The third and fourth games of the knockout stages were played today.
And it looks good for England.
Or does it?
First, let’s have a look at the matches…
Spain were obvious favourites going in against the hosts. A World Cup winning team with a squad of superstars and a playing philosophy that the world marvels at. Against a Russian side whose players are supposedly inferior.
Two goals came in normal time, both from defensive errors. The first was an own goal by the Russians that Sergio Ramos claimed – he would, wouldn’t he?
Russia equalise toward half time after Pique handballs in the penalty area. The decision is a good one, as it was unnatural movement toward the ball, and Russia put away the equaliser.
The next half is one of the most boring halves EVER.
Yes, Spain are good with possession. But it is decidedly boring to watch 45 minutes of 11 players passing the ball between them. It is dull, and for this reason, I hoped Spain would go out. I didn’t want to have to face watching another match of this in the quarter finals.
I got my wish.
The Russian goalkeeper saves Spain’s third penalty.
Another one of the favourites is on the way home.
The first 2 goals came in the opening 3 minutes. The first a scramble in from the Danes, the second another scramble from Manzukic leaving the rebound for his teammate.
This goes straight through extra time until the 114th minute of the match where Croatia are through on goal. A Danish defender takes the player out, leaving Modric to step up to and take the penalty that would send his team through.
And, as we went into the penalty shootout, the goalkeeper saves continued.
Denmark’s first and fourth penalties were saved, as were Croatia’s.
But, unfortunately for the Danes who had performed valiantly, their fifth is saved, and Rakitic scores Croatia’s fifth to send them to the quarter finals.
In case you have missed this on social media, this now means one of the following teams will be in the final:
Look at that. Just look at it.
Surely this is our best chance? Looking at that list of potential opponents, are there any that really intimidate you?
It is by far the most promising side of the wall chart, and one that should fill us with hope.
The more I thought about it the more I decided – we just have to do it. This is our year. This looks like a set of matches we can win.
Then I woke up this morning and realised – these are teams that have so far knocked out Spain and Germany.
This is the World Cup of the Underdog.
By the way form is going, it is the ‘lesser’ teams that are turning out to be the scariest opponents in this tournament.
But then again – aren’t we a ‘lesser’ team?