Again a very busy day in Qatar with four World Cup matches
We’ll be able to have a look at three more favorites today, Germany, Spain and Belgium
Germany should have a comfortable win over Japan. Why? My idea is that the Germans have difficulties against well-organized, defensive teams, and the Japanese have a more positive approach to the game, their game is usually more open, so I don’t see too many problems for them. In that aspect Spain might face more problems against Costa Rica, who will no doubt try to frustrate the Spanish passing-game with more defensive tactics. I nevertheless think that Spain will win the game.
Most experts have the feeling the Belgians are over their peak, and they most probably are, but they still have the best goalkeeper in the world and one of the best midfielders in the entire game, so I wouldn’t rule them out completely. I don’t expect them to play the final, but they should be able to beat Canada by two at least goals.
Well Japan, as they proved at the last World Cup, are clearly no pushovers. Germany’s susceptibility to fast, counter-attacking teams (evident in Joachim Löw’s latter tenure) is still present. A more realistic target for Germany is the next Euro, but the current malaise will probably continue.
I believe the unique staging of this World Cup (in the middle of the season) makes this possibly the most open in living memory.
Switzerland - Cameroon (11.00) Uruguay - Korea Republic (14.00) Portugal - Ghana (17.00) Brazil - Serbia (20.00)
It seems unwise to make any predictions after my predictions that the Germans would beat Japan quite comfortably and Spain was unable to score … Only this: I heard an expert on Asian football say that before the tournament most people in Asia expected more from Korea than from the Japanese team, so it will be very interesting to see how they will approach the game against Uruguay. And I suppose we are all looking forward to see Brazil.
Senegal should be able to score against Qatar tomorrow. Cameroon looked awful this afternoon, no ideas, no build-up from behind, crosses were given without looking, etc. The last Africa Cup was an indication that scoring goals was a major problem for African teams, few goals were scored during the tournament, not even by the best teams
I wouldn’t use the Africa Cup of Nations (or indeed Copa América) as any barometer for form in the World Cup. You could also apply that to the UEFA Nations League. They’re essentially second-rate competitions played whenever their federations feel like making money.
The North Africans can be obdurate opponents but the rest of the continent seems to be going backwards. The Asian teams in contrast are rapidly improving.
They’re of course second-rate competitions, and not the best barometer, but it’s the only barometer we have, teams didn’t play any other games, apart from (maybe) a friendly match last week. The lack of recent games might well be the reason for the lack of fluency in most games. Usually teams have at least three weeks to prepare for a great tournament, which gives the players time to get used to each other, but this time the national leagues had still programmed matches one week before the start of the tournament.
And that’s precisely why this edition has the potential to be the most open in a very long time.
Serbia proved to be the ideal first opponent for Brazil. Defensive, overawed and with damage limitation the primary objective from the outset. Brazil’s creaking backline was never tested. As Saudi Arabia and Japan showed - if you attack these teams and aren’t overawed you’ve got a chance.
I am afraid that after England is done with us today, we here in the U.S. are going to have to say that our World Cup highlight was a commercial featuring American football star Peyton Manning and David Beckham arguing about whether it is football or soccer, whether they are eating crisps or chips, and whether athletes wear boots or cleats.
Iran showed why they’re one of the more highly rated Asian teams with a deserved victory over a beleaguered Wales. They effectively played with nine men as Bale and Ramsey were mere passengers. And Wayne Hennessey clearly knows his German history with that brutal tribute to Toni Schumacher.
Iran should qualify alongside England from this group now.
A bad day for football yesterday. Iran’s victory over Wales turned out to be the only highlight. Holland was awful against Ecuador (they were very lucky to get one point out of that game) and I’m getting sick and tired of these 0-0 games. For the USA it was a good result, I suppose, but in retrospect they could have won the game if they had tried a bit harder. England, so impressive in their first game, looked like a boxer who had left all his punches in the dressing room. No punch, no fighting spirit, disappointing
Today the Argentina - Mexico game is the attention grabber. France - Denmark could be interesting as well, but all eyes will be on Argentina: they absolutely need a result or the World Cup could be over for them after only two games.