WORLD CUP DIARY: 18 June

WORLD CUP DIARY: 18 June

Day Six of the World Cup saw the much fancied hosts return to action against the Mexicans.

The Belgians – the team many people are tipping to have a good tournament were up against Bougherra’s Algeria while Russia were taking on the Koreans.

Another tasty looking schedule with the potential for more goals!

I’m not sure if many people know this or not but I’ve just spent four years at university, training to be a teacher and have just signed a contract for my first full-time teaching post in September (I’m not just blowing my own trumpet here, this is going somewhere).

Before I start in September I’ve been working at the school which I did my final teaching placement at and today I was in all day teaching my old class.

The day was going well and really enjoyable but as always in the teaching world, rather stressful.

It wasn’t until 1pm that I was able to take a quick sneak online to check out Wednesday’s opponents in the first round of the Capital One Cup, a home tie against Notts County.

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Belgium v Algeria

After checking our COC opponents I was looking forward to a nice afternoon, mainly consisting of PE and athletics before heading home to enjoy the World Cup… perfect.

Then I was dropped some delightful news – OFSTED were coming for a tw0-day inspection tomorrow. Hurray.

This meant I didn’t end up leaving school until gone 7pm and missed the entire Belgium v Algeria match.

I managed to catch some of the second half on 5 Live and heard Belgium make a comeback to win 2-1 after a relatively slow start and poor first half in which they went in at half time trailing by a goal scored from the penalty spot by Feghouli after Tottenham’s Vertonghen fouled him inside the box.

Belgium grew into the game in the second half, especially after the introduction of Fellaini in the 65th minute, who was monumental in Belgium’s comeback.

A rare good day for the Manchester United man

A rare good day for the Manchester United man

The Belgium member of the Hair Bear Bunch has received much criticism during his debut season at Old Trafford, some of it just after less than impressive performances.

However when he came onto the pitch for Belgium he played in a more forward role and Belgium coach Marc Wilmots got his rewards when Fellaini scored with a superb looping header just five minutes after coming on.

Fellaini had a much improved performance and in truth could have perhaps scored a couple more goals.

He appeared more confident playing further forward with his back to goal and bringing others into play. The performance of Lukaku was somewhat disappointing as he failed to have any meaningful influence on the game.

A nod to Magic Bougherra who played a key part in keeping Belgium at bay for so long before the breakthrough and he is a player I wouldn’t mind seeing make a return to S6.

Unfortunately for Bougherra and his countrymen they conceded a second in the 80th minute which would turn out to be the winner. This was scored by another substitute in Mertens who finished off a counter-attacking move involving Kevin De Bruyne, who played the ball to Eden Hazard before he teed Mertens up for the winner.

The final score was 2-1 with the general feeling for the Belgians being one of relief. The important thing is they’ve got their first victory and the can now build on this and hopefully performances will improve as the tournament progresses.

 

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Brazil v Mexico

The Brazil v Mexico was the match that stood out today, with the hosts being odds-on favourites to win the tournament and the Mexicans impressing in their first match victory over Cameroon, which, despite only finishing 1-0, should have been at least 3-0 with two perfectly legitimate goals ruled out.

The Brazilians had failed to impress me in their opening game against Croatia, despite a rather flattering scoreline of 3-1 and in truth they appeared to lack some of the exciting flair and trickery that we expect from them. I was hoping to see in this game that that had been down to first match nerves.

Unfortunately this match did very little to impress when it came to the five-time winners and it was Mexico who stood out and will be feeling more pleased with the result and perhaps may feel they could have got the victory.

Brazil showed extreme passion during their national anthem again, with David Luiz giving a particularly scary performance reminiscent of the Haka!

Brazil showed signs of improvement during the opening stages of the match, with Neymar standing out again with his impressive footwork and dribbling and he had numerous chances throughout the match – at one point his header smashed the inside of the post but Mexican keeper Ochoa was able to prevent the ball finding the back of the net.

Fred+Italy+v+Brazil+Group+FIFA+Confederations+X9niQ-MxmHIl

Fred – must do better

There were other chances for Brazil to find the first goal of the game but unfortunately both Fred and Paulinho wasted these, and Fred in particular put in a very disappointing shift with even his positional play not being what you would expect from a Brazilian forward.

He ended up being replaced by Jo who arguably did better and it will be interesting to see if Fred starts Brazil’s final group match against Cameroon. The sides went in at half time level at 0-0.

