World Cup Throwback Thuggery

The gift that keeps giving. There’s a Matryoshka Doll analogy to be made about these World Cup finals but I’ll leave it for now. Last night’s game is the one we’ll remember the longest.

No disrespect to the Aussies who did well (again) in their draw with Denmark. They didn’t win, of course, but that’s the new Australian sporting etiquette kicking in for you. After years of domination, winning for them has become so passe. And doing well is relative. You could argue that by not conceding another world record score to England in yesterday’s ODI, Australia ‘did well’. Still lost, and remain on course for a whitewash, but they did well nonetheless.

That’s the Australians nicely patronised. Who’s next? Ah yes, Argentina. Argentina, Argentina, Argentina. Don’t worry, we won’t cry for you.

They are, as the saying goes, bang average with Lionel Messi in the team. Which gives a frightening insight into how bad they would be without him. That may come sooner than they think as he became the lightning rod for the criticism I’ve seen of their World Cup. Which is, I hasten to add, limited. The criticism, that is; a ‘limited’ World Cup would be considered good compared to how this one has gone so far.

Their goalkeeping situation is staggering. The first two choices for the national team are the reserves for Manchester United and Chelsea. With Sergio Romero out with knee-knack, they get to see just how bad Willy Caballero really is. And he took it to a new low with the first goal.

As Pablo Zabaleta said, it is a sad moment which will define his career. Much like Gordon Smith is remembered outside of Brighton only for that miss at Wembley, Willy is going to be remembered for that moment.

Throwback Thuggery

In all of that, there was much to be admired in Rebic’s finish. A perfect volley to rub in the sheer madness of Caballero’s actions. And while I revel in the ‘collective’ agony suffered by the Argentina side, it’s impossible to not remember the tale of Moacir Barbosa, Brazil’s goalkeeper from the 1950 World Cup.

He was unable to venture out of the house for some while without a reminder of his mistake being thrown in his face. We’re not quite at that level yet but Caballero left an indelible stain in Argentina’s footballing history. All the while, Diego Maradona looked like he needed a huge line of coke to sort him out.

Modric found a good finish, and Caballero found himself maligned by Shearer (again). As did all the transgressors, but the VAR and referee got it in the neck from him most. This, presumably, isn’t the same Alan Shearer whose wanton disregard for the safety of a fellow professional at Leicester City in 1998, benefited from lax refereeing.

The throwback thuggery of both sides remains the hallmark of the match. Croatia were no angels, and Rebic was fortunate not to see red in the first half. It is staggering that no red cards were brandished in the 90 minutes. There was plenty of knee-capping, topped off with Otamendi’s outrageous stamping on Rakitic, having kicked the ball into his face.

It was, to use the footballing vernacular, ‘sh*thousery’ of the highest order.

After the match, Jorge Sampaoli confessed he regretted the squad not travelling to Israel for a pre-tournament friendly. “It was a missed opportunity,” he said, ”to put a rocket up their arses.”

Money for Nothing

Today is a more ‘Arsenal’ day at the World Cup. Switzerland are on show, Nigeria might show up this time, and there’s the burgeoning disappointment of Brazil as well. Joel Campbell floats some people’s boats. For me, he remains the epitome of markedly poor investments made with limited funds.

Elsewhere, nobody has joined or left so the questions about what the Transfer Window Action Team are doing can begin!

’til Tomorrow.

59 thoughts on “World Cup Throwback Thuggery

  1. There were some wicked “tackles” in that match, and the acting at times unreal, a terrible direction for football to be heading…if you can’t win fairly…cheat.

  2. I liked the way Otamendi got annoyed at the ref potentially smudging his make-up after he had nearly booted Rakitic’s head off. It must take ages to get that foundation right pre-match.

    On keeping errors, David Ospina must be glad the violence in Columbia has reduced since Andres Escobar got shot for conceding an own goal in the 1994 World Cup in the US.

  3. I think England should just play the Australians as a one off warm up game before a 5 match ODI series against Scotland!

  4. I think Brazil will defeat Costa Rica reasonably handily and still end up qualifying. The test will be in the knockouts. I think the team is talented overall but whereas Neymar carried them in the past his play is proving s hindrance right now. He slows the play, does flashy tricks gratuitously, plays for the foul rather than the team’s advantage and clearly isn’t match sharp. Douglas Costa would actually be a better option right now.

  5. Good set of matches today, perhaps Switzerland v Serbia is the most intriguing. I think that is the decider for second and qualifying for the group. Switzerland really will feel they need a win, which isn’t the best approach for them maybe.

  6. The biggest difference between Messi at Argentina, Neymar at Brazil and Ronaldo at Portugal is that Ronaldo is now a CF who plays up top and doesn’t move but pre-turning himself into a CF, Portugal struggled the same way Argentina and Brasil do because they get the ball to their star man and tells him, ‘here, you go do it’ and futbol doesn’t work like that no matter how talented you are.

    O yea and I think it was Dukey who said why would we want Banega if he can’t get into this Argentina side, to that I would say Dybala hasn’t been picked, Kovacic doesn’t start for Croatia but he is the present and future of that Madrid midfield, Lucas Vasquez and Asensio can’t get into the Spain team despite play MASSIVE roles in Madrid’s recent CL dominance. Managers pick the team and sometimes, as we know, they have favorites at the expense the actual team.

    On to today, Iwobi needs to play at the World Cup like he has been not like he did at Arsenal.

  7. I know he’s just a GK, but I am still buzzing by the fact that we got Leno at that price and for a player that has started for Leverkusen since he was 19, making over 400 appearances in all competitions and he is only 26 years old.

