Bugger. When Japan were two-up, I dared to dream. It wasn’t to be; the plucky underdog held their own in the first half with a mixture of luck and dogged defending. Collymore, I said dogged not dogging.
Two quickfire goals left us wondering if this was to be the biggest upset of the World Cup but alas no. Three unanswered goals, with the last possessing an admirable quality in its simplicity, settled matters.
Much was made about Senegal being Africa’s last hope that Japan’s progress was glossed over. They qualified from a group featuring three of the world’s top 30 according to FIFA. They deserve credit for their efforts and for once, the tears weren’t marketing driven, but a genuine and tangible token of distress at the manner of their defeat.
In the other game, Brazil bored the pants off everyone and won 2 – 0, putting them on course to being the dullest finalists since a ‘cokeless’ Maradona dragged Argentina kicking and screaming to their demise at Italia ’90. To be honest, this Brazil are damned by the witless Neymar.
A loathesome creature on the pitch, he makes me sad every time Brazil win. The pathetic whining and rolling of faux agony merited a booking yesterday as much as the Mexican player who stamped on his leg. That neither received a caution summed this World Cup up.
Yet when you watch the likes of Will.I.An and the right-back Fagner who, despite sounding like a jaded refugee from Britain’s Got Talent, impressed in Danilo’s absence, and you can’t help but admire their pace and technique.
But Neymar; pfffft. A show pony whose hype isn’t matched by substance. PSG felt he was the answer to their problems yet he is nothing more than a signal of money being useless when you don’t know how to spend it well.
Sokratis – Improving Our Defensive Philosophy
England face an underestimated Colombia tonight, in a game they are good enough to win. And bad enough to lose. The winner awaits Sweden or Switzerland. The latter’s exit gives us a stronger team for the opening weekend; City beware in this new optimistic age.
As pre-season began, Arsenal confirmed the signing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos. It’s the last time his surname features on these pages. Another deal completed but not that of Yacine Aldi, who signed a Lidl bit of a contract with PSG.
So, what have we got? A strong centre-back who has as many admirers as he does detractors. Seasoned observers – OK, the couple of Bundesliga articles I read about him – noted Sokratis is a defender who must Plato his strengths if we are to see the best of him.
That means if he Persaeus in pushing forward and intercepting the ball, he must get his Timon right. Mistakes in those moments leave forwards Onasander with a free run at goal.
Some claim he has the turning circle of a Hippo in those circumstances, which begs the question of whether he can catch them and grab them by the shirt or by the Callicles. He’s a big unit and confess I haven’t seen his aerial ability. At 6’1, he doesn’t seem to have the Hicetas to necessarily deal with a bombardment which could Hermias at set-pieces.
At the moment, we’ve got a number of players with question marks over them. Will Unai Emery improve Mustafi or is he Stilpo? If he is, a swift kick in the Metrocles may focus his mind wonderfully. If nothing else, maybe his tackling will be the Cleanthes in the league.
Still, the girls think he’s Gorgias which means he’s going to become a Favorinus of the social media set.
And that, my friends, is my defensive philosophers.