CM9798 World Cup – Day 11: Romania look to join Italy in last 16; Spain need draw to secure top spot

Well look who it is. Thanks for heading back to our little World Cup, we’re reached the penultimate day of group matches and we’re just 4 teams shy of knowing our last 16. Strictly speaking we know Spain are one of those 16 so they’ll go looking for the point they need to lock down top spot and a clash with Argentina, whilst Italy and Romania will be looking to secure their places in the last 16. Let’s Spain first.

Group E

table 2 games

With Spain guaranteed to be in the hat for the last 16, Tom has taken this opportunity to rotate the squad. There’s enough talent in this Spain side to say it isn’t really a second eleven, just 11 who didn’t make the starting lineup. First or second it’s Argentina or England in the next round, which isn’t great news but what can you do?

Spain tactics vs Cameroon

Cameroon are in the mathematical miracle camp so to celebrate, it’s everyone behind the ball. How silly.

cameroon tactics vs spain

Whatever Cameroon want to do, it doesn’t work. I mean, it sort of does, for 22 minutes, then three goals in 7 minutes mean it is party time in Spain and time to pack your bags if you’re Cameroon. Morientes, Pizzi and Raul with the goals – like I said, not bad for a “second team.” Cameroon don’t manage a single shot.

spain cameroon ht stats

Solid ratings for Tom and the boys. Do you rest the second string? Probably not.

spain cameroon HT ratings

Pizzi makes it 4 straight after half time, the sort of punctuality that will later land him the Saudi Arabia job for the 2018 World Cup. Captain Solozabal then gets sent off for a ludicrous tackle which ends today’s fun. Cameroon also have a man sent off at the death for a deliberate handball.

spain cameroon scoreboard

Easy times for Spain then, they’ll top the group. Morientes takes man of the match.

spain cameroon FT ratings

Some stats for the fun of it

spain cameroon FT stats

Japan and Sweden were going head to head to determine who would join Spain. Japan only needed a draw but they won a filthy game and will advance to face England.

sweden 0 - 2 japan

That final table

group E final

Spain become the third team to advance with a 100% record and as they are on the other side of the draw to the other 2, they’re coming up on the inside as a favourite to win the tournament. Whisper it quietly, Spain still frighten easily in the 90s.

Group F

Group F 2 games

Over in Group F, we have the ridiculous situation where two teams have yet to score but could still go through. Paraguay can, technically, quality with a big win over Italy but that seems less likely. Romania vs Yugoslavia is the focus of my attention here, so much so it is our featured game.

@CorinthianHead (MK) sticks with the tried and trusted formation that thrashed Paraguay but was less good against the mighty Italy. Watch that Hagi go.

romania tactics vs yugoslavia

Yugoslavia frustrated Italy with a 0-0 draw what feels like months ago but was at worst a week ago, then drew 0-0 with Paraguay. Go on lads, play something more adventurous. No?

yugoslavia tactics vs romania

Not even Savo Milosevic. Here’s the game in video, text below as ever.

I do like the way Romania play, they get the best out of Hagi in this formation and that can only be a good thing. It all goes wrong for Yugoslavia pretty early on, main man Hagi is tripped by the keeper Milojevic and with the red card out, it’s time for Sasa Ilic of Charlton. Hagi beats him from the spot before adding a second before half time. Golden boot? Golden hair? Surely there’s no way back for Yugoslavia from here?

yugo romania ht stats

Can Yugoslavia even score a goal this tournament? You’d say probably not now.

yugo romania HT ratings

The second half starts with Dan Petrescu of all people making it 3-0. It’s a lot more acceptable when he isn’t megging Dave Seaman. It’s a procession from there, but Sabin Ilie scores in injury time – he’s scored in every game, stats fans.

yugo romania scoreboard

Petrescu takes man of the match, which seems an odd choice but it’s not my award.

yugo 0 - 4 romania ratings

No shots, no goals for Yugoslavia. Pathetic.

yugo romania ft stats

So with Romania sealing their place in the last 16, all that remains to be seen is if it will be 1st or 2nd. Italy and Paraguay, anyone?

@FPLHints/CM_Hints has got Italy playing more exuberantly than usual and the beating they gave Romania should not be underestimated. A point will be enough for a last 16 spot but they don’t know the Romania result at this time (please, let’s keep the illusion alive) and the prize for finishing 1st is Republic of Ireland in the last 16. 2nd will face Holland. You decide.

italy tactics vs paraguay

Paraguay have packed the midfield. Italy are light in that area so it’s not the worst tactic, I suppose.

paraguay tactics vs italy

It’s quite a slow start but Italy get better as the half goes on and soon are in full control. Tacchinardi scores from a corner before Ravanelli adds a second to make it a comfortable half time lead.

italy paraguay HT stats

Paraguay’s keeper – not Chilavert remember – has kept it respectable. They’ve offered very little going forwards, unlike Italy who have made plenty of chances.

italy paraguay HT ratings

The second half is borderline cruelty. Italy just keep coming, with Ravanelli adding a 3rd shortly after half time. He’s also looking for the golden boot. Some players are given a rest but Di Matteo makes it 4 and Vieri arrives from the bench to add a 5th in injury time. A good old fashioned rout.

italy paraguay FT stats

Pretty final, really. Man of the match for Ravanelli but the only blot on his copybook is that he will be banned for the last 16 tie after collecting a second yellow of the tournament.

italy paraguay FT ratings

Let’s see that in it’s purist form:

italy 5 - 0 paraguay

This is a strange looking group. Two teams didn’t score, one finished with a -10 goal difference but there’s no doubting who the two best teams were here. Italy vs Eire and Holland vs Romania in the last 16.

group F final

Here’s the final results just…because really. It’s some nice closure for these groups.

day 3 summary

We’ll be back tomorrow with the final two groups, which includes a key clash between Scotland and Nigeria as well as the wonderful climax to Group H which really is the group of death. All 4 teams can qualify there, so let’s just see what happens. Bye for now.

