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JayFlo
07-06-18, 10:56 PM
https://s26.postimg.cc/llvh8nv21/image.png (https://postimages.org/)

The World Cup 2018 according to JayFlo

My earliest World Cup memory was sitting on the stairs trying to get an angle of the TV. The final started, or at least hasn’t finished, before bed time. It was France vs. Brazil 1998 and I was 4 years old.

World Cups - and Euros - are hinge points that I can use to recall exactly what stage of my life I was at and what I was up to. I can’t recall England’s participation in ‘98, the first World Cup of my living memory, but come 2002 I remembered it all.

The school opened early and the hall was packed for the second half of England vs. Brazil. I’d watched the first half at home and for half an hour Michael Owen was my hero. Up until that point all my football heroes were Saints players. Unfortunately Owen’s reign only lasted a short while. The player who remains one of my all time favourites, Ronaldinho, thoroughly embarrassed a perfectly good goalkeeper in David Seaman and that was my World Cup over. I distinctly remember being out on the street playing football myself when Brazil beat Germany in the final. At that age I just didn't care once England were out. That changed as I grew older.


https://s26.postimg.cc/ru30xeebd/image.png (https://postimages.org/)
(I spent the entire summer with that haircut
- thanks mum)

I watched England’s World Cup exit in 2006 in Debenhams, sat on a display sofa watching a display TV for the entire game. I should’ve been with my dad for the 2010 Final, Spain being our second nation, but, like 2008 & 2012 in the Euros, I was on a campsite in Swanage. What should’ve been up there as one of my best ever footballing memories, celebrating a World Cup win with my dad, was instead experienced vicariously via text message.

The most defining World Cup for me, however, was 2014. My then girlfriend now wife nearly left me. Awful timing for it, you’d presume. It was because of the World Cup we nearly broke up, though. Until then she didn’t quite realise how important football was to me. “Why do you want to watch Ivory Coast vs Japan at 2am?” she asked with pure indignation, “why does it even matter; you’ll be asleep?” I matched with equal fury. It was at that point it became clear to her that I wasn’t just a hobbyist when it came to football, it was all but absolutely everything to me. Since then she has shown genuine interest in my interest in football. It is genuine, but I also know the day I die she'll stop being interested.

“Are you looking forward to the World Cup?” i asked my colleague yesterday.

He’s 53, has one son who is 9, and is an Arsenal fan who reads the Guardian and is still passionately upset with Brexit. All of these things are important to his enjoyment of the World Cup.

“I’m struggling to feel patriotic. My interest in England rises and wanes depending on how patriotic I feel. In the 90s I went to every Euro 96 game of England’s, to all the Wembley games. The England football team was cool then,” a concept I struggle to see the importance of, “but when we lost to Iceland I didn’t care. The Brexit vote had just happened and I felt we had hurt ourselves and done something really stupid, so I didn’t care when we lost.” He feels similarly about Russia: “I don’t think we should be going. We're going, cap-in-hand, to a country that attacked us in Salisbury just months ago."

I don't think he'd have stuck to that conviction if England won Euro 2016 and I'm certain he won't come the end of July if the Three Lions roar in Russia. If England won Euro 2016, we might all be feeling a lot better about Brexit, too. Triumph in the football could have framed Brexit in such a way that it may have gone on to be a moderate success rather than the whirlwind of toxicity and polemic that we have now.


https://s26.postimg.cc/56nrqtymx/image.png (https://postimages.org/)
(Joe Cole. Sweden. Phwoar. Fairly convinced that Zlatan
spent years waiting to take revenge and did so to Joe Hart's embarrassment)

"I'll enjoy it being on TV 24 hours a day; I'll enjoy watching it with my son; I'll enjoy coming into work and discussing it all with you. I adore that," the same colleague said.

[I]Adore. He adores it. I found it succinct and brimming with clarity. I adore it. I adore everything about it: the spectacle; the stories; the romantic notion than the World Cup is emblematic of the very essence of football - you can shove your consumable, fast food football Champions League up your Arsene Wenger - the World Cup is the true pinnacle of football.

I will enjoy the World Cup, without a doubt, and I'll be keeping a blog on it here. I'll write different pieces, many of which will be match reviews, but I'll aim to encapsulate the moments that make the World Cup one of the frameworks of life itself.

drkshadow1
07-06-18, 11:02 PM
Lovely little blog man raised plenty of memories and feels

JayFlo
07-06-18, 11:04 PM
Lovely little blog man raised plenty of memories and feels

Thanks. Hoping the blog has a Ghana 2010 feel to it!

trunky
07-06-18, 11:09 PM
Is "lovely little blog man" an insult?


Good read that. Can we add our thoughts/ memories/ stupid stories?

Redknapp69
08-06-18, 12:05 AM
Really enjoyed that Jayflo :clap:

I get what your colleague means though - there are a LOT of England footie fans that have fallen out with the national team and it doesn't have everything to do with then not being "successful"

JayFlo
08-06-18, 01:21 AM
Is "lovely little blog man" an insult?


Good read that. Can we add our thoughts/ memories/ stupid stories?

100% Would really enjoy hearing them :)

CMCZ
08-06-18, 07:43 AM
Great story JayFlo. :ok: Must be tough being an England fan.

Mark
08-06-18, 12:13 PM
I understand that too. The way modern football is nowadays, there are a lot of people falling out of love with the game. Most notably people in their 40s/50s, my dad included and I kind of sympathise with him having grown up in the blood and guts and thunder of English football in the early 90s.

My earliest World Cup memory is actually 1994 as I can remember all the memorabilia for USA but as England weren't there, I don't remember anything about the tournament itself. Euro 96 is where it all kicked off for me, with the little figurines that you could collect of the players. John Salako :lol:

98 is still clear in my head though, especially with Owen and Beckham announcing themselves.

I'm completely with you about the last World Cup. I stayed up for nearly every game and can remember that Ivory Coast match :lol: It was the first time the GF got to realise how I would watch (and gamble!) on every game that took place though I wouldn't go as far as to say we'd nearly split up over it. It's just what happens when the tournaments come around every two years. She knows it's coming :)

Redknapp69
08-06-18, 01:05 PM
Conversley, I've never been fully fledged watching Wales over the years as we've always had a couple of decent players (usually strikers) but they didn't turn up (Giggs), got injured, didn't get picked or sad some god awful manager tactics as well

But Coleman brought a proper "Stronger Together" with the whole country and team pulling together. The lead up and then qualifying and the run in the Euro's to the Semi Final was immense. That was the first tournament we have been to for about FIFTY years (I know if was joke qualification where 3 teams went through but hey ho!)

There is still that mentality but some people are not sure on Giggs as manager (how can he be that motivational about his country when eh couldn't be fooked to turn up)

drkshadow1
08-06-18, 02:00 PM
Really enjoyed that Jayflo :clap:

I get what your colleague means though - there are a LOT of England footie fans that have fallen out with the national team and it doesn't have everything to do with then not being "successful"

I was won of them too many abject performances and swagger like they owned the pitch. I just lost the love for England this team has started to change those views now.

