, and now it was the USA who found it hard to get out of their half, the Dutch defence tight and effective. They did have a great shot in the 41st minute but again straight at the keeper. Piling the pressure on now, it looked like the pendulum was swinging in favour of the USA, but in the last seconds of extra time in the first half the Dutch scored again, and it was looking a real mountain to climb for the USA.

They nearly came back into it as the second half began, keeper beaten but cleared off the line, while Netherlands nearly scored again themselves on 50, and a minute later a long shot went right into the Dutch keeper’s arms, with the game turning into a real one, end to end as the USA tried to force the issue. One goal, while the Netherlands remained at two, might have changed the entire complexion of the game and let USA take control, but the Dutch were determined to put the contest beyond question and get that third goal. Again they went close at 60, and ten minutes later from a corner, but even shooting and missing, they were denying the USA the opportunity to get the ball out of their half and up to threaten the Dutch goal. Two smart saves in succession from the US keeper saved that third goal from being clocked up as the game moved into its last fifteen minutes.

In the 74th the USA pressure told, and the Dutch gave away the ball, but the gilt-edged chance, almost a present, was squandered. Not so the shot on 75, which went in and gave the US hope, just one goal in it now with still fifteen minutes plus extra time to go. Could they do it? The Netherlands seemed a little rattled now, a comfortable lead shrunk to a one-goal advantage, and they knew that if the US scored this would be a harder-fought game than they had anticipated. But on 80 minutes any such fears disappeared as they got their third goal, ending any hope the USA had of progressing.

Australia v Argentina (Result: 1-2; Australia go out)

You can never call any game a foregone conclusion, nor say an underdog is wasting their time, but against the might of Argentina, four-time winners of the tournament, newcomers Australia were really going to have to pull out all the stops and probably benefit from some lucky decisions if they were to make it any further. Messi still had a point to prove; it wouldn’t be fair to say he hadn’t contributed, but the sparkle expected from the world’s greatest player had not quite materialised. He’s still light-years ahead of most players, of course, and we’ve seen some of his magic, but could he work his spell on the Aussies and turn them into plane tickets home? As the man from Carlsberg says, probably.

Still, Australia held on to the 34th minute, when it was that man again putting Argentina ahead with a truly beautiful shot after a free had not quite worked out for his team. The second half saw them boss the midfield again, and Messi had a chance to increase their lead but the ball bounced poorly and the keeper caught it easily. No real power in the shot. A backpass in the 56th minute almost let Australia in. Then the reverse happened, and Australia messed up when their keeper presented the ball to Argentina, and at two ahead, well, there really was no coming back from that was there? Another great run from Messi, didn’t end in a goal but gorgeous to watch the skill of the man.

Australia weren’t going down that easily though, and they scored in the 75th, a shot out of nowhere really, almost adding a second five minutes later, then Argentina had a great chance to put it all to bed in the 88th but ballooned the ball over the net, Messi missing in the 3d minute of 7 in extra time, but Australia were being held back in their own half and it really didn’t look as if they would get a chance to menace the opposition goal before the end. They did, though, and almost forced the game into extra time, but the keeper saved Argentina from 30 extra minutes, giving them the win and sending Australia out, but not without honour.

These results give us one of the quarter final matches, which will be

Argentina v Netherlands

Tomorrow’s matches

France v Poland

England v Senegal
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Old 12-04-2022, 08:12 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Day 15


France v Poland (Result: 3-1; Poland out)

Having strolled into the round of sixteen with some incredible, and some underwhelming performances, but still at the top of their group, France would have fancied getting through to the quarter-finals, and being the holders of the current World Cup who would disagree? Poland had had a harder road to the qualifying stages but were here to make a statement. This should have been a high-scoring, high-intensity match and France were on the attack from the 10th minute, Mbappe almost opening the scoring but the high volley went into the keeper’s arms. Keeping up the pressure they got a second corner in the 12th but that came to nothing, then a nice shot in the 15th but again straight at the man in the goal. Poland very much on the defence had not had a shot, nor indeed been down the French half in the first twenty minutes, but couldn’t take their chance when they did finally break.

France then squandered a great move in the 28th, really should have been a goal but slid to the side of the post. You felt with all the chances going begging for the title holders, Poland could capitalise on their mistakes and make them pay, and they kept trying, with three shots in quick succession in the 37th, how one of them didn’t go in is a mystery. France finally took one of their chances just before the end of the half, with Poland almost replying immediately in the last seconds, but 1-0 it remained at half time, despite a pretty terrible fumble by the French keeper.

