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Open wide for some more soccer, as Argentina, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria go into battle for one last time. The two group leaders, Argentina and Nigeria, meet in Porto Alegre with Argentina needing just a point to guarantee that they will finish top. While a  draw would also be a good result for the Super Eagles – it would see them through to the knockout stages – it would however give them a probable second round match with a resurgent France. A Nigeria win would see them top the table and leave a so far less-impressive-than-expected Argentina team to have to face that match instead.

Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iran meet in Salvador. With the World Cup debutants already out, only Iran can break the duopoly at the top of the group. To achieve this they must win their match and hope that Argentina oblige them by defeating Nigeria. Then mathematics comes into the equation: Iran will also need a three-goal swing in their favour to go through on goal difference. It’s a difficult but not impossible set of circumstances, likely no doubt to be further complicated by the European team’s desire to leave their first ever World Cup Finals on the crest of a wave after some decent performances.

We’ll be here to see how it unfolds from just before 5. At the very least, we’re hopeful that no-one will bite anyone else this time.

You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter here.

Ian June 25, 20147:24 pm

Anyway, that’s yer lot. We’ll be back a bit later for France vs Ecuador and Switzerland vs Honduras.

Toodles!

Ted June 25, 20146:57 pm

I’ll be back later to find out whether or not Group E can provide me with the 5-2 and 6-0 matches of my dreams.

Ted June 25, 20146:55 pm

Anyway, it’s full time. Argentina 3-2 Nigeria, and both teams qualify. The game was over as a contest after about 60 minutes once it became apparent Bosnia were in cruise mode. Neither team were particularly impressive at the back but it made for an entertaining game.

Ian June 25, 20146:55 pm

Are we all back here later for this evening’s frolics?

Mark June 25, 20146:54 pm

Bosnia 3 Iran 1. The two knocked-out teams produce four goals. No wonder this tournament is breaking modern scoring records. Less exciting than it sounds. A bit like Switzerland, now you mention them (Andy Zaltzman on Switzerland in 2010: “They played as if trying to extinguish the concept of hope”).

Ted June 25, 20146:54 pm

Switzerland could lose 5-2 again, and they’d go through as long as France beat Ecuador 6-0. Imagine qualifying for the second round of the World Cup having lost your second AND third matches 5-2.

I need to stop thinking about it, I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

Ian June 25, 20146:53 pm

That would make for a rare sighting of the 9-3-3-3 group, which took on a near mythological status when it became apparent that it was the only way that England could qualify.

Ted June 25, 20146:51 pm

Switzerland can even go through tonight if they lose, as long as Ecuador lose by at least three goals more than they do. That would be the really classy way to qualify.

Ted June 25, 20146:49 pm

If England hadn’t bothered flying to Brazil and just drawn lots instead, we’d have had at least a 50% better chance of making the second round.

Football maths.

Rob June 25, 20146:48 pm

With the threat of lots now a distant memory, I can’t use my World Cup knowledge to point out that lots have been used twice before, including once to decide whether Spain or Turkey qualified for the 1954 World Cup.

Ted June 25, 20146:48 pm

If France beat Ecuador, Switzerland just need a point.

Ian June 25, 20146:47 pm

I was just looking at the group for that. If France shellack Ecuador and Switzerland do the same to Honduras, then they’re both through, right?

Ted June 25, 20146:46 pm

I’m looking forward to France later, who is looking forward to France later?

Mark June 25, 20146:43 pm

Ghoochannejad has two good goal efforts, after which we are treated to some real World Cup sweat, on the back of Iran boss Queiroz’s shirt. Then Ghooch scores with a neat close-range finish. But before the miracle can be considered (and before I could type that) its 3-1, a good low drive by right-back Vrsajevic. Now will ye wait til I’ve finished typing before scoring again? Thank you.

Ted June 25, 20146:42 pm

Ian June 25, 20146:41 pm

3-1 to Bosnia.

