Missed day 5? Catch up here
We’re flying through this World Cup, it’s day 6 already. Whilst it feels like day 66 for my fingers, which are more or less reduced to being bloody stumps by now, we are at the point where some teams are facing elimination despite having only played one game. Ireland today face that particular problem, but they’ll fancy their chances. Later we’ll get to Group D with England vs Tunisia and Argentina vs Australia, but right now it’s Group C and Holland vs Colombia.
Ash Rose (don’t forget to download Alive & Kicking 90s Podcast will you) got off to a solid if unspectacular start with Holland. In fact, Dennis Bergkamp was very good and everyone else was ok as they ground out a 2-1 win over South Africa. With that victory secured, it’s more of the same here.
Colombia beat Ireland 2-0 but the Irish weren’t “at it.” I swear this happens every tournament where Ireland put themselves on the brink of disaster then pull it out the fire. More on them later. Colombia have changed to a 4-5-1, keen to stifle the Dutch and free Tino. Will it work?
If the Dutch were poor against South Africa, they were in wonderful form here. Kluivert set them on their way on 16 minutes, converting a penalty after the flying Dutchman Marc Overmars was tripped in the area, and Overmars himself added a second three minutes later. With the damage done in that 3 minute double salvo, the intensity eased and although Colombia managed the odd foray, they were always at arms length.
The right side for the Dutch had been particularly impressive, which is odd considering both goals came from the left. Who am I to argue?
The second half was more of the same, Kluivert adding a third on 57 minutes and effectively killing the game. Nearly 80,000 were there to see this win, a result that almost certainly puts Holland through though that’ll only be rubberstamped today if Ireland don’t manage to beat South Africa.
Easy for the Dutch then, but what can the men in green do?
That defeat to Colombia has prompted a re-think from Rob Tait. A 4-2-3-1 is probably more solid and with Roy Keane back from a ban, they should be all together more confident.
First off, a disclaimer. There are no half time screenshots. That’s my fault. The good news is that it was 0-0 anyway and nothing too exciting. South Africa had the better of this pretty much throughout but Ireland, like a boxer on the ropes, held on and then struck a knockout blow of their own on 68 minutes. The recently arrived Sean Devine got on the end of a Kinsella free kick and forced Arendse into a save, but the loose ball fell to Keith O’Neill who slammed the rebound home. It was scarcely deserved but this is what Ireland do. A precious 3 points.
Phil Babb man of the match? It’s obvious really. He did marshall the back line to perfection.
Not convincing but South Africa’s chances were not clear cut and stats are meaningless. 1-0 is the only figure that matters.
All Eire need to do now is beat Holland next week…and hope Colombia don’t defeat South Africa. It’s still a tall order but they’ve given themselves a chance.
In a group with England and Argentina, you’d be forgiven for dismissing Australia and Tunisia as alsorans. But this is football, where anything is possible. Even England being considered a threat to the final stages.
We start with Argentina against Australia. Chris Drawen has stuck with his bold lineup that saw them draw so heroically with England, even if 0-0 is what precisely nobody wanted. All eggs remain in the Maradona basket.
Australia have come to park the bus, mate/cobber. They have a young Harry Kewell but when he’s playing as one of the 3 defensive midfielders, how good can he really be?
Good news! I’ve recorded both games in Group D. Argentina vs Australia is just below or below that is the good old fashioned screenshot method if you prefer.
Much like the real life Argentina, they have all the players but finding a cohesive system for them is not easy. Mind you, playing 36 year old Maradona in the hole can’t help that, but we’ll see. In a dour first half, Argentina manage 2 shots, though one of them is the decisive touch from old Diego to give his team the lead on 26 minutes. Nothing else happens except Simeone and Chamot getting booked.
Still, the second half will be better. Won’t it? Argentina managed 2 further shots. They didn’t result in a goal. Australia kept everyone behind the ball until the last 10 minutes when they came to life and nearly snatched a goal on two occasions, in the 89th and 90th minute. One missed and Roa saved the other. Argentina have been less than good but with 4 points they are sitting pretty.
Somehow, Carlos McAllister gets a 10. I suppose you can’t get penalised if you never have to do anything. He’s easily the best player on the pitch.
Let’s draw a line under this abomination.
So it’s left to England to provide us with the entertainment. How has it come to this?
Teddy and Gazza both dropped, Owen and McManaman in. Dan Barker wields the axe as he sticks with 4-3-1-2
Tunisia have gone for the old 5-3-2. Ali Boumnijel plays for West Ham and routinely annoys me in my Premier League saves, so this will be like a home from home for him.
As mentioned, this is recorded too. You can watch the video or scroll down for my sarcastic barbs on an important game.
You always feel England need to score first to be at their best and that seems more prevalent here than ever. After a couple of half chances, Ince slipped McManaman through one on one and the Liverpool man showed great composure to round Boumy to make it 1-0. A second goal arrived just before half time as Michael Owen, making his International debut no less, was fed by Scholes and scored. That lad has a future.
A brilliant half for England which they totally dominated. A heavy win would more or less guarantee a place in the last 16 given Australia’s narrow victory earlier
Tunisia came out with a flea in their ear but after missing two early chances, it was soon 3-0. Owen’s shot hit the post and Shearer was the grateful recipient of the rebound. Tunisia seemed to lose belief after that and it was soon 4 as Owen again hit the woodwork and McManaman grabbed his second. Quite the pick from young Daniel. Shearer headed in the 5th from a corner. There was still half an hour to play but, with the job done, England could relax. That never happens.
Stevie Mc gets man of the match and everyone is great except Beckham and obviously Dave Seaman who has nothing to do.
I mean literally, not a save to make.
That basically puts England through, the goal difference should ward off any surprise loss to Australia being fatal.
The group table is taking shape:
A draw for both of our lads in the final game will be enough to send them through whereas Tunisia would need a handsome win over Argentina to qualify. Rule nothing out with Darwen in charge.
On that needless jab, I’m off for a lie down. I’ll be back tomorrow though as Group E and, just to push my buttons, Group H will be with us. Quite why the game insists on moving Group H around I don’t know but it’s a good group so we’ll let it go. See you tomorrow.