Redknapp69
08-06-18, 03:11 PM
I like Southgate - speak well an making some decent decisions

The atmos at Leeds last night was AMAZING - get away from Wembley and play around the country :ok:

evesham
08-06-18, 03:15 PM
nice memories Jay, have you got the wife's permission to write the blog?? we don't want a divorce :P

JayFlo
11-06-18, 02:23 PM
The Ritual


https://s26.postimg.cc/v6ll29sah/PRO_EVOLUTION_SOCCER_2018_20180609114234.jpg (https://postimages.org/)

Every time a World Cup comes around and the squads are announced, I will faithfully recreate the competition and line ups on my football simulation game of choice - PES.

Now, I can't say I was enthralled with the team Southgate has chosen but I was happy with the majority of the squad. The goalkeepers are my main concern, but I appreciate the pool is limited and the position of goalkeeper probably divides opinion more than most. I simply don't rate Pickford. There, I said it. I know I am not alone, but it seems unpopular to state it. He doesn't command his box, despite shouting almost constantly and looking angrier than a man who just saw his wife leave for a man who not only prefers rugby but the football team he does support is the rival of said husbands. He's not great at diving, either, which is essential for a goalkeeper, is it not? He has an incredibly baffling style of jumping directly upwards and then throwing his body into a horizontal plane without actually making much ground to either side. Apparently he's a consummate goalkeeper because of his distribution, but I would even disagree with that. He looks the part when it comes to kicking the ball. Remember roughly 10 years ago when it became the latest trend for goalkeepers to kick the ball from their hands in a European manner? That is, for me, what Pickford's distribution style is admired for: not the quality, but for the aesthetics; he raises his hips, gets his leg to an acute angle to his torso and kicks the ball from the side rather than underneath.

I've always been completely indifferent about Butland; he's not error prone and he plays behind leaky defences so he is kept busy and thus makes a high amount of saves. Pope is the one I was happy about, but he was never going to start, was he? He doesn't have the reputation. I wouldn't have taken Hart - of course not - but I think Alex McCarthy deserved one of the three spots and considering England's goalkeeping coach is also Southampton's - Dave Watson - I thought he may have been in with a shout.

Outfield, I think our choices were always fairly limited. I'm not overly sold on Ashley Young as a left wing-back and whilst I understand he may have got the not because he's able to play in numerous positions, are we really going to use him further forward when we have numerous players able to play on the wing or in that #10 area of the pitch? Danny Rose should rightly - in the context of the squad - start at left back, but even his inclusion didn't sit well considering his limited amount of starts this season. His interview on depression last week was welcomingly open and honest and I am pleased he has salvation in the national squad. Ryan Bertrand deserved a spot on talent and performance but can also not complain at being left out thanks to his habit of pulling out of friendlies with injuries.

In midfield it is painfully obvious we lack an anchorman, a holding midfielder, a lump who can play a bit. Eric Dier looks likely to play in that position and I can't say I'm particularly encouraged by that. Hopefully our style of play means possession on the ball and pace off of it, means we won't rely on a player able to shield the defence too much, but should we do so we'll be left with a defender playing in midfield because he isn't good enough at defending, and has limited passing to boot. If we need to dig in, sit on the counter and require a player to sweep behind the midfield, I'd much rather Southgate opts for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who I think is a very promising player and looked very clever in possession against Costa Rica. Had I been choosing the team myself, I would've genuinely considered Tom Huddlestone. Yes, really. I know he plays in the Championship but big nations such as Spain and Germany have taken second tier players to major tournaments in recent years and both of those countries have a higher percentage of their top flight composed of domestic players, too. I also would've taken Lallana.

I'm happy enough with our striking options and I am delighted Solanke didn't get a seat on the plane. That would've been criminal.

So, having fully assessed the options Southgate chose for me, I opted for the following XI:


https://s26.postimg.cc/t21816ydl/PRO_EVOLUTION_SOCCER_2018_20180609114954.jpg (https://postimages.org/)

Goalkeeper: Butland - I couldn't stomach picking Pickford.

Centre Backs: Cahill, Stones, Jones- I think that three provides all that is needed but understand Walker will likely take the place of Jones

Wing Backs: Walker and Rose - take your Ashley Young and leave him gaffer taped to the bench so he can't run the ball into the final third, pretend he has a right foot, and go down the left anyway.

Midfield: Loftus-Cheek, Henderson, Sterling - I like Lingard these days, having disliked him for the past two seasons before this one, but still prefer him off the bench. I despise Alli.

Attack: Kane & Vardy - don't think it even needs justifying, but would be equally happy for Kane to be partnered by Rashford or even Welbeck - though all three offer something different to the partnership and aren't like-for-like.

With that lot, I set off on my World Cup voyage.

First up, for me at least, was Belgium. bigged up Belgium before it was cool - about 8 years ago - and unlike some pundits I have seen, I still think they could do well. 'Their golden generation' is over, I read in one World Cup preview. Imagine having Courtois, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Kompany, Witsel, De Bruyne, Mertens, Hazard and Lukaku when your golden generation is over. We had the likes of the following in our first post-golden generation World Cup squad: a 39-year old David James, Michael Dawson, Warnock, Upson, Wright-Phillips, and Emile Heskey. What I'd give for Belgium's.


https://s26.postimg.cc/y0oqfqhm1/PRO_EVOLUTION_SOCCER_2018_20180609122621.jpg (https://postimages.org/)
(Henderson with an absolute tinger against Panama)

Even with my effervescent praise for Belgium, my in-game score of a 1-0 win thanks to Harry Kane, is something I feel like we could replicate. I think we will do well early on, a nostalgic nod to tradition with a group stage stumble, and then worked out by the quarter-finals or purely outclassed. My Lions were then outroared by Tunisia, as we failed to turn a 1-0 deficit around and lost. It left us needing at least a draw against Panama. They levelled things to 1-1 after we took the lead, but it was only a moment of World Cup delight for the plucky team as we went on to win 4-1. Kane finished the group stages with 4 goals.


https://s26.postimg.cc/hcx8d7cjt/PRO_EVOLUTION_SOCCER_2018_20180609123842.jpg (https://postimages.org/)

Into the next round and we faced Japan. Both Kane and Vardy grabbed braces as we dispatched them with relative ease. Could this be the end of decades long hurt? Drawn against Mexico next it quite possibly was. (In real life I expect us to be drawn against Brazil or Germany in the quarter finals, where I imagine we will actually play really well and exit to a one-goal margin and start to immediately get excited about 2020.)


https://s26.postimg.cc/k70dqnmft/PRO_EVOLUTION_SOCCER_2018_20180609125513.jpg (https://postimages.org/)

We turned over Mexico, Kane again scoring for fun, and a pleasant surprise was to be found in Denmark, who had made the final four. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the England hero in that game as we earned our place in the final against France.


https://s26.postimg.cc/q7y2nqgrt/PRO_EVOLUTION_SOCCER_2018_20180609124800.jpg (https://postimages.org/)
(Could Kane be the hero in the final?)