Ian June 25, 20146:41 pm

*Cancels flights*

Ian June 25, 20146:41 pm

I’m booking two seats on a flight to Rio as we speak.

Now, has anybody got Rolf Harris’s telephone number?

Ted June 25, 20146:40 pm

The similarity between the old Ready Brek advert and Protect and Survive films had completely passed me by until now. But that advert is like a DVD extra from Threads.

Rob June 25, 20146:40 pm

For those that haven’t seen the armbreaker:

Rob June 25, 20146:38 pm

For those that missed it:
http://www.youtube.com/MKkV8H0hqfQ

Ted June 25, 20146:38 pm

It’s safe to say that a lot of the urgency has left this game, which was previously insane. No-one has told Ahmed Musa, who wants his hat trick. It would be the 50th in World Cup history.

Ian June 25, 20146:38 pm

My mental image of Babatunde now is that he looks like the kids in this advert:

Ian June 25, 20146:35 pm

I have broken bones on a football pitch during matches twice.

Ted June 25, 20146:35 pm

Lutsk is only about 250 miles west from Chernobyl. Which would at least be one explanation for Babatunde’s bones.

Rob June 25, 20146:33 pm

About 12 years back, I remember Mark Venus of Ipswich hitting a free-kick in an East Anglian Derby. Alex Notman was in the wall, and tried to block it, and it hit his foot, bending it so far back, it bollocksed his ankle ligaments up. He was out for a year, played once more, and had to retire.

Ian June 25, 20146:33 pm

(I really hope Iran score three times in seventeen minutes now)

Ian June 25, 20146:33 pm

Bosnia are well on top now, in Salvador. There’s about as much chance of Iran of scoring three in the last seventeen minutes of this as there are of me and Rolf Harris performing the national anthems with Stylophone accompaniment before the final.

Ted June 25, 20146:31 pm

Michael Babatunde’s squad number at his club, Ukraine’s Volyn Lutsk: 79

Ted June 25, 20146:28 pm

Babatunde would be a disastrous goalkeeper. It is unfortunately the case, however, that his World Cup is likely to be at an end. I’ve never seen anything like it, apart from possibly in a Hot-Shot Hamish cartoon.

Rob June 25, 20146:26 pm

Onazi slams in a shot, which hits Michael Babtunde on the fist, and in such a way that it has clearly broken both the bones in his right forearm.

Ian June 25, 20146:26 pm

Just had an email from Brighton & Hove Albion offering me tickets for their League Cup match against Cheltenham Town for the low, low price of £12. I don’t want to sound tight or anything, but I don’t really want to spend that amount of money on that.

Ted June 25, 20146:26 pm

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Messi is off, a clear sign that Argentina fancy they’ve got this covered. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Babatunde was hit by a teammate’s shot and it appears that it has snapped his arm like a twig. A fairly unlikely turn of events but nevertheless one that has happened. He’s been replaced by Ochebo.

Mark June 25, 20146:25 pm

Pjanic denied another Bosnian goal by a magnificent last-ditch tackle by…oooh dear…Edin Dzeko. If looks could kill, Dzeko would be limping heavily…

Ted June 25, 20146:23 pm

Mark June 25, 20146:23 pm

Replays show Pjanic offside by, almost literally, a nose when he scored. At the other end, the other linesman flags another Iranian offside and shrugs apologetically. He could be a candidate for RSI unless he puts his flag in his other hand.

Mark June 25, 20146:20 pm

Iran look ready to bow out disgracefully, with little pockets of mini-scuffles ever since the goal. A comeback does NOT look on.

Ted June 25, 20146:20 pm

Rob June 25, 20146:18 pm

Pjanic on the pitch of Salvador.

Mark June 25, 20146:18 pm

Pjanic!! 2-0. Both metaphorically and actually. The Bosnian stays onside and the rest you know.

Mark June 25, 20146:17 pm

A quickfire double for Iran’s Dejageh!!!……….of offsides. This game is “getting stretched”, but as much by offside Iranians as anything else.