 

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CM9798 World Cup – Day 10: Republic of Ireland chase miracle qualification, England vs Australia in the football ashes

If you’ve missed Day 9, you can catch up here

Day 10 already? Where does the time go. If you’ve stuck with us so far, you’ve read over 10,000 words of retro Championship Manager. Nobody is more grateful for that than me, so thank you. With just 4 of our last 16 decided though, it’s not time to stop yet. We’re barely half way!

Group C

Group C 2 games

So it comes down to this. Strictly speaking, all four teams can qualify here. Which also means all four can be eliminated, but that would involve Eire beating Holland by three goals and Colombia beating South Africa. I mean it’s unlikely but not impossible. Holland vs Ireland will see Ash (ALIVE AND KICKING) go up against Rob Tait (WROTE BLOGS FOR ME) and it’s on a knife edge. The Dutch have barely had to get out of 2nd gear – a lazier blogger would make a quip and a schmoke and a pancake, but we are above that here. Ash stays with his tried and tested formation, the Bergkamp/Kluivert partnership has done the business so far.

holland tactics vs Eire

Rob’s Ireland improved significantly since the switch to 4-2-3-1, although they also got Roy Keane back which would help any team. Sean Devine gets the nod ahead of Niall Quinn but expect Quinn to be introduced later on for plan B if things aren’t going to plan. Put them under pressure!

Ireland tactics vs holland

A big game means big audience – remarkably, I remembered to press record. You can view the action below or scroll down for a more retro feel.

Nobody does pressure like the Irish. It’s like they wait for the chips to be down before bringing out their best performances. Right from the off they are at the Dutch. Harrying, pressing and getting it in the box. Van der Sar can’t cope and he fumbles a cross and Keith O’Neill does the rest. Dreamland! Well, sort of. The reality is that Ireland need to win by more than Colombia beat South Africa by, assuming they do. With that in mind, Bergkamp equalises. Can the Irish come again in the second half?

holland ireland HT stats

Philip Cocu is at Man Utd incidentally. He’s having the time of his life.

ireland holland HT ratings

Eire can’t be kept down and still they launch the ball in the general direction of Van der Sar’s goal. Another ball over the top and Stam’s in trouble, he sticks out a hand and he’s off. Holland reorganise but they are still at 6s and 7s from the restart and a corner ends in Devine scoring the most important goal of his life. It’s a helter skelter finish but Ireland win – incredibly – but will it be enough? It’s actually a result that secures Holland’s passage into the last 16, as Ireland can’t overhaul their goal difference.

holland eire scoreboard

You would have to say, it is fully deserved. How Holland are ahead on percentages I’m not really sure.

holland FT stats

Bergkamp takes man of the match. The ratings are surprisingly high on the Dutch side given how it turned out but nevermind. Will it matter?

holland eire FT

WHAT A DULL GAME!

south africa 0 - 0 colombia

That means Ireland go through in second place and both our lads survive. I was fearign the worst there, I’ll be honest.

Group C Final

Incredible. Any goal for Colombia would have been interesting, they’d have gone through on head to head presumably. Nevermind. They will face teams from Group F, which we’ll worry about tomorrow.

Group D

table 2 games

England and Argentina played out a bit of a bore draw which was meant to lead to them gallantly thrashing Australia and Tunisia. England did their bit, they beat Tunisia 5-0. Argentina though, my word. They struggled past Australia 1-0, with an ageing Maradona pulling the strings with minimal skill. With England more or less through, we’ll save their Ashes clash for later. Let’s focus on Argentina vs Tunisia for now.

Chris Darwen, or Ronnie Dog Media if you prefer, is a cornerstone of the FM Community. At times though I wonder if he ever played CM9798, though to be fair he’s done the right thing and focused on the newer games and made several successful projects out of it whilst I am stuck in the past. The problem he has here is that second in this group are likely to play Spain in the last 16, which is a stinker of a draw. He needs to match England’s 5-0 here, really.

Argentina tactics vs tunisia

Tunisia stick with the 5-3-2 despite it being less than good against England

tunisia tactics vs argentina

It’s on TV! Or scroll down for text. You know the gist by now…

Oh, Chris. What is happening here. Argentina find themselves 2-0 down after 7 minutes. Goodness me. The response from Argentina predictably comes but Tunisia don’t care. They’ve got more than what they came for and Boumnijel forgets he’s at West Ham and makes save after save. That is until the 44th minute, when Redondo finally beats him. It’s looking like Argentina vs Spain…

argentina tunisia HT stats

Once again Tunisia showed their plans by subbing two players immediately after taking the lead. Who’s in charge, Pardew?

argentina tunisia HT ratings

The Argentine onslaught continues and eventually Batistuta equalises. The winner doesn’t follow. Darwen’s head will be on a stick in Buenos Aires.

argentina tunisia scoreboard

Pochettino is happy enough. Must have a decent transfer budget afterall.

argentina tunisia FT ratings

The second half was actually remarkably tranquil. My my.

argentina tunisia FT stats

So England will just need a point to claim top spot.

