World Cup Gunners in Action: Elneny v Torreira, Super Sunday, Welbz to Start?

In the very north of Scotland you can find Lewisian Gneiss: three billion year old rock. The earth is even a lot older than this (4.5 billion years), but every time I see this ancient landscape it makes me realise how short our lives really are. If we are lucky we make it to 90 or a 100 years, but what is that compared to the Hebridian Terrane? Even though our lives are a mini blip in the history of the world, just a drop of water on a red-hot cooking stone, we cannot help ourselves wasting a lot of time by reading the Arsenal gossip sites a few times a day, if not hourly!

We all know we should use our time better and maybe the WC will bring some much needed distraction. I am saying this with hope more than anything else, as international football seldom reaches the level of quality and intensity that club games offer. Having said that, I am looking forward to see how our very own international Gunners will get on in Russia. There are some fine games to switch the TV on for in the next seven days:

  1. Friday – Egypt v Uruguay: Elneny v Torreira?! The Uruguayan could be a Gunner soon and Elneny is always a joy to watch.
  2. Friday – Portugal v Spain: Will Nacho feature and how will the Iberian nations treat this first group game: with passion or cheer calculation?
  3. Saturday – France v Australia: Giroud is no longer a Gunner on paper but I would love to see him having a good tournament.
  4. Saturday – Croatia v Nigeria: A big fan of Iwobi, I will follow him closely this tournament.
  5. Super Sunday: Campbell’s Costa Rica v Serbia; Ozil’s Germany v Mexico, and; Lichtsteiner and Xhaka’s Switzerland v the Samba boys. Four Gunners in action!!
  6. Monday: Jackless (and therefore creativity deprived) England v Tunisia: Will Welbeck start?
  7. Tuesday: Day of the GKs. Kamikaze Szczesny (ex-Gunner) for Poland and OsssssssssssssPeeeeenah for Columbia will surely be guarding the goal v Senegal and Japan respectively? In the evening kick-off, Elneny will take on mother Russia and drive her round the imaginary Pyramid.
  8. Wednesday: second  game for Torreira (v Saudis) and Monreal (v Iran). Hopefully by then the Uruguayan has been signed up and given the shirt.
  9. Thursday: another game for Giroud? The non-Gunners-involvement clash between Argentina and Croatia could be worth watching.

So plenty to look forward to from an Arsenal perspective and before you know we will be treated to our very own friendly pre-season games; and that’s never a waste of time!

Finally, just for a bit of fun, who will get to the semi-finals and who will win the WC?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal’s fixtures for 2018-19:



104 thoughts on “World Cup Gunners in Action: Elneny v Torreira, Super Sunday, Welbz to Start?

  • Group winners:
    A: Uruguay
    B: Spain
    C: Les Blues
    D: Argentina
    E: Brasilia, but deep down i want Swiss to win this group
    F: Germany or Swedes
    G: Belgium
    H: Pride of Asia: Japan

    Last 4: Japan, Germany, Les Blues, Espana

    Final: Germany vs Espana
    Winner: Germany

  • Oh I see. No one wants to play my game, but TA is getting everyone to play. Maybe 17 was right. I should write a blog..Hmmphh.

    Ok. Semi finals. France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina
    Winner: France.

    Loved the philosophical start to the blog. What am I even doing here?

  • Arsenal’s six group games in the Europa League mean that the following Premier League games will all be moved to a Sunday.

    September 22 – Arsenal v Everton

    October 6 – Fulham v Arsenal

    October 27 – Crystal Palace v Arsenal

  • November 10 – Arsenal v Wolverhampton

    December 1 – Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

    December 15 – Southampton v Arsenal

  • Interesting to see all the games following the UEFA Cup are in London (except Soton), was that by accident or deliberately done to help?

  • Our 1st match at home to City.
    Our 2nd match away to Chls.

    That’s our good fortune as they have a lot more players involved in the World Cup. Lucky Emery.

  • Shard–
    I know, right?
    Was ready to be taken on a grand philosophical Magical Mystery Tour– and wind up getting my knuckles rapped with Sister TA’s steel ruler!

    Nun-the-less, I’ll play along. 😉

    Brazil >>>>>>>>>> Brazil
    ===== >>>>> Brazil
    Spain >>>>>>>>>> Spain

    Watched France’s last friendly vs USA last weekend. France did not look too good; USA played well (1st goal ever for USA vs France). And France played their regulars. US scored late first half, and had another waved offside early second half. Griezmann levelled at 78′– the match finished 1-1.