Ted June 25, 20146:16 pm

This game is absolutely set up for Shola Ameobi

Ian June 25, 20146:16 pm

Actually, re that thing I said about the empty seats in Salvador – there’s a LOT of empty seats in Salvador. I would not be surprised if this was the lowest crowd of the tournament.

Ian June 25, 20146:13 pm

Re: your football shirt numbers thing – I would only accept the number 13 shirt or just an exclamation mark.

Mark June 25, 20146:10 pm

I’m watching the wrong bleeding game again…

Ted June 25, 20146:10 pm

As it stands, it’s Argentina 3-2 Nigeria. There’s a pleasing lack of any defending in this game.

Ted June 25, 20146:10 pm

Now Argentina are back at it, Angel Di Maria’s long range effort is tipped over. From the resulting corner, Rojo heads Argentina back ahead. Someone on the BBC live blog predicted a 5-5 draw. Maybe they were representing a betting syndicate.

Mark June 25, 20146:08 pm

Just defended like a bullock too.

Ted June 25, 20146:08 pm

Ahmed Musa, the Nigerian Messi (?) has done it again, 2-2. Argentina went to sleep for a second and were punished. This game’s not over.

Ted June 25, 20146:06 pm

Back under way in Porto Alegre, heart of Brazilian cattle country. So here is Javier Mooscherano.

Mark June 25, 20146:05 pm

Chiles notes that a 2-1 win for Iran leaves them level on all counts with Nigeria, if it stays 2-1 to Argentina, meaning the drawing of lots. Pundits seem to think that’s funny, especially Hoddle. Why? Bet he wouldn’t be laughing if England got anywhere near close enough to being knocked out like that. Martin O’Neill would probably piss himself, though.

Mark June 25, 20145:49 pm

Half-time in Salvador. 1-0 Bosnia. Iran running out of steam towards the end of the half. Need a combination of Messi wanting to score five and a better appreciation (ie some) of the offside law.

Ted June 25, 20145:48 pm

HALF TIME: Argentina 2-1 Nigeria. It should have been more. It will be if someone doesn’t start denying Messi space.

Ted June 25, 20145:47 pm

Sadly, they never got to half time. Messi scores direct from a free kick. A real pearler.

Mark June 25, 20145:46 pm

He’s good that Messi. 2-1

Ted June 25, 20145:46 pm

GOAL

Ted June 25, 20145:46 pm

Messi is putting Nigeria to the sword. There’s every chance that the half time team talk may focus on not allowing him so much space. I’m not a tactician, but it seems prudent.

Ian June 25, 20145:45 pm

“On 8 July 2010, Babayaro officially announced his retirement from football. He was declared bankrupt on 9 February 2011.” (From Wikipedia)

“On 10 February 2007, after a 2–1 win over Liverpool, then-Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder revealed that just 12 hours before kick-off, Babayaro had called him saying his younger brother David had died from tuberculosis.”

God, how awful.

Ted June 25, 20145:44 pm

Apparently he retired after a spell at LA Galaxy in 2008. His full name: Celestine Boyd Jonto Dave Kennington Jacquet Hycieth Babayaro.

Dave!

Mark June 25, 20145:43 pm

Football maths: Bosnia have had 66% possession, which means in the 23 minutes I didn’t see, they must have had about 109% possession.

Ted June 25, 20145:43 pm

whatever happened to Celestine Babayaro?

Ted June 25, 20145:41 pm

By the time Bosnia are 4-0 ahead, Iran will be unplayable.

Football maths.

Ian June 25, 20145:40 pm

Iran have been the better team since the goal.

So, Bosnia to double their lead before half-time, then.

Ted June 25, 20145:40 pm

FIFA should pass a rule. Goalkeepers have to wear green. If there’s a clash, they wear yellow shirts and black shorts. If there’s still a clash, they wear all-black. If there’s STILL a clash after that: vest and pants.

