Monday 23 June
Netherlands 2:0 Chile
The eagerness of the anticipation wasn’t quite matched by the tactical stalemate that near ensued. The brilliance of Arjen Robben unlocked the match and confirmed the Netherlands in top spot avoiding Brazil in the next round.
The unlikely moniker of Memphis Depay belongs to the striker who turned in Robben’s late cross for the second.
Australia 0:3 Spain
A practice match to see who would finish bottom of group B ended in Spain’s favour after Villa put them ahead Fernando Torres and old boy Juan Mata scored the others. New boy Fábregas got a game towards the end but Azpilicueta was rested.
Cameroon 1:4 Brazil
A very flattering scoreline as Neymar score or made the goals to help Brazil out of defensive hole. Their creaking backline could well be their undoing in their own World Cup.
Oscar worked hard to let the showoffs shine and had an exquisite touch to lay on the fourth.
Croatia 1:3 Mexico
A difficult match to watch as Croatia who would have advanced with a win slumped and Mexico go through to play the Dutch.
Tuesday 24 June
England 0:0 Costa Rica
There was a time, not so very long ago, when failing to beat Costa Rica at the World Cup was a sacking offence even for managers of the Scottish national football team.
Hodgson is secure in his job and managed another abject display. For a manager who has said he doesn’t pick players on fashion or because they are at a big club he selected Jones and Smalling for this game because they play for Manchester United. Jones played at right back so we had no forward movement on that side of the pitch. Which meant Costa Rica only had to worry about our attempts to burrow through the middle or on the left were Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana made progress. Until, that is, Hodgson noticed that Lallana was playing well when he substituted him for Raheem Sterling. Sterling deserved to be on but surely for the completely wooden and unproductive James Milner who did nothing but take up space.
There were a few positives mostly that Lampard and Wilshire looked better in midfield together. Both were better at closing down Costa Rican attacks and both had a better more imaginative range of passing than Gerrard and Henderson.
Most of the criticism of our performances has been focused on the defence. Too few of those critics mention the role of the midfield in shielding the defence. Brendan Rodgers tried Henderson and Gerrard at Liverpool as a two in a 4-2-3-1. It didn’t work. Gerrard is old, immobile and accident-prone. Henderson has an attacking role but no sense of defensive positioning. Together they are a liability. What is really shocking is that this amateurish mistake was dreamt up weeks before the tournament, not tested, and repeated against Uruguay after it had failed against Italy.
And yet you can still read articles on the BBC website with headlines like “How Hodgson can Improve England”. The answer is he can’t. He can’t see what is going wrong, he can’t act to change his tactics during a game, when asked why his team fails his response is always “I don’t know.”
Roy Hodgson will lead England to another two years of drift and failure.
Italy 0:1 Uruguay
Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini. The deluded, charmless berk actually said after the match that it was just something that happened on the pitch and you shouldn’t make so much of it. He clearly doesn’t understand that it hasn’t ever happened to anyone but him. After the punishments he received for his two previous bites his sentence this time has to be the maximum allowable – two years.
If Rebekah Brooks can walk way from the high court Suarez has ever chance of being found innocent of all charges.
Italy were unlucky to be down to ten-men was the slightest contact of boot on leg drew a straight-red card. They then fell behind to a goal from a player who should have been sent off against England Diego Godin.
After Suarez’s handball denied Ghana four years ago Uruguay are once again the most loathed team at the World Cup.
Greece 2:1 Cote d’Ivoire
Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and the crew are all heading home after Greece proved that all you need to progress is an easy group and a dodgy penalty. As always the Elephants had only themselves to blame for a lack of ambition.
Samaras’ dive for the penalty should bring retrospective action. He stubbed his own toe and threw himself down in a heap with no contact from his oppoent.
Japan 1:4 Columbia
Japan were game but naïve on the break as Columbia confirmed themselves the class of a very poor group.
Wednesday 25 June
Ferencvaros have a new stadium to open in Budapest and we have been asked to do the honours. Sunday 10 August for those who want to travel to one of the most beautiful corners of Europe and absorb a bit of that coffee house history.
