Knock three times, crooned Tony Orlando and Dawn. Just don’t do it when David Ospina is around, he’ll fall down injured.
Colombia deservedly won and Dave kept a clean sheet. They are back in contention for the knockout phase with a make-or-break meeting with Senegal later this week. Whether Colombia looked good because Poland were so abject is the question.
Game of the day was England. Look, I know it was Panama but you can only beat the opposition in front of you. It was a throwback performance, to the days when we used to go to Izmir and beat Turkey 8 – 0 or when Supermac grabbed five against Cyprus. Or Luxembourg came to Wembley.
In general, the days when we handed out a good gubbing to teams and when we didn’t, there were three days of navel gazing until the Saturday games were upon us. This was one of those days, and very pleasant it was too. In a typically football way, the second half saw England score just once; foot off the gas, etc.
Refreshingly, both of Stones goals showed signs that there was actual training and planning going into the training sessions. It’s the sort of thing which keeps supporters happy; a brief glimpse into the life of a professional and grateful that there isn’t a louche attitude to training: “I do not think today that we will practice corners. The sky is not blue enough.”
Or, to put it another way, the way we thought training under Arsène happened.
Anyway, it added a bit of pep, zip and whatever else to England’s World Cup, to make things go with a zing. At least until Belgium beat us later this week but give us a brief moment to dream; it’s usually turned into a nightmare by now.
We’re Getting the Banned Back Together
The genuinely refreshing aspect of the performance came from the referee. After warnings, he punished the Wrestlemania attitude to defending which is the hallmark of these finals. Or the pockmark, if you like.
Not only once, but twice he penalised them. Once for a foul on Lingard which rubbed salted into Swedish wounds. In a way, this ought to be a watershed moment for the finals. If the holding continues, officiating next season would be more shambolic than usual. It needs to be nipped in the bud now because it was an issue last season anyway.
On the Arsenal front – and in a World Cup-related moment – Stephan of Liechtenstein is the latest Swiss player to be charged for his goal celebrations. If the mooted two-game ban is handed out, he and Xhaka will be back in good time for the pre-season training.
Will Arsenal obey the FIFA edict about giving the players a month off? No-one else did, but Arsène certainly did. He was probably miffed that others came back sooner and wondered how other clubs managed it. PEDs, he may have thought.
More ‘information’ leaked about the pursuit of Ever Banega. According to the Mirror, Unai Emery made “a personal call” to the player and “dropped a line”. It’s one hell of an inducement to sign for Arsenal. Risky, though; they have drug testing at the World Cup finals.
The curious claim is Lucas Perez will get a second/third/another chance under Unai Emery. If there was even a shred of truth in that, I would be amazed, particularly given the poor press he received as Deportivo slumped to another relegation.
His was a buy which was as baffling as Park Chu-young in many respects. Certainly, for a club with limited funds, we squandered a lot of them.