Just settling down to catch Russia v South Korea. The latest of the 11pm games. I haven’t lasted too well yet – except for England v Italy of course – dozed through most of the second half of Argentina v Bosnia, missing Messi’s wonder goal, and struggled watching Germany v Portugal on record last night. Still, seen enough to pontificate a little.
Germany clearly impressive, as expected. Power, pace, creativity and a joie de vivre. Thomas Muller took the headlines with his hat trick as Germany trounced Portugal 4-0, and with the play-acting that riled Pepe so much that the latter aimed a pointless and ineffective head butt at Muller that got him sent off. The score was 2-0 already, so I don’t think the sending off made a lot of difference. The Germans are playing great football, combining continental possession football with English directness on the break. But with an un-English accuracy. Portugal were poor, but 4-0 is a statement. Only the Dutch thrashing of Spain has been better. Northern Europe besting Iberia in the first round.
Does this make the Dutch and Germans favourites? Certainly up there. But only the first matches.
Argentina weren’t amazing against Bosnia, but they got the result, and I’d expect them to push on in the rest of their group games. The Messi goal was awesome and may set him up for a top tournament.
As for Brazil, against Mexico tonight they were poor. 0-0 and really there was not that much threat from them, though Mexican keeper, Ochoa, made a few stunning saves. Too much depends on Neymar and the marauding full backs, Marcelo and Dani Alves. The midfield was stodgy and ineffective, while Fred up front was static. Oscar’s brilliance against Croatia wasn’t replicated. He was on the right then. So naturally he was positioned on the left tonight.
There’s so much pressure on the Brazil team in these early skirmishes. Maybe they’ll relax eventually and show us what they really can do. But they’ll need to in time for that dreaded last 16 tie.
Tomorrow is the first defining game of the tournament: Spain v Chile. After the 5-1 defeat Spain need to regroup and win, to get to the knock outs. I think they will do it. They’ve had a wake-up call. Time to show who’s boss….
Meanwhile, this Russia v South Korea game is pretty dull. Time to post this blog and then go to bed!