  8. On this showing it won’t be easy to offload Joel Campbell for decent money! Shame he showed early promise and was ruined by AW!

  9. Well, so far Yogi, your suspicions of Brazil seem very well justified and my confidence they could handle Costa aria fairly easily, quite off the mark!

  10. I think Firmino on better form than Jesus as well. Maybe time for him to come on if Brazil don’t keep up the flurry of chances

  11. Great post Yogi

    A players ability to influence the game at his club often does not seem to translate as well for his country and vice versa. I don’t understand it but we see it all the time.

  12. Limestonegunner,

    Navas is one of the most underrated GK’s in world futbol. He was BRILLIANT for Madrid over the past 4 yeara and every year they try to replace him and everytime they have won the CL you can count on 2 things: Ronaldo scoring a shit ton and Navas keeping Madrid in it and making the ‘big save’ when they need it most.

  13. I love Brasil but this performance has been disgusting. Neymar has acted like a fucking child, Coutinho has been useless, Jesus continues to show that, whil extremely talented, at present he is best as a fox in the box, Costa and Willian have shown but don’t get the ball enough. Honestly I think taking Neymar out of the lineup would actually make this Brasilian team flourish.

    Unlike Messi and Argentina, Brasil has a complete squad but Neymar hinders them because he doesn’t always play for the team.

  14. C,

    I agree and said much same above. Real let off and Neymar didn’t deserve that second goal with his poor and selfish play. But overall Brazil do have a strong team.

  15. C,

    Same. Unsure how I feel about Banega rumours. Apparently he wants Torriera and Banega for midfield. Not seen enough of him to make an opinion but I’d of rathered N’zonzi but I’m not a coach so

  16. Limestonegunner,

    A player who frustrates me. So much potential. He’s learnt nothing from Messi at Barca. He doesn’t play as a team and he takes so many useless and pointless touches. He goes past players for fun and then feels he needs to stop and best them again and if they tackle him he goes down. His attitude to that ref today…. I’d have sent him off.

  17. Limestone

    In the past days before they had the video technology we had no idea how many calls the refs missed but now that we know just how impossible the refs job is and we need to use any technology that can help him. I understand why it might divide opinions but the game needs it.

  18. C:

    As if being the 2nd most important player at RM in helping them win 3 straight CL’s…you would think that would be good enough to save Navas’ job

    I think you could make an argument that the leading goal scorer and the GK are the 2 most influential players on almost any team.

  19. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Banega was and has been at the heart of Sevilla’s success and he would certainly be different. If the Emery wants the midfield of Banega and Torriera then that means he wants to really turn up the pressure and play quickly because that’s what Banega brings coupled with an aggressive style of defending that borders on foul and just got ol fashion tackling coupled with that fight mentality that most players coming from tough lives in South America have. Personally I don’t want him because I think there are others out there younger and as hungry but if he did come in, he would certainly be an instant impact and a player that would help Emery get his system in place immediately.

  20. I have moved up to the Colorado mountains for the summer months. Listening to the game on radio and the Icelandic thunder clap is awesome to hear

  21. Bill:
    I have moved up to the Colorado mountains for the summer months. Listening to the game on radio and the Icelandic thunder clap is awesome to hear

    I’ve moved my bed near my window for the summer months!

  22. C,

    Personally, i’d take Golovin! Tore us to shreds at times in europa and has had a good world cup so far!

    Iceland look good, you think if they had a prominent CF they might be 1/2 goals up!

  23. Bill,

    No they actually weren’t, he was just poor in the first match and the coach made a change. He’s not the first player to ever be dropped.

  24. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Golovin would be a good addition and if that happened then surely Ramsey is gone.

    If they did, they would could be an even more difficult side to deal with.

  25. So happy for Nigeria, but sad it came with Iwobi on the bench. I said to Gooner friends on a What’s App Group when lineups came out that it was a big mistake not playing Musa in opening match v Croatia.

  26. Iwobi should get back into the side. I don’t think Nigeria have played their best 11 yet. Musa made the difference and Iwobi was important in qualification. Iceland is obviously not as good as Croatia and came to play rather than sit back since they didn’t fear Nigeria as much as they did Argentina.

  27. I thought Xhaka had another decent game and what a goal!

    Let’s hope he keeps up th good form into next season. Could be a key player for us.

  28. Great fightback by Swiss, the only team to win so far coming back from a goal down. Heard that Serbian media and fans were hyping up all sorts of hysteria around Xhaka and Shaqiri diplomatic answers to questions about playing Serbia and players with Kosovo Albanian heritage. Well, those were the two boys that did them in, so maybe they motivated Xhaka and Shaqiri with their insanity. You could see both their celebrations involved a bit of taunting of the Serbian fans with Albanian symbolism. Felt like a home Serbia match—filled with vociferous supporters, must have been 5-1 in their favor and also the Russians supporting them. A sweet victory for Xhaka. Great time to sell him and sign Shaqiri on a free! Just kidding! Sort of…

  29. Just saw the highlights of the Swiss game. Xhaka can really strike the ball with his left leg. Disappointed for the Icelanders but Nigeria are better and deserved their win. I was hope to hear more of the thunderclap. The result is the best possible for Argentina and gives them one more chance to make it into the round of 16.

  30. Lets all hope Emery encourages more of that from Xhaka and all players which will open up space in and behind the defenders as they will have to come and close out and won’t be able to just sit deep knowing we won’t shoot.

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