    Same goes for Germany. They’ve had a run of poor results in friendlies leading up to the WC. I think they’ll get through to Quarters– but… no further.

    Could be Spain? But will go with Brazil.
    More than anything– would like to be entertained– and see some heroics!


  • According to arseblog, the Arsenal vs Chavs match in Dublin starts at £55 per ticket.. I suddenly feel that the price i am paying in Singapore to watch the lads play at S$29 per ticket is a steal. And yes… the prices here start at S$29 per ticket.

  • Until the Communists took over, France had a strong bond with Russia; in fact the middle and upper classes would more than often speak French. So my theory is that the French players will somehow feel at home a bit. I like Deschamps. He says it as he sees it and takes no fools, a bit like Van Gaal. The combination of ‘feeling half at home’, a quality, strong-willed manager with more enemies than friends, and a superb squad to pick from, make me think they are the favourites. Friendly outcomes (especially just before the start of the WC) are meaningless. The Germans often play crap in the friendlies only to get serious when the tournament starts going.

    Spain look like they are on their way down and they may even struggle to get through the group stage.

    Brazil do not impress me at all and are a shadow of the WC winning teams of previous decades.

    Germany have a strong team and a v good manager. And they are tournament players.

    Argentina can go hot or cold, but I tip them to reach the semi-final.

    Uruguay is a gut feeling.

    Final France v Germany – Giroud to score a Dick Nanninga-like late equaliser and then France to win it in extra-time.

  • Fixture lists don’t really excite me. Every game is three points won or lost. Getting City out of the way is good, and, who knows, we could surprise them. Chavs away is always a tough one but we may as well get it out of the way early on too. The big one is Cardiff away as we need to start our (non top team) away games with a win.

  • Thanks for joining Jw1.. You are officially my favourite person on this blog now 🙂

  • Oddly, Shard?
    Thus far, among those of us picking at Superbru? We’ve selected the same outcomes thus far through the first two matches– though scorelines differ!

    I’ll continue my picks probably this evening through the first round– but want to perform my ‘due diligence’ first– and I’ve got a busy day on the road in about an hour.

    Anyway BKers?
    There’s just a few of us registered in Shard’s pool– and it’s easy enough to sign up and start picking WC matches:

    So have at it guys!


  • Russia is leading 1-0 and Saudi Arabia looks toothless. Maybe they can get something out of this but their passing is absolutely bonkers.

  • Well Shard–
    If Saudi scores and holds off Russia through the whistle– we’ll all have predicted the opener correctly!


  • Bet you never guessed it will be Russia 5 -0 Saudi Arabia. 😆

    Frankly, no one saw that one coming. I had thought a 2-1 or boring 1-0 to the hosts; not a goal fest, especially after the disorganized start to the encounter. Aleksandr Golovin is some talent and had an influential game, culminating in the 5th goal, from a fairly well taken free kick.

    My semi finalists: Belgium, Nigeria (well, I had to do that, even if it looks unlikely 😜), Uruguay and Brazil. Brazil will win it. Like the argument TA made for the French, the Russian and Ukrainian leagues have a lot of Brazilians so, support for the team won’t be a problem.

  • You could be right TA.
    Though the use of ‘often’ to describe a quadrennial tournament seems odd.

    Germany 1-0 Chile (FIFA #14)
    Germany 0-0 Poland (FIFA #71)
    Germany 2-2 Cameroon (FIFA #56)
    Germany 6-1 Armenia (FIFA #33)

    Germany 1-1 Spain (FIFA #8)
    Germany 0-1 Brazil (FIFA #2)
    Austria 2-1 Germany (FIFA #18)
    Germany 2-1 Saudi Arabia (FIFA #63)

    Difference in 2014, Germany tuned-up in June.
    This year looked better in March. Not so good recently.


  • No I didn’t Eris! But two came in extra time.

    Realized two things today.
    One all of the WC matches are televised in my cable package– all 64 matches.
    Second that ‘Eris’? Is our acronym for the Arsenal backroom team– backwards!
    SIRE! Kinda’ spooky–no?


  • Coincidence! Pure, spooky coincidence, jw1. Maybe, we should have that acronym in the order of hierarchy at the club: IRES (I know it doesn’t stand for anything obvious, but just ask the Irish). There. Fixed it. 🤣

  • OK guys! One last sales pitch.
    (Eris signed up for Shard’s WC online pool!)
    It’s easy enough to sign up and start picking WC matches:

    For every result you get right– you get 1 point.
    For every correct result with ‘close-to-the-right score’ — you get 1.5 points.
    For every correct result/correct score– you get 3 points.

