July 3, 2018, Day Twenty
In Russia’s 2018 World Cup, the knockout round continued with Sweden and Switzerland doing battle in St. Petersburg in the next to last Group of 16 match. The Swiss were content to replicate their rough tackling style with but the sporadic outbreak of skill provided by Granit Xhaka or Xherdan Shaqiri. On the Swedish side, the entire team seemed to be bent on moving as a single large block, blunting all of their opponent’s attacks and striving to counter. The former was well accomplished, the latter they had trouble implementing.
Emil Forsberg was credited with the lone and winning goal at the 66th minute but probably only because ten own goals had been credited in the cup so far. In truth this one was an own goal too as the ball hit a defender and went in a decidedly different direction. The ball was headed into Yann Sommer’s hands when the redirected deflection sent the ball into the upper left side of the net for the score. Sweden’s earned 1—0 victory puts them in a collision course with the winners of the England- Colombia match later in the day.
In the second Group of 16 game of the day, England played Colombia in Moscow. The pre-match news was welcome for England as Colombia’s main player, James Rodriguez, was unable to heal his calf on time to play and cameras caught him cheering his team from his stadium seat.
The match was one of the worst played of the cup so far and unfortunately USA referee Mark Geiger, a usually dependable judge, showed he too could be mostly one sided as England got the lion’s share of the preferences, receiving eight consecutive judgement calls between the opening whistle of the second half and then end of extra time, to zero for Colombia.
The match had one penalty, an obvious one on Harry Kane off a corner where the England striker was wrestled to the ground. The self-same striker scored on a well-placed powerful shot at the 57th minute and thereafter the game deteriorated into a wrestling match more than a football one. But at the 90+3 Yerry Mina soared above all comers and struck a beauty of a header into the English goal to even the match and take it into extra time with the score 1—1.
No one scored over those 30 minutes. England then made history winning its first important penalty shootout courtesy of a Jordan Pickford save off of Carlos Bacca and a Mateus Uribe miss off the crossbar, with David Ospina’s full stretch save off of Jordan Henderson’s shot England’s only miss.
A grim game came to a close with England headed to a showdown with Sweden in the quarterfinals.
With the Group of 16 now over, the cup enters its most interesting stage as on one side at least the better playing teams meet up with favored France facing a very tough Uruguay and favored Brazil facing a resilient and in form Belgium. On the easy side, an exhausted Croatia meets a lucky Russia and an unimaginative and plodding England meets a tough-playing Sweden. Most would argue any team on the tougher side could beat any team on the easier side. But this has been a cup of surprises, so we will see what fate has in store come July 6th.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary today chronicled that the Spanish media are reporting that Cristiano Ronaldo is discussing leaving Real Madrid for Juventus. While the Portuguese media seem to corroborate the story.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary found that the Neymar issue, also known as the no call on the Layun red-card stomp kept the twitter and other social media venues busy as those with an axe to grind, a favorite media slant to push, or simply an opinion to offer, chipped in as the conversation kept being guided by the mainstream media not toward the uncalled violent off-the-pitch assault, but toward all the post-violent-attack baloney.
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. Nothing like the Swiss playing a bigger, stronger, tougher team to “even out” their style of play. Though the official count had it 13 fouls committed by Switzerland to 11 by Sweden, there were two yellows and a red for the Swiss to one yellow for the Swedes. In the England—Colombia game referee Mark Geiger managed to call 8 consecutive judgement calls in favor of England to zero for Colombia in the final 75+ minutes of a match that eventually was decided on penalties.
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 136 goals actually scored in the cup (10 more have been own goals for a total of 146 tallies) 25% (34) have been converted by La Liga players while 22% (30) have been scored by Premiership stars. The remaining 53% have been scored by all other leagues combined.
On Wednesday and Thursday the 2018 World Cup takes a break. Upon returning to action on Friday, July 6th, Uruguay will meet France at 10:00 AM EST in Nizhniy Novgorod, while at 2:00 PM EST Brazil and Belgium play at Kazan.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary Predictions
Fifty-six games played. 64% correct calls
Right calls–(35)—Correctly called 30 group stage matches and five Round of 16 matches.
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–(20)—Incorrectly called 17 group stage matches and two Round of 16 matches.