In typical England fashion, we lost as soon as we came up against opposition of any prowess - it was perhaps just luck that we didn't encounter a team of calibre until the final. Kane even missed a sitter at 0-0 from 3 yards out, heading straight into Lloris's hands, presumably mistaking him for his club teammate and not an international rival in a World Cup Final. Japan, Mexico and Denmark were never really a challenge and if we were dumped out by any of those three at the knockout stage in real life over the next month, I am fairly certain the English public would be utterly dismayed.


https://s26.postimg.cc/lytcllvix/PRO_EVOLUTION_SOCCER_2018_20180609134938.jpg (https://postimages.org/)

Then again, it seems not many people actually care this time round. At least not until Monday night..............................

Redknapp69
11-06-18, 09:33 PM
Some solid Saints bias there :lol:

McCarthy and Bertrand and you nearly got relegated?!

I like McCarthy though and I agree on the keepers - like a bag of revels

I am FULLY behind you on Pickford. The guy has small hands - end of!

No great option for LB but Roseíll get it

Shedloads if options at RB!

Hendo isnít a DM but gets far too much stick. When he doesnít play for us the ball is soooooo slow if Gini or Can are trying to start things off

I like Vardy but he HAS to play through middle. None of this wide shit

But Rash and Sterling will play with Kane


Donít agree on Lallana - been injured all season and when he has played has done feck all - if fit heíd deffo be in the team though

Solanke?! Not sure why you mentioned him as was never a contender for a squad place was he?!

Youíll get to quarters then itís luck of the draw

JayFlo
11-06-18, 10:22 PM
Think Lallana offers something different to anyone else in the team and was England's best player prior to his injury. I don't know how close to contender he was but he kept getting England call ups and that scared me enough!

Quarters will be where we end, I reckon.

Agree on Vardy.

Although McCarthy and Bertrand were part of a defence that nearly got relegated, they were both ten times better than the other dross we had to put up with all season from the other backline players. Bednarek was a welcome inclusion once Sparky came in and many Saints fans laughed hard when United were rumoured to be interested in Cedric Soares. If he has a good World Cup I hope someone bids and we sell, because he's tripe for us. Can't see Portugal getting far though. Wouldn't be much of an upset for them to go in first knockout round and I wouldn't be surprised if Morocco pipped them to second in their group either.

Redknapp69
11-06-18, 11:25 PM
Soares seems to get constant rave reviews and ratings last couple of years (including this season)?

Agree on Lallana but don't think Southgate can be arsed with players who are not "match fit" (Lallana been injured a lot over the years at pool as well). And given Lallana prob hasn't played under Southgate for ages then he'll go with what he knows (or even from those he had at U21)

JayFlo
11-06-18, 11:55 PM
Soares seems to get constant rave reviews and ratings last couple of years (including this season)?

Agree on Lallana but don't think Southgate can be arsed with players who are not "match fit" (Lallana been injured a lot over the years at pool as well). And given Lallana prob hasn't played under Southgate for ages then he'll go with what he knows (or even from those he had at U21)

I doubt any ST holder at SMS would give him rave reviews. Didn't get a single assist until last couple games of season. Can't cross to save his life.

Redknapp69
12-06-18, 11:28 PM
Should it matter if he's RB? (full backs just get judged on going forward then actually defending these days!)

Also - you ain't really got someone decent in the air that plays regularly to get crosses to?!

JayFlo
13-06-18, 12:11 AM
I had actually typed out his defensive issues too but deleted them because I didn't want to seem to effervescent in my criticisms. Trust me, he's been pony for us this season.

JayFlo
14-06-18, 03:51 PM
The Build Up and Opening Ceremony

I've turned on ITV at 1430 and will be watching every minute through to when the coverage stops in 4 hours. I like the line up in the studio: Mark Pougatch, Slavan Bilic, Ian Wright, Lee Dixon, and Gary Neville. In particular I like Ian Wright and Lee Dixon; I've always liked both of them and Ian Wright's always been honest. It frustrates me when a pundit or journalist is asked a question that they obviously don't know the answer to and instead of being honest and saying they don't know, they waddle through a complicated answer as convoluted as it is nonsensical. Ian Wright just says, "I don't know." Knowing your weaknesses is a strength. Be like Ian. They've gone for Brazil as their favourites but not before Gary Neville answered the question like Theresa May would answer one at Prime Minister's Questions.


https://s26.postimg.cc/hmfhbbit5/image.png (https://postimages.org/)

If I haven't already made it clear here, or elsewhere, my choice is Spain. Lopetegui being sacked hasn't made me reconsider. If it was Southgate sacked on the eve of the tournament I'd feel differently; I feel we need a leader and more so I know Southgate has molded England very much to his style, whereas Spain has a decade long identity that has come in two shapes. Luis Aragones began the spell of dominance and Vincent Del Bosque continued it, but it was in essence the same blueprint with slightly different execution.

I am pleased Jacqui Oakley asked Ryan Giggs if the Champions League has supplanted the World Cup and I am delighted that he thinks not and reckons players would still rather win the World Cup. Maybe modern football hasn't completely lost its soul - yet.

I didn't know Mark Clattenburg was a Geordie.

Eric Dier or Jordan Henderson?

Quite brashly, Gabriel Clarke put that question directly to them. Southgate has supposedly told them it's 'either or,' says Henderson and Dier told Clarke that it would not make a difference to how he prepared for the game. I personally prefer Henderson on an individual level and whilst I'm mentioning my preferences, I thought the performance and team selection was much better versus Costa Rica than it was Nigeria, though I do appreciate the latter are a much better side than the former going into the World Cup.

The Opening Ceremony

It is 1515, 45 minutes before kick-off. The players have jogged onto the pitch for the pre-match warm-up. Have I missed the Opening Ceremony or is it just incredibly short? Oh, here's Robbie Williams being interviewed - he's opening the ceremony. Big fan of that. Hero probably isn't the right word, but Robbie Williams is someone I liked a lot growing up. It's not as bizarre as you may initially think, Robbie Williams playing Russia; he's actually quite big out there and was doing private gigs in Russia as recently as in the past two months. On the contrast, I am drinking my first ever Supermalt. It isn't something I like.


https://s26.postimg.cc/f53q3z6ll/image.png (https://postimages.org/)

The Russia National Team

They're shit apparently. I don't have an opinion. I do look at it and wonder how Yuri Zhirkov is at a World Cup in 2018, though. It does say something that there's more appeal about creating a political subtext to a game than there is the game itself. I imagine newspapers such as The Financial Times have had journalists in the offices over the past week, whose last involvement in football was when they had to play it in PE at school, begging the editor for the chance to write about Russia vs. Saudi Arabia.