    Yesterday, the four of us playing– got the result– but no more.
    So– if you sign up this morning– you’re just one point behind!

    I would even go as far as spotting you the point– if everyone who joins want to make a ‘pool wager’?


  • TA, RISE sounds perfect. I was being too particular with club hierarcy, to have Ivan go first, then Raul, Emery and Sven. 👍🏽

  • I quite like SMEG; Sanllehi, Mislintat, Emery, Gazides…

    The fridges look nice as well, a bit retro, although the icebox is on the small side.

  • Tentative first half. Elneny solid but nothing spectacular. Uruguay miss energy in midfield and I am hoping Torreira will come on in second half.

  • GEMS, I like it JW 🙂

    Total, can’t say that Uruguay vs Egypt has had me on the edge of my armchair, Suarez doesn’t look fit to me, but Godin, what a fantastic defender, so cool and calm, he has a bit of the Bobby Moore’s about him.

    Not sure I’m gonna stay home and watch the 2nd 45.

    Btw, Mario Gotze, yea or nay?
    A good price if the rumour is true.
    Makes me suspicious…
    Who would go to make way for him?

    I just wish that SMEG/GEMS would hurry up and get Torrieira, Leno and Sokratis over the line.
    Martins and Soyuncu would be nice as well.

  • Kev–
    Per Eris, Sokratis in July at Dortmund’s behest for their financials sake. Not too worried about that one.
    Leno? I’m not so sure about. He’s not been stellar for a couple years now.
    Goetze– not sure if he’s built for PL.

    Martins and Soyuncu– you can’t teach speed. Bring ’em.


  • I agree on all counts, jw1, except for Leno. If Joachim Low can drop Leroy Sane, it just tells you how he is thinking about his needs for the World Cup: experience and trusted hands over players who have many more years ahead of them; like rewarding those he’s worked with.
    Leno has been capped six times for Germany, having also represented them at every youth level. He was also named in last summer’s Confederations Cup squad, even if Low did leave out many key players. You feel the return to fitness of Manuel Neuer, after a nine months layoff, influenced his missing out, as Low insisted throughout Neuer’s rehabilitation, his captain would only be selected if he could prove his fitness.

    Unfortunately for Leno, Germany has a lot of goalkeeping talent with the likes of Barcelona’s No.1, Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Neuer’s clear understudy for the national team), starting his country’s final three World Cup qualifiers due to the Neuer’s injuries. He played in goal in some of their friendlies, so it should come as no surprise to see him ahead in the pecking order. As for Kevin Trapp, that’s simply down to Low’s preference. Low favours the 27-year-old over Leno, starting him in friendlies against France and Brazil, even though he’s not been as active, with PSG, as Leno.

    Leno’s numbers last season were impressive, keeping 10 clean sheets in 33 Bundesliga appearances to help Leverkusen seal Europa League qualification. An area of concern is with his concentration levels; he has an unwanted record of committing the second-most errors leading to opposition goals among goalkeepers since the start of the 2015-16 season. He cut this out a lot last season but, clearly, Low remains unconvinced; or, in my view, prefers to go to the WC with those keepers he’s used a bit more, as a reward. It happens at national team level.

    I would be happy to have him at Arsenal.

  • The first games of the World Cup (especially when you have a favourite against a probable) are usually lack lustre unless a goal is scored early. It was all about preventing Uruguay scoring, for Egypt while the absence of Mo’ Salah has eased some of the pressure on the Godin-led Uruguayan defence.

    I had hoped to see some goals with Uruguay scoring more to win it, but didn’t reckon with Egypt’s capacity to frustrate even the best strikers. Alas! It was not to be as they conceded so late to be without points, along with Saudi Arabia (someone said the Ramadan fast may have an effect; not buying that).

  • Kev,

    It was a disappointing but to be expected. Thought Elneny had a tidy game and a lot of the ball. Up-front they were a bit weak but their defence did really well. Uruguay deserved the win but they will have to step it up soon.

    Nay for Gotze for me. Something is missing, I think it’s his lack of willingness to win, but cannot put my finger on it. I doubt Emery would want him tbh.