After a somewhat questionable free in the second half France went close to settling the game but the keeper was equal to it. They did score then on 57 minutes but the whistle had already gone for a foul so it didn’t count. Lovely goal though, overhead kick. Poland managed to force the play down the French end in the 64th minute but it wasn’t long before France were back menacing the Polish goal, another side netting shot reminding the Poles they were up against it and that France weren’t going to settle for winning by a single goal, if win they did. A Polish free kick resulted in a good shot but over it went as the clock ticked on, France still ahead. On 74 minutes it was all over, Mbappe scoring and putting clear daylight between the two teams. Poland kept trying, but with three minutes of normal time left the chance they would score two goals looked remote to say the least. And even more remote when Mbappe made absolutely sure as two seconds of extra time slipped by. At the death, Poland got a penalty for a handball but even then they couldn’t score. Then further drama as the penalty had to be taken again, keeper off his line. This time they did score, though it was nothing more than a consolation. France through, as expected, Poland go out.



England v Senegal (Result: 3-0; Senegal go out)

Gareth Southgate’s boys would have been expecting to breeze past Senegal and into the quarter-finals, hoping to improve on last tournament’s finish of getting to the semis, but it was the Africa Cup of Nations champions who had the first attack, harmless really though and easy for the keeper. Bit of a scrap and England had a free kick in the 6th minute, then Senegal had a chance in the 22nd but over the roof it went. Suspicion of handball by England but no penalty. Senegal continued to pile on the pressure, another possible handball, again ignored, not even checked, and England knew they had to up their game. And they did. In the 38th they finally scored through Henderson, very much against the run of play.

Kane shot high in the 40th, goal at his mercy, then Shaw missed his chance but Kane took his in the last seconds, Senegal losing the ball in the England half, the English now in control if Senegal could not get themselves sorted in the second half. And they seemed to have a lot of trouble even getting the ball, their confidence probably shot after playing so well, bossing the game and then losing in the last few minutes. A third for England in 56 left the match in no doubt; not anyone who would bet against them now. And so it ended, after a really stuttering start England swept Senegal aside and stride confidently on into the quarter finals.

This sets up an exciting quarter final between France and England, the old enemy (don’t England have a lot of those?)

Tomorrow’s matches

Japan v Croatia

Brazil v Korea Republic
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Old 12-06-2022, 08:21 PM   #46 (permalink)
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Day 16

Japan v Croatia (Result: 0-0; Japan go out on penalties )


Japan had surprised getting to the top of the group, but Croatia were well used to being in the round of sixteen, so could the Japanese pull off another shock result? They were on the attack from literally minute one, with a great kick from a free just going wide and resulting in a corner, from which Japan came close again. Two minutes on the clock and Croatia already feeling the pressure. The veterans were not giving up that easily though, and came very close in the 7th minute. Great move then from Japan in the 11th, excellent cross but just missed, and again in the 16th. Japan definitely had the lion’s share of the play as they forced Croatia into their own half and threatened their goal more than the Croatians did theirs. Two long crosses in the 27th but Croatia could put neither away, from the right or from the left.

It really looked like Japan would be first to score, capitalising on all their early possession and pressure, and they kept coming so close but could not put the ball in the net, a corner in the 42nd resulting in another one which finally ended up in the goal and Japan were ahead at the death. Then the old annoyance, a marginal offside decision, but the goal stood, to Japan’s relief. Into the second half then and it was advantage Japan, Croatia really having to go for it now. They’d been somewhat disappointing in the first half, but they sorted that on 55 with an equaliser. Japan set about redressing the balance with a fantastic shot on 59 but just over, then an equally excellent shot from Modric which was saved. Both teams fighting hard now for the goal that would probably decide it as we hit 65 minutes. Croatia went close, pushing all the action up the Japanese end now and on 77 a great block kept out what could have been the winning goal.

Japan then had a golden opportunity just as reached 80 minutes but to extra time it went, for the first time this tournament with the scored locked at 1-1, and as teams tired, as it often is, a simple mistake, a lapse in concentration, a dodgy or lucky decision could decide who went through to the quarter finals. Japan nearly took it on 14 minutes of the extra time but the keeper was equal to it, then a corner in the dying seconds went nowhere and off we went into the second half of extra time. Reaching 20 minutes, it was looking like penalties, Japan turning the screw and then Croatia missed a sitter and we were into that dreaded shootout for the first time in the World Cup 2022.