Nigeria 2:3 Argentina
A cracking game of football saw both progress. Obi John and Kenneth Omeruo were both to the fore especially young Ken who dealt with Messi and the Argentine attack as if born to the role. His positioning a speed make him one of the tournament’s leading defenders.
Bosnia & Herzegovina 3:1 Iran
Bosnia & H leave the group with a positive result from their first World Cup. Iran surprised a few with their obduracy but offered little else.
Ecuador 0:0 France
Bored, bored, bored, bored… for once France lets us down. At World Cups in recent times they have either been magnificent or a car crash. Today they rested a host of players and suddenly Gary and the posh boys on BBC1 were wishing they’d switched to BBC3.
Ecuador needed to match Switzerland’s result but could muster a real challenge because…
Honduras 0:3 Switzerland
Xeherdan Shaqiri scored a hat-trick to take the Swiss through against a poor Honduras in the heat and humidity of Manaus.
The first was a cracker from 25-yards and the others he rolled in on the break.
Thursday 26 June
Portugal 2:1 Ghana
The Black Stars and Christian Atsu lost to an own-goal and Cristano Ronaldo. They had the chances to ear the win but they needed a big win to overtake the USA.
There have been many positives from Ghana’s campaign, not the least of them the impact of Christian Atsu, but there will still be frustration that they didn’t get out of this group.
USA 0:1 Germany
Everything at Fifa has to be done to lull America into loving the game. Fifa want the cash. So the US under a German coach got just the result they needed from Germany. Germany played in fits and starts but with application could have thrashed this organised but limited US side.
South Korea 0:1 Belgium
This was far from the easy flowing football we all expected from Belgium but perhaps they are just finding their rhythm ahead of the USA.
Belgium even made it harder for themselves when Steven Defour was sent off for a studs up challenge.
Thibaut Courtois had little to do and what he did he was unflustered about. Eden Hazard came on for the last ten minutes only
Algeria 1:1 Russia
The most crushing one-all victory in Algerian history. Denied progress in 1982 by Germany and Austria’s infamous rigged match Algeria came from behind with a goal from Islam Slimani to qualify for the last 16 for the first time.
Fabio Capello and Russia go home wondering how the World Cup works.
Saturday 28 June
After a rest day things really kicked off –
Brazil 1:1 Chile
Playing under the most intense pressure imaginable Oscar, Ramires and Willian all played a part in helping Brazil go through against a very string Chile.
Come the penalty shootout old boy David Luiz scored while Willian slid his effort past the post but the hosts prevailed 3-2 on spot-kicks.
Not great football but a cracking spectacle.
Columbia 2:0 Uruguay
Columbia did with little fuss what England under Roy Hodgson couldn’t do in a month of Sundays – Uruguay leave moaning about conspiracies and photoshop and deluding themselves.
James Rodriguez scored the goals the first one will probably win gola of the tournament as he swivelled and shot on one movement to volley his side ahead.
Sunday 29 June
Netherlands 2:1 Mexico
Just, only just, but the Dutch squeaked past Mexico who have developed a phobia about World Cups – the last five in a row have finished at this stage just out of the group and flush with optimism they fall at the first knockout round.
They led for most of the second-half after Giovani Dos Santos volley them ahead. Wesley Sneijder thrashed in a late equaliser before Arjen Robben was felled for a late penalty. You could have a debate about his diving but he had been hacked down a few times during the match without an award so you can perhaps forgive hime, assuming you are not Mexican. Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored from the spot.
Costa Rica 1:1 Greece
Another nail biter and another shootout. Costa Rica, down to ten for the best part of an hour, opened the scoring and then hung on until a last minute equaliser rescued Greece but they couldn’t make the man advantage count and Costa Rica won the shoot-out 5-3.
Everton 1:2 Chelsea
The women’s team overcame FA Cup finalists Everton with goals from Eni Aluko and Ana Borges. It has been a long break for the women and they’ll be glad to be back with a win.