Dan Barker, who is your man if you are a Man Utd fan and like the past (and present), is without the suspended McManaman and has taken the piss by bringing in Jamie Redknapp. Matt Le Tissier remains unamused.

england tactics vs australia

It’s a good game for Alan Shearer to make a move towards the golden boot with another two goals, both headers, as England stroll to a 2-0 half time lead. I, er, forgot, again, to take half time screenshots so here are the stats at 60 minutes…just after Australia pulled one back.

england australia HT stats

The two sides only manage a couple of shots each in the closing stages and there’s no change to the score. England through as group winners, the football ashes are coming home (disclaimer: this is not a thing)

england australia FT stats

Sol Campbell gets man of the match despite Shearer’s heroics. Redknapp makes me eat my words by being as good as anybody on the pitch. All coming up Millhouse for Dan.

england australia FT ratings

Scoreboard:

england australia scoreboard

That leaves the group like this:

Group D final

We’ll see the end results of Group E tomorrow but as I said earlier, it will almost certainly be Spain who top that group which is bad news for Argentina. Still, they can only improve.

summary game 3

That’s it for today then, a rare good day for the UK & Ireland as both live to fight another day. We’ll find out their opponents tomorrow when Groups E & F are finalised. That means you’ll see Italy and Spain play games to top the group and Romania bidding to join them in the last 16. Bye for now!

AK90s banner

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 9: Denmark and Norway battle for qualification; Brazil & France also in action

Missed yesterday’s action? Catch up here

Well we’ve made it. Not to the final, that would be ridiculous, but to the point where things get really spicy. The time where we start sending teams home with a World Cup goody bag. It won’t be Brazil or France, who we’ll see complete their group fixtures today. But one of Denmark or Norway will be leaving us. Without further unnecessary words, let’s get Group A sorted out.

Group A

We’ll sort Brazil out first, because we’ve done a slight disservice to their opponents. Saudi Arabia could qualify with a big win coupled with a draw in Denmark vs Norway, and Mark Carruthers has given them a sniff by rotating heavily. Mind you, all 23 of the Brazil squad would get in Saudi Arabia’s team so don’t read too much into it. Romario is one of 10 changes with only Leonardo surviving.

Brazil tactics vs Saudi

Even the most positive of Saudi Arabia fans would realise they are in the Shitrit here. They haven’t performed badly in the tournament so far but this would be one of the great all time World Cup shocks if they were to win here.

saudi tactics vs brazil

These Brazil players want to make an impression to try and get a place in the 11 for the last 16. Romario scores after 11 minutes and Elber adds a second just minutes later. It’s 3-0 on 15 minutes when Antonio Carlos heads in a corner. Lads, I think Saudi Arabia are going home. The brilliantly named A Klinger pulls one back just before half time, but surely it is too late?

brazil saudi HT ratings

Poor Taffarel. Quite one sided on the old stats

brazil saudi HT stats

The second half is dull. Denilson and Elber are withdrawn to protect them from further punishment with yellow cards to their names, but both sides know their jobs are done. Although there are a few speculative efforts from both teams, it stays 3-1. Jobs done, 3 wins out of 3 for Brazil. Saudi Arabia will leave France with 1 point.

brazil saudi scoreboard

That is a lot of shots!

brazil saudi FT stats

The Saudi Arabia goalkeeper takes man of the match, which seems a bit of a sympathy vote.

brazil saudi FT ratings

So as expected, it’ll come down to Norway against Denmark. Norway need a point, Denmark need all 3. It’s recorded, you’ll have to forgive some long pauses whilst the lads told me what they wanted to do with their subs.

Of course if you’re not watching, I’m still here with some whimsy. Ross has switched his Denmark side to a 5-3-2 in a bid to be more solid, I think this was his Mike Bassett moment

Denmark tactics vs Norway

KingoftheRooks has stuck with the same system throughout but with Haaland and Svindal Larsen out suspended, Tore Pedersen and Runar Berg are tasked with filling their boots.

norway tactics vs denmark

Norway are up for this. Denmark have to repel attack after attack which means Schmeichel is getting redder and redder. The pressure tells and Olsen is able to give Norway the lead. Denmark offer very little. Big half time talk needed from Mr Jacobs.

denmark norway HT stats

6 for just about everyone more or less summarises Denmark’s tournament to date. Norway have made chances without even playing that well, which has got to be a concern.

denmark norway HT ratings

It makes little difference. Norway continue to press and push for that 2nd goal. Time is running out for Denmark but then – with 15 minutes to go – salvation! Helveg puts sub Soren Andersen in on goal and although his shot is saved, the rebound falls to Helveg himself to blast home a leveller. 15 minutes will decide the fate of Group A!

Denmark didn’t manage another shot. Norway get the point they need and they’ll be in the last 16 draw later in the week.

denmark norway FT stats

Schmeichel gets man of the match, one of the few Danes to come out of this with any credit

denmark norway FT ratings

Final confirmation then:

denmark norway scoreboard

The final standings for this group:

Group A final

We were always going to lose one from this group but with just one goal scored, Ross can have few complaints. I’m sure Ross will be back with a new blog later in the year. For now though, he’s on the plane home. Now, to Group B…

Group B

Group 2 games

Hosts France have made serene progress so far, and with qualification in the bag the China match is a chance to rotate the squad. Yes, a China win would be a problem, but is that likely? The, er, teamsheet is in. Paddy doesn’t have 200k+ followes for no reason.

france china scribbles

Quite. I took that to be this:

france team vs china

Viera didn’t recover from injury, which I had errantly predicted so Deschamps retains his place in front of the back 4.

