World Cup 2014: Day 3
Yesterday the World Cup began in earnest, with 3 games, plenty of action, and no shortage of controversy. The first fixture of the day picked up where Brazil left off, as Mexico were wrongly disallowed 2 legitimate goals in the first half against Cameroon. The African side also had a goal chalked off, although on that occasion the referee made the correct call. In the second half the Mexicans continued to push in the pouring rain, and were eventually rewarded when Oribe Peralta gave them the lead. Peralta was first to react following a good save from Itandje, and slotted home with aplomb. It proved to be the only goal of the game as the Mexicans justifiably took all 3 points.
Over in Salvador, however, the game went anything but to plan as the Dutch smashed Spain 5-1 in a repeat of the 2010 World Cup final. Although not quite revenge for losing in a World Cup final, the 2010 runners up certainly humiliated their European rivals. Spain took the lead through Xabi Alonso from the spot and it seemed to be business as usual for a team who had only lost once in their last 36 competitive fixtures, but the Netherlands had other ideas. Robin Van Persie pulled them level with a wonderful diving header, with Casillas caught in no man’s land.
The Dutch then took the lead in the second half as Robben split through the Spanish defence to fire home. It went from bad to worse for the World and European champions as Casillas was again at fault for the third, getting caught out on a cross for De Vrij to bundle home a chance he knew little about. The normally reliable Spanish midfield looked lost, and it was actually no surprise when the Dutch extended their lead, Casillas with an even worse mistake controlling the ball allowing Van Persie to help himself to a second. The rout was complete when Robben broke free, leaving the Real Madrid keeper clutching at thin air as he slotted home his second and the Netherlands fifth. The Dutch were worthy of the result, and Spain now face an uphill battle to salvage anything ahead of their next game. Needless to say, I was way of the mark in my prediction on this one.
The final game of the day saw Chile take on Australia, and the South Americans started fantastically, taking an early 2 goal lead thanks to a goal from Alexis Sanchez and a sublime finish from Jorge Valdivia. To their credit, however, the Australians showed great resolve in the second half to find their way back into the game, former Everton star Tim Cahill with a great finish. He continued to press and probe, grabbing a second, only to see it correctly ruled out for offside (I make that 7 disallowed goals so far in the tournament). If anything, the Aussies looked like drawing level, but as is so often the case in football, as they pressed, Chile went down the other end and secured victory, Wigan star Beausejour with the decisive goal. One out of 3 right on the day for me.
Today’s first game sees Colombia take on Greece in Belo Horizonte. Greece have failed to score in 5 of their 6 World Cup outings, and I expect them to set up defensively again this afternoon. Colombia will be without star striker Radamel Falcao among others, but with players like the impressive James Rodriguez in their ranks, not to mention the home continent advantage, I expect them to take the victory.
Over in Fortaleza, Uruguay take on Costa Rica in Group D. Uruguay finished 4th in 2010, and are strong contenders to go far again this time, with many expecting them to win Group D. Costa Rica come into the game having conceded 2 or more in their last 4 World Cup games, and their only real hope is that Uruguay sometimes struggle against the weaker teams. Without Luis Suárez, still injured, former Manchester United striker Diego Forlán will start alongside Cavani, in a team that can score goals, and have won 4 of their last 6 games. I can’t see anything but a Uruguay win in this one.
The third game, the one we’ve been waiting for, sees England kick off their campaign against Italy. The two fought out a stalemate at the last Euros, before Italy went through on penalties, with Pirlo famously bossing the midfield, and I expect England to set up today with that in mind. Neither come into the tournament in sensational form, England drawing their last 2, while Italy have not won in 6. I expect the climate to play a big part in the game too, and with both teams focusing on not losing their opening game, my prediction is on under 2.5 goals.
Finally, at 2 am UK time, the Ivory Coast face off against Japan in Recife. Yaya Touré is expected to be fit as he looks to put his club problems behind him for the next month, while older brother Kolo could also feature. Les Elephants have won just twice in their last 6, while Japan come into this match in fine form, and also boast arguably their best ever World Cup squad. They fought out a wonderful game against Italy in the confederations cup, eventually losing 4-3, and I expect them to have a go again today. I’d hate to call a winner, so instead I’m opting for goals again, this time backing the over 2.5 goals market.
Colombia to beat Greece
Uruguay to beat Costa Rica
England v Italy – under 2.5 goals
Ivory Coast v Japan – over 2.5 goals
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P.s. this post was done entirely with my Kindle Fire HDXShare this: