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.
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?
Cameroon are in the mathematical miracle camp so to celebrate, it’s everyone behind the ball. How silly.
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.
Solid ratings for Tom and the boys. Do you rest the second string? Probably not.
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.
Easy times for Spain then, they’ll top the group. Morientes takes man of the match.
Some stats for the fun of it
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.
That final table
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.
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.
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?
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?
Can Yugoslavia even score a goal this tournament? You’d say probably not now.
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.
Petrescu takes man of the match, which seems an odd choice but it’s not my award.
No shots, no goals for Yugoslavia. Pathetic.
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.
Paraguay have packed the midfield. Italy are light in that area so it’s not the worst tactic, I suppose.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s see that in it’s purist form:
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.
Here’s the final results just…because really. It’s some nice closure for these groups.
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.