June 26, 2018, Day Thirteen
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary, Day Thirteen, chronicled the France and Denmark match in Moscow which ended in a 0—0 draw that saw both teams conveniently progress as numbers one and two of Group C respectively.
At the same time in Sochi, Australia and Peru played and the South Americans finally had luck on their side to go along with their skill and won the match 2—0.
In Group D tussles, Nigeria and Argentina met in St. Petersburg, with the former needing a draw and the latter a win to move on. In a very toughly contested game where the South Americans’ experience trumped the African’s youth Argentina pulled a 2—1 win with the final goal actually scored in regulation time (87th).
The first highlight of the match was a sublime opener by Lionel Messi, who with three touches trapped a forty yard aerial pass on the run with his left thigh, killing the ball and letting it nestle onto his left foot, while shielding his defender away, and then off of his left foot with the second soft touch to set the ball ahead of his marker’s stretched leg, to then power the shot right footed to the far post from the right side of the box, for the score. Golazo!
From there on in there were mostly lowlights, as the inexperience of Turkish referee Cuneyt Çakir, who has muffed several UEFA Champions League games but still gets high ratings from FIFA, shone through. In three different occasions the Argentines fouled the Nigerians or committed defensive hand balls in the box. Only the blatant Javier Mascherano take-down was caught and penalized for Nigeria’s lone goal, but Marco Rojo’s outstretched hand ball off a header (see what was called against Portugal for Iran’s goal and how similar it was to Rojo’s), was not called.
The fouling continued unabated and uncalled as a second Mascherano take down was ignored. Neither were a number of other fouls called, such as by Rojo, Nicolas Otamendi, and Gabriel Mercado who all had grabs away from play when the given Nigerian they were marking was to be the obvious recipient of a through pass in the box. How naïve a ref could they have chosen for a game so obviously fraught with cheating.
Again, what is VAR for if the only thing to be reviewed is whatever the ref already witnessed? Officially, Nigeria committed and was called for 20 fouls to Argentina’s 15, but by Papa’s count it was 35 for Argentina and 22 for Nigeria. Not only was Cakir’s count off, the balance was off, as one team committed nearly 50% more fouls than the other.
Furthermore, and in another vein, pun intended, the selfsame Mascherano was allowed to play the last full fifteen minutes plus added time with blood dripping from a cut above his eye and another on his cheek. We saw how Gemany’s Sebastian Hector was asked to leave the pitch and later had to be substituted in the game against Sweden, because of the German medical staff’s inability to stop his bleeding, but the Argentine was left to play, in blatant disregard of FIFA rules.
At the same time, Iceland and Croatia meet in Rostov with the latter already qualified and the former needing a large win over Croatia. The Croats would have none of it, though and kept a perfect record, if conceding their first goal of the cup, in a 2—1 win.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary found that Diego Maradona is still a sad caricature of his once athletic self and is now a sickly-looking buffoon at 57 years of age.
With VAR being so poorly used in its inaugural World Cup Papa will keep track of the manner in which infractions and unsportsmanlike acts decide games throughout the cup. In the Nigeria-Argentina game, we were treated to a play that was eerily similar to what was called a penalty in the Portugal-Iran game, only this one was a no call. Similarly, one corner kick take down was caught and another was simply not reviewed. As both would have gone against Argentina, the referee’s decisions and the lack of VAR usage was critical and decisive.
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 96 goals actually scored in the cup (6 more have been own goals for a total of 102 tallies) 28% (27) have been converted by La Liga players while 25% (26) have been scored by Premiership stars. The remaining 47% have been scored by all other leagues combined.
On Wednesday at 10:00 AM EST, in Ekaterinburg, Group F plays, featuring Mexico and Sweden meeting with progression on the line. At the same time in Kazan, South Korea and Germany fight for the latter’s chance to progress. At 2:00 PM EST, in Group E, in Moscow, Brazil plays Serbia with progression on the line for both. While at the same time in Nizhniy Novgorod Switzerland will try to move on with a win over eliminated Costa Rica.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary Predictions
Forty games played. 67% correct calls
Right calls–(26)—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, Senegal over Poland, Portugal over Morocco, Uruguay over Saudi Arabia, Spain over Iran, France over Peru, Brazil over Costa Rica, Belgium over Tunisia, Mexico over South Korea, Germany over Sweden, England over Panama, Senegal over Japan, Colombia over Poland, Uruguay over Russia, France-Denmark draw, Peru over Australia, Argentina over Nigeria, and Croatia over Iceland.
Papa made an “push (no call)” on the Iceland-Nigeria game, but called it for Iceland after the cup began, so this prediction is not credited as right or wrong (1).
Wrong calls–(13)—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 the latter cruised to a 3-1 win. Called for a Denmark win over Australia that ended in a 1-1 draw. Called for a draw in the Croatia v Argentina match that ended with a 3—0 win for the Croats. Called for a Serbia-Switzerland draw which instead ended in a 2—1 Swiss win. Called an Egypt-Saudi Arabia draw that ended a 2-1 win for the Saudis. Called for Spain over Morocco and Portugal over Iran and both games ended as draws.