Jermaine Jenas was just modelling a teenager's outfit for Jacamo in an advertisement break. What? How? Why?


https://s26.postimg.cc/b8qe7s3jt/image.png (https://postimages.org/)

British or English/Scottish/Welsh/Northern Irish?

One thing I've always enjoyed about World Cups and Euros is, normally, having a fellow British side in it to cheer on (plus Ireland, who I'll support with equal interest as the others). I find it a shame that none of them are in it this year. I really enjoyed cheering on Northern Ireland in 2016. I understand why they might wish us badly every time we are in a competition, but I nonetheless think it is petty in a humorous way. Whilst saying all that, I still and always will describe myself as English, and even Spanish, before I describe myself as British.

ROBBIE WILLIAMS

THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS. Robbie Williams singing all his belters from 1998-2002. Sensational. Massive fan of that. Also, a leopard print suit in red. Love that.

World Cup 2014 vs World Cup 2018

I haven't had a haircut.


https://s15.postimg.cc/ibituwe3f/75_ED2_EFB-_D19_D-467_B-822_A-0174_B6210591.jpg (https://postimages.org/)

OOoooooooohhhhhhh there it is. As the teams walk out Beglin (I think) points out the 'political' side of this game - a game between 'the two biggest producers of crude oil.' Thanks for that.

JayFlo
14-06-18, 07:56 PM
Cherchesov's Game Management Spot On

https://s26.postimg.cc/e1xdx52xl/image.png (https://postimages.org/)

Much was made of Russia's low FIFA World Ranking, that their team was the worst its been for years, that the state of Russian domestic football was at the core of the problem. All of that is highly likely to still be the case. After all, beating Saudi Arabia as the host nation is hardly an unexpected result.

But, despite my opening qualifying statement, I am going to go on to make an impassioned defence of the game, which many are already slating and only lasted a matter of minutes before Jim Beglin had decided to label it a crude oil derby and the Twitterati leapt at the chance of easy jokes about the score being calculated by human rights abuses and oil wealth. I wonder if commentary, punditry and social media will make equal comparisons when England play Belgium with a historical backdrop of violent colonisation of Africa. I'll hazard a guess at no.

Ramadan


https://s26.postimg.cc/inti5n92x/image.png (https://postimages.org/)

It may have been overlooked by some, but it is worth noting from the off that the Saudi Arabia national team have been fasting for the past month. Ramadan actually finishes today. There's no defence in saying 'but they may not have fasted for the past couple of days.' You don't get over a month of fasting in a matter of days,* and there's not a chance in Jahannam (hellfire) that they skipped the past month of fasting. In fact, Ramadan nearly stopped them qualifying in the first place, as it was in full swing last year when Saudi Arabia were qualifying for Russia. It was heavily pointed out, and respected, that Mo Salah was fasting during the end of the domestic season and at the time of the Champions League Final, and I'll even go as far as suggesting, as horrible as the Sergio Ramos tackle was or wasn't, the injury would not have been as severe outside of Ramadan.**

Stanislav Cherchesov

This will be the last qualifying statement I make in this article, probably: I am not overplaying Stanislav Cherchesov's tactics, but. But, he did get his game management spot on. It would not have escaped him that his opposition were coming off the back of Ramadan. Saudi Arabia started the game at a blistering pace, naively. In the first five minutes, part-time Alan Partridge impersonator Glenn Hoddle went as far as saying they moved the ball quickly and had quick feet. And they did. They did for five minutes. And then they fizzled out. Passes went astray at an embarrassing rate, passes that if I misplaced on a Saturday, I'd get stick for endlessly. Saudi Arabia tired quickly and there wasn't even a second half resurgence or noticeable step up immediately following half-time.

Cherchesov managed the second-half perfectly. Both of his first two substitutes changed the game in a positive way. The first was forced in the first half through injury but the choice of replacement wasn't; it was a fantastic choice and Denis Cheryshev went on to score two goals, the second being a beautiful outside of the boot, curving and looping strike. His second substitute, entirely of Cherchesov's own doing, was masterful. Artem Dzyuba, all 6'5 of him (1.96m), came on with twenty minutes left against two tiring and lumbering centre-backs and bullied them. He scored the third with his first touch - a header Hoddle claimed No-Goalkeeper-In-The-World would have saved - and assisted the fourth with a target man's bread and butter lay off for Cheryshev's sumptuous second. Golovin, who got both of the assists in the first half, added a fifth with a goal from a free-kick in the last seconds of the game. Two of Russia's five came in stoppage time.


https://s26.postimg.cc/m7ffvjyyx/image.png (https://postimages.org/)

My Verdict

Saudi Arabia didn't threaten once, for all of their possession, they had no intensity and no purpose with the ball. They were poor and I would not suggest otherwise. Russia beat what was in front of them and did so in a controlled manner. I know nothing of Egypt's abilities, other than they qualified at the final chance thanks to, largely, Salah, but with Russia's last game being Uruguay, who I expect will top their group, they'll be putting much hope on qualifying on beating Egypt. They'll hope Uruguay beat them tomorrow, too.

*I work and study Islam as an occupation
** I grew up playing in a team with many Muslim players. One would almost without fail break a bone during Ramadan

Redknapp69
14-06-18, 08:28 PM
Did Giggs really say that?! :lol:

Maybe if he turned up more often instead of prioritising his club we could have stood a chance of qualifying!

I like Slav
Always like GNev as pundit
Lee Dixon - meh
Wright - loveable, honest but Not the most insightful

Pougatch is a very good broadcaster

Hendo for first 2 games but Dier v Belgium if you want solidity

Football wise Iím not arsed if England do well as long as you donít win it!
England Rugby is VERY different

Great haircut now by the way - my hair has grown over the years but not to such an impressive level!

JayFlo
14-06-18, 08:43 PM
Did Giggs really say that?! :lol:

Maybe if he turned up more often instead of prioritising his club we could have stood a chance of qualifying!

I like Slav
Always like GNev as pundit
Lee Dixon - meh
Wright - loveable, honest but Not the most insightful

Pougatch is a very good broadcaster

Hendo for first 2 games but Dier v Belgium if you want solidity

Football wise I’m not arsed if England do well as long as you don’t win it!
England Rugby is VERY different

Great haircut now by the way - my hair has grown over the years but not to such an impressive level!

Giggs indeed say that. I'm pleased he thinks WC>CL as every normal football fan should believe!

Pugatch and Chapman are the best hosts in my opinion. I rate them both, for the same reason as liking Ian Wright - they don't pretend to be experts and they ask good questions and teach the viewer passively.

evesham
15-06-18, 09:00 AM
part-time Alan Partridge impersonator Glenn Hoddle :D

Mark
15-06-18, 10:17 AM
JaysusFlo!

