The 200% World Cup: The Group A Final Round, Live!
by Ian · June 23, 2014
Well, good evening again, everybody, and it’s time for the final round of group matches in Group A. There’s still all to play for for three of the teams in this group. Cameroon may well have been eliminated with a game to spare, but with Brazil and Mexico topping the table on three points and Croatia snapping at their heels on two points, any of these three teams – though probably not Brazil – could yet get eliminated at the group stages of the competition. Brazil have the easiest match, at home against a Cameroon side who didn’t look terribly impressive when they did anything to play for, but all eyes will be on the match between Mexico and Croatia. It’s almost certain that one of these two teams will be eliminated by the end of this evening, but which will it be? It’s Croatia who really need the win – anything less from them will leave them relying on what would be a very unlikely result indeed from the Brazil match.
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And when I did get over to ITV1, the first thing I heard was Wright: “Bang…bang…” I quit while he was ahead.
Thanks for reading. England tomorrow. Which will be.
No, that’s all.
Mexico win. Only one goal in their first 252 minutes of their matches here. But they were way more entertaining than that – and had two perfectly good goals disallowed against Cameroon.
Netherlands v Mexico and Brazil, even this Brazil, v Chile, are second round ties to which to look forward.
Now, I wonder what Ian Wright thinks of it all. Wait…no…I don’t give a toss…
Full time in Brasilia: Brazil win 4-1 and top the group. Cameroon have been dreadful all tournament and there was no change here. The fact that the hosts still made heavy weather of it should raise a few question marks about how far they can realistically get in this competition.
And I’ve got a prediction right. Rebic finds the middle of Pena’s shin-pad with his studs. Red card. Croatia, at last, beginning to live down to their ill-disciplined stereotype.
Perisic isn’t conforming, though, and forces a save from mega-permed Mexican keeper Ochoa. Fun, this game, now its ending.
Brazil are definitely calmer now, and will be until Saturday when they realise that Chile have been playing a lot better than they have.
The substitution of Guardado hints that Mexico weren’t over-fussed about winning the group anyway. But Croatia are still capable of shipping two goals in five-plus minutes. And, right on cue, Perisic rolls one in with his left foot. Goals, goals , goals in this World Cup. Or shite defending.
It was a neat interplay that made the space for Fernandinho and a cool finish. However, Cameroon were badly affected by their perennial enemy – their own defence – in the build up.
Brazil are now leading Group A on goals SCORED. A parlous situation, and one which Fernandinho remedies. It’s 4-1 to Brazil and that ought to be it.
They are right, Manchester United have made it 3-0 from a yard after a near-post corner is flicked onto his nose. ONE…MORE…GOAL.
Luiz Gustavo is the latest Brazilian player to be crippled by enemy action, and the Brazilian crowd sense bad things may be afoot in Recife.
Croatian sub Rebic is denied the goal of the tournament, after a weaving run past a number of green shirts, by Moreno’s goal-line clearance. Mann’s inability to ID Rebic straight away suggests he’s commentating from a studio far, far away from Recife. But even he’s twigged that Mexico could still win the group.
An unease has gripped the crowd in Brasilia. All of Brazil’s best players have been substituted or mown down by high tackles, while Mexico have started to fill their boots and, more pertinently, their goal difference.
Whatever question Croatia are asking, Nikica Jelavic is the answer. This would be grim enough for them if Guardado hadn’t just finished off a quick break to make it 2-0, which he has.
Two more Mexico goals and Vazquez misses the game against Chile.
Cameroon are determined to leave their mark on this tournament. Or rather, on the players in it. Dani Alves is the latest recipient of this dazzling scheme.
Looks like Vazquez will be missing the Netherlands match. Four World Cup captain Marquez heads home another non-Puto corner. The camera shot of his celebration reveals that a LOT of drink was spilled among joyous Mexican fans.
A fright for Brazil, as Neymar hurts his knee and Scolari takes him off as a precaution. Willian is on and the Brazil team is now approximately as good as England’s.
Vazquez gets some use out of the “misses next match” caption after his booking. This will either be against the Netherlands or in a parallel universe. Either way its a blow for Mexico.
Mexico boss Miguel Herrero, BTW, was able to precisely and accurately mime Srno’s handball, yet the referee, Ravshan Irmatov, fifty yards nearer didn’t believe anything of the sort happened.
Another non=penalty, Srno blocking down a Guardado shot with all the aplomb (and use of the hand) of a Gaelic Football full-back. Then Corluka clears a non-Puto corner off the line. Since Hernandez (Chicarito) came on, its been all Mexico. Fcuk all to do with him, though.
Hulk is coming off having done nothing of any use and is replaced by Ramires. This Brazil team really doesn’t have the feel of World Champions about it, Neymar aside.
So, its time for “Manchester United’s Chicarito,” replacing Giovanni Dos Santos “once of Spurs.” EPL to the rescue. Gets such a loud reception that I thought Brazil had scored again. But no, Mexico’s fans are PLEASED TO SEE HIM… No, really.
And minutes 56 to 60.
The phrase “not enough quality in the final third” is the lazy pundit’s cliché of clichés (which is why I keep hearing it in Martin Keown’s voice). But its a neat summary of minutes 46 to 55 in Recife.
ITV have now cottoned on to the fact that Fred was offside for his goal. Fred and half of the rest of his team. “It’s so hard to call them”, opines Clarke Carlisle.
The BBC’s (excellent) Tim Vickery noted the other day that “Fred” should actually be pronounced “Fredgy.” Has anyone taken any notice? Mann clearly wasn’t listening.
