Ahh, England. It’s pretty much all over now after a second consecutive 2-1 loss, this time to Luis Suarez’s Uruguay. The South Americans looked a completely different side with their talisman back, even if he wasn’t fully fit, and twice the Liverpool forward capitalised on really weak defending. Cahill and Jagielka all game were troubled by Suarez’s movement in behind them, their coping strategy seeming to be just ignore him and he’ll go away. The story of the first game was how impressive the England front men looked in taking the game to the Italians. The story of this one will be how bad everyone else was without the ball. The first goal they gave it away cheaply, held back when they had the opportunity to break up the counter, stood off Cavani to allow him to cross to Suarez who moves so swiftly that neither of the centre backs could follow his run. Timid and underwhelming. Then after toiling away and finally getting that equaliser (ROONEY!), Gerrard muffs a header in midfield and neither defender is alert to Suarez’s deep run behind them. To be honest, it was a pathetic goal to concede. Yet another Suarez goal from a Gerrard assist.
Just on Stevie G, he’s been piss. I know this is a role that he’s done well for Liverpool, but without Suarez’s goals as cover he looked out of place. The defining image of the 2013/14 EPL season was Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea; of their World Cup it may just be his header – under pressure from Cavani – to let in his LFC teammate for the winner. Look, as a ball player he’s almost second to none for England. But that deep playing midfield role demands more than that. He needs to dictate the pace, not just the direction. Too many times he was too slow to get the ball forward, fluffing his first touch a few times (as most ENG players were guilty of, to be fair) and generally just playing it at a stroll. You never saw Paul Scholes doing that sorta thing. His dead ball threat hasn’t been there these two game for the most part, and defensively, Gerrard is not a great tackler. He certainly isn’t the battering ram that they needed to build that wall in front of the Uruguayan midfield and isolate Suarez. Jordan Henderson is full of running and energy, and he created a few chances late as he pushed forward more, but you wonder if they wouldn’t have been more suited to a ball winner playing alongside Stevie, if Gerrard can’t do it himself. I guess the problem is who could have filled that role? This is a great generation of attacking players coming through for the Three Lions – you just gotta wonder how they fill the rest of the team.
Mystery Doctor's Word
Uruguay basically did everything I didn't think they would or could, which either shows I'm dumb or that they really are much better than some give them credit for. A team of passionate workhorse types, all they have to do is defend reasonably well to give Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani something to work with. I mean how glorious is a Cavani and Suarez partnership up front!?
Speaking of attacking play, Colombia are earning some love with me for their ability to go forward. Both their goals against the Ivory Coast came from youngish attacking players James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero as Colombia not only showed a clinical nature up front, but also showed an ability to attack with defence.
Yeah this is Brazil's World Cup, but it's also South America's World Cup. Whether it's Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico or whoever, they have a shit load of support and it must be awesome to still play in front of the screaming fans despite playing in a different country. A definite advantage as well.
But the biggest thing from this game has to be Gervinho's goal! It's sad that we were only exposed to a shit Gervinho at Arsenal, but he's alright
Don't be surprised if we see minimal involvement from Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal as I reckon he's seen the writing on the wall and is feeling a bit meh.
The Best of Social Media
Well Played, Ref.
World Cup Recaps in Microsoft Paint
The Entire Chile Team – In particular the irrepressible Alexis Sanchez, though the whole lot of them have been great. All the headlines are of Spain’s shock losses but Chile earned this one on the back of a great team performance. The surprise team of the tournament, hopefully we see a lot more of them.
James Rodriguez (Colombia) – One of the most fun players to watch, from one of the most fun teams to watch. Rodriguez is always ready to take on his marker, and has the creativity and finishing touch to go with it.
Luis Suarez (Uruguay) – Love him or hate him, you just can’t stop him.
England Fans – If Italy wins their last 2 games, Eng-er-land can still pull through with a big win over Costa Rica. At least there’s a chance. Having watched their team toil away only to be undone by their own errors, those fans definitely need some sympathy.
Tim Cahill (Australia) – Scored one of the best goals imaginable against Holland, but he’ll miss Australia’s final game through suspension. Already eliminated, it would surely have been the final FWC game for the Aussie legend, who has scored at three separate tournaments. But a yellow card in each of his two games is deemed enough to spend a game on the sidelines – the same punishment Pepe got for headbutting a guy.
Cameroon – Their whole campaign has actually been a disaster, from the near player strike to the actual performances. They narrowly lost to Mexico (the Mexicans had about three thousand disallowed goals), and were destroyed by Croatia, no thanks to Alex Song for his moment of madness. By the end the players were even fighting amongst themselves.
Corporate Pressure – On account of SONY being a major sponsor of the Cup, FIFA has been forced (by money) to ban players from wearing their Beats By Dre headphones to games. You can often see players getting off the bus wearing them on the telly coverage, and SONY did not care for that one bit. So players can no longer wear their Beats at any stadium or official World Cup event (press conferences, etc.). FIFA – doing their bit to fight poor quality audio.
Golden Boot Watch
3 – Thomas Muller (Germany)
3 – Robin Van Persie (Netherlands)
3 – Arjen Robben (Netherlands)