Saturday, June 23, 2018

Belgium in the house!

Belgium are fantastic, and pulled a great 5-2 against Tunisia. With Croatia, they are best team of the tournament so far. Although the have some weaknesses, hey play direct football and have splendid strikers. I hope they make it far, but still I have a lingering doubt whether they will make it when it counts.
Belgium is one of my favourites to go far, a country that loves beer and football, all football fans, not least myself, have a little Belgian part of our football hearts!

For the first time in my life

When Argentina faces Nigeria it will be the first time in my life I will not support Argentina. Argentina are the reason I love football, remembering their legendary 1986 victory with the amazing, incredible and great Diego Maradona (I do admire him more than anyone!). Since then, Argentina has given me both happiness and frustration over the years, but still, one knew that it would be a quality side of players who fight for the Albiceleste shirt.
That is not the case any longer, and I believe that Argentina needs a renewal; and this renewal will not come if they continue in the tournament. The squad is in total disarray; it appears Sampaoli is being thrown out by the players, while players appear to blame each other and nobody (I wonder if anyone, even some of the friends he has forced onto the squad, have told Messi that he should have sweat a bit against Croatia?).
While they may have hope, one thing Argentina must also remember is that Nigeria will give nothing away; that their strikers such as Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho surely have the quality to run around the inept Argentine defense and their even more inept goalkeeper (in case Caballero starts at all). I think Nigeria deserves to be more in the last-16 than Argentina (or Iceland), and African representation would be great.
Finally, in the (unlikely) case Argentina wins, I would rather spare them the probable humiliation of facing a quality side in the next round, likely to be France. The French strikers and midfield are likely to have a field-day against Argentina! And we all know how Messi behaves when something is not to his little liking: just by walking around like a petulant child. He should grow some cojones.
It actually saddens me to say it, but I will support Nigeria.
In any case, I will not be able to watch the match, as I will be in Rostov-on-Don.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The nice thing about Costa Rica

The nice things about Costa Rica is that they have a great goalkeeper and defend heroically. But that is about it, and any football fan should be happy that Brazil won a well-deserved victory against a defensive side.
That said, Brazil were not great, and they are difficult to like with Neymar's petulance and acting. He would be 100 times a better player if he didn't waste his time (although to his benefit, one has to wonder whether the pressure these guys are under is too much. I don't think so; they get paid more than Doctors, Teachers, Nurses, Cleaners, etc., for kicking a damn ball!).
The cancellation of the penalty has completely justified VAR. And I hope Neymar and many of the other players in the tournament who do more acting than playing, are learning the lesson.

Why is nobody talking about Nigeria

Nigeria opened by losing to the best side of the tournament so far, Croatia. But a victory today could put them almost surely in the last-16. And it is not impossible, although Iceland are a good and solid side. A tie will mean that the last match for either team will be a final, with Nigeria having the better chances when facing the minnows of the group from Argentina. But do not count Nigeria out, and today we will have an indication of who will follow the Croatians out from the group.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The disaster waiting to happen, happened

Nobody who has been watching Argentina under Sampaoli can be surprised about today’s 3-0 humiliation by a great Croatian side (where Luka Modric outshone everyone). Argentina are not a football team, and have not been one for long. They don’t work together, have any ideas, and their defenders are among the worst in the world. And when Lionel Messi does not perform, their only real football player, the team ranks below the mediocre levels of mediocrity. Nobody performed today and the slight hope any Argentina fan had (and it was just a slight hope) were dashed by the incompetence of the team.
Argentina are out (I do not mind much their slight theoretical chance if they defeat Nigeria).

But let us look forward a bit. This could be good for Argetina. Just like Brazil’s 1-7 defeat to Germany led them to re-organize, this could lead to Argentina starting from fresh: (1) get some competence into the Argentine FA, who has been largely to blame for all the chaos around the national team for years; (2) revamp the failing Argentine youth system that used to be one of the best in the world, but has failed because of FA incompetence; (3) get rid of many of the current players, notably Aguero, Higuain and Mascherano, and build something around new younger players who, first of all, must play with heart for their country. This generation of Argentine footballs did their part, but shall quickly be forgotten. And all this must also include a farewell with gratitude to Lionel Messi. Gratitude, because he did a lot for the country during a difficult time for Argentine football: great player with amazing skills, perfect for the age of Playstation and Twitter.
But among the best there ever were..??
No way in the world.

I am personally hugely disappointed to see Argentina out. I will not bear my Argentina shirt for a long time. But I certainly hope and expect that a revived Argentina will be back. Not least because of the fantastic fans.