China have parked the bus. I was going to make a wall joke but I’m not sure where we stand politically with that. Most of these plays are fake but I applaud them putting Jin in the middle. Jin is important.

china tactics vs france

The French have struggled at times with the expectation of the home fans. I base that on very little, it’s just text commentary. But China take a 4th minute lead from a set piece that France don’t deal with. No matter, eventually France find their feet and captain Deschamps equalises. Trezeguet puts France in front 3 minutes later and it’s panic over. What a strange half of football.

france china HT stats

China made a sub after scoring, presumably to put even more men behind the ball, then made another sub after going behind. That’s reactive management.

france china HT ratings

So you’d think France went on to win easily from here, yes? Well, not quite. Kurniawan only went and equalised on 69 minutes, which would secure China a place in the last 16. How historic. Trezeguet ruined that 3 minutes from time with his second which won the game for France and left China sweating over the USA result.

It was actually all France, China were just a lot more ruthless.

france china stats

Just an odd game all round. China’s goalkeeper gets man of the match. Leboeuf seems to be getting the blame for China’s surprising competitiveness

france china ratings

Confirmation then as France finally get to play at the Stade de France

france china scoreboard

What it does mean is that if the USA thrash Morocco they can steal a spot in the last 16.

They didn’t.

USA Morocco

Ooh how handy, all the days results on one page.

summary

Final standings then, as France and China make it through to the last 16. They’ll play the qualifiers from Group G (Scotland’s group!) and let me give you this exclusive: I really hope I win Group G. I don’t want to play France but I reckon we could beat China.

Group B final

So the hosts are safely through and they’ve matched Brazil’s 100% record. They’re on a collision course for a quarter final meeting, despite Platini’s protests.

Back tomorrow with Groups C & D, where we’ll see Ireland face Holland, with Eire needing a victory and a South African favour to go through, whilst England and Argentina will look to look to secure their places in the last 16. See you there!

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 8: Italy and Romania clash in Group F whilst Scotland look to break qualification curse

Catch up with Day 7 here

We’ve nearly seen every nation twice now and most groups are hanging in the balance. Today we focus on those two remaining groups who have only taken to the French turf once, so fans of Group F & G, you’re really in for a treat.

Group F

Italy have so many attacking options it was somehwat of a surprise when they only drew 0-0 with Yugoslavia. They dominated the game though and manager @FPLHints has written it off as “one of those things.” He was right to do it. It does however mean this match with Romania is vital, as a defeat could leave the Italians feeling more than a little blue. Get it?

It’s still an attacking lineup with Porrini in for the suspended Ferrara. Winning is everything!

Italy team vs Romania

Romania under MK (@CorinthianHead Twitter fans) got off to a fine start, putting 5 past Paraguay and setting themselves up nicely for this crunch clash. A draw would probably do, but you wouldn’t change a system that just won 5-0. Dumitrescu is in for the injured Galca.

romania team vs italy

It’s always a decent game when two human managers go head to head but the luck that desserted them in the first game was not at play here. Italy’s swashbuckling attacking play saw them rewarded with a 24th minute lead as Ravanelli slotted home. Romania had the odd chance but this was Italy’s day and Del Piero doubled the lead just before the half time whistle.

italy romania HT stats

As you’d expect, Italy’s players have done quite well. Romania…less so.

italy romania HT ratings

Can MK give the hairdryer treatment? Is their a Romanian equivalent? Well, Ravanelli scored again on 49 minutes and that should have settled that. However, in the same minute, Porrini got sent off a delibrate handball denying a goalscoring opportunity. Let;s think about that for a minute. Presumably from the kick off, Italy ended up being so exposed at the back their centre half was in enough trouble to stick out a hand and deny a goalscoring opportunity. Great.

italy reshuffle

Anyway, Italy were able to shut up shop and Romania eventually got one back on 82 minutes as Ilie scored his second of the tournament. Not a lot happened after that. An important win for Italy and the Chief!

Italy Romania scoreboard

Romania had more territory in the 2nd half with a man advantage but the damage was done in that lacklustre first half

italy romania FT stats

The Romania goalkeeper gets man of the match, which seems a bit stupid given what has gone before.

italy romania FT ratings

Yugoslavia and Paraguay finished 0-0 which leaves it in Romania’s hands at least. They’ll just need to draw to go through unless Paraguay are going to overturn an 8 goal swing by really sticking it to Italy. I don’t think they will.

Group F 2 games

So it looks good for our Group F lads, but it’s a little less rosy in Group G

Group G

Whilst I was quite happy with Scotland’s 3-0 win over Jamaica, I can’t help but feel a little concerned by Nigeria’s loss to Russia. The group is opposite B in the draw which means the runners up will play France…but Scotland should just be pleased to escape the group. To do that, we need to get a result here. Russia won’t be easy.

Same team. No messing about here.

scotland tactics vs russia

Russia show us a remarkable amount of respect by playing that bloody counter attack formation

russia tactics vs scotland

I’ve remembered to record! Here we are, or the screens are below

A win for Scotland would be incredible. They’ve never seen a knockout game – imagine that – so to do it with a game to spare would be ridiculous. But my how we have the bit between our teeth, peppering the Russian goal only to find a goalkeeper in inspired form. Basically, he saved our 4 shots on target.

russia scotland HT stats

Matt Elliott is having the World Cup of his life, maybe I’ll put him up front like Leicester did in the good old days

russia scotland HT ratings

Second half and it’s more of the same. Russia manage only one further effort despite my back line lacking pace and youth whilst we continue to probe only to find  Ovtchnikov in the form of his life. Big Dunc is thrown on and it makes little difference, though he comes away with a decent rating. 0-0 it finishes, which is a better result for Russia than it is for us. Especially when you consider that we absolutely battered them.

russia scotland FT stas

All hail Colin Hendry, apparently. Obviously their keeper is the real hero.

russia scotland FT ratings

It means Nigeria can really put themselves back in the mix if they complete the expected victory over Jamaica. This is ideal for Nigeria, as they probably won’t have to do a lot of defending here.

