If you missed day 11, you can catch up here
We’ve made it. The 12th and final day of the group stages is probably our most dramatic yet, with both groups in the balance and a shock looks on the cards – yep, Scotland might make it to the knockouts! We’ll face Nigeria to see if we can make the dream a reality, but the big story is in group H. All four teams are in the mix and Germany need a result against Belgium to avoid being our biggest casualty so far. More on that later, Scotland and Nigeria are cast in the role of warmup act today.
I’ve spent so much time with Scotland recently on this blog I guess it was inevitable I would get them in the World Cup. I’ve grown to tolerate them. A draw here will see us through but then it’d be a clash with France, and a probable exit. Top of the group means a date with China, which I’d rather fancy us to win. Even Scotland. Let’s go for broke.
Nigeria were unlucky against Russia and thrashed Jamaica. They’ll go on the attack here and I live in fear of Ikpeba. Nigeria do need to win though, they can’t rely on Russia losing to Jamaica as it’s just not going to happen.
A big game needs big coverage. Failing that, here’s a Youtube video. Usual text is below it.
Former World Snooker Champ John Spencer (I’ll use that joke forever if needs be) has not eactly fired so far in this tournament but I’ll always be grateful for him opening the scoring on 11 minutes. It’s a fairly tight first half aside from that. The two goalkeepers in this match have a combined age of over 70, so I didn’t expect a 0-0.
We’ve been filthy. John Collins will miss any next round game we have. Big Vic has been poor for Nigeria.
The second half starts with Goram cutting his hand and I decide to sub him. Neil Sullivan will be ok…I hope. The chaos factor that is Big Dunc arrives on 63 minutes and it takes him three minutes to make his mark, flicking on for Gallacher and then tucking in the rebound when the Blackburn man hits the post. Great days. Sullivan pulls off a quadruple save but Kanu reduces the arrears a few mintues later. But just as we’re getting squeaky bums, Spencer snookers Nigeria by adding a third after Rufai denied Ferguson. We’re through.
We perhaps didnt’t deserve it but as the old proverb goes, some teams have John Spencer and some don’t.
Matt Elliott, never leave me.
Sadly that is it for Nigeria, but to keep everything in line, here’s Russia vs Jamaica.
Wut. I didn’t see that coming. Turns out a draw would have been enough for Nigeria. Sorry Matt. The top scorers in the group are heading home.
Russia will play France next, so it’s not all fun and games.
As a neutral looking for a good story to write about, this group ticks many boxes. All four teams can qualify, and yes Chile need a miracle but any multi-horse race is welcome here.
We’ll start with Germany vs Belgium. Germany need a win but there’s a mind boggling scenario where they could win 1-0 and still go out. It’s one of those types of groups where if I could play both game simultaneously I would. I mean I could even pretend I did but that doesn’t fit with the format but whatever. Belgium will take a point to guarantee qualification and top spot.
Ross has his boy Hassler back. To celebrate, he’s had the pen and paper out.
This? I think?
Adam decides to park the bus a bit, adding a sweeper and a holding midfielder. Two up front though, so it’s not a total shithouse job.
Two TV games in one post, what days. Text below.
If people weren’t taking Belgium seriously as a contender maybe they will now. We asked the question last time of Gilles De Bilde. Can he fix it? Yes he can. He gave his side a 34th minute lead which left Germany needing to summon a performance they haven’t seemed likely to produce all tournament. It was a pretty close half, really, but De Bilde’s goal put a different complexion on it.
A big half time team talk needed from Herr Bell, which no doubt the Sun or some other rag will run as it’s headline if the worst happens here.
Germany did have a go, I’ll give them that. But Belgium are like a robot. They’re programmed to score goals and win. There’s something quite…German about them. De Bilde adds a second to kill off German hopes and then rattles in a free kick in the 85th minute to complete a hat-trick. That’s his second of the tournament, puttinh him ahead in the golden boot race and putting Germany on the brink.
Score a hat trick, give man of the match to the left back. Might take some explaining.
In real life the German side went past it’s sell by date in a heavy defeat to Croatia, there were shades of that here. Poor Ross.
A 3-0 defeat for Germany means that Mexico will qualify with a draw. Remarkably, it opens the door for Chile, who now just need to win by 2 clear goals. As ever, Dan sticks with 3-4-3, looking for goals.
Mexico are feeling quite frisky. Hungry for goals.
Let me just say, I wish I had recorded this. Mexico scored after just a minute, good old Carlos Hastings. Not to worry though, Seb Rozental equalised just two minutes later. Back in the balance. Zamorano plundered one in on 29 minutes, a reet thunderbastard that gave Chile a sniff of qualification. Rozental added two more before half time, completing a remarkable hat-trick and giving Chile a 4-1 lead. Bloody hell.
Basically, Rozental has played mint and everyone else hasn’t. He’s on the verge of being a national hero.
Mexico weren’t going to lie down though. Well they did for about half an hour but it was just an act. Espinosa got one back on 74 before sub Goodridge made it 4-3 on 81 minutes. Uh oh. That would be enough to send Mexico through by a goal. Goodridge then scored again, but as Dan slumped over the hoardings like Kevin Keegan at Anfield, the linesman’s flag meant it remained 4-3. Still in the balance. Chile threw on Vega as an attacking midfielder for a centre half and, with the very last kick of a sensational match, Vega slipped Salas in behind the defence and the Lazio man sealed a 5-3 win and Chile’s spot in the last 16. WHY DID I NOT RECORD THIS?
Bloody hell. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
Fold the cup. I can’t believe what I just witnessed.
Remarkable confirmation then that Belgium and Chile advance. Germany and Mexico are both eliminated on goals scored.
All out attack always win. Well, I say that. It’s Brazil next and such is the stupid scheduling, it’s in two days.
Here’s the last 16 draw:
So then, who is your winner now? 13 humans out of 16 make it through, I like those odds.
I’ll be back on Tuesday with the first FOUR of those games, with the next four to follow on Wednesday. The quarter finals will be next Friday and the semi-finals a week today, leaving the CM9798 World Cup final to be Wednesday 13th June. Phew. See you in a few days, thanks for reading.