Mark June 25, 20145:37 pm

Arlo White and Andy Hinchcliffe having a slightly spurious debate about whether Iran can apply a pressing game for 90 minutes, given that they entered the debate by noting that Iran didn’t start “pressing” until they went a goal down…after 23 minutes.

Ted June 25, 20145:37 pm

Sergio Aguero is injured on the pitch, in one pink and one blue boot. Something guaranteed to engender less sympathy than it otherwise would. He’s being replaced by Lavezzi of PSG.

Ted June 25, 20145:35 pm

This has been a far more convincing display by Argentina. No-one has bitten anyone.

Mark June 25, 20145:32 pm

Brilliant save from Begovic, resplendent in yellow with purple stripes. But each Iran attacker in turn was offside at some “phase” or other. Applying pressure, though.

Ted June 25, 20145:31 pm

Angel Di Maria is giving Nigeria all sorts of problems at the moment, both at close range and from distance. Nigeria have responded by marking Messi less tightly.

Ted June 25, 20145:30 pm

Pablo Zabaleta has the look of a man who, when asked his favourite T.Rex song, would say “Zip Gun Boogie”

Mark June 25, 20145:29 pm

Shojaei had the Iran shot off the bar, or, as PA say, “had a shot blocked.” The goal-line technology says the ball didn’t cross the line as it hit the bar – which we, well, know – but didn’t rule on where the ball landed. Jonathan Pearce would be SOOOO confused…

Ted June 25, 20145:27 pm

Odemwingie blasts just over the bar from 25 yards, thus keeping up my unimpeachable record of being wrong during this World Cup.

Ian June 25, 20145:26 pm

The goalmouths in Salvador look like those of a Sunday league pitch at the end of April. That green paint is starting to wear off.

Ted June 25, 20145:25 pm

It’s not looking good for Iran at the moment, but there really doesn’t appear to be any other winner in Porto Alegre than Argentina at the moment so all is not lost.

Ian June 25, 20145:25 pm

Oh dear me. Iran hit the underside of the crossbar and the ball bounces out for Ghoochannejad, who not only misses the more or less open goal but is also offside (because he was offside during the first movement of play, but was not interfering with play at that time).

Mark June 25, 20145:25 pm

Iran have just hit the underside of the bar. A dozy game waking up? I’ll watch…

Ian June 25, 20145:22 pm

I’m pretty certain that he waited until I got back from work.

Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 Iran – Edin Dzeko with a daisy-cutter from twenty yards out, which all looked a little easy to me.

Ted June 25, 20145:22 pm

If I were in a World Cup squad, here are the ten shirt numbers I’d want to wear in order, from most to least:

14, 4, 21, 16, 8, 22, 15, 20, 18, 7

Ted June 25, 20145:19 pm

I’m sure Kev will be a natural on the Stylophone, I’ve seen him wrestle a tune out of an accordion while drinking.

Ted June 25, 20145:18 pm

I think this Argentina team has much stronger players in its “ten” than the one that won the 1986 World Cup. The only possible conclusion I can draw is that Messi isn’t as good as Maradona.

That’s MATHS. Football maths.

Ian June 25, 20145:17 pm

No joy on sheet music, but I did come across this:

Ted June 25, 20145:15 pm

Nigeria’s defensive tactics today seem very egalitarian, treating each of their opponents as equals. As such, Messi is getting an alarming amount of room. This could get, well, messy.

Ian June 25, 20145:12 pm

BRB – Just googling “National anthem sheet music for Stylophones.”

Ted June 25, 20145:12 pm

Well, apart from 0-0 or 1-0. But you probably already worked that out, yes?

Ted June 25, 20145:11 pm

Meanwhile, in soccer: Argentina are on top after that Nigeria goal. Di Maria has been denied again and Messi played Higuain through but he didn’t have enough room to make his shot count. The final score here could be anything. Anything.

