I don’t know about you but I have been enjoying the WC games until now. Expectations were low and, as Seventeenho keeps telling us, that is the key to happiness! 🙂 Expect it to be rubbish and low and behold it may turn out quite good.
The highlights until now were Spain v Portugal and Peru v Denmark. Unfortunately, no Gunners were involved in those games. But I also enjoyed the epic battles between the supreme attack-minded teams and those that need to survive on mean defending and counter football/set-pieces (PtB teams).
The Iberian derby finished 3-3 and had everything you’d wished for; if the final is of a similar quality the tournament will finish on a high. There were two teams who wanted to attack and win the game, and that usually is the prerequisite for an open and entertaining encounter. Ronaldo was on a mission, and his late equaliser from a sumptuous free-kick completed an incredible one-man-show hattrick. Whether you like him or not, we have to say that CR had a phenomenal performance, based on talent, personality and determination. The bigger Iberian nation were the better team and they will be kicking themselves for not taking all three points. With a surprise win for Iran and Morocco capable of getting something from their games against their northern ‘neighbours’, there is every chance for a surprise outcome in this group.
France got a late winner against a well-drilled Aussie team with an assist for Giroud (late substitute) and are the only ‘favourites’ team to start with three points in the bag. Peru v Denmark was a gem of a match. This game was fast and full of energy, but the ball was also played on the ground with some very good passing combinations on show by both teams throughout the entire game. I enjoyed this game from start to finish and the South Americans really deserved at least a point fromit.
Argentina v Iceland was a typical attack v PtB game, reminiscent of many an Arsenal game over the years. The team of Sons were very well organised and determined to keep Messi and co out with a couple of almost insurmountable icebergs in front of goal, and they succeeded. For such a small nation – for every Icelander there are 148 Argentinians! – this is of course a phenomenal outcome; and it leaves the South-Americans in a precarious situation as Croatia and Nigeria will be no pushovers either. The Balkan nation beat a seemingly unfocused Nigerian team as they were caught, according to our esteemed fellow blogger GoonerEris, between (German) tactics and natural swagger. Iwobi, possibly carrying an injury, was disappointing on the left wing, even though he did not see much of the ball as most of the attacks went through the disappointing, wimpy Moses on the right.
The Nigerians will take on Iceland next and will need a win, and Argentina will need to get something from their game with Croatia and then play the Super Eagles in the final game. The Western-Africans beat Argentina in a friendly not that long ago, so there will be belief that they can come out victoriously in what is likely to be a must-win game for both nations. All to play for it in Group D.
In Group E, Serbia, like their well-loved Balkan neighbours Croatia, got themselves an efficient win against Costa Rica; and then Brazil were held by a highly efficient, park-the-Alps, Swiss team. It looks like this WC will be all about the battles between the attack-minded teams v the defence-minded teams, and the latter are a lot stronger now then they have ever been with always a chance to score a goal from well-drilled set-pieces and laser-sharp counterattacks. Brazil were unlucky not to take all three points from the game, with some good chances at the end to score the winner. Next up are Costa Rica and that is of course a must win game for the Samba boys. Arsenal’s Lichtsteiner and Xhaka, who both had very tidy games in which they worked their socks off, will need a win against Serbia. For this they will have to be a bit more adventurous, which may not come natural to them.
The final game on Sunday saw the Germans losing to Mexico: the biggest surprise until now!
The Mexican scored in the first half with a text-book counterattack of which we will see no better example this whole WC, I reckon. The Mexican waving walls were too much for the insipid Germans, who just could not get round or through them whatever they tried. The Germans have it all to do too, as both Sweden and South Korea will also be hard to break down with some attacking weapons at their disposal to hurt the current WC champions.
Mesut did okay to get the attack going and make himself constantly available, but the movement in front of him was poor and for most of the game there wasn’t a Giroud-like target man to make some space in the box and combine with. Despite playing ‘proper wingers’ in Draxler and Reus, the Germans were unable to get past the defence from the wings as the defensively impressive Mexicans just did not allow them any space for combinations or through-balls. Germany will have to up their game considerably if they want to survive this (now all of a sudden) very hard group for them.
Xhaka was probably the most impressive Gunner on display in the games played until now. Against Serbia he will need a top performance to help guide his team to a vital victory.