It was a fantastic Sunday of World Cup footy, but there was certainly an undercurrent of anger and tension on Twitter. It must mean that we’re into the third week; the honeymoon is over and things are suddenly becoming very real for a lot of fans.
Some thoughts on Day 17…
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• Among other things, I’ve been accused of being disrespectful to Mexico by many Twitter trolls. True, if not picking them to advance from Group A is an example of disrespect. Otherwise, such an accusation is utter tripe. Mexico has been one of this year’s feel good stories, and that is not meant to be patronizing. Miguel Herrera turned a sorry lot into a unified and disciplined force in Brazil. Guillermo Ochoa, rightly, will receive most plaudits, but the energetic midfield was superb and how can we not tip our collective hats at the skipper, Rafa Marquez. He was brilliant, but sadly will be remembered for the foul on Arjen Robben that led to the winning penalty.
• It was a foul. Yes, Robben made the most if it as he had been doing all match, but it was a foul. Even the most volatile of you must admit that the Dutch were denied a first half penalty, yet you are happy to target Robben on this occasion?
• Robben’s previous plea for a spot kick was extremely hard for the referee to judge, but given his reputation I had no problem with the non-call. What is frustrating is that he wasn’t booked earlier for diving. If he was would he have gone to ground later?
• I do understand Miguel Herrera’s anti-ref venom though. Against Cameroon his team was screwed out of two clear goals. He has a right to be emotional, and I hope FIFA are fair to The Louse, as he has been one of my favourite characters in Brazil.
• There was, of course, an awful fall-out with Louis Van Gaal’s suggestion he changed tactics at the water break. Apparently coaching during this break is forbidden. Really? Are you kidding me? Take a breath FIFA and think about that for a second.
• Dirk Kuyt won his 100th cap. Has there been a quieter 100 caps in football? Kuyt is a coach’s dream, happy to sacrifice himself for the cause and probably the hardest working pro in the game. Very happy for him.
• Pure goal scorers are a unique bunch of athletes; cold blooded, ruthless and with enormous egos. Klaas Jan Huntelaar is just such a soul. Only on a few minutes, he was the man willing to score from the spot with everything on the line. Big respect.
• The fear ahead of Costa Rica vs. Greece was that it could be an abomination. It was. A dreadful game that only sprung to life late. As vomit inducing as it was to experience, I had no anger for the two protagonists; this is how they had to play if they had hoped to have ever got this far.
• Keylor Navas is becoming a bit of a story, isn’t he? Levante’s shot stopper was once again exceptional, and was unfortunate to concede the late equalizer from that stubborn, never day die Greek squad. Navas’s shootout save was exceptional, overplaying it but sticking that paw out to thwart the Greeks.
• Costa Rica has only conceded two goals in this World Cup. The Netherlands unlocked Mexico’s air tight defence, so surely Oranje will end this fairy tale run before it becomes a major concern for FIFA and its precious television numbers?