I may not have got many score predictions right in the last few updates, but I was right about one thing. England. The shock results keep coming and the weekend proved no different. England’s hopes of progressing to the knock out stages now hinge on their last game after another very poor performance against a side some 30 places lower than them in the FIFA rankings. Algeria should have proved nothing more than a training game for the highly paid Premiership stars, but they were made to look very ordinary and frankly very overpaid by a team that whilst languish in the lower echelons of the world rankings were just that….a team. England fielded 11 players, some of which would make a world eleven, but the only resemblance of a team was the shirt they were wearing.
Never have I seen such a disjointed performance from a so called top side and frankly qualification is now in doubt. With unrest in the camp and the ex-captain addressing the media without the manager or captain in attendance and seemingly promoting a change to the managers starting line-up and approach, could we be seeing another French revolution on the cards. The football has been far from the standard expected, but the off the pitch action has been great.
Is the pressure on the modern footballer so great that they cannot perform on the big stage? The French have imploded and not only near certain to return home after the group stage, Anelka is already waking up in his own bed after being sent home by the manager following a half time spat during their 2-0 defeat by Mexico. France
captain Patrice Evra nearly came to blows with the team physio is a very public training ground dispute where the team refused to train, shortly after which the French FA chairman resigned.
So what next for England? Will they get it together and come out stronger to defeat Slovenia on Wednesday or will they simply crumble under the pressure again and return home, tail firmly lodged between their legs. For the sake of the tournament, let’s hope they can get it together as a world cup knock out stage without an in-form Rooney, Gerrard or Lampard would be a real shame. As for those already on the plane home, Cameroon, Nigeria and North Korea all make a sharp exit after just 2 games and sadly 2 defeats.
So who has qualified so far, well 2 less than convincing performances by the Dutch is enough to see them book their places in the last 16, Brazil, as expected have won 2 from 2 with a convincing win over Ivory Coast last night, Argentina look good for a place in the final, again 2 wins from 2 and with Portugal
playing today, both licking their wounds from poor results in their opening games, they will be keen to show what they have to offer in the later rounds.
My final though of the day is the ever increasing play acting. When will FIFA get a hold of this major issue that is blighting the game. Last night for me saw the worst so far this tournament with Ivory Coast, Abdelkader Keita rolling around clutching his face in an attempt to get Brazil’s Kaka sent-off. It worked. A seemingly nothing off the ball collision between the 2 saw Keita fall to the floor as though mike Tyson had landed one on him and following the melee of Ivory Coast players surrounding the referee demanding action, it was duly taken and Kaka got his marching orders. Luckily the game was over and Brazil’s victory sealed by this point, but FIFA need to look at this incident, rescind the red card and ban Keita. There will be a keen eye on Christiano Ronaldo in today’s early match who has a tendency to go to ground rather easily under minimal contact.
Come on FIFA, you have the video evidence, it’s time to stamp this out of the game.
Portugal 3 – 0 North Korea
Chile – 0 - 1 Switzerland
Spain 4 – 0 Honduras