If Saturday’s World Cup matches set a high bar, Sunday’s were the Fosbury Flop. Without the Fosbury.
ITV tried to big-up Spain’s defeat against Russia, but no-one could. Their three-minute highlight reel was all you needed to see of the game, it was genuinely dull. Not because of Russia’s approach either; the Spaniards were guileless, unadventurous and looked like Arsenal over the past few years. “Possession without reason” is the epitaph on the grave they dug for tiki-taka.
VAR was criticised for not awarding a penalty to Sergio Ramos a penalty until it was shown VAR had done its’ job. The leading dirty trickster from the dirtiest dirty tricks department pulled the defender down as replays later showed and it wasn’t a penalty.
Ramos followed in other’s footsteps by crying crocodile tears to give himself some marketability, but most sane people thought he was just a big girl’s blouse. Which he is. Pathetic.
Spain didn’t deserve to win, not least because they took two poor penalties while Russia, flying high on adrenaline and nothing illicit whatsoever, didn’t. Another Arsenal player making an early return to pre-season training.
Croatia took bad penalties, one of them in extra-time when Luka Modric unleashed his inner Spurs on the match, but Denmark’s were even worse. Their match proved more disappointing than Spain’s defeat to Russia; two goals in the opening five minutes and then nothing much to talk about until Schmeichel saved Modric’s penalty.
The only thing I can remember from the game is inflexion the commentator put on the second syllable of Rebic’s surname: a venomous ‘bitch’, spat out like a man who really resents paying out his divorce settlement.
Fully Professional or Hapless Amateur?
Not quite everything. There was controversy when the ‘double jeopardy’ rule kicked in for Croatia’s late penalty. The defender Jorgensen made a lunging tackle from behind on Rebic. Foul and penalty; no questions or qualms. Red card? Not according to the referee who viewed the matter as a genuine attempt to win the ball.
There needs to be another alternative to that: making an attempt to win the ball but if that fails, then the forward is eating dirt. Or something more florid as the IFAB likes to use language properly. Essentially though, that was the situation.
Jorgensen knew it was a goal unless he took decisive action and did so. With an open goal, there was no way he could allow the striker to score so had to bring him down. It was a professional foul and the referee ‘bottled it’.
The goalkeepers did well when it came to saving penalties in the shootout. Fair play to Modric whose kick arced close enough to Schmeichel to let the Leicester man think he might save it with his feet, before curving back to the centre of the goal.
Unai At A Time, Sweet Jesus
On the Arsenal front, we’re being linked with Cristian Pavon while Jack Wilshere is set to join Fenerbahce today. Apparently. Sokratis is due to be announced this week while Lucas Torreira is pushed back every time Uruguay win.
The first tranche of players return for pre-season training today with an almost unnatural level of interest in Lucas Perez. Even Sports Illustrated carried a piece on him so fair play to his agents in getting his name out there with a tale of determination and hard luck.
Whether that carries any weight with Unai Emery is another matter. How does the dressing room react to his arrival? Will he be greeted as an old friend or do the players look at him and wonder how long it is before he is sold? A mix of both perhaps although I wonder if he made any genuine friendships during his time at Arsenal.
Anyway, I’m sure there will be lots of smiling and hard work in the photos of the day at Colney when they reach dot com. The pre-season is almost upon us.