First Japanese penalty saved, first Croatian scored. Advantage Croatia.
Second Japanese penalty saved, second Croatian scored. Surely now the game was Croatia’s.
Third Japanese penalty scored, third Croatian missed. Pendulum swinging the other way?
No. Fourth Japanese penalty saved, fourth Croatian scored and they go through.

Brazil v Korea Republic (Result: 4-1; Korea go out )

Another foregone conclusion? Like their Asian neighbour, Korea Republic had pulled off some surprising results, but would beating Brazil be a bridge, or indeed a whole pile of bridges too far? And with Neymar back in action, you’d have to think this game was Brazil’s for the taking.Certainly they ran rings around Korea and netted in the first 6 minutes, which didn’t look good for the Koreans. This could end up being an exhibition match as Brazil turned on the style and played to the gallery. And did they play. Penalty in the 10th and they were two ahead, a very cool penalty indeed. What a showman Neymar is. Even kissed the ball before he took the kick.

Korea got a chance to play in the 15th minute, had a great shot which was just saved by the Brazil and Liverpool keeper, and another high shot a minute later after a corner. But ten minutes later Brazil were cruising as Richarlison scored their third. Surely no way back for Korea now. More a case really of how many would they be beaten by, as it became four on 35 minutes. Korea didn’t give up, to their credit, but Brazil were just too good for them, and though they went close as the second half began, the night, and the game, was the Brazilians’. They had their moments, Allison making a triple save in the 67th minute, and then finally scored in the 76th with a bullet, which at least made the scoreline look a little less embarrassing.

Brazil probably seemed overconfident, one might even say arrogant at this point, though you could hardly really blame them. They cruised through to the quarter finals, as everyone had expected they would, and they really put Korea to the sword without seeming to even break a sweat. That’s what Brazil can do at their very best.

This leaves our third quarter-final then as
Brazil v Croatia

With one more to be decided when tomorrow’s last teams play. And they are

Morocco v Spain

Portugal v Switzerland


Day 17

Morocco v Spain (Result: 0-0; Spain go out on penalties )

One of the favourites for the final, Spain have been slicing their way through the tournament, despite a shock loss to Japan, and are hoping to realise the huge potential in their team which has nevertheless seen them underperform in the last few World Cups, though Morocco are unbeaten so far. 10-minute mark saw Morocco get a free kick but the effort blasted over the top, a few shots by Spain but side netting; you would imagine they were getting closer though. They weren’t having it all their own way though and Morocco had a good few shot but again no goals as we headed towards the end of the first half. A corner for Spain - first corner of the game - went nowhere and you would have to imagine Spain would up their game in the second half. They’d have to if they wanted to progress. Quite sedate really so far.

At 78 minutes it looked likely to be decided by the first goal scored, but kind of hard to see where it was coming from, Spain certainly not controlling the game; perhaps a moment of magic would be needed if we weren’t to go into extra time. Almost happened on 81 but straight across the face of the goal. Could Morocco pull off a shock upset and send Spain out? It had not been the flamboyant, comfortable performance we might have expected from Spain, but even a workmanlike 1-0 would do. Last-ditch defending by Morocco in the last two minutes saved them, and in the dying seconds Spain got a free and that looked like it but saved, and into extra time.

Great defending again from Morocco, and Spain just could got get through, but Morocco almost did in th 13th minute. No matter how this ended, you could not fault Morocco’s defence, just their attack, which was lacking in the final third. In fact, they almost shot themselves in the foot in the final minute with a header that could have gone into their own goal and won it for Spain.

And so to the second game to go into penalties.
Morocco’s first: scored.
Spain’s first: missed.
Morocco’s second: scored.
Spain’s second: saved,
Morocco’s third: saved
Spain’s third: saved.
Morocco’s fourth: scored and Morocco go through! Spain are OUT! And who would begrudge it to the Africans?

Portugal v Switzerland (Result: )

The big news of course was that Ronaldo was not picked (though of course he was available as a substitute), but even so Portugal must have fancied their chances of going through against a Swiss side who twice looked like going out in the group stages. A beautiful shot from Portugal in the 17th minute, angle really tight but not a problem to Ramos. Another great attack in the 21st but straight at the keeper this time. Fantastic long pass down the field for Portugal but again the keeper could easily gather. Switzerland almost scored in the 28th but just wide while Portugal went down the Swiss half again, keeping the pressure high. On the strength of this performance it seemed unlikely Ronaldo would even be needed, as 33 minutes saw a bullet jumping header and Portugal were two ahead.

