Monday 16 June
Germany 4:0 Portugal
Few international teams deserve a thrashing more than Portugal. Built solely around getting the ball the Ronaldo they are one-dimensional in the extreme and Germany took a dose of revenge for the rest of the world.
Andre Schürrle was a second-half substitute and supplied the cross for Thomas Müller to finish his hat-trick. Müller was the centre of almost everything as a Pepe headbutt on the striker earned him a straight red.
Whatever your feelings towards the perpetually successful Germans it was worth it to watch Ronaldo cry – again.
Iran 0:0 Nigeria
Ugh, there was always going to be one awful, stale, unimaginative 0-0 festival of flat.
That three Chelsea players were at the heart of a misfiring Nigeria made it worse. Iran showed no ambition of any kind but as easy as it was for Nigeria to get the ball everything ran through Obi John who slowed the pace of things and passed sideways. Even when a quick break was possible and Victor Moses was screaming for the ball it went long or crabwise.
Ghana 1:2 USA
Jammy yanks snatched a win from a game dominated by the Black Stars and Christian Atsu in particular. Atsu has been on loan from Chelsea to Vitesse Arnhem for most of the pervious season but keen loan watchers will have been eagerly awaiting his World Cup debut.
He didn’t disappoint, or rather he did, as all his dazzling approach play didn’t lead to chances.
The US, under Jurgen Klinsmann, were well organised but show limited ability or ambition. Having scored in the first minute the US barely touched the ball before scoring form a late corner.
Tuesday 17 June
Belgium 2:1 Algeria
Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens scored the goal to haul Belgium to a result after an early Algerian penalty. Eden Hazard played his part in both goals but it was Kevin de Bruyne who caught the eye. Romelu Lukaku did all the hard work in breaking down and wearing out the stubborn defence before he was substituted.
Brazil 0:0 Mexico
Mexico have a bit of the jinx effect on Brazil. A draw is not a bad result for either team but the Brazilian public were clearly nervous and the sudden rash of sideways and backward passing started to take hold on the Seleção. Fine goalkeeping from Ochoa did the rest.
It is a shame for Fortaleza as a city because the anticipation of a competitive Brazil home game really lit the place up.
Russia 1:1 South Korea
As always there is the match you fall asleep watching, but wait, through the drooping eyelids you spot a shot which the goalkeeper is going to gather easily… and then the next thing you know… Robert Green’s household explodes in celebrations as Igor Akinfeev drops it into the back of his own net. Akinfeev goes straight to the top of ’keeper howlers replacing the QPR man at the summit.
A late equaliser from Aleksandr Kerzhakov spared Capello’s blushes. Isn’t it strange that Fabio Capello is forever having his blushes spared?
Wednesday 18 June
Football fixtures day.
We’ve had it marked in the calendar for months and finally it is here with an earth-shattering fixture up first – Burnley away.
Well, you know what we mean. Chelsea football returns on the weekend of August 16-17.
Big news is that Everton, the Mans City and United and Liverpool make up four of our first six away games.
West Ham at home on Boxing day, well, it is the time of year for having noisy neighbours and relatives round and obviously we can’t go to Fulham for a few years.
We finish with a home game with Sunderland on May 24 2015.
Television obviously means that at least a third of these fixtures will be played on at a time and on a day least convenient to you.
Australia 2:3 Netherlands
A close call for the Dutch but a hugely entertaining game featuring cracking goals from Arjen Robben, Tim Cahill and Robin van Persie. Cahill’s volley a few seconds after Robben’s opener was the pick of the bunch.
Spain 0:2 Chile
And they’re out… Spain became the fifth holders to fail to make it out of their group. Chile dominated the chances as witless Spain surrendered without troubling the scorers. Without the dodgy penalty against the Netherlands they’d have nil and deserve less. Diego Costa hasn’t had a shot on target on two games.
Cameroon 0:4 Croatia
Cameroon were poor and down to ten and are out as Croatia proved their performance against Brazil was no accident.
Thursday 19 June
Columbia 2:1 Cote d’Ivoire
A close call as the Elephants failed to really test Columbia. Didier Drigba, on as a late sub, very nearly reprised the scoring heroics of his Chelsea days but the ball was a inch or two too high to meet his header and the chance was gone and with it their World Cup.
Uruguay 2:1 England
“I told you so” are often the hardest words to say. Hodgson picked the same mess that failed in the first game and, having identified the key man, moved him sideways to accommodate his out of form prima donna.
This was football management at its most imbecilic – Henderson retained his place alongside the ageing and ineffectual Gerrard. Hodgson watched these two fail to protect the vulnerable Liverpool defence all season. He watched again on Saturday as they offered no defensive shield against Italy and still selected them.