  • Hey, TA… I enjoyed the match…you know, except for the ending… Salah must not be fit, which is almost as sad as Torreira only being a bench-warmer… Those couple of sitters missed by the bitey guy were pretty sad as well… I thought Elneny did (very) well leading his team (by example) in terms of fitness and enthusiasm for the task. Alas, his mates got a bit foul-y at the end and–even if Cavani’s nice strikes didn’t quite go it–the header from the Atletico guy did…

    Goetze got the winning goal in this tournament 4 years ago, but, truth be told, I haven’t seen enough of his drop in German football to say anything about his “willingness to win” or other elements of his game. Years ago he seemed (to me) a smart player with a knack for moving into good positions…

    Likewise, I can’t say I know much about Leno, but Eris seems to, so that’s some good info for me…

    Switching gears… Apologies in advance…

    If we’re not gonna talk about politics, I’m probably done around here… (We should begin, I think with the image of the Saudi Prince and Putin shaking hands across the Blatter of Infantino… Wow…) Please ban me as needed…

    Football, I think, shows many of the best AND worst elements of the human situation. The game brings people together…but the need to divide–into teams of “nations” or clubs (tribes)–and then battle, using every possible hook and crook (hand and tooth, in Luis Suarez’ case…) seems a perfect metaphor… IMO, while there is a need to respect the history of tribes (and clubs) and nations…the only REAL hope for survival of the game (and the planet) is recognizing that IT’S more important than (having your team) “winning” at all costs…

    At the heart of politics–for me at least–is morality, which I do believe NEEDS to be discussed. Wenger and the values of the club, for example… (Even if AW may have sanctioned that cheeky bid for the guy who couldn’t keep his teeth inside his own cheeks…)

    Sorry, but I don’t think it’s OK to advocate for injury to players…

    IMO–even when it comes to “just words” we should do unto others, etc., etc. But maybe that’s the essence of things, that players (and other groups of humans…) AREN’T actually people, so it’s fine to de-humanize them and wish them maimed–among other things… I apologize about my attempt to make light of such things by bringing up the popular (and dismissive) meme that suggests soccer began as a game using decapitated heads as the ball. It’s something we see here in the states every four years (at World Cup time) to suggest that our (gridiron) football is far more sophisticated…or at least less brutal than the game the rest of the world calls by that name…

    I shouldn’t have done it… As I’ve been told, those Islamic (credit where credit is due… jnyc actually used the term “Islamist”…) countries (and Mexicans…) do the beheading these days…

    So, with one team losing (Egypt–where was Allah there in the final moments, eh?… Or was it the Ramadan fast that left the Pharaohs out of gas…) there’s nothing really more to watch today. Morocco and Iran are also states with Islamic populations and the Iberian peninsula (whose derby is the featured match tonight…) was once occupied by Muslims too… Sure, they got kicked out in 1492 (along with the Jews…and the same year some foreigner “discovered” America…and began our migrant crisis…) but I hold a grudge…

    😦 ( 😀 ) 😦

  • So, it’s official! Granit Xhaka has signed a new long term contract with the club, as published on the website. Nice one, young man. 25 years and playing in all 38 games for us, last season, had to count for something. Also suggests the club thinks he’s a key figure to have around for some time to come.

  • Wow Iran puts the cat amongst the pigeon with that late winner. Morocco will give Portugal and Spain a game and Iran will also make it hard to beat them. Expect Spain and Portugal to go through, but it is not set in stone.

  • TA, in the mood to ruffle some feathers, I see. I’ll stop at saying he’s going to be around us for a while, though. 😀

    The Iran win over Morocco has surprised me. Morocco are one of the more competent African representatives on show. Well, now Spain and Portugal know what to expect. Which is why I think the6 will play out a draw because they’d look to get wins out of both Iran and Morocco.

  • Funny thing HT?
    That from the ‘decapitation row’ ‘tween yourself and JNYC?
    That you got castigated– for politicizing the word– followed by a good two ‘graphs of elucidation on the topic. But that’s not the part that’s so funny.

    Because that barbarism has been occurring for centuries through to this day– thanks to semi-civilized types– ever since there have been long, sharp blades. Well. That’s certainly not the funny part.

    The only difference in today– versus way back when? Is that there’s now a technology that allows the barbarism to be shared freely and worldwide– and ‘virally’. Nope. Not to the funny part yet.

    But what was funny? Well, more curious, than humorous?
    Was that your supposedly being ‘bothered by Trump’?
    Isn’t thought of — in kind –as some form of political judo that ought to be taboo on this blog.

    Find it more curious, that someone isn’t bothered being ruled by a lout.
    I sure as hell am.

