Catch up with Day Two here
Welcome to day three, where the games weird scheduling means we’ll have a bit of a deviation today. We’ll start with Group E, where we find Spain ploughing a lone furrow but we’ll then have the curveball of Group H, who inexplicably play out of sync with the rest of the tournament and caused me more of a headache than I already have. Anyway, down to business.
Spain, managed by friend of the blog Tom Reed, will get us started against Sweden. As we said in the preview, Spain should really win this group at a canter but Sweden are one of those teams more than capable of causing a shock.
With that in mind, Tom’s gone balls to the wall. 4-2-4, get lots of chances for the deadly duo Alfonso and Kiko. I can’t argue with it, to be quite fair.
Sweden are missing Henrik Larsson and Jesper Blomqvist due to injury but floppy haired protagonist Andreas Andersson will keep Karanka and Alkorta busy.
Spain spend most of the half banging on the door but they can’t get past Bengt Andersson. Sweden on the other hand offer basically no threat. Henrik’s broken ribs are a problem.
Obvious Luis Enrique is great, only Bengty boy can offer more. Surely Spain will find a way?
Well, actually, no. Sweden score with their first attack through Peter Wibran, and the shock alarms are starting to sound all over the Stade de France. De La Pena is introduced to add a bit of guile to proceedings and he rewards Tom’s boldness with an equaliser on 72 minutes, before everybody’s favourite £16m striker Alfonso seals the comeback.
An utterly dominant display for Spain but it just shows at this level the opposition are often clinical. Still, a wins a win and arguably the toughest game has been negotiated.
Alfonso takes home man of the match, probably not his last given the opposition still to come though that yellow card rules him out of the Japan game, as yellow cards carry over from qualifying for some inexplicable reason.
The other game in Group E sees a comfortable win for Japan over Cameroon. It does look likely that Sweden vs Japan in the last group game will decide who goes through but there’s a long way to go yet. It’s Spain vs Japan next.
One of those K Miura’s is real and still playing today. The other is a fictional full back. That’s life.
This group is going to be tough and we’re guaranteed to lose one of the human players as there are 3 of them. Mexico are the fourth side and even as a fictional set of players, they’ll still be tough. Germany face them first in our TV game, but first we have Chile and Belgium.
Chile, managed by 20 Year Anniversary Cup champ Dan Williamson have the notable problem that their first choice goalkeeper is out for a year. Dan’s decided to go 3-4-3, all out attack and no regrets. With a very good front 3, you just never know.
Adam meanwhile is a bit of a wildcard entry, rewarded for finding out how to make all these teams playable but I have no form for him to speak of. But he’s obviously played a bit and he’s got Belgium prepared in a fancy 4-3-2-1, with Gilles De Bilde the point.
An initially cagey start sees a goalless first 15 but the game explodes into life with a Zamorano strike from distance beating Bodart. That seems to stir Belgium and Gilles de Bilde equalises 3 minutes later before putting his side ahead ten minutes before half time with a cool 1 on 1 finish.
Other than the goal, Chile have not been overly impressive but they are only a goal down.
Esteban Valencia not having the best of days but there’s still time for him to turn that 5 around.
It actually got a lot worse for Chile before it got any better. Goosens added a 3rd following a scramble at a corner before de Bilde proved he can fix it by completing his hat-trick just a minute later. Salas did briefly reduce the arrears before Emmers made it 5-2, only for Rozental to pull another back. That’s 5-3 and although Chile kept pushing, Belgium were able to keep them at arms length. My one wish is that I had recorded this match.
De Bilde takes the match ball home but there were several good performers on both sides, in an attacking sense at least.
Just the 18 shots racked up by Belgium. Chile’s formation does leave them vulnerable but the “score more than you” brigade will love it.
Germany & Mexico have got some work to do to follow that.
Ross has opted to go with a narrow 4-4-2. His favourite player is Thomas Hassler but he’s injured for the next 2 games so Lars Ricken has the job of filling his boots. Ross founded Man on the Post podcast, so give that a listen. The link is in our Affiliates page, which is like a phone book of people who have helped me out.
The video for this match is below, or if you scroll on down you’ll get it in screenshot form.
The first half is turgid. Mexico have come to spoil and spoil they will. Germany do manage a couple of shots but Mexico barely get over half way.
Nothing to see here…
Surely the second half will be better? Pascual Forrest is being a bit of a nuisance in the Mexico goal, dealing with most things Germany throw at him. Eventually, Germany win a pen, and obviously they score. Klinsmann clinical. However, that seemed to rile Mexico. Or rise them from a slumber, whichever you prefer. Either way, Oliver Kahn forgot how to catch and Mexico rammed in two late goals, one a simple one on one finish and the winner when Kahn dropped a cross. That might prove costly.
Carlos Kerr is a great name though, but so is Carlos Hastings. The famous Mexican Hastings brothers on show here today.
Smash and grab. Mexico scored with both their shots on target. Not really much Ross could do about that.
With another day in the bank, I am going to bow out. I’ll be back tomorrow with groups F and G as the final teams get their tournaments started. That includes my very own Scotland team plus the rather more attractive sight of the Azzuri. Italy are in town. See you then!