Ted June 25, 20145:09 pm

I’ll have to bring it round this Friday/Saturday and then we can get funky. Digitally. That sounds a bit like we’re going to give each other prostate exams.

Ian June 25, 20145:08 pm

Yeah, I’m going to need to borrow that bad boy.

The Stylophone, I mean, not Luis Suarez. Or Rolf Harris, now I come to think about it.

Ian June 25, 20145:07 pm

Apparently Luis Suarez bit someone yesterday. Who’d have guessed?

Ted June 25, 20145:07 pm

The reputation of the Stylophone is damaged mainly by the fact I have one.

Ian June 25, 20145:06 pm

No idea what the score is in the other match. Hang on, let me check Twitter.

Ian June 25, 20145:05 pm

Has the reputation of the Stylophone been damaged by the recent Rolf Harris court case? I wonder whether it might have picked up a reputation as the musical instrument of choice for those with busy hands.

(Note that I’m referring to admissions that he’s already made in court, there – I’m not speculating on his guilt or otherwise)

Ted June 25, 20145:05 pm

GOAL! And another one! It’s Argentina 1-1 Nigeria. Musa elegantly curls it in to the right hand corner. Blimey.

Ted June 25, 20145:04 pm

OH HANG ON

Ted June 25, 20145:04 pm

GOAL! It’s Argentina, so it must be Messi. It comes off of good work by some other players , though. Mascherano delivers a great ball to Di Maria, who is just denied by Enyeama and the post. Messi follows up.

Ian June 25, 20145:03 pm

I NEED TO BORROW YOUR STYLOPHONE.

Ian June 25, 20145:02 pm

I am, as ever for these cursed five o’clock kick offs, still on my way home from work. My ETA is looking better than yesterday, though.

Ted June 25, 20145:01 pm

Facts about me: I have a Stylophone.

Ian June 25, 20145:01 pm

If I can somehow get hold of a Stylophone this weekend, I may serenade readers with national anthems played on it.

Ted June 25, 20145:00 pm

Or Jimmy Nibbles, as I call him.

Ted June 25, 20145:00 pm

Old Gnasher Suarez

Ted June 25, 20144:59 pm

We’ve had the anthems; Argentina’s was as jolly as ever, Nigeria’s sounded like O Canada played on a Stylophone. The standard of the recordings being played at this World Cup is somewhat variable.

Ian June 25, 20144:59 pm

Are you making an oblique reference to the number of teeth he’s got there?

This morning’s discussion on that subject concluded that players should be allowed to bite each other on condition that:

A. They’re miked up.

and

B. They have to make the ‘rowr rowr rowr’ noise that two dogs would make if they were fighting over a piece of steak.

Ted June 25, 20144:58 pm

Teeth, that is.

Ted June 25, 20144:55 pm

Suarez plus thirty-two

Ian June 25, 20144:54 pm

So, here’s something I was pondering at work this afternoon. These one man teams, where Lionel Messi = Argentina, Neymar = Brazil, and so on. How come we’ve got this generation of “superfootballers”, and why does it feel as if they’re so much prevalent than they ever used to be? Is it a cult of celebrity thing?

It’s not working for everybody, of course. Dzeko plus ten hasn’t worked for Bosnia and Ronaldo plus ten hasn’t worked for Portugal. But it certainly feels more commonplace than it used to.

Ian June 25, 20144:45 pm

So, if I’ve read this correctly, then the Iran match is the one to watch. On the basis of their performance against Argentina, I think Iran might just have the beating of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whilst Lionel Messi should comfortably be able to see off Nigeria and quite possibly decimate their goal difference into the bargain.

Compulsive gamblers are warned that I have been quite spectacularly wrong with many of my predictions over the last few days.

Ted June 25, 20144:44 pm

Greetings, culture lovers. It’s Argentina vs. Nigeria for me this afternoon, in the hope that Argentina might finally come to life and punish Nigeria for making me watch their game with Iran last week, which is still traumatic for me.

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