See what a difference it makes playing in an environment where you can thrive? Marouanne Fellaini has been ridiculed for his performances at Manchester United, stemming from the exaggerated price they paid for him (not his fault) and culminating in his being the major signing of the David Moyes Era (again, not his fault). But coming on against Algeria - and in an attacking role not the holding midfield one Moyes preferred him in - he actually changed the game for the good. His goal was a great glancing header illustrating how dominant he can be in the air, and his constant presence gave Belgium a more direct threat which brought a significant improvement in their game. Belgium were the near unanimous picks for Dark Horse (not me – I took Bosnia & Herzegovina) and some will be doubting that choice now. They were pretty average against a very weak side, though they got the win so no damage done. With such a range of styles and cultures and even languages in this Belgian team, uniting them may not be so simple. They have the talent, do they have the intangibles?
The same goes for Brazil who failed to break down a determined Mexico. The hosts will need to be way more alert come the knockout stages, and even just in their final group game vs Cameroon. The problem with being favourites is that you keep looking forward. At the World Cup you can never afford anything but 100% commitment to the next immediate game. Tell ya what though, if the Mexican keeper hadn’t been on his game they’d have gotten away with it. Here’s the save of the tournament so far:
Mystery Doctor’s Word
Sometimes I wish I was more English, then I don't. Poor ol' Wayne Rooney or as I like to call him - Roonis, yeah he got worked over on the left side but he wasn't really that bad was he? Leighton Baines didn't offer much support which is where you'd expect the help to come from for a player who rarely plays let alone defends on a flank. The English need to take a chill pill and just relax, they're team is half decent and they have a great chance of still qualifying. Raheem Sterling is still going to be a dynamo whether he's out wide or in the middle and for me, freedom is Rooney's best home dawg.
Spain might play the beautiful passing brand of football that we all love, but for me Germany are showing that they could be the new striker-less beast in world football. With Thomas Muller up front, the Germans benefit greatly from a slip and slide approach. Muller is a ghost who seems to sneak in to spaces without being noticed and scores, he's done it for Bayern Munich and he's doing in so far in Brazil. With Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze forming a potent attacking force, the Germans will be pretty hard to defend against with guys rolling forward fluidly and it's going to be pretty to watch.
Balotelli’s Sticker Album
Uruguay’s Secret Weapon
Turns out this is why they lost to Costa Rica. Brazilian authorities seized 39kgs of this caramel spread, known as ‘dulce de leche’ – which in my remedial Spanish translates to something like milk’s candy or sweet of milk, etc. – which was intended for the Uruguayan national team. It’s somewhat of a delicacy, but it’s made from milk and so required a sanitary documentation.
Thomas Muller (Germany) - Eins, zwei, drei. A hattrick for the German forward against the hapless Portugese. Nothing special, a penalty and a couple of tap-ins but they all count. Muller has 7 goals in 7 World Cup games now. He knows how to make it count.
Clint Dempsey (USA) – The fifth fastest goal in World Cup history followed by a kick in the face that left his nose broken and him spitting blood. But Dempsey stuck it out and played to the glorious conclusion.
Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico) – Sometimes a keeper has a game so amazing that he seems unbeatable. Mexico’s Memo Ochoa had a game like that against Brazil, keeping Neymar and co. at bay for the full 90 minutes to squeeze a valuable point out of the hosts and transform himself into a national hero.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – All that work to get back from injury and this is what he has to work with? You know this guy does up to 3000 sit ups a day to stay in shape! Portugal can do better, for sure. The improvements must be made immediately though as another loss and their quest is all but over.
Igor Akinfeev (Russia) – Look, everyone makes mistakes. But when you’re a keeper, there’s nobody there to cover for you. It’s a good thing the Russkies equalised pretty quickly after.
Nigeria vs Iran – Arrgh it was all going so well until this game! The first draw of the tournament and one that nobody who watched it will recall with any favour. Was this what the rest of the world felt like watching the All Whites play for draws last time? So boring.
Pepe (Portugal) – What a dick. It doesn’t matter if you though the guy was milking it (he wasn’t – he didn’t even appeal!), you can’t get all in his face and headbutt him. Especially with your team 2 goals down already. That’s what we in the business call self destructing.
Golden Boot Watch
3 – Thomas Muller (Germany)
2 – Robin Van Persie (Netherlands)
2 – Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
2 – Karim Benzema (France)
2 – Neymar (Brazil)