World Cup 2014: Day 2
Last night started as expected, with victory for the host nation Brazil, but despite the 3-1 score line it was anything but easy. Croatia took an early lead with an own goal from Marcelo as they looked to cause a major upset. Brazilian star Neymar was then involved in an elbow incident, for which he only saw yellow, before punishing the visitors not long after with the equaliser, although he failed to connect properly and the ball slipped agonisingly past the keeper. I think the yellow card was correct, but have seen players sent off for similar in the past.
If the referee was possibly correct there, when he awarded Brazil the chance to take the lead from the spot he was anything but. Fred tumbled in the area under minimum contact and the ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Neymar duly dispatched despite the keeper getting a hand to it, but not managing to push it away. Croatia then saw a perfectly good goal chalked off by the referee before the Croatian keeper was definitely to blame at the death when he was beaten by a low Oscar shot. On the balance of play I feel Brazil were the better team, but there is no doubting the actions of the referee cost Croatia any chance.
The Neymar anytime prediction sailed in, and the 2-1 score line prediction was on too until the last minute goal. Anyway, on to today’s action now. First up is Mexico against Cameroon. Cameroon come into the game in slightly better form than the Central American side, and I think it’s fair to say both face a difficult challenge in qualifying from the group. I suspect, therefore, neither will want to lose their opening encounter, and fully expect this game to end in a stalement.
The second match sees a repeat of the last World Cup final as Spain take on the Netherlands. Spain have obviously enjoyed a golden period, winning the last three major tournaments in which they have featured, and so will be keen to earmark themselves as potential champions again in Salvador. They come into the tournament with only 1 defeat in their last 36 competitive matches, and can’t see them losing that record against a Dutch side who have gone backwards since the 2010 final. The fact the Dutch manager Van Gaal is also leaving at the end of the tournament to take over the reins at Old Trafford will affect Dutch morale I feel, so my money is on a Spain win.
The final game sees Chile take on Australia. Australia famously switched alliances to ensure a better chance in qualification for the World Cup, and while they have managed to qualify for the 2014 competition, I don’t think their quality has improved that much from the team that used to famously fail against the next best placed South American side, and I expect Chile to take comfortable victory in Cuiaba.
Mexico v Cameroon – draw
Spain to beat the Netherlands
Chile to beat Australia
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