Nigeria tactics vs jamaica

Jamaica have parked the bus again. It worked so well against Scotland. Marcus Gayle probably won’t be able to sort it out on his own.

jamaica tactics vs nigeria

It’s a battering. Ikpeba scores after 3 minutes and it’s a sign of things to come. Oruma and Garba add another two in the space of 60 seconds midway through the half and that’s that, but Nigeria will want more. Scotland only managed 3 in 90 minutes against this lot and goal difference might yet be a factor.

I, er, forgot to get the half time stats and ratings. I have regrets. Not to worry though, Ikpeba makes it 4 on 59 minutes and finally Mutiu adds a 5th on 86. Okocha gets the perfect 10 but as you’d expect, everybody in a green shirt played their part. Jamaica were crap, except Korma Dudu.

nigeria jamaica FT ratings

Nigeria racked up 31 efforts yet less than 50% of them hit the target. I knew he shouldn’t have left Ekoku out of the 16.

nigeria FT stats

Confirmation then of this mighty rampage.

nigeria jamaica scoreboard

Group G is looking pretty interesting. It looks likely we’ll lose one of the human players, whether it be me or Matt will be decided by the final game shootout.

Group G 2 games to go

Russia have Jamaica so they’ll almost certainly win. There is of course the added bonus of winning the group meaning you’ll probably avoid France, but I think in Scotland’s case this is why the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers” came to light. Jamaica are eliminated.

Everybody has played twice now, so who is your money on? We’ll be back tomorrow with the final games from Groups A & B, which includes the Scandanavian judgment day clash between Norway and Denmark whilst Brazil and France are also in action. See you there.

CM9798 World Cup – Day 7: Germany face crucial Chile clash whilst Spain look to secure qualification

Missed day 6? No panic, it’s here

I live my life purely by what group is playing. Today is Group E & F day, except the scheduling of this insane tournament sees group H jump the queue and they are with us today. I’ll let you into a trade secret, there’s only meant to be one Group H game today but I’m not making things hard for myself and splitting groups across different days. So it’s Group E & Group H day and we’ll just have to like it or love it.

Group E

Only the one human competitor in Group E and it’s Tom Reed. Tom’s a Northampton Town fan but he’s a good football writer so cut him some slack. His Spain side beat Sweden in the first game which gave them every chance of reaching the last 16, a feat which could be sealed today if they can beat Japan and the other result goes in their favour. Alfonso is banned so his Betis buddy Oli is in, whilst Manjarin’s tournament is over after a training ground injury. De La Pena’s goal off the bench is rewarded with a start for him, with Mr Versatile moving to the right. In the words of Des’ree, oooh I get the shivers.

Spain team vs Japan

Japan have the dangerous Miura up front but are mostly made up of fictional players. In the preview we predicted they’d battle Sweden for 2nd but a win here would also seal their qualification, lest we forget.

japan team vs spain

After just two minutes, Oli has a fit of rage and throws a Japanese player to the ground. Why? It’s a straight red. That wasn’t in the script. Spain stick with the formation but with just one up front it’s a struggle to get the clear chances. Japan though don’t seem bothered. A point here would be lovely. It looks like they will reach half time without incident but Luis Enrique gets on the end of a free kick and it’s a vital goal on the stroke of half time. Spain have something to hold on to…that is is Japan actually try to take it.

Spain Japan HT stats

No surprise that Enrique is the star performer. He can be your hero, baby.

spain japan HT ratings

He will kiss away the pain. I’m not sure any amount of early 00s Spanish ballads can make Japan feel better, they can barely muster an attack against the 10 men of Spain. If anything Spain look more likely to score again, and despite two wayward Japanese shots, Raul climbs off the bench to wrap it up 6 minutes from time. You can run, you can hide but you can’t escape Raul. Japan have Akita sent off late on for a 2nd yellow to round off their miserable day.

spain japan FT stats

I’m done now. Obviously he gets man of the match but there’ll be no more Enrique puns today.

spain japan FT ratings

Score board for you

spain 2 - 0 japan

In the other game, a draw does neither team any favours and Spain are through! They have passed this very easy test but there’ll be greater challenges ahead – it’s likely to be England or Argentina next unless one of those two make a mess of the last fixture.

Sweden Cameroon

Let’s see the group table

table 2 games

Group H

If Group E is straight forward, Group H is full of spanners.

Not in an insulting way, like a spanners in the works kind of way. This for me is the group of death, mainly because it’s one of two 3 human groups and I really don’t know who will come through it. Germany lost to Mexico last time out so facing Chile here, who lost to Belgium, means a loss for either team would be fairly fatal. Belgium hold all the aces here. Let’s focus on Germany vs Chile, as Ross and Dan lock horns.

Ross has brought in Bierhoff for Klinsmann who, despite converting a penalty, looked his age in the Mexico loss. Bierhoff and Dundee will be a different type of threat. Younger, if you will.

germany team vs chile

Dan is still sticking to his all out attack mentality. They did score 3 times against Belgium but they also conceded 5, so swings and roundabouts.