I like your comments on the build up, etc. I do try to watch but as I need subtitles to follow the dialogue, they always come up late due to it being live.

Interesting comments about Ramadan.

I'm with you about the British sides being there too. I did enjoy following them at the Euros, watching on in Paris at a big-screen at the Eiffel Tower when the Irish played the Italians.

JayFlo
15-06-18, 03:38 PM
The Hindsight Delirium: Uruguay 1-0 Egypt

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"The benefit of hindsight" is an oft-used phrase defined as "the ability to understand an event or situation only after it has happened." I think hindsight can also be irrational.

For the entire game the commentary referenced Salah, the cameramen molested his presence with constant panning, and the Egyptian fans were, understandably, buoyed by his face on the big screen and, apparently, when he warmed up. Commentary stated he graced the touchline but I saw no evidence of this.

Egypt were resilient without ever threatening to score - their first real chance came in the final fifteen minutes when their substitute winger nicknamed 'Electricity' marauded down the left-wing and had the right idea to cut it back across the edge of the box to Warda, just couldn't execute the pass with enough pace to beat the interception. Egypt were what Saudi Arabia would've liked to have been yesterday, but failed in doing.


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Uruguay won at the death after numerous chances throughout both halves: Suarez hit the side-netting and his reputation convinced Pearce and Keown that he'd actually scored to have it disallowed before realising he'd missed the target; Cavani had a sumptuous volley saved emphatically with about fifteen minutes left and had an improvised left-footed volley blocked by gallant defending in the first half. The goal that won it was the kind of towering header that you cannot fail to love: it has that inherent inertia that comes from within as a spectator. A proper centre-back header of a goal.

Did Uruguay deserve to win, though? Well, they didn't deserve to lose and Egypt didn't deserve to win. If a team was going to win it, it was only going to be Uruguay on that performance but they were in large parts lacklustre. I was excited to see their midfield press and play quick dynamic football. They did neither. Egypt picked up the initiative to press when off the ball in all but their final third, and drop and swarm the box quickly when it that final third. I think a draw would've been the fairest result. I have no gripe with a Uruguay win that said.

My gripe is the hindsight delirium. In this case, it was the notion that maybe it wouldn't have happened in Salah came on for the final ten minutes, or earlier perhaps. I completely disregard that. Had Egypt drawn, which I'll reiterate the deserved to, undoubtedly Hector Cuper would've rightly been praised for getting a draw against the group favourites without Salah and in the process allowed his key man an extra four days to work on his sharpness. It would've been good tournament management. It still was in my opinion. Presuming Salah now starts against Russia, he's still benefited from the extra days and Egypt haven't suffered a potentially goal difference shattering defeat.

"[They] should've got Salah on," a friend Whatsapped me, "you knew Uruguay could get that goal and ten minutes wouldn't have hurt him." I gave him my above argument and he retorted that Salah "might have nicked it for Egypt." Obviously Salah is a different class from all of Egypt's attacking players who did feature against Uruguay, but nothing about how Egypt played today suggested they had it in them to switch for the final ten minutes for the benefit of Salah and with ten minutes left in a well-organised shape and defence, I doubt bringing him on would've even crossed Cuper's mind. It, for me, would've made minimal tactical sense.


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I think the case of hindsight's potential irrationality is borne out of an insatiable human appetite to be able to explain everything in a cause and effect framework and an easy, and therefore common way to do so, is locate the absence of something and attribute it to that. In the first half Pearce prophetically pointed out that something like two thirds of the goals Egypt conceded in World Cup qualifying was from crosses into the box and that's how the winner came. Another human behaviour is to spot trends and patterns - even where they don't exist - but it did here and it was Egypt's eventual downfall: not an absence of something but something very predictable.

MIKEBARCELONA
15-06-18, 04:02 PM
good write up and i agree, Uruguay were the only likely winners on the balance of play....BUT how unlucky Egypt were to lose at the death.

Redknapp69
15-06-18, 05:19 PM
Do you not think Salah up top ready for a counter attack in last 10 when Uruguay were throwing the kitchen sink would have been a decent idea then?

Liverpool head on I want him to come back in 1 piece but hopefully help them qualify

But I can understand not bringing him on when you could argue there was no real need when 0-0 after 80+ mins

JayFlo
15-06-18, 06:15 PM
Do you not think Salah up top ready for a counter attack in last 10 when Uruguay were throwing the kitchen sink would have been a decent idea then?

Liverpool head on I want him to come back in 1 piece but hopefully help them qualify

But I can understand not bringing him on when you could argue there was no real need when 0-0 after 80+ mins

And that's the crux of it. I wouldn't have brought him on, no. Like I said, perfect tournament management had they drawn and still will be if they qualify.

Mark
16-06-18, 12:29 PM
He clearly isn't fit, otherwise he'd have started. So no point in risking injury getting worse and ensuring he stays fit for the next one.

Uruguay would have won easily had Suarez not looked a complete flake all game.

JayFlo
19-06-18, 01:00 PM
It was supposed to be so easy.

"I must write this," I told myself as the game whimpered through its final moments, "immediately after the game finishes." I was sat at my work desk, 40 minutes into a ten-hour nightshift and thoroughly dismayed and disappointed in equal measure. I wasn't exactly sold a dream, it wasn't necessarily a case of false advertisement, but I certainly felt justified in my expectations: rightly or wrongly, a win against Tunisia was a must, not just to progress from our group but because we arebetter, I deduced.

I was enjoying the World Cup up until the England game and then for ninety minutes my enjoyment was put on hold. This would've been the case whoever the opposition was and remains so until we are at least two goals up against an inferior team and three up against an equal or better team. I simply don't enjoy watching England in the moment.


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With 90 minutes played, the fourth official held up the board to indicate there would be four minutes added on. "Four?!" I questioned rather loudly in disbelief. I had been very impressed with the standard of officiating during the World Cup so far: VAR was being used in an efficient and enhancing way; dives were given the disdain they deserve; and, most heart-warming for me, added time was being correctly applied. By correctly applied, I mean that, by and large, every game was getting five minutes plus added on. Thirty seconds should be added for substitutes and for goals, plus time that the game is stopped for floor routines and histrionics. So, for a game in which all substitutes were used and there was at least one goal, there should be at least 3.5 minutes before you factor in any time for injuries and the breaks in play they entail.

So, yes, "Four?!" I couldn't believe it. All game Tunisia had kicked us, tussled us to the ground writhed in pseudo-agony on the floor, and generally taken their merry time with everything. Miraculously, they had done all of this without receiving a single yellow card. Harry Kane was quite literally poleaxed to the ground - in the box - at least once, if not twice. Ashley Young was a particular target for physicality. On top of the poor refereeing throughout the entirety of the game - I have no qualms about the penalty being awarded, Walker's positioning and movement was clumsy - the addition of just four minutes compounded my dismay. I laughed at suggestions that the opening game of the World Cup, Russia's 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, was fixed, but I was starting to feel there was something awry with the officiating of this England-Tunisia game.

