June 18, 2018, Day Six
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary, Day Six, chronicles the opening of play in Group H, when in Saransk, Colombia and Japan met in what turned out to be a dramatically tragic game for the South Americans. To begin with, James Rodriguez injured himself in the Colombian team’s last practice and did not start, leaving Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado as the only two inspirational and trully skilled offensive leaders on the team. Then, at the third minute Carlos Sanchez committed an arguably unnecessary hand ball in the box, in an attempt to stop what he thought was a sure goal. The ensuing red card and Japan’s converted penalty (Shinji Kagawa 6th minute) set the tone for a crazy match.
In the space of the ensuing ninety minutes Colombia tied at the 39th via a Juan Fernando Quintero free kick goal which went under the wall and squirted into the lower right corner of the goal. Then, at the 73rd minute Japan pulled ahead to seal the match 2-1. But in between, Colombian coach Jose Pekerman decided to make several questionable substitutions beginning with taking out Cuadrado at the 31st minute, leaving Falcao without quality offensive support.
At the 59th minute, Quintero, the goal scorer, who was still growing in his contributions, taking up the slack of Cuadrado’s absence, was taken off so that the injured Rodriguez could come in for what turned out to be a failed star turn given his condition. The substitution, though, robbed the team of the needed propulsion Quintero’s energy was providing as James simply could not move well.
Finally, Pekerman figured out additional offense was needed, and Carlos Bacca came in at the 70th minute, in a classic too little to late substitution. The issue was that by then Falcao could hardly run so Bacca suffered the same fate his teammate had for most of the match, being the easily defended only offensive option. Speak about self-destruction
In the group’s second game, Poland and Senegal competed in Moscow, and Senegal looked the better side throughout despite a larger possession for Poland. At the 37th minute an own goal gave the Africans the lead, but in truth they should have been a couple up by then and maybe another up by the end of the first half.
In the second half the Polish attack, now desperate for a response, continued being mostly a search for star striker Lewandowski. either with his back to goal for a turnaround or a high aerial service for a hopeful header. It was just too easy for Senegal to defend. Then, at the 60th minute a second Senegalese goal seemed to seal the game’s fate, and with the exception of a consolation headed goal for Poland at the 86th (and despite play continuing until the 90+4), Senegal won 2-1.
While back to Group A in St Petersburg, Russia and Egypt played their second games and this time Mo Salah started for Egypt. The Russians opened the match with such a furious push forward that seven shots had been taken by the 10th minute mark. But the offensive push was disjointed and counting exclusively on crosses and a few shots from mid-distance, a quick fix. The Egyptians had to hang tough and managed to weather the storm and then produce the better scoring chances including a nice Salah turnaround that just missed. But by halftime neither side had scored and both seemed exhausted by their exertions.
Unfortunately for Egypt, at the 47th minute an own goal (Ahmed Fathy), the fifth of the cup, gave the Russians the advantage. Then, in their only pretty offensive play of the day the Russian’s Denis Cheryshev tied Cristiano Ronaldo for top goal scorer with his third of the cup and second of this match. The third goal came three minutes later when Artem Dzyuba powered through the Egyptian defense to put the ball forcefully into the net. At the 73rd minute Mohamed Salah pulled back a consolation penalty goal for the final 3—1 score line. Russia should have secured its passage to the next round where they will meet their fate at the feet of either Spain or Portugal.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary today chronicled the fact that Vladimir Putin has decided to stick his finger in the eye of FIFA, who has banned its former president Sepp Blatter from football, by inviting the exiled leader to two World Cup games as the Russian president’s guest. Not that there is anything deliciously suspicious and or telling about the fact that the man charged with fixing the World Cup 2018 and 2022 bids is subsequently invited by one of the recipients of his fixing to enjoy the fruits of their joint labor, right? Looking forward to seeing who’s in the Al Thanis’ box in Qatar in 2022?
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary found that the ten fouls officially called in favor of Brazil’s Neymar, in his team’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Sunday, constitute the most fouls ever recorded against a single player in a single World Cup game. Unfortunately, much like in the 2014 World Cup where the Brazilian star was taken by medical helicopter (medevac) directly from the stadium to a hospital for surgery, he seemed to be ailing at practice today.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary will continue to keep tabs on the tournament’s scorers to see if the initial goal scoring tendency continues, as so far, of the 37 goals scored in the cup (5 more have been own goals for a total of 42 scores) 13 (35%) have been by La Liga players.
On Wednesday, at 8:00 AM EST, in Moscow, Portugal plays Morocco in each team’s second game of Group B, followed by the second game of Group A, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at 11:00 AM EST in Rostov. The day closes with the Group B match at 2:00 PM EST, in Kazan, between Iran and Spain.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary Predictions
Fourteen games played.
Right calls–(10)—Correctly called for Russia over Saudi Arabia, Uruguay over Egypt, Portugal-Spain draw, France over Australia, Denmark over Peru, Croatia over Nigeria, Sweden over South Korea, Belgium over Panama, England over Tunisia, and Senegal over Poland.
Wrong calls–(7)—Called for a Morocco-Iran draw which ended with a 1-0 win for Iran off a Moroccan own goal at the 90+5 minute mark. Called for an Argentina win over Iceland which ended in a draw after Lionel Messi had a penalty saved. Called for a Costa Rica win and Serbia won 1-0 on a wonderful 56th minute free kick goal. Called Germany over Mexico, and the CONCACAF champion simply outplayed the current champions to earn a historic 1-0 win. Called for a Brazilian win in what turned out to be a 1-1 draw between the overly fouled Neymar and the Swiss. Called for an easy Colombian win over Japan but instead the South Americans imploded for a loss. Called for Egypt over Russia but instead Russia cruised to a 3-1 win.