A week in and we’ve lost our first teams. You would have expected it of Australia and Cameroon, but Spain? Spain?! After two games and two defeats the strongest international footballing dynasty of the last decade is gooooooone.
All three teams exited in slightly different ways. The Aussies were a little unlucky to lose to the Dutch, as they were against Chile, but maybe their play is just a tiny bit immature to match it with the big boys at this point in time. That’s not an insult. Far from it. They’re just not quite there yet. They pushed the Dutch to the point where Van Gaal, Kluivert and co were visibly worried and but for some reckless finishing would have had a couple more goals.
Bresciano’s miss in the first half was a waste, particularly after Cahill’s goal of the tournament leveller, and they had a magnificent chance to extend their lead to 3-1 when Oar crossed to Leckie’s chest instead of thumping it home a la Van Persie. Like I said, just a bit immature. This World Cup has come a touch early for this side and I reckon they’ll be decent in Russia in 2018. I also expect they’ll do pretty well at the 2015 Asian Nation’s Cup, which is being held over the ditch just after Christmas. That could be a good watch.
The Dutch were lucky as there was a time in this match when they looked to have run out of ideas. But they’re through, they’ve got quality in the attacking third and they’ll be dangerous against anyone.
Chile looked as electric as the Spaniards did ponderous. I guess the biggest shock to me is that the warm conditions in Brazil should have suited Spain down to the ground. But it’s the athletic, high-tempo teams that are doing well. It’s always sad to see the end of a champion’s era of undisputed dominance and let’s not forget how dominant Spain were after decades of being the under achievers of world football. But football, like everything in life, moves on. Their decline has been dramatic, but they’ve got a new generation of players coming through and we’ll see soon enough whether they’re the equal of their predecessors.
The talk of the town is now all Chile. A lot of pressure comes with that talk so it will be fascinating to see how they deal with it. Their game against the Dutch will be massive because the winner will avoid Brazil in the next round, so I doubt there will be any resting of players. I can’t wait for that match up.
Today’s footnote was the apparent self-destruction, not for the first time at a World Cup, of Cameroon. I didn’t watch much of their 4-0 defeat to Croatia but reports suggest it could have been more. In keeping with this tournament Mario Mandzukic, another of the big names, was back in the Croatian side and immediately on the score sheet. Twice. Brazil has been notable for the amount of top class players who have been up for it right from the off, Ronaldo, Iniesta and, to a lesser extent, Messi excepted. Long may that continue.
Tomorrow brings something of a reprieve with only the Uruguay versus England match a must watch. I’ve got in the habit of taping the 4am game so I can get up just after 5am, watch it straight though, then move right on to the 7am game. With the main game kicking off at 7am tomorrow I can have a ‘sleep in’. It’s needed.
Score picking update
No-one had a stellar day in the BFWCSPC, but I managed to edge a little further ahead by being the only contestant to pick Croatia to win. After one correct score on each of the first four days I’ve started slipping…
Picks for Day 8 (Wow! Where’s that first week gone?)
Colombia 2-2 Ivory Coast, Uruguay 1-2 England, Japan 1-0 Greece