Fortunately, just like for the opener, Harry Kane found himself unmarked at the back post and on hand to snatch at a chance that had been created out of a Trippier corner and a centre-back's header; first Stones for the opener and then Maguire for the winner. England had, at the death, won it: 2-1, the final score.


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Had we drawn, the remaining nine hours and twenty minutes of my shift would've consisted of me stew on the unjustness of the result, the inability of Young's use of his left foot (or Southgate replacing him with Rose or any other player who can use his left for more than standing on), and the lack of creativity we had shown. Dele Alli, it seemed, remained on the pitch for 50 minutes after he looked finished with a twang of his leg. Were we going to rue not taking Adam Lallana?

Had we drawn, I wanted to write up just how dismayed and disappointed with it all I was. Instead Harry Kane squatted, directed his stance and glance one way, and swivelled his head the other just as the ball made contact to put the ball past Tunisia's substitute goalkeeper. With that goal, the remainder of my shift stopped looking as daunting, I no longer had to wish away the week to Sunday's game with Panama, and getting up at 1230 to watch Japan vs. Colombia, having gone to bed at 0715, remained appealing.

'Super Saturday,' My Dark Horses and Germany Losing

I am loving the World Cup. Only England could, possibly, derail my enjoyment and Harry Kane ensured that did not happen. The weekend was fantastic: seven games in 48 hours and I saw six of with the one I missed being done so out of choice. It was Peru's 1-0 loss to Denmark I didn't see because I had already made plans, forgetting the World Cup was on. It was still football related: my dad, brother and I went and played 18 holes of FootGolf to celebrate Father's Day (a day early) and even then I was in constant Whatsapp communication with the wife who was sending me her unique brand of minute-by-minute reportage: "OMG, Peru just had a great chance, a great cross and some mug fucked it right up,"; "if there were medals for effort Peru would be winners"; "Schmeichel is on fire,"; "Peru are a bit like Southampton, can't finish and are very unlucky,"; and in the final ten minutes, "Denmark are pricks, another yellow, this is embarrassing by Denmark."


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My dad had been to Peru earlier this year and had been in Lima when they had their crucial qualifier that sealed their place at the World Cup, watching it in the town centre with thousands of Peruvians; he understandably has a soft spot for them this World Cup and wore his Peru shirt during FootGolf.

The first two games of Super Saturday I watched with my dad and brother and none of us were impressed by France in their 2-1 victory over Australia and I personally thought it was a bad game, in stark contrast to one of my best friends who thought it was a 'great game.' I think he had some rose-tinted glasses on - ones he has been wearing since he went travelling and spent a large chunk of time down under - and secondly, he is a sucker for seeing any game where a team works hard as a good one, irrelevant of any presence or absence of quality.

Argentina versus Iceland was a game I was very much looking forward to and I knew would bring forth all sorts of opinions and conclusions. Another one of my best friends declared after that it was a 'proper World Cup game,' and I saw comments online of people brazenly questioning what the point of Iceland being at the World Cup was (throwing in other smaller nation, for good measure - not aimed at anyone here). I thought it was a very good game and even decided to tweet a short analysis not of the game but of people's responses to the game:


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Sunday's offering was for me, in wake of the games, better: I enjoyed both the Serbia-Costa Rica and the Mexico-Germany games far more than France-Australia and Croatia-Nigeria. Serbia are my dark horses, or hipster team if you prefer, for the tournament and I loved watching Mexico's counter attacks and stifling of Germany's advances. In contrast, I can't stand Didier Deschamps and found Croatia-Nigeria the most boring game of the tournament so far - and that hasn't changed with the fixtures since.

I'm now sat on the sofa, after sleeping from 0720-1230, awaiting the last two games of the first round of games. I'm tired after the first of four nightshifts, but I am happy; this is, after all, the greatest show on earth.

Mark
19-06-18, 01:25 PM
I like your wife's commentary :lol: Wish my own was interested in football like that :D

Kane saved us all from 6 days of misery, that's for sure!

France game was indeed awful. Technology saved the day for them.

JayFlo
19-06-18, 03:04 PM
I like your wife's commentary :lol: Wish my own was interested in football like that :D

Kane saved us all from 6 days of misery, that's for sure!

France game was indeed awful. Technology saved the day for them.

There were some other real gems:
"Shit freekick [from Eriksen], I could've done better. Commentator said poor freekick poor execution, so I was right."
"Denmark just shoved a man right over; he went flying."
"Shit result. Denmark were shit."

JayFlo
20-06-18, 01:07 PM
All Underdogs Go to Heaven

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The first round of fixtures is over and records have already been broken: Ronaldo's not-record-breaking record of scoring in eight consecutive international tournaments (Asamoah Gyan has scored in 9, including three World Cups); Ronaldo's actual record-breaking hattrick that made him the oldest player to do so at a World Cup; and the longest a tournament has gone on for without a red card - it came in the penultimate match of the first round for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez, whose third minute red card was the second quickest in the tournament's history.

With each game my fascination has genuinely grown. Do I think every World Cup I experience is better than the one before? Maybe. I'm certainly enjoying this one more than 2010 and consider it, so far, on par with 2014, whilst not as good as 2006 yet. One thing that seems clear as of the end of the first round is that this is could be the World Cup of the underdogs; defensive football is winning at the moment - and I am enjoying it.

54% of goals have come from set pieces, there were 6 penalties in the first 16 games - the record stands at 18 - with 48 games left, and no team has come from behind to win. The team that has scored first has gone on to win on 13 out of 16 occasions. With 38 goals across 16 games, this edition is averaging 2.38 goals per game: 2014 averaged 2.67, 2010 - 2.27, 2006 - 2.3, and 2002 - 2.52. The tournaments since the turn of the century only have a variation of 0.4 so it's fairly insignificant, but 2018 is on course to come through straight down the middle. For every hit-and-run victory ala Mexico against Germany, there's a vicious muling like Russia-Saudi Arabia.


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Another aspect I am enjoying are the 'last minute' goals. In all of the first four matches there were goals after the 88th minute - 5 in total. In the remaining 12 matches there was just one more last minute strike; Harry Kane's winner versus Tunisia. Three of the six goals scored after the 88th minute have been match-winners - Kane's, Morocco's own goal to gift Iran the victory, and Gimenez's header for Uruguay against Egypt; one has snatched victory from the opposition - Ronaldo's freekick; and the remaining two were superfluous strikes to take Russia's three-goal lead to five in the tournament opener.