All of a sudden Brazil are playing like, well, Brazil. It’s been two and a half games coming, mind you.
Fred will settle for just the one… David Luiz (offside) crosses for Fred (also offside) and it’s 3-1.
Joe Root and Travis Bickle (Modric and Pranjic) have swapped positions early in the second half.
Large cheers. 3-1 Brazil??
Brazil are peppering the Cameroon goal with shots. Neymar almost caught Itandje off guard with a direct free kick. He’s after the 50th World Cup hat trick
Back to the fun in Recife too. Expect a dust-up or two if Croatia’s fortunes don’t improve.
Fernandinho is on at half time, and Brazil kick off for some soccer action.
0-0 in Recife, although it was better than that for 30 minutes at least. The teams’ commitment to attack is inversely proportional to their need to win. Meanwhile, Danny Higginbotham has added his name to “the list.” The ever-lengthening one of “analysts showing up Lawrenson and Hansen for the punditry has-beens they’ve long been.” It might take a while to have complete faith in Higginbotham when he says “I don’t see where the foul is there.” And he still sounds a bit Scouse for a Mancunian. But otherwise he’s continuing Stoke City’s and ex-Stoke City’s fine World Cup.
Srno and Guardado go eye to er…neck (Srno’s a big fellow) after a touchline fracas. An “undercurrent coming to the surface” notes Mann, correctly. Good.
It’s half time in Brasilia, 2-1 to the hosts and another one of this World Cup’s inexplicable matches seems to be under way.
As it stands, Brazil play Chile on Saturday teatime, Mexico play the Netherlands 24 hours later.
Mexico force a number of corners, each one worse than the previous one. And Mexican skipper Marquez is booked for stopping a quick (-ish) Croatia break from the last one. Brazil’s group again, unless Mexico find their shooting boots.
Neymar is actually the Portuguese word for “carrying ten passengers”
2-1. Neymar again, making something from nothing.
Good timing, Predictmund.
Cameroon’s goal got them back into the match in every possible way. Brazil are fumbling around in the dark.
Which isn’t to say a meeting with Chile would be any easier for the hosts. I can’t see them beating either of them unless they significantly improve.
Mann: “Mexico supporters creating a party atmosphere.” He doesn’t know what “puto” means, does he?
A win for either Croatia or Mexico would see Brazil, as it stands, face a no-doubt do a poo in your pants hilarious second round tie with the Netherlands.
As it stands, any winner in Recife would top the group. Match of the Day could be in EPL last-day mode yet.
Good goal, Cameroon’s. Brazil ain’t winning this World Cup. There. I said it.
Joel Matip turns in the splendidly named Allan Nyom’s low cross from the left touchline. Game may very well be back on. Brazil haven’t been all that impressive so far, Cameroon are just woeful. There’s nothing wrong with their individuals, aside from the fact they can’t be bothered to play as a team.
Just a quick reminder that although the Croatia/Mexico game is being hyped as a “shoot-out”, a draw will do for Mexico. They aren’t playing for it, though. Mind you, what team in this tournament is good enough defensively to do so? Not Brazil, it would seem.
And, right on cue, Cameroon…
If natural justice were done here, Cameroon would be routed. I really have no patience with any sportsman or team who arrive at their world championships with no intention of even trying.
No “Puto” to accompany Croatian throw-ins. Pity. Though if Mexico go 2 or 3 up, who knows?
Fred nearly, nearly, nearly, nearly gets on the end of Paulinho’s cross but, just as he was about to nudge it across the line with his moustache end, the Cameroon goalkeeper decides to do some work after all. Earning his appearance fee and all that.
So…Mexico need a 3-0 to top of the group and they ain’t gonna get it if Peralta keeps finishing like…that. He “lost his footing at the vital moment,” says a lenient Mann.
Goal for Brazil, by the way. Neymar from eight yards out with the Cameroon defence absent without leave. There’s not a great deal going on in this match. Croatia and Mexico looks like being a straight shoot-out – can’t see anything other than a Brazil win here.
Plenty of neutrals in Recife, as there’s been a big cheer for…(see below)
And, right on cue: Neymar opens the scoring for Brazil. 1-0. Easy.
Mexico’s Herrera hits the underside of the bar from half-a-mile. Herrera has been Mexico’s best player here – as he was for Mexico in their successful Olympic team.
Cameroon have been truly wretched in this tournament. Their utter lack of any discipline seems to be continuing today. As an Englishman, I can only say I’m glad they’re here.
All Croatia at the moment and if, somehow, anything is decided by corner count it will be in their favour.
Croatian midfielder Joe Root gets an early head injury. Needs to clear it quick as he’s not out overnight in the test match and England need all the help they can get.
Who remembers when Brazil used to be either different to other football teams, better than other football teams or – if you’re really lucky – both?
“Just stop it” cries Hig, like a parent admonishing a recalcitrant child as the Mexican boss waves an imaginary yellow card. Croatia’s Rakitic soon-enough sees a real one.
Fair play to Fred for not only turning up, but turning up with a moustache. Skills.
And Croatia’s corners have been a bit “Puto” so far. But at least they’re forcing some.
Mexico fans screaming “Puto” at the corner-takers as well as the keeper’s taking kick-outs. Internationalism at its best.
Mexico with black shorts and about 97.3% of the support. ITV4 commentators, Alistair Mann and Danny Higginbotham. Plenty of scouse-sounding enthusiasm from the Hig so far.
Neymar has his hair on backwards again.