Chile team vs Germany

Here’s the game. As ever you can scroll past it and see the screens and such if you prefer.

What a start to this game! Rozental put Chile into a 5th minute lead as he scored at the third attempt after Kahn kept out a series of efforts. However, the lead lasted barely a minute before Bierhoff’s shot from distance was spilled by Ramirez and Lars Ricken equalised. The game was played at a remarkable pace with chances aplenty for both sides, but it was Germany who took the lead when Sean Dundee was put through one on one and he lobbed the ball over the advancing Ramirez.

germany chile HT stats

What a half of football, one of the best of the tournament so far. Chile’s front 3 will always be a nuisance but it’s easy to give up chances when you’re only playing 3 at the back.

germany chile HT ratings

The second half wasn’t quite as good, though there was controversy when Babbel stopped a promising attack with his hand and wasn’t even booked. Germany lost Sammer to injury and it seems likely he will miss the remainder of the tournament, but it didn’t stop Lars Ricken scoring his 2nd and Germany’s 3rd 12 minutes from time after Dundee played him in. Germany win to keep their hopes alive, whilst Chile’s hang by a thread.

germany chile scoreboard

A healthy amount of shots in this one, Chile’s accuracy is incredible. Kahn was much better here than he was in the Mexico game.

germany chile FT stats

Great stuff. So much so Kahn gets man of the match. Lars Ricken looks on, forlorn.

germany chile FT ratings

So then, Belgium vs Mexico. Chile would be eliminated if it’s a draw. Probably also through other connotations I don’t want to think about. But if Belgium win I guess they survive, which is good for Dan and hopefully for public interest.

Adam keeps the same side that beat Chile so impressively. It’s got a good balance this team. Hat-trick hero De Bilde will fancy himself for the golden boot at this rate.

belgium team vs mexico

I recorded both matches in this group, so again you can view it below or skip on down to the screenshot version.

 

Mexico are becoming my least favourite side in the competition. I make no bones about it, I want as many of the lads to get through as possible, I don’t want to have fake Mexico winning this World Cup. They’re stubborn and seem to be able to counter at will, but it’s 0-0 at the break.

mexico belgium HT ratings

Belgium have edged it but it’s goals we need. Nothing to shout about in the ratings.

mexico belgium HT stats

Into the second half and still Belgium prove. Emmers and Wilmots are pulling the strings and Mbo Mpenza is thrown on to try and find the breakthrough that doesn’t look like coming. That is until Forrest spills a shot and super sub Mbo is on hand to send Belgium wild. That goal keeps Chile in the tournament, though they need a mathematical miracle to get through.

mexico belgium FT stats

On the plus side, and this is nothing against Mexico as a nation, it heightens the chances of them not going through. When there are 3 human players in a group of 4 it would be rough to lose two of them.

mexico belgium FT ratings

The important bit:

mexico 0 - 1 belgium

The group is great viewing for Belgium. They should go through but if Germany beat them by a couple of goals they become vulnerable to a Mexico win knocking them out. Chile need snookers but their goals scored is useful, if Germany lose to Belgium by a goal or two a Chile win by 3 or 4 goals would send them through. Unlikely, but here we are.

Group H 2 games

Whilst Dan packs his bags I’m licking my lips that just about all the groups so far have a story to play out in the final round of fixtures. Tomorrow it’s Groups F & G, where you’ll see Italy and Romania go head to head whilst my Scotland side face Russia in a pivotal game. See you there!

CM9798 World Cup – Day 6: England vs Tunisia and a must win game for Republic of Ireland

Missed day 5? Catch up here

We’re flying through this World Cup, it’s day 6 already. Whilst it feels like day 66 for my fingers, which are more or less reduced to being bloody stumps by now, we are at the point where some teams are facing elimination despite having only played one game. Ireland today face that particular problem, but they’ll fancy their chances. Later we’ll get to Group D with England vs Tunisia and Argentina vs Australia, but right now it’s Group C and Holland vs Colombia.

Group C

Ash Rose (don’t forget to download Alive & Kicking 90s Podcast will you) got off to a solid if unspectacular start with Holland. In fact, Dennis Bergkamp was very good and everyone else was ok as they ground out a 2-1 win over South Africa. With that victory secured, it’s more of the same here.

Holland tactics vs Colombia

Colombia beat Ireland 2-0 but the Irish weren’t “at it.” I swear this happens every tournament where Ireland put themselves on the brink of disaster then pull it out the fire. More on them later. Colombia have changed to a 4-5-1, keen to stifle the Dutch and free Tino. Will it work?

colombia tactics vs holland

If the Dutch were poor against South Africa, they were in wonderful form here. Kluivert set them on their way on 16 minutes, converting a penalty after the flying Dutchman Marc Overmars was tripped in the area, and Overmars himself added a second three minutes later. With the damage done in that 3 minute double salvo, the intensity eased and although Colombia managed the odd foray, they were always at arms length.

holland colombia HT stats

The right side for the Dutch had been particularly impressive, which is odd considering both goals came from the left. Who am I to argue?

holland colombia HT ratings

The second half was more of the same, Kluivert adding a third on 57 minutes and effectively killing the game. Nearly 80,000 were there to see this win, a result that almost certainly puts Holland through though that’ll only be rubberstamped today if Ireland don’t manage to beat South Africa.

holland 3 - 0 colombia scoreboard

Easy for the Dutch then, but what can the men in green do?