    So? It is with some satisfaction– that I close the circle on this roundabout topic with an excerpt (from an article found on a website known as ‘The Howler’) which gave differing ideas on the beginnings of this fine sport of football:

    “The idea of ‘football’ appears throughout the world with different variations of the game and rules. In the 700s, the first football games were played between locals in East England with the decapitated head of a Danish Prince they defeated in war. Later, since these games were violent, King Edward III passed a law in 1331 to ban the game. In 1424 King James I of Scotland also banned the game. In 1572, another law that stopped soccer was signed by Queen Elizabeth which would force football players to serve jail time for a week and then to be followed by a penance in a church. ”

    So much for politics.
    And the games people play…


  • Dang it Eris.
    Until the hat trick– I had that one nailed at 3-2 Spain. But you’ve gotta’ admit neither side was ‘playing for a draw’! Was expecting what I saw from Costa. So hard to handle.

    That was entertaining.


  • Okay, hands up anyone who predicted Iran topping that group, after Game 1. I did call a score draw for Spain v Portugal and it didn’t disappoint as a game. CR7 looked fired up from the start and seemed to have fans amongst the neutrals.

    Hope we get to see Monreal and Gelson at some stage in the tournament. Hard with it looking like the last games (Game 3) of these two sides will be crucial for them…..especially as no one wishes for injuries to the players.

  • Brilliant and crazy game between the Iberian arch-rivals. Agreed, Eris, I did not expect that. I don’t like Ronaldo but you have to say that was an amazing late equaliser by him. Did anybody else think that was a clear foul by Costa for his first goal?!

  • Some Refs would give it, TA, but the way I saw it, Costa has led with his hand but made contact after Pepe had headed the ball. Costa’s hand didn’t affect the header so, I won’t make a fuss about that possible foul. I like that VAR wasn’t even consulted for that. A show of support for the Refs.

  • Okay cheers Eris. Costa had nothing of the ball but did barge into the defender. In my book that is a free kick. Having said that, he did very well to score subsequently.

  • JW, like 17, I ask people to keep politics out. Is it that difficult to stick to football on an Arsenal blog? Does it give you both satisfaction in letting us know your opinions. Thanks for subtly ignoring that 17 drops political opinions like the last post all the time. But make sure to hit me for responding.
    No bias on your part, of course.

    Both of you, please stick to football, not limited to Arsenal. That’s plenty of subject matter… no need to mention unrelated world trade, geo-politics or domestic. And certainly not the politicians you may personally despise.

    In 8 years I never once even thought of criticizing the last president of the U.S. here, where we come to escape daily stress and negativity….,

    And as an honest and well meaning person, I spent years cheering for him to succeed, because it was best for my country, and also the whole world. I later became disillusioned and critical, ELSEWHERE, not on Bergkampesque.

    And I love how 17 now feels so compelled to discuss the human condition on an Arsenal blog, as it’s his duty. Really? Twitter, Facebook, and hundreds of political and news blogs aren’t enough to unburden yourself? How ignorant and evil we football fans are for wanting to talk about transfers, formations, tactics, etc.

  • Xhaka’s new deal says a number of things to me.

    The first is that Emery must be thinking of a 3 in the middle formation, say a 4:3:3. Xhaka’s sudden massive improvement in the later stages of last season coincided with our switch to that formation. The extra man in the central mid afforded him the protection that completely altered his performance.

    However, the energy, mobility, versatility plus sufficient positional discipline of Torreira can persuade Emery that a double pivot of Xhaka/Torreira would provide the same degree of security as a three man central mid which releases one man for a more attacking role. This option gives room for a dream front quartet of Auba, Laca, Ozil and Mkhi which a 3 central mid doesn’t provide.

    The new deal confirms that Torreira is not coming to replace Xhaka. He (Torreira) must therefore be replacing some other person whom as I commented earlier, I very much suspect, would be one of Ramsey or Wilshere or both.

    There is Torreira. There is the Xhaka deal. The AMN deal. The recent Elneny deal. All central mid. Something’s gotta give.

  • What a game of football that was between the two Iberians. Even if it was the ‘wrong’ result. I blame De Gea for that. 1-1 and I was confident of getting the 3-1 to Spain that I’d predicted. But then he thinks he’s a cricketer fielding a ball.

    Iran to sneak through? You never know. If they can get a draw against one of these two (tough ask) it could happen. So far, this World Cup is going well. Some good games even in the group stages, and intriguing results.

    I missed the Egypt-Uruguay game. How did Elneny play? And our supposed new signing Torreira?

  • Pony Eye. Why would Torreira, Xhaka, Elneny, AMN and Ramsey mean that something’s got to give? 5 players for 3 positions is hardly too many. Especially when AMN is still young and Torreira will be settling in. In fact, with Ramsey’s injury issues we might be a bit short were it not for Iwobi or Miki being able to fill in. (And maybe some from the youth like Willock, and maybe as a last chance, Zelalem)

  • Shard ….. I’d say you’re right. 5 players for the double pivot positions are not too many.

