We started with 32 and now a little over two weeks later we are left with 8. Things are getting serious. In this post we’ll half that number again and be left with our final 4. A World Cup is considerably swifter when you get all the games done in one day.
Let’s see that last 8 draw again so we know what we are dealing with.
Stories, stories everywhere. A real life final re-match, Holland looking for Euro 96 revenge, two titans clashing and…Scotland vs Belgium. All four games are recorded for your viewing pleasure so let’s crack straight on with that World Cup 98 final.
France vs Brazil
I guess in this alternative universe, the final hasn’t ever happened. Zidane is still waiting to really make his mark and Ronaldo hasn’t been left out of the lineup only to be reinstated. That was chaotic.
There is at least one similarity and that is the whereabouts of Ronaldo. Sadly for Brazil manager Mark Carruthers, “O Fenômeno” has torn his calf and will miss the rest of the tournament. Whether that equates to one game or three is about to be seen. Edmundo is in and Leonardo is back from a suspension. It’s still a strong side.
Paddy aka @90sfootball has sent in his teamsheet. What lovely handwriting. Honestly, that’s exceptional calligraphy.
The hedline here is that Florian Maurice gets the nod to start but it’s a change of shape, with Deschamps and Vieira both starting. Whether it’ll be enough to nullify Brazil remains to be seen
Here it is on video anyway, or there’s some wording below.
France have set up to contain Brazil and I guess in a way it has worked, as it’s 0-0 at half time. But it’s not for lack of trying. Barthez makes 4 decent saves and Edmundo hits the underside of the bar. France haven’t managed a shot. The Stade de France crowd are worried.
Barthez and oddly Aldair getting the ratings praise. On we go…
Paddy brings on Papin for Vieira and goes back to the formation that got them this far, basically a 4-3-2-1. Angloma heads over from a corner to ironic cheers. Brazil are actually less fluid for some reason and they manage two efforts very late in the day but one of the least eventful halfs in World Cup history comes to a close. It’s 0-0. It’s sudden death
Not much extra to report. Barthez kept France in it and has done well when called upon, but they’ve only mustered one shot in 90 minutes. At home.
Both sides make changes, with Elber on for Edmundo and Trezeguet replacing Maurice.
Obviously, straight from the restart France win a penalty for a handball. Zidane scores with France’s only shot on target and that’s that. Robbery!
Barthez rightly takes man of the match. Incidentally if you watched the video and wondered why there was 3 minutes of nothing at the end, I forgot to stop the recording whilst I consoled Mark. Yes I could have edited it but here we are.
France have sort of muddled their way to the last 4 now. They have more gears to go through. I think. But who will they face in the last 4?
Holland vs England
Some people call this the greatest England performance of the modern era. Those people did not see a 5-1 win in Germany. Either way, it lit up one of the best English summers and we did smash the tits off Holland, nobody can deny that.
Looking to stop a repeat of that is Ash Rose. You must have come to know who Ash is by now but if not I’ll just leave a series of clues. With his Simple Mind, Ash has opted for a 4-4-2 to keep his tournament Alive & Kicking. With Cocu injured, Ash has gone for the left field choice of left forward Bolo Zenden in centre midfield. It might work.
In the role of Terry Venables (yes I’m sticking with the Euro 96 thing) is Dan Barker. He’s played 4-3-1-2 throughout and has little reason to change. Teddy keeps his place with Owen injured.
Video time again!
All I can assume from this is that Holland are really mad. They come flying out of the blocks and England are like rabbits in the headlights. Bergkamp makes it 1-0 after just 9 minutes, his 5th of the tournament. Overmars makes it 2 six minutes later. England have that sinking feeling. There’s a definite hole in the boat as Kluivert makes it 3-0 before the break. Bloody hell.
Those England ratings…
Can England salvage anything from this? Even some pride? Not really. One shot on target in a drab second half. Zenden departs injured in the one piece of bad news for the Oranje
Err Franck Verlaat takes man of the match. Reiziger’s yellow means he’ll miss the semi final. All the blame seems to be on Dave Seaman. No doubt he’s still laughing about it.
