The World Cup that keeps on giving.

In each of my blogs I have questioned just when this tournament will begin to mellow.

We’ve seen signs; the odd match taking us on a de-tour from otherwise terrific encounters. But following these somewhat dour affairs, the following nations have reverted to enjoying more scintillating football. Day 11 in Brazil was to be no exception.


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Belgium 1-0 Russia

I’m not going to lie to you – I missed this game yesterday. I was enjoying a well deserved pint with work-mates after am gruelling 28 hours over two shifts on Saturday and Sunday.

Not much for me to talk about in relation to the game then. Having kept up with the game on Twitter, and having watched the extended highlights, it seems there’s not a great deal to talk about.

Twitter is great. Brilliant, in fact. For me, it’s opened doors in the world of work and is a great social tool – without it I wouldn’t be writing this drivel.

Algeria's Islam Slimani 'Italia 90-ed'

Algeria’s Islam Slimani ‘Italia 90-ed’

But it’s also great during the World Cup, the almost instant satire of anything, by anyone, makes for amusing reading. Especially during encounters such as this.

The usual suspects – Gary Lineker and his other broadcasting chums like to offer a sarcastic view of events; Lineker himself informed us that this game was so dire that the referee couldn’t be bothered to produce the magical 10 yard spray.

Twitter was brilliant as Jonathan Pearce had his goal-line technology moment, and the almost constant satire from accounts such as @FootballCliches is particularly enjoyable – especially their line in ‘Italia 90-ing’ current World Cup moments.

Back to this game – another spoiled by Fabio Capello’s early ’90s Italian tactics – remember that during his time in charge of England? How could we forget.

Belgium had their first shot on target in the 88th minute and snatched another three points to take them through to the last sixteen. 19 year old Divock Origi came off the bench to impress again, grabbing the winning goal with a crisp finish into the roof of the net past Akinfeev, after good work from Eden Hazard.

OwlsAlive World XI graduate Vincent Kompany takes his side to the last sixteen, alongside his goalkeeper who was a safer bet for my goalie ahead of Aussie Matty Ryan. Thibaut Courtois is yet to lose after his nineteen Belgian caps.


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South Korea 2-4 Algeria 

Bougherra after signing with Wednesday during the Sturrock days

Bougherra after signing with Wednesday during the Sturrock days

Having taken three points from their opening two games, Algeria are on course for an unprecedented qualification to the last-16, a feat that can be achieved with just a draw against the Russians on Friday.

Captained by ex-Owl Madjid Bougherra, Algeria turned in a thoroughly impressive first half performance in Porto Alegre, taking a first half 3-0 lead.

The pace of Islam Slimani was too much for the lightweight Korean defence to handle, and having raced through on 26′ to finish a searching Carl Mejani pass to give his side the lead.

One quickly became two as defender Halliche was left unmarked from a corner, and allowed space to find a thumping header from an Djabou corner.

Djabou then went on to further extend the Algerian lead, much to the surprise of the Korean side who were simply absent for much of the first 45. His simple finish past the woeful Jung Sung-Ryong from Slimani’s slide rule centre was probably the pick of three simple goals. 

Son couldn't inspire a South Korean fightback

Son couldn’t inspire a South Korean fightback


We have been treated to some terrific fightbacks and had Korea capitalised on their renewed initiative in the second half, this may well have been a different story. Hon Seung Min rewarded my faith in placing him our World Cup Youngsters XI; the Wolfsburg forward turning Bougherra and firing home. 1-3.

Algeria were soon to wrap up the points however with a wonderfully worked goal involving a one-two between Brahimi and Feghuli was finished by the former. Korea threatened to make a game of it as Koo Ja-Cheol pegged one back on ’72, but this defeat has severely damaged their hopes of qualification with only Belgium to play. 



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USA 2-2 Portugal

Another terrific late night affair with the USA.

With one game left in Group G, the Portuguese need a win and favours from Germany in order to stumble across the qualification line.

But for their inability to hold on, the American outfit would be home and dry after a superb comeback against Ronaldo’s Portugal.

It was the Europeans that took the lead, the much maligned Luis Nani turning home after indecision and a poor clearance gifted him the chance to finish from 7 yards. After watching Tim Howard fall to his knees, the Manchester United winger finished well into the roof of the net.

Nani gives Portugal the lead

Nani gives Portugal the lead

America, through Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, offered a surprising amount of pace with their counter-attacking 4-5-1, looking to get forward quickly.

They should have equalised ten minutes into the second half through Bradley, but the midfielder’s side-footed shot from close range was superbly cleared off the line by Ricardo Costa.

Their equaliser came from Jermaine Jones, one half of the USA’s defensive midfield axis which was so impressive against Ghana. He put forward a contender for Goal of the Tournament with a superb finish from 25 that found the corner of the net past a helpless Patricio.

Jones celebrates pulling the USA level

Jones celebrates pulling the USA level

And they went on to take the lead – potentially putting the Portuguese and Ronaldo out of the tournament – through Clint Dempsey with ten minutes to go.

He somehow managed to guide the ball in off his stomach from 5 yards for what looked to be the winner, until the American defence became two casual as the latest World Cup goal ever (90+4.33!), as Ronaldo’s outstanding ball was met by Varela who found a bullet header past Howard to keep them in the tournament.



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Player of the Day – Islam Slumani – Instrumental in Algeria’s crushing defeat of South Korea, Slumani’s pace provided an outlet all game, especially in the first half, and he was to cap his performance with a goal and one assist.

Player for GrayMichael Bradley – Bradley is an energetic midfielder who has served AS Roma and now Toronto FC, and has been sold for £3m+ fees during his career. He’s a terrific player who would improve any team at Wednesday’s level and most teams in the PL. A lazy choice by me, but we can sign him after promotion. We’re minted, remember?


My tips have so far been so wide of the mark that this would only be worth reading if I went for something totally bonkers. Check.

Surely Australia cannot topple the Spanish, but they are included to draw here, alongside a Brazil win over Cameroon, with Croatian and Chilean victories over the Dutch and Mexico respectively also included. Much of this is against the betting, obviously, but this World Cup has been a little, er, different. This available with odds of roughly 35/1 with Coral.

Safer bets include Neymar anytime and Brazil to win (4/9) and Brazil to win both halves (1/2), both with BetVictor. Even safer options would be to avoid these bets like the plague!

Enjoy your days footy – it looks like we’re in for another cracker!

world cup Brasil emblem 01

Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @hugh_wragg





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