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Ecuador vs Honduras
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Ecuador vs Honduras

Ecuador vs Honduras

Honduras aren’t keen it seems on playing football as they have been overly physical too often.  This said they are being punished a bit for it.

This game was no less bruising but Ecuador stood up to it.  They didn’t shrink from the powerful Honduran players.

Enner Valencia (not the United guy) is having a great tournament.  He is a striker and is finding the back of the net well so far.  Like many of the South American teams they are pressing well and really playing fast, strong football.  The United player Valencia also had a good game again as he tends to be fairly consistent for both club and country.

Victor Bernandez missed for Honduras at close range.  It’s a shame though as most of the news will be about his hair not his football.  It was Honduras who went ahead with a great strike from Costly.  The keeper had no chance and it came out of nothing really.  Well taken though and Honduras found themselves one goal up.

It wasn’t for long though as Enner Valencia scored in the 34th and 65th minutes to give the win to Ecuador.  For my money they deserved it by some way as they really got stuck in.  Honduras just couldn’t break down a tough, battling Ecuador.  Ecuador could have bottled it but they really fought hard.

The only problem for Ecuador now is they face France in the last game.  They will need a good result there which may be too much for them.

Ecuador vs Honduras ended (2-1)

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France vs Switzerland
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France vs Switzerland

France vs Switzerland

Most people would have expected a France win here – the manner of the win was impressive though.

Arsenal’s striker Giroud getting things moving on the 17th minute with a deflected header.  This seemed to rattle the Swiss as it was a bit of a mix up.  Then only one minute later Blaise Matuidi scored again for France with a low shot on the 18th to put France TWO goals up.

France are now through to the last 16 with two impressive wins.  For the record though they kept going even after these two goals to really punish the Swiss.  The Swiss then had a goal correctly ruled out but they stuck with it.

Before half time it was 3-0 to France as Valbuena scored a tap in to put the French home free.

After the break and a little way into the 2nd half Benzema was then fouled in the box.  He got up to take the penalty making it 4-0 with just over an hour played.  The excellent French keeper Lloris wasn’t without things to do as he made some good saves but France controlled all areas on the pitch for long spells.

Sissoko (a good player) got the 5th goal for France making this a bit of a white wash.  At this point it was 5-0 and the French then relaxed too much.  Dzemali got one back on the 81st and Xhaka on the 87th minute.  It finished 5-2 to France and in reality they looked pretty powerful.

France will take some stopping in this tournament – which is a surprise as they were so bad in the last one.  France though are looking good and through to the knock outs.

France vs Switzerland ended 5-2 and it was a very good game.

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Italy vs Costa Rica
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Italy vs Costa Rica

Italy vs Costa Rica

We really needed Italy to do us a favour in Group D, sadly they didn’t.  The funny thing is they have actually played themselves into a spot of bother here.  The loser of Uruguay and Italy IS going home with England.

You could say justice if it’s Uruguay but it would be a real nightmare for Italy if they go home.  Just think, Italy not getting out of the group games would be horrific!

Bryan Ruiz delivered for Costa Rica on the 44th minute and I have to say they were fairly good value for the win.  Things were fairly even all the way through it with Costa Rica slightly short on possession at the end.

In the last 20 minutes or so Italy came on stronger but really they left it too late.  They chased hard for the winner Costa Rica held on for nothing short of a massive win!

Costa Rica knew they were going to be under attack from Italy and they came with a plan, defend and look to hit them on the break.  5 defenders might seem defensive but they broke with pace when they could and really did trouble Italy.  The funny thing is Italy looked vulnerable and they do owe a lot to Buffon who made some good saves.  I wonder if Italy and Uruguay saved their best performances against England, I suspect so.

Just before half time Junior Diaz put in a great cross which came down for Brian Luiz to head in off the underside of the crossbar.

Goal line technology was used to be sure and yes – Italy lost.  It has confirmed England are out but it could also mean Uruguay or Italy will be going home also as Costa Rica are in the final 16.

Italy vs Costa Rica (0-1)

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Japan vs Greece
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Japan vs Greece

Japan vs Greece

I fancied Japan to do well in this group but it seems they are struggling.  Japan had most of the possession, the most shots and the most on target.

They struggled to get a goal though.  Even when Greece were down to ten men.  Japanese fans will be feeling they should have won but they have come up short in both games now.

Qualification is possible but with Greece parking the bus it was the Greeks cheering at the end.  They got away with one here.

Endo did well with some good chances, Uchida was good on the wing as well but Greece are lucky and it was a game that was hard to get into, especially after England not hitting the high notes.

Japan vs Greece (0-0) Japan might get through but they will have to really deliver in the last game.

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Uruguay vs England
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Uruguay vs England

Uruguay vs England

The same old same old sadly.  A nation of football mad people hoping for a win this time around.  At least to make it to knock out football (which we could still get by the way…fingers crossed)…

Against Italy we were punished due to a lack of possession so this time we got the possession part right – then we still come unstuck and the fault is at the back.  Uruguay had two chances and scored two goals and in honesty it was another panto villain that did us again.  Mario Ballotelli and Luis Suarez have turned over our defence with some great finishing.  Two of the most dividing people to have played the game in the premier league.

