Nigeria full value for Round of 16 spot

Everything seems to be going well for Argentina at the World Cup. But despite looking strong, James Sharman is still unwilling to call them tournament favourites heading into the Round of 16.

Day 14 of the World Cup is history, as are Honduras, Ecuador, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It is always a little sad bidding adieu to teams after only three matches, especially following all the damn research I had to put in during the weeks and months prior to Brazil 2014. You know, those special evenings spent after Soccer Central aired, sitting in a darkened newsroom reading all about Alireza Jahanbakhsh and what he might or might do off the bench in a do or die group stage clash.

Some thoughts…

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• Luis Suarez continues to dominate the headlines. When Jimmy Kimmel talks about you, you know you have made it. I’m so happy Rob Ford and Suarez have something in common now. Although putting them both in the same room at the same time might be a bad idea—no way Suarez could stop himself having a nibble.

• FIFA says it will make a decision by Saturday after charging Suarez. Good thing too given that Uruguay plays Colombia on Saturday. FIFA have clearly lost sleep over this; how else to explain why Sepp Blatter resembled a hipster at the Honduras vs. Switzerland match.

• Leo Messi, please stand up! And be applauded! Talk about stepping up when demanded. It could all be for nothing, of course, but given Argentina’s comparatively soft run to a potential final, he is hitting his stride perfectly. Messi is having fun out there; the angle of his free-kick goal today where he began smiling the second it left his boot spoke volumes. A troubled season at Barcelona seems a distant memory, and he has his mojo back. To date, James Rodriguez, Arjen Robben, Neymar and Messi have shone above all others. So glad I haven’t included a centre back in that list.

• As I wrote a few days ago, there is major concern over Sergio Aguero. A first-half injury took him off the pitch. He hasn’t looked right all tournament, and let’s just hope Eziquiel Lavezzi is on form to make up the numbers in that front three.

• Nigeria is full value for their last 16 spot. Such fight, and so fun to watch. We ran some great footage of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in the tunnel at half time during today’s broadcast joking with the officials that Messi is too good, and that he wasn’t. The ref commented if you weren’t good, you wouldn’t be here. A great look into the other side of the game. Enyeama has been great by the way—just ask Bosnia.

• I was happy to see Bosnia-Herzegovina finally find their scoring boots. Leo Messi, awful officiating and great goalkeeping has kept the newbies out of the knock-out round. Sometimes that is just the way things shake out, but Bosnia deserved better. Still, at least they can now lament World Cup heartbreak like the rest of us.

• Xherdan Shaqiri, eh? Talk about a statement game, as rumours swirl regarding a move from Bayern Munich to the Premier League. Stocky little bugger, extremely strong and with an eye for goal, basically made for the Prem. A bit like Joel Campbell, really.

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