My favourite game of the first round was, ultimately, the 3-3 draw between Spain and Portugal. It very nearly wasn't. As a Spain fan - my father's side are Spanish - I was annoyed at the manner in which the match panned out. If you're marvelling at Ronaldo's hattrick still, stop it; it was a penalty, a freekick and a freebie. I admire Ronaldo for his talent and it made for a great spectacle but it was nothing more. I enjoyed it, but only in hindsight and even then it was after a couple of days, because in the 24 hours following the game I was more concerned with having lost the lead in such a way. For Spain's football, all three of their goals, and Ronaldo's presence and narrative, it was the game of the round for me.


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In contrast, my least favourite game was Croatia's 2-0 win over Nigeria; given to them gift-wrapped, insulated with bubble wrap and as inoffensive and tepid as a Will Smith rap. An own-goal and a needlessly given away penalty was a particularly sadomasochistic way to hand the opposition victory, especially an opposition that showed no initiative to actually go and win the game of their own accord. Croatia will definitely have to work harder for anything in their games against Argentina and Iceland.

A personal highlight of the World Cup so far, is the Moroccan medical team's approach to handling Amrabat's possible concussion in their game against Iran. Visibly groggy, Amrabat was held upright and repeatedly slapped in the face on the touchline. This amateur hour treatment proceeded to play its course a few times before he was eventually substituted. The fact the medical team signalled for the change to be made almost as soon as they got him off the ground made their slap-assessment all the more hilarious. If he wasn't already concussed, he was by the time the physios had attempted to slap it out of him.


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My expectations for who will advance past the group stages have only slightly changed. Having originally expected Uruguay and Egypt to get out of Group A it is now quite obviously going to be Russia and not the North Africans; I thought Colombia and Poland would be 1st and 2nd place in Group H, but now expect Senegal to go through in place of Poland, who looked woeful; and whilst 1 still expect both Argentina and Croatia, and Germany and Mexico, to get to the second round, the order in which 1 expect them to finish could quite easily change from the aforementioned. Those aside, I expect Spain and Portugal, France and Denmark, Brazil and Serbia, and Belgium and England, to go through and in that order.

I'd love for the second and third rounds to be a repeat of the first, for the defensive teams to effectively frustrate the 'big' nations, for the games to be tight and cagey, but I expect it won't. The first round nervousness was twinned with a must-win aura for many of the matches and it made for such a climate. In the second round, necessity will rear its head and complacency will have no place for teams that are expected, by the footballing status quo, to advance. There will be an unexpected upset, surely, but I have no idea who it will be.

Mark
20-06-18, 01:53 PM
If he wasn't already concussed, he was by the time the physios had attempted to slap it out of him. :lol: Must admit that made me chuckle a few times as well, plus their million signals to say that he's to be subbed. I'm fairly sure the manager gathered that pretty much straight away chaps! It also took a long time to get the replacement on the pitch, he'd practically walked round the pitch by the time his brother came on!

I think Argentina will have to pull something special out of the bag in their final two games now. We shall see.

England could well top the group yet if they can outnumber the 3:0 that Belgium managed against Panama. After that, the two teams could play out a draw.

I've a feeling there'll be even more entertainment coming up now as there's more to play for and everyone has got a game under their belts.

drkshadow1
20-06-18, 02:48 PM
I was wondering if any one else had noticed they were saying about subbing before slapping him. It cracked me up

JayFlo
20-06-18, 04:56 PM
It was a glorious World Cup moment I’ll never forget!

JayFlo
25-06-18, 11:00 PM
Football is Dead (Apparently)


A conscious stream of thought hurdles down the left wing, it evades the tackle of cynicism, shimmies left over the incoming boot of nostalgia, leaps over the trailing leg of rose-tinted glasses, and thunders a shot past the delusion of hindsight! What a goal! Football is dead (apparently), long live football!


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If you haven't heard, football is dead. Despite marching on, football is dead.

VAR has killed football. A game that was masquerading as football before VAR has now been banished to the funeral ground of professional sport, despite actually being improved - apparently - much like an alcoholic whose liver is so riddled with cirrhosis it can't actually function without the very thing that's killing it.

"Oh, this isn't football!" scream the very people who slander the game for its dives and tumbles, "football isn't football without the human element," they continue, ignoring they very theatrics that negate football being human rather than a stage play.

Eminem ducked out of a backlash that would precede criticism when he rapped that, "that's not a stab at Micheal, that's just a metaphor, I'm just psycho, I go a little bit crazy sometimes, I get a little bit out of control with my rhymes."

But, "good god, I'll do a little slide," and take that same inordinate winger out; the one hugging the touchline, defending his right to reenact a historical scene involving cannonballs and sabres, whilst screaming hysterically at those who might suggest a replay to ensure that said figurative cannonball did smash his ankle into ten thousand shards instead of leave it to human error: yeah sure, human error - the 4 or 5 staring at a screen might get it wrong, but at least it's had the insurance of going through another 8 or ten eyeballs rather than just the referee's in the moment.


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The last 4 minutes of Group B was truly remarkable. Has there been such drama in top-level football since Manchester City winning the title thanks to Sergio Aguero vs QPR? (I avidly await an example, as I accept fallibility in my footballing knowledge - novel, I know).

Spain had, or had not, scored a last minute equaliser thanks to Iago Aspas' clever back-heel. Iran had - they had - equalised with a penalty. Three of the four teams' advancement all hinged on VAR. Well, no. Let's not lie. It did not hinge on VAR, for VAR is not this insidious puppet in the dark sent from Rugby League to infect our game with logic and reason, rationale and meaning. It hinged on qualified referees re-watching the incident several times from several angles to try and narrow the margin for error. How dare they! How very dare they! Heathens! Peasants! The cheek of them! They might even get it wrong still! How awful! Are the guns ready?! Fire!

The defence that referees are human and make mistakes seemingly dissipates when VAR comes into the equation - VAR that insidious puppet in the dark sent from Rugby League to mock our humble and pure sport, our honest and people's sport.

People are enjoying this World Cup, and from my experience more than ones in recent memory. I won't begin to make the argument for VAR being the main influence of that outcome - the sheer audacity if I did - but I will go as far as saying I imagine it would not be as enjoyable as it is without it. Not because of the direct measurables such as the number of penalties given or dives [not] penalised, but because the outcomes of the games have been fairer. Are you sitting down the pub discussing whether Pablo Futbol was fouled by Peter Smith? Yes, yes you bloody are, because VAR will still make the mistakes you so desperately value when it comes to disregarding VAR, just not as often.


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Like it or not, agree with me or don't, this World Cup is better for VAR. And for those who may wonder if the World Cup is really the stage for such a thing to be trialled; it has been trialled in many leagues across the world already and showcasing it to football's biggest audience in the space of 4 weeks is the kind of shock therapy football needs, especially England and its dinosauric flat back fours kicking Pablo Futbol into the stratosphere whilst five minutes later lambasting Perr Fussball for taking a tumble.

Football is dead (apparently), long live football.

