WORLD CUP DIARY: 19 June

WORLD CUP DIARY: 19 June

Can you believe the World Cup only started last week? We’ve got three more weeks of this!

We’ve had some corking contests so far but now the first games are out the way, every game has permutations that could see teams on the verge of qualification or in the departure lounge at the nearest airport.

So what did Day Seven have in store for us?

 

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Australia v Holland

Cahill's screamer wasn't enough for Oz

Cahill’s screamer wasn’t enough for Oz

You have to feel sorry for the Socceroos who are almost certainly heading home despite a fantastic display against the Dutch.

After the brutal way Louis van Gaal’s men dispatched Spain last week, you feared the worst for Australia and despite a confident start they went behind thanks to a trademark solo goal by Arjen Robben.

But Tim Cahill’s stunning volley brought them level straight from the kick-off and when Mile Jedinak put them ahead from the spot ten minutes into the second half, you just wondered if there was a real shock on the cards.

In the end the Dutch won a thrilling contest with van Persie beating the offside trap and slotting home the equaliser before Memphis Depay struck with a speculative effort that Mat Ryan should really have saved.

Heartbreak for Tim Cahill, who has probably played his last World Cup game given his suspension from the Spain game. Australia may yet go home with no points but they’ve certainly left their mark.

 

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Spain v Chile

Vargas helps Chile on their way to a 2-0 win

Vargas helps Chile on their way to a 2-0 win

The end of an era. The all-conquering Spain have come crashing down to earth with a first round exit – and they can have no complaints after being undone by the sheer class of Chile.

If the defeat to Holland was a shock to the system, this was a grim realisation that their iron grip on world football was over after six years of complete dominance.

Yes, Spain had their chances, particularly in the second half with Diego Costa, Sergio Busquets and Sergio Ramos all guilty of profligacy in front of goal.

But you have to give credit to Chile who look genuine contenders to go deep into this tournament – their final group game against Holland should be a corker.

The first goal was one Spain would have been proud of, with a fast passing move ended by a terrific finish by a falling Eduardo Vargas. At 1-0 you expected Spain to come back but at 2-0 you wondered if they had any fight left to defend their crown.

Iker Casillas was made to look decidedly average when he could only palm out Alexis Sanchez’ weak free-kick into the path of Charles Aranguiz, who accepted the gift gratefully.

Spain take Australia with them (I don’t think they’ll be sharing a plane) but their meeting next week will be a dead rubber. Who’d have predicted that?

 

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Cameroon v Croatia

Alex Song - elbowed his way off the pitch

Alex Song – elbowed his way off the pitch

The late games have been struggles at times, aside from the enthralling encounter between Ghana and the United States.

The prospect of staying up until 1am for this one didn’t thrill me after a long day and I was distracted by an amusing documentary on mobility scooters.

But my attention was immediately drawn to the football when I saw Ivan Perisic’s delicious pass to give Ivica Olic a tap-in.

Croatia have some terrific players but they could afford to stay in second gear against a fractured Cameroon side.

Alex Song’s sending off just before the break was brainless and Croatia took advantage just two minutes into the second half with Perisic running from the halfway line and slotting home with his left foot.

From then on it was simply a matter of how many Croatia could score and Mandzukic couldn’t have asked for a simpler chance when he headed home unmarked from a corner on the hour.

Mandzukic completed the rout ten minutes later with an even easier goal, tapping in from two yards after Itanje could only parry Eduardo’s shot.

 

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VERDICT

Spain’s exit will have sent shockwaves around the world and now you have to think Holland are Europe’s best hope. Holland had to battle to beat Australia, though, and the fact Australia created so many chances will have given van Gaal some food for thought.

As expected, Croatia set up a winner-takes-all clash with Mexico. Brazil’s clash with Cameroon should be no more than shooting practice for the hosts…well Fred probably needs it.

 

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Player of the Day: TIM CAHILLĀ  – He deserves it simply for his wonder strike against Holland but it’s cruel that Cahill will be suspended for what would have been his last World Cup game when Australia meet Spain next week. Australia will miss him and we will miss him too.

Player for Gray: TOMMY OAR – The 22-year-old Queenslander was a real thorn in the sides of the Dutch with his dashing runs down the left. He has played in the Eredivisie with FC Utrecht for the past four seasons and is handy with a set piece. Get him to Sheffield, Mr Mammadov.

 

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TODAY’S FIXTURES

GROUP C – Colombia v Ivory Coast (5pm, BBC); Japan v Greece (11pm, BBC)

GROUP D – ENGLAND v Uruguay (8pm, ITV)

 

Come on England!

Come on England!

TODAY’S TIPS

England are back in action and usually I’d advise you steer well clear – but I’m full of confidence for this one after watching how poor Uruguay were against Costa Rica. 6/5 (Various) seems a great price for the England win, while Rooney to score first at 13/2 is a tempter given the stick he’s got this past week.

I’d also go for the Colombia/Japan double which is available at around 5/1.

 

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Creg
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