  • Sorry JW, I have deleted your comment. I think JNYC made a relatively constraint comment and I want it to be the last thing said on the issue on the blog. Happy to exchange your email addresses, if you both so wish, and you can continue off line.

  • TA–
    You laid down the law yesterday. I respected that.
    Restrained– or otherwise? JNYC did not.
    However it was couched– it was beyond the bounds.


  • Argentina vs Iceland ended in a score draw.
    Good goalkeeping and watertight defense by the Islanders.

    And Messi normally failed to turn up on his best performance with Argentina.

  • Shard, Eris–
    ARG 1-1 ICE tightens the pool!
    The time difference here makes it even more difficult to catch the matches live.
    Though now– I’ve do have the entire day to cherry-pick what to watch on DVR.


  • JW, all understood. These sorts of ‘discussions’ are likely to carry on and on – rather than offer an agree to disagree position – so I needed to say something about it.

  • Messi did everything (except score the pen) but the rest of the team in attack were underwhelming to say the least. The Sons from the high North did very well to contain Messi and co. All to play for in that group.

  • It was all fight, height and defending by the “Vikings” from Iceland. Couldn’t have guessed it, to be honest. Messi did well, as is to be expected, but was obviously a marked man all game; had his pocket picked a number of times and when he stepped up for the penalty kick, something just told me he would be thwarted. Hard luck, but well fought by Iceland. They may pull another Euro 2016 type of run here. Who knows?

  • Eris–
    Iceland does seem to run ‘hot and cold’ (pun intended). Since Euro ’16– they’ve had a couple of uninspired stretches. Fortunately for them, they hit a stride during WC qualifiers. Kind of had a hunch they’d arrive in Moscow at the top of the roller coaster after some disappointing friendlies in the Spring. Kind of a dark horse fave of mine.


  • Credit to Iceland, they fully deserved their draw. I thought that the contrast in styles made the game so interesting. Argentina have a poor defence, I really cannot see them getting into the last four even with Messi and Aguerro.

  • Total, maybe that’s the problem with Messi, he tries to do too much.
    Why not let Aguerro take the penalties, it’s his speciality, he’s a striker after all…

  • Agreed, Kev. It was a poor pen and Aguerro is pretty lethal from 11 meters. Clash of styles it was indeed. How many times have we seen Arsenal playing such contrasted games at the home of football?!?!!

  • Kev–
    One would think it should not be the motivation?
    But CR7 did the hat-trick yesterday. No. 10 wanted to keep pace– perhaps?

    Watching now, I’m about 25 minutes in– having seen both goals.
    Iceland with much more energy with/without possession.


  • Totally agree Total, not impressed at all with the retrograde decision of the Premier League regarding VAR next season. Those ex-pros, like the Nevilles, who constantly knock VAR, are complete fools, VAR is the only way forward in football, notice how the play acting and cheating has been at a refreshing minimum in this World Cup.

  • Maybe JW, but surely the No.1 motivation for Messi should be winning the competition and he’s never struck me as an egotist like Ronaldo anyway, in fact I’d hazard a guess that it’s more the spectre of Maradona weighing on his shoulders rather than CR7…

  • Did just see Messi’s PEN miss. Half-hearted attempt.
    (Does seem though that Messi (79/103) and Aguero (39/48) have similar conversion rates.)
    What was questionable? Was Argentina continuing to take long corners into a forest of white jerseys. Ten corners. Multiple FKs. No imagination.


  • Great game between Peru and Denmark. Denmark lucky to finish winners as Peru just missed killer-instinct to finish one or more of their more than decent chances.

  • Total, did I imagine it, but I’m sure that none of the Danish or Peruvian players shook hands at the end of their game, both groups of players remained separate at the final whistle.

    I didn’t sense any animosity during the game so it seemed strange.

  • Kev–
    From an historic standpoint I can surely see that.
    Hard to say it’s ‘either/or’ — but that might carry more weight in Messi’s psyche.
    And, yes, you’re right. I too, think of Messi as far less self-centered than Ronaldo.

    To add though– while Messi’s had another fine season in La Liga (and nothing is better than winning!)? CR7 shined in carrying Real through the CL this year– and now the hottest start– on the biggest stage.

    With this one likely Ronaldo’s last WC?
    Likely Messi’s last– as the focal point for Argentina?
    Plenty of weight– from plenty of sources– for sure.