MIKEBARCELONA
25-06-18, 11:13 PM
I think VAR is excellent and has in the main made sure some blatant mistakes have not gone uncorrected.....however you can't totally remove the human aspect, the ref in that Portugal/Iran game showed that when he bottled it and gave Iran a penalty that never in a million years was. He completely bottled a straight forward decision because the Iranian supporters were going crazy and i don't think he fancied ending up with a horses head on his pillow next to him (or whatever the Iranian equivalent might be!

Thank god for VAR or Spain would have lost and a perfect goal and a very clever goal disallowed!

All hail VAR.

dweatherston11
26-06-18, 08:22 AM
Fucking winds me right up the English pundits saying it shouldn't be on trial at a World Cup. It isn't, it was trialled in Serie A, Bundesliga, and many cup competitions.
I like it.

CMCZ
26-06-18, 08:27 AM
[CENTER][FONT=Century Gothic]

Like it or not, agree with me or don't, this World Cup is better for VAR. And for those who may wonder if the World Cup is really the stage for such a thing to be trialled; it has been trialled in many leagues across the world already



True, but a lot of the players at the WC are not experienced with the VAR. They had no time to rethink their strategy. Therefore this WC is dominated with penalties. It's about fouls instead of goals. Iran was the perfect example. They should have started experimenting with this in friendly games, not at the biggest tournament in the world. Altough I do agree in a few years we are all happy VAR is there.

Mark
26-06-18, 09:38 AM
Yeah, all that talk about not trialling it first is BS. It's been in the FA Cup all season :lol:

I appreciate that VAR is not great if it's going against you. But perhaps consider the circumstances that brought VAR into place in the first place and maybe they won't have to complain about it. Ronaldo wasn't happy with being booked and while I did wonder if he threw a punch in there somewhere at the time, VAR proved that he did nothing more than drag the player back in an attempt to get past him. Never a booking in the first place. It's extremely bitter from Carlos Queiroz to say that he should have been sent off. I believe he went on a 10 minute rant about it :rolleyes: Perhaps he's overlooking the fact that his Iran team were very fortunate indeed to get a penalty awarded to them thanks to VAR!

JayFlo
26-06-18, 11:10 AM
Thanks for all the comments guys :)

JayFlo
28-06-18, 06:39 PM
WORLD CUP GROUP STAGES: The Rundown

Excuse the lack of formal formatting - if you’re reading this before I get a chance to do so - for I am writing this from my phone.

The group stages have been wholly enjoyable for me. This is, despite it being the point where - objectively - the quality improves, where my enthusiasm begins to wane. Now some of that may be down to the trend for England to bow out in this of the next round, but much of it is down to the intensity of the competition decreasing in its relentlessness on our TV schedules. On Sunday I found myself completely at a loss at 9pm; the wife had work in the morning so had to get to sleep, and I was wide-eyed having been on nights that week and bored as the football was over for the day. In short, the World Cup has been so all-consuming I’m lost without it. Tomorrow will feel like a Sunday for me; any thank god it’s Friday feeling will be subdued with the pointless verve and camber of a Sunday afternoon, for what is a day during the World Cup without football?

The Best Team So Far:
Given I am writing this before England and Belgium kick off, and safe in the knowledge it is neither Panama or Tunisia, I am wary of choosing a Group G team. Belgium have looked more than capable going forward, and that’s even with an apparently suffocated De Bruyne playing out of position, but still look suspect with that back three; and I’m saying that as a firm supporter of back-threes.

So away from the possibility that Belgium are the best team so far, I’m putting my praise at Croatia’s door. I thought they were lackadaisical in their opener versus Nigeria, but Devon East’s Bridge Society could’ve won that game such was Nigeria’s reluctance to take part, however against Argentina Croatia were ruthless in their press; yes Argentina were the embodiment of disarray, but Croatia still had to put them to the sword and they did so with a haranguing style of every Argentine who dared to ponder. I laughed, sympathetically, when a colleague said Croatia were their dark horses, but the way in which the draw has played out, they may well find themselves in at least the semi-finals without facing a so-called big team.

Most Underwhelming:
France. Utterly diabolical. Yes, they’re unbeaten; yes they won two out of three; but my god were they stagnant. A penalty, a deflection and a deflection as assist, provide their three goals, and for what is one of the most youthful and vibrant attacks in the competition they have looked laboured and stale. I’m by no means writing them off - they could be slow-burners, but in 30 degree heat sat in my garden watching them versus Denmark I genuinely got more pleasure from staring directly at the sun - the smell of my retinas melting sounded like the cries of a thousand Frenchmen pulling the release of their own revolution guillotine.

Worst Team:
No volleyed finish from a centre-back - even a Southampton player - can save Poland from this title. I’ll happily admit I didn’t watch their game today (I watched Colombia vs Nigeria) but I had settled on them already and only a truly remarkable performance could’ve saved them. I’ll trust the stats and reports in supporting my presumption that it did not surface. Another admission is I don’t watch German football, but I’ll equally readily admit I have no opinion on German league players as a result. What I will say is I have never seen Lewandowski deliver on the international stage and this World Cup was no different; I didn’t even see him looking interested. I didn’t hinge all of my expectations of Poland on him; I’d seen many of them before at both international and club level and I expected a resolute and hardworking team that would be hard to break down. That wasn’t the case. I can safely say at no point did I consider another team. I made this decision based in context. You could make an argument for Saudi Arabia being worse, and I’m sure if they faced each other Saudi Arabia would lose, but for me Poland were plop.

The Pleasant Surprise:
Well we were all enjoying Senegal weren’t we? The poor sods - if I recall correctly - weren’t in a losing position until they conceded with 15 minutes of the group stages remaining and that was enough for them to be eliminated. Until then, they’d been exciting to watch and a classic World Cup side in terms of its support, character and vibe.

My pleasant surprise, however, is VAR. And I’ll say no more than that - see my previous post for more detail. I like it and you will in time. If you don’t, that’s also fine.

Highlight:

Unconventional physiotherapy. Yesterday the Korean medic took to his player with punches to the thigh and during the first round Morocco’s went at Amrabat with multiple slaps to the face to treat his...........concussion.

Predictions:
I don’t have a clue. Let’s say Football is Coming Home.

Mark
29-06-18, 12:01 PM
what is a day during the World Cup without football?

Shit :( Luckily the sun is out so I'll be going the pub instead :D

Your comments about France are bang on. The likes of Tunisia and Iran have played better than them.

Lewandowski was indeed extremely disappointing. His team mates may not be on the same level, but he should really be taking the mantle to inspire Poland and he just didn't. At all!

I was gutted for Senegal. They did do well, and I enjoyed seeing Diouf/N'Diaye in action as Stoke players too.

Redknapp69
25-08-18, 09:11 AM
Did the knockout stages not interest you?

Was a nice little thread this :clap: