Professional Fouls, Spain Slump & Pavon the Way Forward

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.

’til Tomorrow.

115 thoughts on “Professional Fouls, Spain Slump & Pavon the Way Forward

  1. Bill,

    Agree, our midfielders don’t seize on those moments quickly to counter attack. I would really like it if Torreira’s ball winning could be married to a mobile creative midfielder who liked to carry the ball with pace and pass forward quickly depending on the options. The slow build up we have watched for many years really is so outdated. We saw this with Spain, Germany.

  2. Regarding rooting interests, a similar logic forces me to hope England get clobbered by Colombia. Not only do I like an underdog and some alternatives to the European teams who seem over represented to me at WC’s but England is full of players on Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool, MU and City. I can’t cheer them on.

  3. Bill,

    Interpreting stats like that is a misleading way of analyzing the efficacy of winning teams. We’ve just seen in the Japan x Belgique game, winning and losing are by narrow margins. Luck. And. Momentum. Taking chances however way they come with clinical precision is paramount. Keeping possession helps to dictate play & tempo, but not always.

    When Barça tore us apart at the Camp Nou in the spring of 2011, they had about 70% of the possession. Conversely the fortnight before that, against the run of play, we were fortuitous to have beaten them at the Emirates with barely any ball possession spell of note.

  4. Actually, Atletico are remarkable in lots of ways: They play hideous football, with really technical players in every position, and they over-achieve constantly in a league that couldn’t be more rigged in favour of the big two.

    Simeone’s kind of a phenomenon. I’d love to know what goes into it.

  5. Limestone

    Rooting interest is very individual. I have an intense distaste for Mexico when they play against the USA but I was really hoping they would do well in the World Cup.

  6. Teams with better players will almost invariably have more ball possession but I don’t think that having more ball possession is why they win. If you have 2 teams with relatively equal talent and one focuses on ball possession and breaking down the opponent with technical skill and passing while the other focuses on attacking at pace and counter attacking when they win the ball back even if it means they accept having less ball possession then I think the counter attacking team would win a significant majority of the games.

  7. Belgiums game winning goal took about 5 seconds and 2 passes and the whole thing was set up by Debruyne moving forward at pace with the ball at his feet and getting the ball into the attacking zone before the Japan’s defense could set up. That one chance Belgium created on the counter attack was more likely to score a goal then about 3-4 dozen of the chances that Germany and Spain created with their ball possession and methodical buildups.

Comments are closed.