Henderson’s thought processes in possession are so slow you can watch individual decisions travel from brain to foot with a second-class stamp on them.
Glen Johnson made up the Liverpool problem at the back he was as inefficient as ever – oh, but he supplied the cross for the goal, you cry – yes, that stumbled pass was his only contribution in two matches.
Danny Welbeck can finally get back to the holiday he should have been on this summer. Van Gaal will drop this waste of space after a few weeks and he’ll be playing for QPR on loan before relegation and lack of form will cut short his career. And good riddance…
It is not really his fault, after all Danny Welbeck doesn’t pick himself ahead of Adam Lallana. The introduction of the Southampton man, again brought instantly better penetration, came with only twenty-minutes left.
Hodgson, asked afterward how we had thrown this away replied: “I don’t know”. Which sums up his time as England manager – how did you get the job ahead of Harry Redknapp (“I don’t know”), why did you pick a dysfunctional squad and play 4-4-2 in Poland and the Ukraine (“I don’t know”), why didn’t you use Jack Wilshire instead of the wooden floating object that is Jordan Henderson (“I don’t know”). He doesn’t know but he is the England manager.
What is worse than Hodgson’s utter inability to put out a decent England side, is us, the English. We watch, supine, as managers from West Ham, Ipswich, Watford, Middlesbrough and West Brom fail to pick the best England squad or fail to understand tactics and we cheer them on. The press sometimes get nasty when we fail but we fell on our arses in the Ukraine and Roy is still in the role.
When we analyse what is wrong all we can talk about his how the players lack passion. Wayne Rooney and the side didn’t lack passion in South Africa they were knackered after weeks in boot camp recovering from a nine-month football season by doing double sessions at altitude and being asked to play 4-4-2.
This time at least they lasted the course in both games but they are being selected by a manager who has not developed a coherent style for the side but cobbled something together at the last minute – almost literally and having watched his creation fail against Italy he picked the same experiment but moved its most useful part sideways to accommodate his out of form striker.
We shouldn’t be surprised. This comes from the nation who failed to produce a tennis champion for 70 years and yet continued to trust the chinless, hoorays at the LTA to pour our money into their own pockets. We accept a quarter of a century passing between ashes wins as the Australians laugh themselves inside out and develop cricket academies.
Our success in cycling came because an intelligent group of coaches identified what was needed and set about systematically implementing their plan. In football we blather on about pride and passion, think tactics are for foreigners and appoint Howard Wilkinson and Danny Mills to a commission charged with a blueprint for the future… we are morons.
Japan 0:0 Greece
You had to be a very dedicated football nut to sit up until the wee smalls watching this crap. Greece were awful – worse even than England – but Japan didn’t have enough about them to exploit their weaknesses.
Friday 20 June
Italy 0:1 Costa Rica
All those straw clutched so tightly turned to dust as Italy came up against the immovable object of Costa Rica. The result means England are out of the World Cup.
Brian Ruiz of Fulham scored the only goal as a poor Italy side underestimated determined foe. Costa Rica really should have had a penalty to increase their lead in the heat of Recife.
Switzerland 2:5 France
Fifa’s rankings had Switzerland seeded 6th in this tournament and the absurdity of that position and its knock on effect on the groups was clear in this result. A strong French side wiped them away with little effort.
France even had the luxury of missing a penalty as Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko scored the goals to give them a comprehensive win.
Honduras 1:2 Ecuador
Honduras actually turned up to play a bit in this one and took the lead but still fell to Two Enner Valencia goals. They are one of the few teams as bad as England.
Saturday 21 June
It looks like Roy Hodgson will keep his job. The FA have been enthusiastically backing him after an embarrassing exit to Euro 2012, an execrating, stumbling incompetent qualification from an easy group and humiliating thrashing in both group games what more has Roy to offer?
Argentina 1:0 Iran
Lionel Messi might be carving himself a niche in Argentinean football. His last injury-time winner was crucial in a game many had pinned as a thrashing.
Germany 2:2 Ghana
Christian Atsu again lit up Ghana and we sincerely hope Mourinho has been watching. He was so powerful here that Germany kept their full-backs behind to cover. The draw was a little harsh on the Black Stars who play Portugal on Thursday afternoon.
Nigeria 1:0 Bosnia Herzegovina
Bosnia were incredibly unlucky to lose this match and so drop out of the competition. Edin Dzeko scored a legitimate goal only for a linesman’s flag to deny him. Peter Odemwingie knocked them out only a month after patching up his relationship with the coach.
Kenneth Omeruo and Obi John started Victor Moses stayed on the bench.
Sunday 22 June
Belgium 1:0 Russia
Eden Hazard left it very late to light up this match as Russia looked well organised and occasionally threatened before Eden took matters into his own hands. First he thrashed a shot wide before burrowing through the defence and finding the substitute