That defeat to Colombia has prompted a re-think from Rob Tait. A 4-2-3-1 is probably more solid and with Roy Keane back from a ban, they should be all together more confident.

ireland tactics vs south africa

First off, a disclaimer. There are no half time screenshots. That’s my fault. The good news is that it was 0-0 anyway and nothing too exciting. South Africa had the better of this pretty much throughout but Ireland, like a boxer on the ropes, held on and then struck a knockout blow of their own on 68 minutes. The recently arrived Sean Devine got on the end of a Kinsella free kick and forced Arendse into a save, but the loose ball fell to Keith O’Neill who slammed the rebound home. It was scarcely deserved but this is what Ireland do. A precious 3 points.

South Africa FT ratings

Phil Babb man of the match? It’s obvious really. He did marshall the back line to perfection.

South Africa FT stats

Not convincing but South Africa’s chances were not clear cut and stats are meaningless. 1-0 is the only figure that matters.

south africa 0 - 1 ireland FT scoreboard

All Eire need to do now is beat Holland next week…and hope Colombia don’t defeat South Africa. It’s still a tall order but they’ve given themselves a chance.

Group D

In a group with England and Argentina, you’d be forgiven for dismissing Australia and Tunisia as alsorans. But this is football, where anything is possible. Even England being considered a threat to the final stages.

We start with Argentina against Australia. Chris Drawen has stuck with his bold lineup that saw them draw so heroically with England, even if 0-0 is what precisely nobody wanted. All eggs remain in the Maradona basket.

Argentina vs Australia Tactics

Australia have come to park the bus, mate/cobber. They have a young Harry Kewell but when he’s playing as one of the 3 defensive midfielders, how good can he really be?

Australia vs Argentina Tactics

Good news! I’ve recorded both games in Group D. Argentina vs Australia is just below or below that is the good old fashioned screenshot method if you prefer.

 

Much like the real life Argentina, they have all the players but finding a cohesive system for them is not easy. Mind you, playing 36 year old Maradona in the hole can’t help that, but we’ll see. In a dour first half, Argentina manage 2 shots, though one of them is the decisive touch from old Diego to give his team the lead on 26 minutes. Nothing else happens except Simeone and Chamot getting booked.

argentina australia HT stats

Rancid.

argentina australia HT ratings

Still, the second half will be better. Won’t it? Argentina managed 2 further shots. They didn’t result in a goal. Australia kept everyone behind the ball until the last 10 minutes when they came to life and nearly snatched a goal on two occasions, in the 89th and 90th minute. One missed and Roa saved the other. Argentina have been less than good but with 4 points they are sitting pretty.

argentina 1 - 0 australia FT stats

Somehow, Carlos McAllister gets a 10. I suppose you can’t get penalised if you never have to do anything. He’s easily the best player on the pitch.

argentina 1 - 0 australia FT ratings

Let’s draw a line under this abomination.

argentina australia FT scoreboard

So it’s left to England to provide us with the entertainment. How has it come to this?

Teddy and Gazza both dropped, Owen and McManaman in. Dan Barker wields the axe as he sticks with 4-3-1-2

England tactics vs Tunisia

Tunisia have gone for the old 5-3-2. Ali Boumnijel plays for West Ham and routinely annoys me in my Premier League saves, so this will be like a home from home for him.

Tunisia tactics vs England

As mentioned, this is recorded too. You can watch the video or scroll down for my sarcastic barbs on an important game.

You always feel England need to score first to be at their best and that seems more prevalent here than ever. After a couple of half chances, Ince slipped McManaman through one on one and the Liverpool man showed great composure to round Boumy to make it 1-0. A second goal arrived just before half time as Michael Owen, making his International debut no less, was fed by Scholes and scored. That lad has a future.

england tunisia HT stats

A brilliant half for England which they totally dominated. A heavy win would more or less guarantee a place in the last 16 given Australia’s narrow victory earlier

England Tunisia HT Ratings

Tunisia came out with a flea in their ear but after missing two early chances, it was soon 3-0. Owen’s shot hit the post and Shearer was the grateful recipient of the rebound. Tunisia seemed to lose belief after that and it was soon 4 as Owen again hit the woodwork and McManaman grabbed his second. Quite the pick from young Daniel. Shearer headed in the 5th from a corner. There was still half an hour to play but, with the job done, England could relax. That never happens.

England Tunisia Scoreboard

Stevie Mc gets man of the match and everyone is great except Beckham and obviously Dave Seaman who has nothing to do.

England Tunisia FT ratings

I mean literally, not a save to make.

England Tunisia FT stats

That basically puts England through, the goal difference should ward off any surprise loss to Australia being fatal.

summary game week 2

The group table is taking shape:

table 2 games

A draw for both of our lads in the final game will be enough to send them through whereas Tunisia would need a handsome win over Argentina to qualify. Rule nothing out with Darwen in charge.

On that needless jab, I’m off for a lie down. I’ll be back tomorrow though as Group E and, just to push my buttons, Group H will be with us. Quite why the game insists on moving Group H around I don’t know but it’s a good group so we’ll let it go. See you tomorrow.

AK90s banner

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 5: Can Norway handle Brazil? France in action against Morocco

Welcome! We had a couple of days break for little reason to be honest other than to give me a chance to catch up. But now we’re uninterrupted for the next week, which means posts every day and a very tired Dave. Never fear though, we’ve got Group A and B to bring you in this update and in even better news I’ve remembered to press record on at least one match. Let’s go to Group A.

