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So you can pretend you watched the games ( spoiler )
The Main News .
Day 12 saw four teams finalise their positions and officially progress into the knock out rounds.
The Dutch clinched top spot in Group B with a 2.0 win over Chile, who will also be going through to the knockout stages.
In Group A, Brazil sealed their top spot with a 4-1 trouncing of Cameroon while Mexico finished as runners-up after beating Croatia, 3-1.
Packing their bags today and leaving Brazil are Spain, Australia , Croatia and Cameroon.
Results from last night
Holland 2 – 0 Chile
Australia 0 – 3 Spain
Brazil 4– 1 Cameroon
Croatia 1 – 3 Mexico
The Actual Stats
The Holland v Chile match was all about who finished where in Group B but as Group A ( the home nations, Brazil’s group) would be decided afterwards , there was certainly no possibility that either team could be strategic and try to avoid meeting the Hosts in the next match.
The really interesting facts of this game show that despite over 60% possession it was Holland who had double the number of shots . Of those shots Holland had 8 on target to only 1 from Chile . Van Gaal appeared happy to concede possession as indeed they did against Spain. The Nederlands waited their time and were much more effective when they had their opportunities.
Some changes were also enforced on them possibly due to Van Persie missing through suspension and a couple of others with injuries. It was the first time in 18 years and 221 matches that Holland did not have a player with ‘Van’ in his name in their team as a result !!!
Robben who took the captains armband showed glimpses of his class and always proved a threat but it was the two substitutes who undid Chile. Leroy Fer, the Norwich City midfielder, came on powered in a header from close range after a corner was cut back to Daryl Janmaat to cross. That corner was earned by another substitute, the tricky, and very skilful Memphis Depay with a run and fierce shot that had been pushed over by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
As Chile frantically pressed, the Dutch struck again deep in injury time with a classic counter, Robben speeding down the left side and crossing for Depay to force the ball home. Depay is rumoured to be a possible Manchester United target and on this form I would think their fans will be clamoring for him to be signed asap!
Brazil cruised to victory against Cameroon on Monday, although they needed a late goal from Fernandinho to ensure they topped Group A on goal difference. Although once again they relied heavily on Neymar to make the initial breakthrough.
Cameroon who have been a strong case for being the worst side in this tournament did have their moments, especially in the first half. They even sneaked an equaliser through Joel Matip after Neymar had side-footed the hosts into the lead, but Neymar duly put his side ahead again with a lovely individual effort, and from there Brazil were absolutely cruising.
The main note is that Brazil need to improve against Chile now in the Knock out stages and Neymar needs some help for others in the team or they face a tricky road. Neymar, undoubtedly, the tournament’s poster boy (especially in his home country) scored a brace for the second time in this tournament, moving him to four goals and making him an increasingly good bet for the Golden Boot .
It is easy to market a player as the face of the World Cup, but he has gone a long way to back up that hype with his performances so far. Now the hard work really starts..
A farewell glimpse of the current World Champions saw them produce their best performance albeit too little too late. The main question is why so many of the team that started last night hadn’t started before , especially when they played so well? Koke, Mata will now feature along with De Gea and Fabregas in the rebuilding of the Spanish team.
David Villa, arguably Spain’s most successful striker on the international stage, scored a brilliant backheel goal and left the pitch in tears as he retired from international football. Its looking likey that a few more will be following him as Torres and Xavi appear to approaching the end of their international journeys as well.
Okay the interesting bit , what to watch tonight while supping a few beers….
I think the Italians are in great danger of getting knocked out, They will need to show the form they did against and not their effort against Costa Rica if they are to have a chance. With the scoring potency of Suarez and his running mates this could be a tight affair with nerves a jangling. Colour wise I will be backing the blues in this one.
If you prefer a possible deluge of goals and some swashbuckling entertainment then perhaps the Costa Rica v England game might just surprise you !
The Three lions are hurt and the Costa Ricans will make changes.
So there you have it Pasta and Pie and Mash either way get your bar stool early as I am sure it will be another cracking night of Football.
Costa Rica v England
Italy v Uruguay
Greece v Ivory Coasts
Japan v Colombia