Group B: land of contrasts. It wasn’t, might we date to venture, supposed to end up like this. Going into the first of the final round of group matches, it was supposed to be all about the tension and the excitement of two simultaneous matches being played, but the way in which this group has panned out means that we kick off the final round of group matches – and the sleep deprived amongst us are at least cheering the fact that the last of the eleven o’clock kick offs has now come and gone – with matches that could, if viewed through one prism, be viewed as dead rubbers.

Viewed through another, however, there is interest to be had here. We’ll be focusing on the match between the match between the Netherlands and Chile. Both teams have maximum points so far so something has to give, but with hosts Brazil facing one of these two in the next round of the competition and no-one yet knowing where they will finish in their group yet (although with Brazil playing the so far terrible Cameroon tonight we can probably hazard a guess), the question becomes one of which coach may stick and which may twist.

The other match may go some way towards establishing what sort of psychological damage has been done to Spain as a result of their recent shellackings at the hands of the aforementioned two. They play Australia in the group’s effective third-place play-off. Join Richard Grinham and I shortly before five to see how it all plays out.

Mark June 23, 20146:52 pm

3-0 Spain, although it should have been more late on. And despite early appearances, these two games haven’t put much of a dent in the tournament’s goals-per-game ratio.

Mark June 23, 20146:42 pm

And you flicked back just before Juan Mata makes it 3-0 from fellow sub Fabregas’s cross. Mata could have squared the ball to an unmarked Torres. But he didn’t. Del Bosque adjusts his tie. Oz are defending so deep at times that they are almost behind the goal.

Rob June 23, 20146:36 pm

I just flicked over to Spain-Australia for a couple of minutes. Fer fucks sake.

Richard June 23, 20146:35 pm

I take it back. Leroy Fer has scored with his first touch.

Richard June 23, 20146:34 pm

The Netherlands appear to be shutting shop here with Leroy Fer coming on for Wesley

Richard June 23, 20146:31 pm

Kuyt has played really well here. Covering acres of the pitch as usual and playing every position confidently.

Mark June 23, 20146:29 pm

I think Brazil will finish top.

Mark June 23, 20146:28 pm

Cesc Fabregas is coming on. Cited as proof that Spain boss Del Bosque “doesn’t hold grudges” after their recent training ground bust-up. Being brought into this game might suggest otherwise.
But, its 2-0, Iniesta with another sliderule pass and Torres finishes very well to be fair to him. The celebrations have the air of a pre-season friendly about them.

Richard June 23, 20146:28 pm

I also don’t think Brazil will finish top. Cameroon will want to go out with a bang and have the strength and speed to pull something off.

Ted June 23, 20146:26 pm

Here’s one: I don’t think Brazil will finish top. World Cup predictions a speciality. And I’ve got a belter of one lined up for tomorrow.

Ian June 23, 20146:22 pm

Actually, Chile have woken up a bit over this last fifteen minutes or so, as if a little “HOLY SHIT, WE’LL PROBABLY HAVE TO PLAY BRAZIL IF WE DON’T WIN THIS” alarm has gone off collectively in the players’ heads.

Mark June 23, 20146:18 pm

Villa’s international career is ended by his substitution. He’s not happy. And no wonder. He’s played well, Torres has played…less well.
Just as depressing is Villa’s immediate future career path. On to the “Manchester City franchise” in the States (New York City FC) for the next MLS season next March. In the meantime, on-loan to Melbourne Heart in Oz…to be re-named Melbourne City, as another Man C franchise (“quote franchise quote” – White). ]
Juan Mata’s on BTW.

Ian June 23, 20146:15 pm

Alexis muttons a thirty yarder a couple of feet over the Dutch crossbar. I kind of get the feeling that both sets of players would rather have just agreed on a goalless draw before the match and a couple of extra hours by the swimming pool.

Mark June 23, 20146:13 pm

White: “Was Torres on his heels there or was the ball over-hit?” Hinchcliffe: “Torres has been on his heels for the last two years.”

Mark June 23, 20146:12 pm

Torres tries a Villa-esque backheel…and misses…and is offside. Apart from that.

Mark June 23, 20146:05 pm

It is NEVER too early to start drinking yet.
Two old BBC Radio voices on Spain/Oz commentary, with Hinchcliffe joined by Arlo White. Like most of the “second team” of commentators, far less offensive than the big names.

Ian June 23, 20145:51 pm

Well, that was a big, fat forty-five minutes of nothing. Is it too early to start drinking yet?

Richard June 23, 20145:50 pm

It’s be a fairly tepid first half from the Netherlands and Chile. Neither team are really pushing but the second half may provide more excitement. Robben is finding his feet but Chile need a win to take top spot (because of the goal difference)

Mark June 23, 20145:49 pm

Oz have, I hate to admit it, missed Tim Cahill, although that’s only been mentioned once in commentary. Meanwhile, Cazorla nearly makes it 2-0 after a neat set-up by Koke. Spain have played well for the last 15 minutes of a half generously described as “bright and lively” – a more accurate assessment of Spain’s socks than the game. Villa has been better than Costa…by an innings. Speaking of which, how’s the cricket goin…oh, FFS!!!
Spain 1 Oz 0

Ted June 23, 20145:42 pm

It’s inconceivable that it took three games – and their own elimination – before Del Bosque recalled David Villa. To persist with Diego Costa (unfit) and Fernando Torres (absolutely, categorically, empirically, bloody useless) for so long was reckless to the point of sabotage.

