June 28, 2018, Day Fifteen
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary, Day Thirteen, chronicled Group H play, in Volgograd, where Japan and Poland met with the former only needing a draw to progress and the latter already eliminated. What took place was a rather tamer game than one would expect but since Japan soon found that their fate did not rest with either a win or a draw, they were content to see the final whistle off with the loss, as it qualified them for the next round. Poland, salvaging some honor, left with the 1—0 win. The Japanese then knew they would meet the top team of Group G, to be decided later in the day between England and Belgium.
At the same, in Samara, Senegal and Colombia played in what was another of the cup’s classics. The classy African team, who had been playing consistently well, knew they could qualify with a draw, while the resurgent South Americans needed another win to move on. Neither team played for anything but a win and we were treated to a cautious opening followed by a wide match, and then a more frenetic one once the Colombians opened the score at the 74th through another Yerry Mina header. The game ended in a 1—0 win for the Colombians who moved on atop their group and now must meet the runners up of Group G.
In the second slate of games, at 2:00 PM EST, in Group G, in Saransk, Tunisia and Panama, both eliminated, played a meaningless game with but pride on the line. The match ended 2—1 to the Tunisians who showcased the better soccer.
While, at the same time in Kaliningrad, England and Belgium met with top honors going to the winner, or if they remain tied, to England who held the lesser number of yellow cards in the sixth tie breaker category. The question was going to be who wanted to end up first if by ending second they would be in the easy side of the bracket?
The first half was such a cynical display—both teams not wanting to risk playing and thus passing in the middle of the field for most of the half—that it was obvious the watching public, let alone FIFA authorities, were unhappy. So, as the second half began the teams actually tried to do something constructive and at the 51st minute Adnan Januzaj struck the ball toward goal with purpose and put Belgium ahead. That was all the scoring that was needed as Belgian assistant coach Thierry Henry’s rueful-smile reception of Januzaj, upon his substitution, seemed to indicate the 1—0 score line while not the sought-after objective, would have to be accepted.
Belgium will play Japan with the winner facing the Mexico-Brazil winner. While England will play Colombia with the winner facing the Sweden-Switzerland winner. Henry’s smile now seems so not ambiguous, not so much Mona Lisa like as “what were you thinking Januzaj?!”
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary today chronicled that Real Madrid have lowered the asked-for transfer fee for Cristiano Ronaldo from a billion euros to merely 120,000, which might make one suspect the Portuguese superstar is setting up for a departure from the Bernabeu.
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. The use of VAR in the last few matches of the Group Stage was helpful but not decisive as its role was more a matter of confirming than overturning decisions.
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 110 goals actually scored in the cup (8 more have been own goals for a total of 118 tallies) 27% (30) have been converted by La Liga players while 25% (23) have been scored by Premiership stars. The remaining 50% have been scored by all other leagues combined.
On Friday, June 29, the tournament takes a full day of rest from all play.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary Predictions
Forty-six games played. 62% correct calls
Right calls–(28)—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, Croatia over Iceland, Brazil over Serbia, Poland over Japan, and Tunisia over Panama.
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–(17)—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. Called for a Costa Rica win over Switzerland that ended in a 2-2 draw. Called for a German win over South Korea that ended 2—0 for the Asians. Called for a Mexico win over Sweden that ended 3—0 for the Swedes. Called for a Colombia-Senegal draw which the South Americans won 1-0.