  • Yeah JW, it’s not impossible but highly unlikely that we’ll see Ronaldo strutting his stuff in the Middle East at 37.
    Just watching Nigeria, unlucky so far, but Croatia always punch above their weight.
    Iwobi has hardly touched the ball…

    The Nigerian goalkeeper, only 19, seems decent, no chance with the OG…

  • Kev–
    A team with Rakitic and Modric patrolling MF will be tough to outplay.
    The OG a bang-bang deflection. The PEN from a textbook NFL tackle. 😉

    Wishing Iwobi had shown us more today.


  • To be honest, it was a disappointing display by the Nigerians, even if I held very little hope for this lot. There appears to be a disconnect in the side between trying to play to instruction and playing with the swagger Nigerian soccer is known for; there’s also a problem with the speed of transition from midfield into attack. I thought Iwobi and Moses were more concerned about their defending than with causing problems for the Croatian defenders.

    Moses, Mikel and Iwobi will be looking at their output today, with a view to improving in the next game; and that isn’t going to be a cake walk, seeing how physical and incisive the Iceland team are.

  • Eris–
    Just an FYI? I’d read after posting an hour or so ago– that Iwobi had sustained a slight injury in training in the last couple of days. Don’t mean to make excuses– but he did not look right.

    Thought I’d read ‘groin injury’ but now can’t re-locate the news snippet.


  • You’re correct, there, jw1. Just read that too in the Manager’s pre-game presser. He did say he passed a test but we know how these things are; he is such an important player and just had to start, perhaps, or why risk further damage? Iwobi has a great weight on his shoulders, family, club and fans.

    I think if the manager tweaks with the team a bit in the next game, we may look different; Iwobi should be allowed to play the No. 10 role, not Mikel. I guess the problem is with dropping the skipper. If his legs can’t seem to do it anymore, he should sit out the next game, maybe.

  • Eris–
    I realize his status, but thought same per Mikel.
    Even at Arsenal, Iwobi is a far different player in the 10 role– than any other spot.


  • That one hasn’t been going too well for me, compared to the global Leaderboard. Some chap there is a mystic man. I just went ahead to predict all the 1st round games and will stand by them.

  • Eris–
    That’s what I did as well– picking all the 1st-rd matches at once.
    Don’t generally go in for predicting tourneys– but TA, then Shard, got to my competitive side.


  • Haha, glad I got to you Jw.. I am picking day by day. Not sure why really because it’s not like I gain any special insight. But for now, that’s how it goes.

    Man I was sure Peru would win. They were the better team, and missed a penalty and lost.

    I almost went for a draw for Argentina but thought Messi would get them the winner. He missed a penalty. Football is a cruel game sometimes.

    Though Argentina didn’t deserve to win. For all their attacking prowess, they were easily blunted by the Iceland team’s defensive focus. You could always count on them to concede one, but it was brilliant how they came back to score immediately and even created the better chances.

    Iwobi carrying an injury explains why he was subbed off instead of Moses who was only falling over at the slightest pretext. Embarrassing if I’m honest. Nigeria have some great ability. They seem too inexperienced though. Like they just hope something will happen rather than knowing what to do to make it happen and be consistent. Except Moses the consistently diving so and so. (Sorry but it was annoying) They got unlucky with the first goal too. But seeing as how it went, I think Nigeria could beat Argentina. So they still have a chance in the group.

  • Kev, sorry mate, switched TV off at the whistle so cannot help you. But that was a good game of football to watch and Peru deserved at least a point.

  • Iwobi did have a disappointing game but he wasn’t given the ball much, was he? It went mostly through the right side of the pitch where Moses fell over more than anything else. Mikel should indeed sit deeper or get rested and AI should play in the hole.

    Eris, love your analysis of the team being caught between discipline and swagger – more swagger is now required and next game is a must win.

  • Kev, TA–
    Rewound the ending of DEN 1-0 PER.
    Schmeichel had gestured emphatically for the outfield players to huddle just after the whistle– not as a slight to Peru it seemed, but as a fashion to focus his troops– to have them celebrate not so much the win, but the effort that delivered it.
    How a leader– leads.
    By the time he finished turning all that energy inward– to capture it for the next contest? The teams had begun their processions past the referees. Did see a couple of the players acknowledge one another, and another I think– removed a jersey. Didn’t see an exchange as the camera panned away.

    Whatever one might think of Kasper Schmeichel as a keeper?
    I’d take him in goal at Arsenal this minute– for his ability to inspire.