Switzerland almost scored five minutes later to reduce the deficit, but cleared off the line, the Swiss on the attack now, but then a wild pass gave the ball back to Portugal, Ramos missing what should have been their third, and surely ending the game before the second half had even begun. But even at 2-0 Portugal were going to be hard to break down, and when they got a third in the 50th that was it. Nothing Switzerland could do now. In testimonial mode now, Portugal added another on 55 minutes, Switzerland netted on 57 to at least get on the board, but it was a vain attempt and a foregone conclusion as Ramos got his hat-trick at 21 years old and Portugal had five.

No extra time or penalties needed here! Could have been watching Brazil, almost. Portugal had the game in their pocket, and they knew it. So did Switzerland, only an offside flag saving them from going down to six, though as extra time clocked up they did get their sixth, and it was as comprehensive a performance as we’ve seen in this World Cup. Superb. Cristiano who?

So just to check on all quarter finals:

Netherlands v Argentina

Croatia v Brazil

England v France

Morocco v Portugal

No matches tomorrow or Thursday, so a rest for me. See you on Friday for the first two quarter finals as Croatia take on the might of Brazil, and Argentina go head to head with the Dutch.
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Old 12-09-2022, 08:32 PM   #47 (permalink)
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Day 20

Netherlands v Argentina (Result: 2-2; Netherlands go out on penalties )

Two heavyweights in this quarter final and it was Argentina who scored first in the 34th minute with a beautiful goal including a superb assist by Messi, then the man went close himself on 62 with a lovely free kick, just skimming the top of the net. But then a penalty in the 70th seemed to have given the win to Argentina thanks to Messi. But hold the phone! A goal for Netherlands in the 82nd gave them hope, and they almost drew level five minutes later. Then all hell broke loose as the ball was kicked into the Dutch dugout and everyone ran out onto the pitch.

At which point, my recording cut out thanks a fucking lot RTE! Idiots ran some shitty dating show over time so ate up 20 minutes of my football time. So I missed everything after that, and by all accounts it was a nail-biter, Netherlands scoring in the final minute of extra time to draw the match and take it to penalties, which Argentina won 4-3, and they go through.

Croatia v Brazil (Result: 1-1; Brazil go out on penalties )

At this stage you really can’t take anything for granted, but Brazil must have been favourites to go through to the semis. They started as they meant to go on, with a good shot in the 3rd minute but the goalie caught it. Croatia then went up their end and had a good chance in the 12th, then a corner resulting from Brazil being a bit too casual in their own box, but they made up for it with a tight defence. Dispossessed though again in the 14th and it was obvious Croatia had semi-final dreams of their own, the intention being to repeat their performance in the last World Cup when they just lost out to France., but obviously to improve it this time and win for the first time ever. Two more chances for Brazil in the 20th but still no goals either side. Croatia player singing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” in the 24th minute, but just a yellow for what was a very high kick for the Brazil player: another ref might have flashed the red.

Foul on 40 minutes gave Brazil the chance to take a free into a goal, but again it was the keeper’s and into the second half we went, goalless still. Almost an own goal in the 47th (for some reason the clock showed 58 for a second or two, no idea why) then it was a handball but no penalty for Brazil. It certainly wasn’t the easy, flowing, graceful football we’ve seen from them up to now, and Brazil were paying Croatia lots of respect, with good reason Croatia had their share of the play, and this could still go either way. 78 minutes and still goalless. Would this go to extra time? 84th minute, Croatia lost possession in the Brazil box and the South Americans nearly scored from it, but into extra time we went.

Croatia could have taken it in the 12th minute but blasted over, and then in the final minute of extra time first half Brazil scored. Advantage surely now with the five-time-champions. But then in the 25th minute Croatia levelled! Now we were surely going to penalties.

1st Croatia penalty: scored
1st Brazil penalty: saved.
2nd Croatia penalty: scored.
2nd Brazil penalty: scored
3rd Croatia penalty: scored
3rd Brazil penalty: scored
4th Croatia penalty: scored
4th Brazil penalty: missed

Brazil go out! Croatia go through.

So the hopes of South America now ride on Argentina, and the exit of Brazil must be good news for England, who play tomorrow.

The remaining two quarter-finals are:

England v France

Morocco v Portugal
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Old 12-10-2022, 07:09 AM   #48 (permalink)
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Yea Croatia!


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Old 12-10-2022, 07:38 AM   #49 (permalink)
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This feels like the most wild tournament in my lifetime. A lot of major candidates are gone.
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Old 12-10-2022, 09:54 AM   #50 (permalink)
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I will root for whoever goes to the finals against Croatia to spite addidasss.
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There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as ‘patriotism’, may remain a habit! But it won’t do any good, if it is not universal.
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