Group A

Group A 1 game

It’s looking good for Brazil and Norway but the one chink of light for Denmark (and Saudi Arabia, I guess) is that Brazil and Norway are about to play each other. It’s in their best interests that Brazil take 3 out of 3 now, unless you think Brazil could lose their remaining 2 fixtures. With this team, is that likely?

Brazil team vs Norway

It’ll take some stopping but if anybody is capable, it might be Norway. I don’t base that on a great deal but KingoftheRooks is King for a reason. Here’s how he has lined Norway up:

Norway team vs Brazil

Now, you can watch the game by clicking play or as ever, the game is described by me below that.

Maybe I was right? Norway come flying out of the traps and have the audacity to take the lead thanks to Neset. Surely that’ll get Brazil going? No? Ok then.

Brazil Norway HT stats

Norway have been brilliant and not given Brazil a sniff. They’ve stifled Brazil without doing anything overly flashy themselves but they have taken the lead, which is the main thing.

Brazil Norway HT Ratings

Have Brazil got it in their locker to get out of this jam? Denmark and Saudi Arabia hold their breath, willing Brazil to score. Knutsen goes down in the box and it looks like a penalty. The text says so anyway. What’s the referee’s decision? He’s waving play on. As is always the way, Ronaldo nips down the other end and equalises. Then he scores again. You can’t count him out. Brazil win and even though it’s not a shock, they’ve had to dig this one out.

brazil 2 - 1 norway stats

Brazil have been much better in the second half but Dan Eggen gets man of the match to go with his goal in game 1. He is the Eggen he is the walrus.

brazil 2 - 1 norway ratings

Confirmation then from Parc Lescure that Ronaldo is really quite good.

brazil 2 - 1 norway scoreboard

This is a big game for Denmark and Ross Jacobs. His Denmark side took a pasting from Brazil, which at the time I said was no disgrace and it never will be, but the reality is that Norway have just shown far more than they did. Saudi Arabia can’t be ruled out either, but they’ve got Brazil last and they won’t win that. It’s going to go to the last game regardless. Here’s what Ross has set up:

Denmark team vs Saudi Arabia

 

Denmark 0 - 0 saudi arabia HT ratings

That is one of the worst halves of football I have ever seen in scrolling text format. ONE SHOT EACH MAN. DO SOMETHING! Saudi Arabia managed a shot on target at least. Denmark just having a shitter really.

denmark 0 - 0 saudi arabia ht stats

Still, 45 minutes to turn it round. The attack is just incoherent, like they’ve never met. It’s odd considering two of them are brothers. Soren Anderson arrives and makes a difference but he can’t score. Or even hit the target. Saudi Arabia come on strong at the end and manage another shot on target. It ends 0-0. Schmeichel gets man of the match for his 2 saves.

Denmark 0 - 0 saudi arabia FT ratings

It was poor. La Beaujoire boo. I boo. Denmark will have to beat Norway to advance, Saudi Arabia will have to be Brazil and need some mathematical miracles.

denmark 0 - 0 saudi arabia FT stats

Brazil are through, so…that’s a plus? I think.

Group 2 games

So it’ll be an all Scandanavian shootout next week to decide who goes through. Interesting. To Group B!

Group B

France aren’t exactly in the toughest of groups, with Morocco their latest challenger after the win over the USA in game 1. @90sfootball has opted to bring Diomede into the lineup for Emmanuel Petit, an attacking change that will probably be for the best. Blanc is in for Thuram too, so he can kiss Barthez on the head.

france team vs morocco

Morocco have gone for the wingbacks. Nourredine Naybet will go on to play for Spurs but for now he’s got to try and stop future Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Can he?

morocco team vs france

No. In short. Henry opens the scoring after 16 minutes and it looks like being a day to remember for the majority of the 34,000 in attendance. Surely France would play their matches in a bigger stadium? Anyway, it’s their World Cup they can play where they want. After the goal, it all goes a little flat. Morocco grow in confidence and test Barthez a few times. It’s only 1-0 at the break, and there’s some anxious faces around.

france morocco HT stats

To make matters worse, Zidane’s picked up a knock. It’s probably nothing serious but Paddy airs on the side of caution and subs him. The experienced Papin is on, and Blanc is commanding the back line. Another goal and the points will be safe, you’d think.

france morocco HT ratings

Morocco aren’t good guests though, and 12 minutes into the second half Azzouzi equalises. The stadium is almost silent. France need to dust themselves down and find a way to win. Maurice is on for Karembeu just minutes later and France show signs of life. Morocco start to fade and Ali Benarbia is introduced as a final throw of the dice. Sure enough, Papin strides through and lifts it over the excellent Abdellah to secure the points. A big goal. A nation united.

France 2 - 1 Morocco FT ratings

France were stronger after the break but they will have expected to win more comfortably than they did.

France 2 - 1 Morocco FT stats

Let’s see that in final form

france 2-1 morocco scoreboard

The USA and China might be two superpowers but here they cancel each other out with a goal scored in the same minute. I don’t even know who scored first. China are well and truly in the box seat to qualify now, whilst France definitely have.

USA 1 - 1 China

It’ll take a reasonably sized win for USA coupled with France beating China to change this group. Even if China lose let’s say 2-0, USA would need a 3 goal win to qualify. It’s a big ask.

Group 2 games

France though can get the cigars out and more than likely rotate the squad a little for the final game. They will play the runners up of Group G presuming they win the group. That’s my group. Scotland are not ready for France.

That’s it then, another day done. Day 6 will see England back in the spotlight as well as Holland and Ireland. A busy day. See you tomorrow!