  • Shard–
    Had the DEN-PER match as a draw– and yeah, it ought to have been too.

    As to Moses tendency to go down? I recall the first time he lined up against Kolasinac. Wanted nothing to do with his physicality. Seems to happen anytime he ventures the slightest bit centrally from the flank.

    Speaking of the Super Eagles? The overnight press I’d read out of both Nigeria and even the fan club’s Moscow travelling contingent was hyper-critical of Rohr and the 4-2-3-1 formation. That a 5-3-2 had been expected– even stated to the press in advance.


  • Seeing where Joel Campbell lost his starting spot for CRC.
    Did not see that coming. While he didn’t look sharp in the ENG friendly? Ten days ago, Belgium made Costa Rica look poor without him anyway.

    Always felt he and Brian Ruiz had chemistry on-pitch. Neither a great player– but made the other better.

    And it looks like they could use Campbell in a tilt like this one today. Lot of action between the boxes– no clinical capacity in front of goal.


  • Costa Rica vs Serbia started promisingly, I thought that we might have a few goals to enjoy, but the finishing is most certainly Hackney Marshes level whilst the defending in the box is definitely WWE.
    Usual inconsistent refereeing – excellent free kick by Kolorov

  • Kolarov with a stunner from distance on a FK.
    SER 1-0 CSC.
    Maybe Campbell on at the hour?


  • Some reason Matic wasn’t carded for his assault on the opposing coach off-pitch?
    This head ref should be sending his resume to the FA for consideration next season.


  • Lol, jw1. To be honest, seen a few wrong calls at this World Cup, to wonder about the inconsistency. Nothing close to England standards, though.

    Not too surprised Mexico beat the Germans; thought it could be a draw and that’s only because of the pedestal on which we place them. Mexico are a tidy team with nippy players. They can embarrass any team on their day. Brazil, who have never dropped a point in their first game since 1970, drew 1-1 vs Switzerland. It doesn’t remove from their superior abilities but was credit to the Swiss for standing up to them. Things start to look a bit more open from the 2nd round of games.

  • Amen, and hallelujah Brother Eris!

    Four things about the Mexico vs Germany that require stating.
    1) Germany looked old and slow with Khedira/Kroos/Hummels/Boateng trying to retreat on Mexico’s counter attacks.
    2) Germany looked just like Arsenal forcing their attack ‘through the middle and on the ground’. A half-time heatmap showed almost ‘zero’ activity by Germany in front of the Mexico goal– calling for a Plan B– and going over the top.
    3) At 58′ Osorio brought off Carlos Vela– and the counter attacking came to a halt. At 60′ Low brought on Marco Reus for Khedira. Should have then also brought on Mario Gomez for Timo Werner.
    4) Instead Low waits until 80′ to bring on Gomez– and Germany starts crossing the ball into areas in front of goal– with a couple of chances to tie. Too late– in adjusting tactics. Some might call it faith. But it reeked of overconfidence. Mismanagement for 80 minutes.

    I’d mentioned a week or so back that Germany did not look as good as they were being projected. Though? I felt they would beat Mexico handily– as El Tri had played poorly throughout the Spring too. And I’d seen many past Mexico teams look like they did– in the run-up to Moscow.

    Mexico deserved to win. But it’s on Low.
    El Tri had only one route to victory– counter attacking– and Low allowed them to for most of the match.


    Was in a Tex-Mex joint during Brasil-Suiza (the Enchiladas Suizas there are quite good). Lotta’ Brasil fans in there watching– drinking, whooping, oooohing/ahhhhhing– til 50 minutes when Switzerland levels. And the place goes quiet through the remainder of the match. No joy to be heard in there. Though you could almost ‘hear the smiles’ of the Mexican waiters/waitresses and kitchen staff as the match played out.


  • jw1

    The Brazil draw put me on top of our little pool, so I am happy with it. 2-2 would have been better 🙂

    The Germans will be better. They should get through their group, though they better be up for the fight. As the tournament progresses, their experience should help them. But I wonder if they have the same hunger as before. Also this Ozil and Gundogan thing might be affecting things a little bit. I said before that Spain losing their coach, and Germany making this a big issue is hurting their chances. I don’t expect Brazil to win the World Cup. Their attack is good but I think they lack a great midfield. Teams are defensively well set up these days. So the midfield creativity is important to break them down. And defensively, like Argentina, they seem suspect though that, unlike Argentina, is not to do with ability.

    I’d love for some of the smaller, less fancied teams, to go through to the knockout rounds. The big names seem to think their names should be enough.

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