Welcome back! It’s hot and cold in terms of content at the moment and today is the second day of a rather warm spell. Yesterday we saw the first four last 16 ties take place, so you’ve guessed it – today we’ll see the remaining four. That’s everything from Spain vs Argentina down on the below graphic.
Admittedly, that would work better if it filled in the results as they were played. Let’s cut some corners. Who will join Brazil, France, Holland and England in the last 8? (Nailed it)
Spain vs Argentina
I’m excited for this. It’s the game of the day without doubt, in fact it’s probably the tie of the round. Tom Reed’s reward for having a fairly simple group (where he was the only human competitor) was always going to be England or Argentina and it just so happens Chris hasn’t got Argentina firing on all cylinders in the group stages. But now he’s realised Ortega is a good bet.
Tom has a strong team to choose from and was able to rotate the squad in the final group game, so he’s somewhat spoilt for choice.
Chris is missing Inter Milan pair Simeone and Zanetti to suspension so Veron is in whilst Pochettino retains his place as Chamot is shifted to right back. This is going to be a high quality game. I bet Maradona is wired.
As with yesterday, all the games have been recorded but my unique brand of summary is below
Spain are out of the blocks the quicker and they take the lead thanks to the most expensive man in the game Alfonso who heads in from a corner. Solid start. It’s a bit tight with both teams cancelling each other out but Argentina finally stir shortly after the half hour. Ortega’s shot rattles the woodwork bur Parma man Crespo is on hand to turn in the rebound. 1-1, game on, half time. Game on pause.
Bit rough on Toni Prats. Was it really his fault?
On we go then. Spain lose captain Alkorta to an injury but they are very much on top. Argentina introduce Balbo for Ortega and just seconds later they take the lead, Maradona feeds Crespo who is denied by Prats but Batistuta is there to give his side the lead. The game is wide open now, almost resembling a basketball match as both teams go looking for another goal. It’s Spain who get it though, Luis Enrique on hand to score after Roa spills a shot. Extra time it is…
Spain have slightly edged it but the more of this the better. Every World Cup has a dramatic game like this.
Can either side find a winner or will it be penalties? Well, actually, yes. Straight away. Alfonso nips through one on one, rounds Roa and books Spain into the last 8. What a night.
Kiko takes man of the match. I should also point out that Sergi’s tournament is over.
Only one more shot in extra tine. It went in.
Phew. An incredible game and really all I can say is good luck to those following that.
Italy vs Eire
When did we stop calling Republic of Ireland “Eire”. It was so much easier to type Eire.
Italy are managed by @FPLHints (Or CM_Hints if you prefer a CM account) and the man we know as Chief has brought a unique brand of attacking style the likes of which Italy have rarely seen. There’s no playing for 1-0 here. 4 goal Ravanelli is banned, as is Panucci, so there’s a bit of a shuffle with Vieri the headline team news.
Rob Tait’s Eire got the miracle they needed in the last round of group games and have had more success in a 4-2-3-1. You know you’ll get 100% effort from this lot it’s just whether they can get the goals. Alan Moore is in for the banned Kennedy.
It takes only 8 minutes for Italy to make their mark, Vieri is in behind the defence and Shay Given is slightly late on Vieri. It’s a penalty and Del Piero converts it, as you’d expect. That’s not a fear to Ireland though who take tough situations as a personal challenge. Collectively I mean. What I’m trying to say is that Roy Keane heads them level from a corner and that’s how we go into half time.
The two captains leading by example.
The second half starts in a similar manner to the first. Roberto Baggio feeds Christian Vieri who dinks it over the advancing Given and Ireland have it all to do again. Can they? No, they can’t. Italy do a good job of shutting them out, shocker, and that’s that.
Stunning display from Roberto Baggio who moves another game closer to putting right the wrongs of 94.
Final confirmation then:
Italy vs Spain in the last 8. Sign me up.
Belgium vs Norway
I tipped Norway as a dark horse before the tournament whilst Belgium won all three of their group games to really get people talking. This could be a breakthrough tournament for these nations. Ignore Belgium’s 4th place in 1986. This is what it’s all about.
Adam Turner has struck gold with this formation. Gilles De Bilde lead the race for the golden boot after his two hat-tricks in the group stage, but Ronaldo’s burst of 4 goals against Chile has put him in the lead. His tournament is over though and Gilles leads the line here, so you never know.
KingoftheRooks took a gamble leaving the likes of Solskjaer and Tore Andre Flo at home but they’ve made it out of a tricky group and they’re capable of beating anyone on their day. Will that day be today?
Video may have killed the radio star but we’re not worried about that yet. Text is alive and well below.
Norway made the better start but found Belgium captain Bodart in great form between the sticks. Typically, Belgium were able to score with their first shot on target as future manager Marc Wilmots powered in from a knockdown to give his side a 1-0 half time lead.
It wasn’t necessarily deserved on the balance of play but still plenty of time for more goals.
Norway had a few more big chances but poor finishing and Bodart brilliance kept it just 1-0. Norway rather blew themselves out and De Bilde was able to seal the victory with his 7th of the tournament. No fuss, but Belgium look solid all over.
Norway created by far the more chances but found a goalkeeper in great form. Belgium were clinical.
Wilmots takes home man of the match whilst Erik Nevland made no impact whatsoever.
That’s 7 of the last 8 sorted out, but who will be the final team?
Scotland vs China
Not many would have predicted this. China edged out USA and Morocco to get this far whilst Scotland topped a group at the expense of Russia and Nigeria. Oh and Jamaica. Hardly football’s top table but such is the draw, one of these nations will make a maiden quarter final. This is already further than either team have ever got, so there’s that.
Scotland are of course my team in this tournament and I’ve largely been able to stick with a settled side, but John Collins is suspended. Young Martin Lauchlan is in, purely because he has by far the highest creativity stat of my midfielders available.
Somebody asked me why I don’t have Gary McAllister on pens – look, you don’t know where Uri Geller is. The obvious conclusion on that faithful day at Euro 96 is that Uri was helping England – how do you know he doesn’t just hate Gary Mc? I’m not willing to take the chance. China are the last computer controlled nation standing. Yer Ma’s up front.
Last video of the day
I don’t know if you can really have a favourite here but Kevin Gallacher scores after 8 minutes to settle us down and it’s a cakewalk from there. It’s not all good news. Man of the tournament Matt Elliott gets a knock and Duncan Jupp is on in his place. He scores from a corner shortly thereafter. We are a threat on set pieces, that’s definitely our thing.
One of our better halves. Belgium, we’re coming for you.
We need an early third goal and we get it. Gallacher is the main man and he’s on a hat-trick now. Hopkin adds a 4th and everything is great. Except John Spencer, who picks up a yellow card and will miss the next game. Big Dunc is readying himself.
Four games played and only one conceded. We’re functional if nothing else.
Heavy. Easy. Scotland in the last 8!
Let’s take a look at that draw. Every team in yellow is a relief, was dreading having to give the trophy to the computer.
Sticking with the “4 games an update” theme I’ll be back on Friday with the last 8. It’s serious business time now, unless you’re Scotland. We’re off on the piss. See you in a few days!