Mark June 23, 20145:40 pm

Iniesta played a fine ball to Juanfran down the right and he seemed to want to wait until Villa become tightly marked in the six-yard box. But it never happened, so in the ball went, just behind Villa who manufactured a backheel to do the job. If Ronaldo (thin) had scored a goal like that…
Oz nearly equalised immediately, but Reina put his laces through a loose ball in his six-yard box.

Ted June 23, 20145:38 pm

Novak Djokovic took the first set against Andrey Golubev 6-0 in just 23 minutes. I’m reading this live blog at the same time to keep abreast of the football, so I’m hoping that this is all factually accurate.

Richard June 23, 20145:37 pm

Both of these games have been poor so far. Nothing to split either tie and it doesn’t look like we’ll get much action before half time.

Mark June 23, 20145:36 pm

Just about to say that David Villa was lifting himself above the general malaise and he backheels Spain ahead. Honest.

Ian June 23, 20145:34 pm

I’ve really taken to watching football in complete silence over the last couple of days.

Mark June 23, 20145:31 pm

The people of Curitiba have had Iran NIgeria served to them…and now this. Deepest sympathy…

Richard June 23, 20145:26 pm

I’m sure the coaches use some rubbish excuse like “streamlining the players to increase speed”

Mark June 23, 20145:26 pm

Torres’ shirt is ripped across the middle, which probably breaches about 94 FIFA directives. If he scores, that might…no…don’t bother…

Ted June 23, 20145:22 pm

football shirts are so tight now, what on earth is going on?

Mark June 23, 20145:22 pm

Villa volleys the first clear chance wide, from an Iniesta………………FLOATER.
Villa has to score eight to overtake Miroslav Klose and fat Ronaldo… Hasn’t started well. Jordi Alba brings a save out of the Oz keeper, though. (Luke)warming up

Mark June 23, 20145:19 pm

“The touch a little heavy there by Fernando Torres…he just looks back at a piece of turf that just kicked up.” Five years, summed up in a sentence.
And I thought the two teams in white were eleven men against two with sticks. All this multi-channel stuff is beyond an old ‘un like me.

Ian June 23, 20145:18 pm

So, you join us here for this afternoon’s match between Chile and the Netherlands, wheree both teams are wearing white and only have one player each.

Oh, hang on. Wrong channel.

Ted June 23, 20145:17 pm

I remain to be sold on the Netherlands in this tournament. They’ve been exciting and scored lots of goals, but they were put under the cosh for 40 minutes by a Spain team who have turned out to be dogshit and given a real run for their money by an average Australia. Chile have been a far more convincing proposition.

What does all this mean? Well, it means that Chile will lose today and the Netherlands will win the World Cup, of course.

Richard June 23, 20145:15 pm

It’s been pretty standard so far. The Dutch are looking to his Chile on the break so they aren’t seeing too much of the ball (I think it’s intentional at least).

Australia are playing the opposite game against Spain – lofting in a floater at ever opportunity.

Richard June 23, 20145:14 pm

And the Netherlands finally get to wear their all orange kit…

Mark June 23, 20145:11 pm

More kit nonsense. Spain’s red and blue is, of course, almost indistinguishable from Oz’ yellow and green. So Spain are wearing black (apt, perhaps?) and…er…yellow. Admittedly, its a bright yellow (think Only Fools and Horses luminous yellow) rather than gold, but still… No chances, though.

Richard June 23, 20145:10 pm

Australia are very much the crowd favourites today.

Richard June 23, 20145:05 pm

It’s worth noting that Vidal isn’t in the Chile line up today.

Richard June 23, 20145:04 pm

Australia pressing hard against the Spanish already. They are getting a lot of bodies in the box.

Mark June 23, 20145:03 pm

Well, I’ve a choice between the Test Match and Oz/Spain.
So…Spain make seven changes and the undroppable Sergio Ramos is…playing. Villa and Torres up front. Reina in goal. Co-commentary everyman Andy Hinchcliffe behind the mic. Could be fun. Or…

Richard June 23, 20145:02 pm

Really pleased to see Dirk Kuyt getting a run out. He’s been very influential this season and has the legs to cover at the back.

Ted June 23, 20145:01 pm

Dirk Kuyt playing today: it’s worth remembering that he has a pet coot called Dick.

Ted June 23, 20145:00 pm

The Netherlands, playing in an unaccustomed orange kit as opposed to their traditional blue today. With Robin Van Persie suspended, Rob Rensenbrink steps in as the captain for today, aged 66.

Greetings, soccer lovers.

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