Let’s see the result confirmation.
That’s one semi-final complete, but what about the other half of the draw?
Scotland vs Belgium
There’s been a lot of conspiracy theorists (mostly Chris Darwen) who think I’ve swindled the draw by giving Scotland the easy ties. Bitterness is an awful trait. I have to admit though, the draw has really worked out for us. Don’t hate us for it, we had an average group which still needed winning and who really expected China to knock out Morocco and USA in Group B? Meanwhile Belgium have seen off Germany, among others, so this is all a big surprise for everybody.
I do fear for our participation from this day on though. Matt Elliott is out injured, which might not seem a big deal but he’s been a rock. Duncan Jupp is in for him. Neil Sullivan is now my undisputed number 1 because Andy Goram keeps getting injured. 1977 World Snooker champion John Spencer is banned, so Scott Booth gets the nod. He plays for Dortmund, so he must be good.
Adam Turner has done a great job with this Belgium team, he’s got the best out of what is already a decent bunch. De Bilde is sharing the golden boot with Ronaldo at the moment and seeing as he is quicker than all of my centre halves combined he’ll fancy his chances of taking an outright lead in that race.
The third video of the day…
De Bilde is wired and he tests Sullivan twice in the opening 10 minutes. No matter. The Belgian pressure eventually tells though as Sullivan makes an error from a corner and Oliveira smashes home. Boo. Not to worry though, minutes later Colin Hendry hits the bar and Kevin Gallacher is on hand to equalise. My celebrations are cut short by the referee, who’s decided there was a foul. Half time, Belgium lead.
Belgium have been organised across the park and Scotland have been second best.
Big Dunc is on. We only have 45 minutes to sort this out so go and sort it out Dunc. We are better but not brilliant, so on 63 minutes it’s time for Gordon Durie. It’s not pretty but we’re throwing the kitchen sink at it. For the last 5 minutes we leave just one at the back and three cente forwards. Durie forces a save. Ferguson heads wide. It’s over. Belgium advance, Scotland ask Del Amitri if it is too soon to come home.
Neil Sullivan takes man of the match for making 3 saves and making the mistake that lead to the goal. Football is stupid.
Well done to Belgium though, their party goes on. They will be underdogs against whoever wins the final quarter final but I don’t think that will bother them
One to go.
Spain vs Italy
Tom Reed’s Spain have made quiet progress so far. They won Group E with little fanfare then came through the toughest last 16 tie to knock out Argentina. The short times between games is starting to take effect though and Alfonso is not able to start this one, but he is on the bench.
FPLChief/CM_Hints is one of the most meticulous managers we have in the competition. He prepares for every game very thoroughly and as you’ll see in the video, he loves a tinker. He’s opted here to put Robero Baggio in the number 10 role in a slightly more conservative formation but will it work?
Here it is. Remember, the Chief is meticulous and I am too lazy to edit. So…
So, this wasn’t great. Spain barely got going whilst Italy missed a lot. The ratings say it all
The second half was only mildly better. Spain did at least have two shots, though neither were on target. Italy managed to work the goalkeeper, eventually, but this was always destined for extra time.
The Tacchinardi injury caused mass re-shuffles for Italy who briefly deployed a sweeper. The ratigns are still rubbish. Except Nesta, who’s having the time of his life.
Extra time is sudden death. But then, a shining beacon of grey light – Ravanelli scores! It’s over. Italy will play Belgium in the last 4 and it will be hard pushed to be worse than this
No doubt Italy deserved the win, though it was like next goal wins in the playground during extra time. Which I guess is where Golden Goal was derived from.
Nesta takes home man of the match for not giving Spain a sniff. They really missed the suspended Luis Enrique, truth be told. Tacchinardi’s tournament is over.
So there you have it. All 4 of our remaining teams will play two more matches, but nobody wants to play for 3rd.
I’ll have those ties for you on Sunday, so until then, take it easy and remember to be back here for more fun. Bye for now!