More World Cup Games But No More Surprises, (Other Than England Winning Of Course)

Posted: June 19, 2018 in Arsenal, Chelsea, Football, International Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, The World Cup, Tottenham Hotspur
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The first game of the day pitted the wits of Sweden and South Korea against each other.

In what was a fairly mundane 90 minutes of football, Sweden deserved to win purely because they appeared to try and win much harder than the Koreans did.

The goal which did the trick was yet another penalty this time scored by Andreas Granqvist, the Swedish captain. The award of the spot-kick was made after VAR had been consulted and, even then, it still wasn’t totally conclusive. Still, it was given and the match ended 1-0 to Sweden.

Next up was Belgium and their much anticipated opening game against Panama. This was expected to be a stroll for Roberto Martinez’s men and, as far as the second half was concerned, it was. But there were times in the first half when a positive result certainly didn’t look guaranteed for the Belgians.

They looked, at times, exactly what they are often accused of being which is a team full of individuals. Kevin De Bruyne was played far too deep to have any marked effect on the game during that first half although he did come out of his shell a little more in the second half and set up Romelu Lukaku’s first goal.

That made it 2-0 because Dries Mertens had already scored a belter earlier on.

Not long afterwards Lukaku got his second and Belgian’s third, (at the same time!), and the match was over. By this time the question of whether Belgium could play as a team was forgotten because a 3-0 wins tends to do that.

However, the question will arise again when they play a better side.

The final game of the day was another much anticipated one between serial losers England and Tunisia who, as far as we know, aren’t serial anythings. This was expected to be a cakewalk for England and, as usual, it wasn’t.

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Gareth Southgate celebrates England’s victory over Tunisia as though they have beaten a decent team and won the World Cup!

In fairness, Alan Shearer did point out that Tunisia are the highest ranked African team in the world, (they are 21st whilst England are 12th), so that, if it all went pear-shaped, he had already prepared his “I told you so”.

Everything started well when Harry Kane scored an early goal after England had started the game on the front foot. They then went back into their shell and, despite having a couple more very good chances, went in at half-time with the scores level thanks to a dubious penalty awarded against Kyle Walker whose biggest crime was actually in getting his positioning all wrong.

The second half was a lacklustre affair with the only moments of note being a couple of nailed on penalties which weren’t awarded to England and weren’t even checked by VAR, totally negating the whole point of the system.

Eventually,Gareth Southgate made a couple of substitutions, bringing on Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and this changed the momentum and the game. Both these players should now start in the next game.

Quite why Raheem Sterling had been picked over Rashford is still a mystery to our simple minds. Sterling is only 75% of the player he has been at City all season and the bit missing is the goals. He has brought the rest in that he still falls over, still loses the ball through being unable to control it and still misses good chances.

Anyway, with the game drawing to a conclusion and the score still 1-1 England won a corner and the ball ended up, via Harry Kane’s head, in the back of the Tunisian net.

So a victory was had. The nation rejoiced and everybody forgot, for a moment or two, that this was Tunisia in the first group game, not Brazil in the final! When this realisation dawned, particularly on BBC’s pundits who were all English, the mood turned to one of defiance and praise for a manager who had come within a few minutes of recording a draw against the Africans!

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The unbiased ex-players, not quite at the stage where they are tipping England to win the World Cup, not just yet anyway.

None of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Alan Shearer or the host Gary Lineker went as far as to say that England would win the World Cup but for that prediction we only have to wait until ITV covers one of their games.

Another win and you can bet your bottom dollar that Ian Wright will see absolutely no reason why they can’t go all the way and win it! Watch this space and see if we’re wrong.

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