For me the back four never looked up to it.  I think Roy should have gone for youth or experience.  Instead we ended up with a B team back four who aren’t the best or the most youthful of our options.  Cahill and Jagielka are not good enough and Johnson was as bad as Baines.  Johnson is never that hot in the league either so why was he there.  Against Italy our defence couldn’t cope with the few good chances and against Uruguay it was the same old story.  Group D should see Italy go through and Uruguay as well BUT there is a glimmer of hope – just a little one.

England dominated EVERY stat on the game apart from the score line.  Was Roy slack with his choices – YES.  I would have played Jones ahead of Jagielka.  I’m still unconvinced on Gerrard and Henderson as Gerrard has looked a spent force after a long and good league.  Gerrard was poor in both games and Henderson was non-existent all tournament.

We looked reasonable to start with and our attacks looked the better in the first half.  The Uruguay captain should have gone Godin was a naughty boy but as usual the ref let him off.  Had that been Rooney he would have been sent off for a 2nd yellow.  The trouble is we can’t keep going on about the officials we need to win these ourselves.

Rooney went close in the 31st minute and he hit the crossbar later as well.  Both good efforts.  Then Lodeiro wins the ball and lays it onto Cavani.  The PSG forward then chipped the ball over Jagielka for Suarez to head it in.  On the 39th minute England were a goal down.

Baines in a rare moment of skill linked up to Rooney who scored a nice running tap in to level the scores.  It was nice this as people around us started to believe.  We went on to dominate the game for a bit going close on a few occasions.

Rather than settle for a draw England kept on pushing and going close to get a winner.  Uruguay backed up and kept a tight shape.  Eventually it looked as though it would end a draw.

Then again the chips don’t fall England’s way.  Uruguay punt the ball up just past the half-way point, Gerrard for some reason, inexplicably really, headers the ball back – to guess who!

Suarez, who is offside but played on by Gerrard’s terrible ball gets the ball through to run on.  It was a shocking moment.  England stood around with just Hart in his way to stop it…then he shoots…scored and we ended up with nothing.

The nation’s World Cup hopes ended by an epic Gerrard mistake.  Suarez didn’t look unfit as he scored and it showed again how cruel football can be.

It’s easy to pick faults and many are blaming Rooney but he has scored one and made one.  For me though it is our defence who have fallen short every time the opposition got a decent chance.  Mario punished us as did Luis Suarez.  I have to say he is a great finisher, made to look better by Jagielka, Johnson, Baines and Cahill – most of which have no Champions League experience or very little – let alone World Cup finals experience.

If Ashely Cole and Terry were there would we have done better.  I think so.

England so far have lacked belief (as usual) and faced some good opposition which has undone us.  Mario had 1 shot, Suarez 2 and we let in 3 goals.

Let’s hope we do better in the last game and we could (slim I know) get through.

It finished Uruguay vs England (2-1) – grumble, grumble.

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Colombia vs Ivory Coast
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Colombia vs Ivory Coast

Colombia vs Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast are a good team and they have some talent on hand but again Colombia surprised with a hard working physical display.  James Rodriguez opening the scoring on the 64th minute which was fair considering the work Colombia had put in.

Then Juan Quintero poured on the misery in a fairly one sided game.  Up until this point the Elephants hadn’t done much to warrant getting back into the game.  Then Gervinho went on a slalom style run passing 3 or 4 defenders to slot the ball home on the 73rd minute.  It was like watching Kanu of old who used to do this for Arsenal.  (Neither of which lasted that long at the Gunners though!)

Sadly though this bruising encounter didn’t favour the men from the Ivory Coast.  Wilfried Bony didn’t do well and Yaya Toure was mostly a spectator for long periods.

A couple of mistakes from Colombia but in truth they did well, as most of the South American teams are in this tournament.  They look a good, composed side and now sit pretty on top of the group.

It was a case of Ivory Coast playing well but not getting a share of the points.  Both teams competed but Colombia came out on top.  It was 24 years ago since Colombia reached the knock out stages so well done to them.

Ivory Coast may well do it depending on how the other game does as they do already have 3 points in the bag from their late winner against Japan.

Colombia vs Ivory Coast (2-1)

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Cameroon vs Croatia
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Cameroon vs Croatia

Cameroon vs Croatia

It was a very one sided game as expected.  Cameroon were well out of their depth in this Group A match.  Croatia are a good team and they seem to be very consistent.

Inside 11 minutes Olic became the country’s oldest World Cup goal scorer.  His first time left footed shot found the back of the net and set his team on the way to 3 points.

Perisic controlled much of the game for the Croatians.  It was made easier by the silly work of Alex Song.  He was given a straight red card for striking Mario Mandzukic in an off the ball incident.  Silly boy and there was no excuse for it at all.

The second goal came from Perisic on the 48th minute and the keeper has to look at himself for a set of errors.  He never looked very comfortable in honesty.  Croatia didn’t let up at all as Mandzukic added two comfortable goals on the 61st and 73rd minute to blow Cameroon away.

