It’s the day you’ve been waiting for – the day Scotland light this World Cup up. Not really, my Scotland team are just a small undercurrent in this tidal wave of World Cup nostalgia. Two more groups in action today, no videos. There were some mistakes around me not pressing record on the Italy match. You wouldn’t get this at the BBC.
Anyway, on we go. Group F is our first stop with European teams vying for 2 spots. Something’s got to give!
Chief FPL is a great guy who not only knows a lot about fantasy football but he knows his way around CM too. Or CM2. But can he get the Italians playing fantasy football?
It’s a bold lineup, something not often associated with the Italians down the years but the Chief era basically sees a front 4. Ravanelli and Roberto Baggio are the perfect mix of creativity and stupid celebrations, both things I’m on board with. Can you remember Roberto Baggio free kicks? So many hours wasted in IT lessons playing that. I’m getting sidetracked. Even the bench is strong. Having said that, Yugoslavia aren’t bad.
As we reavled in the preview, Predrag Mijatovic is injured but Fulham manager Jokanovic is at left wing back and who can be upset by the inclusion of Sasa Curcic? Not me. It’s Savo Milosevic I feel for.
To the game itself and it’s totally one way traffic. It’s a battering. Shots from all angles from Italy and Ravanelli in particular but very few actually hit the target. Yugoslavia meanwhile do sweet nothing. Like Homer Simpson’s boxing career, they take punch after punch but they’re still standing. Have Italy punched themselves out?
Pretty average really, not sure what Ciro Ferrara has done to earn an 8 but here we are
Surely that Italian breakthrough would come? Yet more wayward finishing, this time from the fresh legs of Vieri, but still no goal. Yugoslavia have one shot from distance but that also misses. The moral is, never try. It finishes 0-0 and my boobery with the recording button goes unpunished.
So frustrating as a manager. You’ve clearly set the team up to create chances but they’ve blazed them all. You can’t even blame a super keeper, Sasa Ilic of Charlton had the metaphorical cigar out. To round it off, Roberto Baggio gets man of the match. You can’t even blame the strikers.
It doesn’t exactly blow the group wide open but it does give Romania and Paraguay the chance to put down a marker and basically secure a place in the last 16 with a win. Maybe that is pushing it a bit. A win would be good, let’s leave it at that.
I like this Romania team and we know how good MK (aka CorinthianHead) is in the dugout so call them dark horses if you want, but at least get the blonde hairdye ready. Hagi in the hole and Raducioiu up front. Have it.
Paraguay are knackered like. So fictional that not even Chilavert is here. The wooden spoon awaits.
Even after losing Galca after just 2 minutes, the arrival of Dumitrescu did not unsettle the Romanians. Raducioiu, the man who stole all the vowels, opened the scoring on 18 minutes and they never looked back from there. Sabin Ilie made it 2 and Hagi added a 3rd – all before half time.
A goal and an assist for Hagi only gets him a 7?! What a cruel world. No amount of 18th minute subs can save Paraguay.
Irrelevant stats. This one is over.
Anyway back for Paraguay? Don’t be stupid. Vowels man scored his second on 57 minutes before Hagi also doubled his tally. The magician ended with 2 goals and 2 assists. With him in the hole, you wouldn’t bet against Romania. A thumping win.
Justice for Hagi who gets his 10. Everyone else was good but slightly worse. Paraguay have nothing to shout about.
Just the 21 attempts. I said Paraguay couldn’t get any worse in the second half but they…did. No further attemps, 3 more conceded. Well done MK.
Romania are the only team to have scored after one game. They meet Italy next and it’s taken on an extra little bit of importance now.
To the final group!
If you’re wondering where Group H has gone, they played yesterday. I don’t know why the scheduling randomly pulls Group H forward in the schedule but here we are. With that, it’s Group G pulling up the rear. Quite fittingly, that means Scotland. And Jamaica. It’s not a high quality group, it’s kind of the banter group of this operation.
I’m in charge of Scotland, I’ve struggled to line these boys up how I need them but let me explain. John Collins plays for Monaco. He is too good to leave out. I don’t play a left midfielder so I’m trusting he can manage to play in central midfield. McAllister is the man, I want him to ping passes over the top to the busy Kevin Gallacher and 1977 World Snooker champion John Spencer. Glass and Hopkin are also there. I’m not sure why I’ve appointed Hopkin captain here, I have a feeling that’s a mistake. Who knows? It’s an International debut for Darren Young.
Luckily my opponents are Jamaica who have been at the rum early and lined Deon Burton up at centre half. Korma Dudu sounds like a bad reaction to a mild curry. I’m not concerned about this match. Maybe I should be?
We’re awful. Well, not awful. Uninspired. That’s probably a better word. Scottish. Jamaica repel our pathetic attacks. Why didn’t I put Big Dunc on the bench? He’d mess Deon Burton up.
Good stats lads.
Colin Hendry is an old man. He hasn’t been the same since Gazza made him look like an arsehole at Euro 96 but I’ve told the surviving members of that squad to use that as motivation to be better. I’ve also left Ally McCoist at home to help with that. Anyway, Hendry has his Stuart Pearce moment by heading in a Stephen Glass cross before wheeling away to a jubilant Scottish section. So much tartan. Matt Elliott then scores after a scramble following another set piece. I think I’ve found our creativity. Gallacher smashes one in from distance and it looks like we’ve played well. We haven’t, but a 3-0 win is unheard of in Scotland.
Hendry takes home man of the match and you can’t help but feel that centre half pairing will be the difference between success (actually getting out of the group) and failure (the norm).
Shooting practice required. You fancy everyone else will work Korma Dudu more than we will. 3-0 might look impressive but it might be poor compared to others.
Enough about me. Let’s move on to Nigeria and Russia, a real crunch clash in this group.
There’s no doubt Matt_C_Wills knows what he’s doing. He’s recognised that Nigeria have nothing but forwards and although I lost respect for him when he left Efan Ekoku out of the 16 the reality is he has far better options.
This counter attack formation seems quite popular amongst the European nations. It means Kanchelskis is only a sub but you know what you’re going to get here, it’s just whether you can beat them.
VICTOR IKPEBA! A goal for all of Africa, says Peter Drury…in 12 years time anyway. His 2nd minute goal has Nigeria off to the perfect start but the lead lasts only 4 minutes until Shalimov equalises.
Nigeria have had the better of it and even a draw here is ok, but Matt knows this is there to be won.
A captain steps up when their team needs them most. Not Finidi, sadly. Valeri Karpin scores for Russia on 65 minutes and it’s no more than they deserve. The half time vodka did a great job. Nigeria have very few chances and Russia hold on for the points amidst little threats. A well executed counter attack plan but a huge shame for Nigeria.
Taribo West’s man of the match award is of little consolation to Matt, who now has it all to do.
The confirmation from Gerland.
A sad note to finish on but hey, it’s only game 1! This table means nothing.
You’ve seen everybody once now, so who has impressed you? Any observations? Tweet me @CM9798 or comment.
We’re back on Sunday with Group A & B again. That means Brazil, France, Denmark and Norway. Not in that order. See you there!