Missed yesterday’s action? Catch up here
Well we’ve made it. Not to the final, that would be ridiculous, but to the point where things get really spicy. The time where we start sending teams home with a World Cup goody bag. It won’t be Brazil or France, who we’ll see complete their group fixtures today. But one of Denmark or Norway will be leaving us. Without further unnecessary words, let’s get Group A sorted out.
We’ll sort Brazil out first, because we’ve done a slight disservice to their opponents. Saudi Arabia could qualify with a big win coupled with a draw in Denmark vs Norway, and Mark Carruthers has given them a sniff by rotating heavily. Mind you, all 23 of the Brazil squad would get in Saudi Arabia’s team so don’t read too much into it. Romario is one of 10 changes with only Leonardo surviving.
Even the most positive of Saudi Arabia fans would realise they are in the Shitrit here. They haven’t performed badly in the tournament so far but this would be one of the great all time World Cup shocks if they were to win here.
These Brazil players want to make an impression to try and get a place in the 11 for the last 16. Romario scores after 11 minutes and Elber adds a second just minutes later. It’s 3-0 on 15 minutes when Antonio Carlos heads in a corner. Lads, I think Saudi Arabia are going home. The brilliantly named A Klinger pulls one back just before half time, but surely it is too late?
Poor Taffarel. Quite one sided on the old stats
The second half is dull. Denilson and Elber are withdrawn to protect them from further punishment with yellow cards to their names, but both sides know their jobs are done. Although there are a few speculative efforts from both teams, it stays 3-1. Jobs done, 3 wins out of 3 for Brazil. Saudi Arabia will leave France with 1 point.
That is a lot of shots!
The Saudi Arabia goalkeeper takes man of the match, which seems a bit of a sympathy vote.
So as expected, it’ll come down to Norway against Denmark. Norway need a point, Denmark need all 3. It’s recorded, you’ll have to forgive some long pauses whilst the lads told me what they wanted to do with their subs.
Of course if you’re not watching, I’m still here with some whimsy. Ross has switched his Denmark side to a 5-3-2 in a bid to be more solid, I think this was his Mike Bassett moment
KingoftheRooks has stuck with the same system throughout but with Haaland and Svindal Larsen out suspended, Tore Pedersen and Runar Berg are tasked with filling their boots.
Norway are up for this. Denmark have to repel attack after attack which means Schmeichel is getting redder and redder. The pressure tells and Olsen is able to give Norway the lead. Denmark offer very little. Big half time talk needed from Mr Jacobs.
6 for just about everyone more or less summarises Denmark’s tournament to date. Norway have made chances without even playing that well, which has got to be a concern.
It makes little difference. Norway continue to press and push for that 2nd goal. Time is running out for Denmark but then – with 15 minutes to go – salvation! Helveg puts sub Soren Andersen in on goal and although his shot is saved, the rebound falls to Helveg himself to blast home a leveller. 15 minutes will decide the fate of Group A!
Denmark didn’t manage another shot. Norway get the point they need and they’ll be in the last 16 draw later in the week.
Schmeichel gets man of the match, one of the few Danes to come out of this with any credit
Final confirmation then:
The final standings for this group:
We were always going to lose one from this group but with just one goal scored, Ross can have few complaints. I’m sure Ross will be back with a new blog later in the year. For now though, he’s on the plane home. Now, to Group B…
Hosts France have made serene progress so far, and with qualification in the bag the China match is a chance to rotate the squad. Yes, a China win would be a problem, but is that likely? The, er, teamsheet is in. Paddy doesn’t have 200k+ followes for no reason.
Quite. I took that to be this:
Viera didn’t recover from injury, which I had errantly predicted so Deschamps retains his place in front of the back 4.
China have parked the bus. I was going to make a wall joke but I’m not sure where we stand politically with that. Most of these plays are fake but I applaud them putting Jin in the middle. Jin is important.
The French have struggled at times with the expectation of the home fans. I base that on very little, it’s just text commentary. But China take a 4th minute lead from a set piece that France don’t deal with. No matter, eventually France find their feet and captain Deschamps equalises. Trezeguet puts France in front 3 minutes later and it’s panic over. What a strange half of football.
China made a sub after scoring, presumably to put even more men behind the ball, then made another sub after going behind. That’s reactive management.
So you’d think France went on to win easily from here, yes? Well, not quite. Kurniawan only went and equalised on 69 minutes, which would secure China a place in the last 16. How historic. Trezeguet ruined that 3 minutes from time with his second which won the game for France and left China sweating over the USA result.
It was actually all France, China were just a lot more ruthless.
Just an odd game all round. China’s goalkeeper gets man of the match. Leboeuf seems to be getting the blame for China’s surprising competitiveness
Confirmation then as France finally get to play at the Stade de France
What it does mean is that if the USA thrash Morocco they can steal a spot in the last 16.
Ooh how handy, all the days results on one page.
Final standings then, as France and China make it through to the last 16. They’ll play the qualifiers from Group G (Scotland’s group!) and let me give you this exclusive: I really hope I win Group G. I don’t want to play France but I reckon we could beat China.
So the hosts are safely through and they’ve matched Brazil’s 100% record. They’re on a collision course for a quarter final meeting, despite Platini’s protests.
Back tomorrow with Groups C & D, where we’ll see Ireland face Holland, with Eire needing a victory and a South African favour to go through, whilst England and Argentina will look to look to secure their places in the last 16. See you there!