The second half was very much about the Mexicans who launched endless waves of attacks at the Brazilian goal but never actually managed to beat Cesar and put the ball into the back of the net.

A couple of times the impressive Guardado appeared to have the better of Julio Cesar but unfortunately he shot over the goal too.

Even though this half was very much about the Mexicans for me, that’s not to say that Brazil didn’t create chances and it needed an in-form keeper to prevent them from scoring, Guillermo Ochoa being my Man of the Match.

Right at the death, he pulled off a close-range reaction save to prevent Thiago Silva from scoring a header that would have certainly been the winner.

Marcelo tried to con the referee into awarding him a penalty when he threw himself to the floor after feeling an arm on his body. This time the penalty wasn’t given and I’m sure there were many Coatians jeering their televisions when they saw that.

The match finished 0-0 and both sides will surely now progress through to the last 16.

This was by no means a boring 0-0 as the final shots stats read Brazil: 15 and Mexico: 13 and despite Brazil failing to impress me, I really enjoyed watching Mexico and look forward to seeing how far they can go, particularly with their forward talent of Oribe Peralta and Andres Guardado and the unbeatable looking Ochoa in goal.

 

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Russia v South Korea

The final match of the day saw the arrogant ex-England manager Mr Capello’s Russia take on South Korea or Korea Republic.

The main player for South Korea who I was looking forward to seeing was Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea who spent the season at Sunderland on loan.

In the early stages it was Bolton’s Lee Chung-Yong who was catching my eye with clever runs forward and some cracking little passes and through-balls being picked out.

Whenever the commentators started to say Samedov I was sure they were gonna say Semedo and I have to admit to bursting into the song about the loveable Portuguese midfield maestro a few times during the match.

The first half was a pretty even affair, both teams having a share of the play and attacking without causing either keeper any real danger and the sides went in level at 0-0 with the Koreans having perhaps slightly edged it.

Lee Keun-Ho put South Korea ahead

Lee Keun-Ho put South Korea ahead

The Koreans again looked  the side more likely to create a chance and they did eventually take the lead through Lee Keun-Ho in the 68th minute although Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev will feel he could have done much better to keep the shot out.

However the Russians weren’t behind long, only six minutes in fact, and it was the substitute Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes, who got their equaliser in the 74th minute which made him the Russian’s joint top-goalscorer on 26 goals.

Towards the end of the match it was the Russians who looked more likely to take the three points, with Alexander Kokorin going close and the main man Aleksandr ‘Semedo’ Samdeov shooting wide with two headers when he could have at least tested the goalkeeper.

The match finished level at 1-1 and in truth it was a fair result. Neither of the two sides look likely to be outside contenders this year for me and I wouldn’t mind it if England were to come up against one of them in the later stages, semi-final perhaps..?

So after a slightly shaky opening victory for the Belgians it was they who sat top of the group after the first round of fixtures!

 

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Guillermo_Ochoa_arsenal-384404Player of the Day: GUILLERMO OCHOA – The Mexican goalkeeper was instrumental in them picking up their point today in my opinion.

To my knowledge he is currently a free-agent after leaving Ajaccio and I’m sure his performances so far in the World Cup will ensure he isn’t short of offers from clubs and will be able to sit down and make his own mind up about where he wants to go next in his career at the age of 28.

 

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TODAY’S FIXTURES

GROUP A – Cameroon v Croatia (11pm, ITV)

GROUP B – Australia v Netherlands (5pm, ITV); Spain v Chile (8pm, BBC)

TODAY’S TIPS

Cameroon take on Croatia with Croatia being my tip for that one and the current World Champions Spain take on the difficult challenge of Chile, as they look to make their opening match nightmare a decent memory.

I’d avoid betting on this one as I think it could be a nervy game and with Spain having to go for it they could leave themselves open to the counter-attack from the pacey Chile and Alexis Sanchez. If you want to place a bet then I’d probably go for both teams to score.

The other match in Group B sees Australia take on Holland. I have family over in Australia and have a bit of a soft spot for them because of this and so I’ll be sporting my Socceroos shirt tomorrow. But I can’t see anything other than a convincing victory for the Dutch and would be tempted to put them down to win on a handicap of -2 or -3.

 

world cup Brasil emblem 01

Charlie
Owls Alive
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