There was little hope for Cameroon in honesty as Croatia are proving that their midfield is a match for anyone and with Mandzukic up front they always have a chance.

The game was a white wash and without Alex Song I suspect Cameroon will struggle to get a point.

Cameroon vs Croatia (0-4)

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Chile vs Spain
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Spain vs Chile

Spain vs Chile

Well you would have to say this tournament must see Spain lose their top FIFA ranking.  They have been poor.  Not just poor but embarrassing.

Yes we know they go down easily and get soft decisions but they haven’t even got that right in this competition.

Chile have surprised a lot of people, including me.  Vargas and Sanchez being two well-known quality players but the whole team we’re amazing against Spain.  Was it a bigger surprise than Holland putting 5 past them – no.  But it was still an amazing achievement as Spain must look for a new manager now.

Chile worked in groups, they pressed the ball well (take note England) and they took a few chances.  Spain had the odd shot but generally over 90 minutes they were smashed by the Chilean players.

Mena & Isla were excellent at the back for Chile but as good as they were we have to look at Spain.

Casillas must lost his international place now.  Alonso couldn’t go ANYTHING right in this match when normally he is an excellent player.  Sergio was shocking but I’ve never been a fan of him and his play-acting.   Costa looked nothing short of pants and I can’t help but feel when you see Albiol, Pique, Xavi, Mata and Koke + Fabregas on the bench that the manager got his selection wrong, very wrong.

Yes Koke came on at half time but not even he, Cozorla or Torres could make a difference (how Torres made the squad I’ll never know)!

Spain sit with ZERO points at the bottom of the group, even below Australia and on performances that is a fair result.  Spain had 58% of the ball but they were slow, unphysical and out hustled.

Sanchez and Vidal played well through the middle before it was then knocked into Vargas, who took a touch leaving Casillas nowhere.  Then he scored creating a wonderful team goal in the 20th minute.

The second goal came from a good free kick by Sanchez which was punched rather than caught by Casillas and then the punched ball was poked in by Aranguiz on the 43rd minute from no more than 6 yards out.

Chile could have had a lot more but not even the suspect 6 minutes of extra time could help Spain.  Spain were dire, very bad indeed which is why they are going home.  Well done to Chile and Holland for getting out of the group stages.  Who wins Group B is unknown but it was a great game indeed.

Spain vs Chile (0-2)!!!!!!  – Spain have left the world cup – WOW!

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Australia vs Holland
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Australia vs Holland

Australia vs Holland

Well that was a good game, the Dutch are pretty much through if Spain slip up (which they may well do).

Holland were good in possession and as we’ve said they has so much going forward.  Australia though were good also.  Too good to have lose both of their opening games.

Robben opened the scoring on the 20th minute and played pretty well throughout the game.

Then we got to see a belter of a goal from Tim Cahill who has been a consistent star year on year.  Nothing short of a world class volley on his left foot put the Socceroo’s back in contention.  It was a hell of a strike that really rattled the Dutch for the rest of the half.

Halftime

In the second half Holland had it all to do.  Their slaughter of Spain would be for nothing if they slipped up here and they knew it.  The problem is they always look like they have goals in them.  It’s just can they keep the opposition out the other end?

On the 54th minute Jedinak took a penalty for Australia which he finished well.  The Dutch though have so much talent on their bench tough, with Lens, Huntelaar, Wijnaldum and Memphis that it wasn’t a surprise they were dangerous.

Van Gaal knows he has a good team but they have to get tighter at the back.  No sooner than Holland let the 2nd one in they were bursting up the field scoring themselves.  A comfortable finish by Van Persie and then soon after Memphis scored the winner.

Both teams had other chances, good ones as well and Australia possibly deserved a point but for me Holland were good money for the win.  RVP is missing in the next match but if I am honest that isn’t a bad thing for Holland as they will go through even without him.

Cahill looked excellent for Australia but it ended….

Australia vs Holland (2-3) and a great game.

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Russia vs South Korea
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Russia vs South Korea

Russia vs South Korea (1-1)

It seems Fabio Capello can’t get much right at international level.  Igor Akineef is a world class keeper and will be the Russian international keeper for the next decade or so.  Sadly though he had a horror show pretty much all night.

Eventually though the teams got more animated and Akineef who had been poor up until now went a stage worse.  A solid shot from Lee Keunho from outside the box flipped up from Akineef’s gloves and into the back of the net.  It was a real stinker of a goal to let in.

In honesty South Korea are a good passing side but it was clear neither team wanted to lose the first match.  Eventually though Alexander Kerzhakov came on and tapped the ball in after a bundle in the box.  Thankfully this got Russia moving and they needed something to give them a lift and Kerzhakov is one heck of a sub to have, it was his first touch!

Kerzhakov is a bit of a master for Russia and they needed their big ticket player to save them by equalising on the 74th minute.

I did have a chuckle at Fabio in his press conference, it seems as though he doesn’t care and is just there to pick up his wages.  Russia should still get out of the group though.  One to watch normally is Alan Dzagoev, he is a good Russian striker who usually does pretty well for them.

It ended Russia vs South Korea 1-1 with a cautious start for them both.