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Ho ho, me so funny. It’s the last day of the Second Round of this year’s World Cup, so it’s time to take another look at Argentina and see if they’re capable of going all the way this year. A comfortable draw certainly helps their case, but today’s match against Switzerland isn’t quite a foregone conclusion. The Swiss recovered  from a sound beating at the hands of France get through to this stage of the competition, after all. Anyway, we’ll be back shortly.

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Mark July 1, 20147:43 pm

Unspeakable (and almost untypeable) drama at the end…and the emergence of some supreme anti-Argentine bias from the com-box.
Benaglio proved a better strike option than most everyone on either side. And Switzerland were half a post away.
Shaqiri dived for the last-ditch free-kick. “Like the Argentinians never do that” says Lawrenson, irrelevantly, as the defenders, rightly, complain. “I’d like to see that at real speed,” he adds, as slo-mo shows the dive. Did he think it was a foul in real time but NOT in slo-mo?
Argentina must be knackered. Belgium’s quality and/or the USA’s energy will make for a close quarter-final.
A Belgium win tonight and all the group winners will have made the quarters. Making the second round irrelevant. Something for FIFA to ponder, but they won’t.
Meanwhile, Di Maria is still getting a BBC booting. That’s the Di Maria that WON…THE…GAME. Grrr…
Right, I’ll shut up and let some real writers evoke some fun from the USA tonight. TTFN.

Mark July 1, 20147:35 pm

No. :-(

Mark July 1, 20147:33 pm

Shaqiri dives. Last ditch free-kick. Is this the Shaqiri moment?

Mark July 1, 20147:31 pm

Oh my blimey O’Reilly giddy days. Dzemaili hits the post from five yards and the rebound hits him.

Mark July 1, 20147:29 pm

Switzerland not beaten yet, despite the current BBC narrative.

Mark July 1, 20147:29 pm

Can you BE “distinctly average”? For another time. This IS the Di Maria moment. Its all about Messi again of course, cos its a good pass. But Di Maria’s finish is class.

Mark July 1, 20147:23 pm

All that said, Argentina have had as many shots as a quite-impressive Germany did last night. But, well, you know…

Mark July 1, 20147:20 pm

Argentina playing 4 up front. The “little magician” Paul Daniels/Lionel Messi and 3 Debbie Magees.
Di Maria even tries a little floater. Its come to this…

Mark July 1, 20147:19 pm

Is this the Di Maria moment? Pearce doesn’t say as the Real Madrid man goes close.

Mark July 1, 20147:15 pm

If it goes to penalties, Switzerland will have, by quite a bit, the better keeper.

Mark July 1, 20147:14 pm

Messi looks ready to heave.

Mark July 1, 20147:10 pm

Switzerland have found an extra yard…no,.. make that five yards in the last few minutes of that first half, backed by thousands of ole-ing Brazilians. Now, if they can actually get the ball into the box…

Mark July 1, 20147:03 pm

Any chance that these two can both be knocked out and Belgium and USA play their game as the first quarter-final? Actually, that’s a bit harsh on Switzerland. A bit.

Mark July 1, 20146:57 pm

Mmmm… First thoughts are of a penalty shoot-out and Messi missing.

Mark July 1, 20146:55 pm

Right. So lets see what Di Maria can hit with his balls in the next half-hour.

Mark July 1, 20146:53 pm

Another one for the 200% art department? I shudder to think.

Mark July 1, 20146:52 pm

Yes you all heard it but: “The number of times he’s hit the frontman with his balls,” – Shearer on Di Maria.

Mark July 1, 20146:50 pm

Schar gets a headed chance from a free-kick – as predicted by Pearce with all the confidence of someone who’s seen two minutes into the future. Its over the bar though. And its the last chance. 0-0. And not such a good one. “Better” in the second half…in the predictable voice.

Mark July 1, 20146:46 pm

Hey! And a “stupid boy” for Rojo for a foul on the impressive Rodriguez. And Lawrenson is right. Make a note in the diary.

Mark July 1, 20146:44 pm

A massive “behave yourself” as Behrami is shoved unceremoniously to the floor. Its Messi, you see. Behrami must have dived. He didn’t.

Mark July 1, 20146:42 pm

Pearce is now commentating on what Messi is doing when someone else has the ball.
He also seems to think the second round has been a bit rubbish. That’s not fair, is it?

Mark July 1, 20146:35 pm

Messi produces a good save from Benaglio, who blocks the follow-up. Getting there…

Mark July 1, 20146:32 pm

Javier Zanetti, whose Inter number four shirt was ‘retired’ this week, could still get in this Argentine defence…and speed it up. “Old school” hack by Fernandes on Di Maria gets a yellow. Di Maria is normally a serial diver but hasn’t had to in this game. Sub striker Palacio gets a chance on a plate from the little magician (Paul Daniels) and drops the plate.

Mark July 1, 20146:25 pm

All Argentina. But Higuain and Di Maria are stinking the place out.
Pearce and Lawrenson berate the TV director for focusing on close-ups and Messi rather than “Higuain’s chance”…which barely went towards the goal.

Mark July 1, 20146:13 pm

I suspect Townsend would have given us a few “better”s in the last few minutes about Argentina. But they are still frustratingly not quite on it.

Mark July 1, 20146:10 pm

We now await a “lack of quality in the final third…”

Mark July 1, 20146:08 pm

And its official: 51 mins 45 secs: The game is “starting to stretch” – Lawrenson.

Mark July 1, 20146:05 pm

Pearce thinks Xhaka should be off for a second yellow after what replays reveal to be an innocuous tackle on “the little magician,” as Pearce has called Messi THREE times now.

Mark July 1, 20145:59 pm

Jason Muhammed, auditioning for the next series of “An Idiot Abroad.” I think he’s got the job. Poor guy. He deserves better. Wonder if he’s seen any football? Better than Shearer platituding his way through the townships four years ago, though.

Richard July 1, 20145:57 pm

Blimey, the BBC really don’t know how to fill this half time.

Mark July 1, 20145:57 pm

“We’re struggling if that’s all we’ve got to show of Messi”, Shearer and Hansen both say, long before their Messi montage ends. Edited the way it was, it makes Messi look a bit of a threat. I’d be interested in an equivalent Shaqiri montage and how much longer it would be. Nonetheless, Switzerland have been the better side and should be ahead. ‘Swiss Ramble’ on Drmic’s floof: “For crying out loud.” Quite.

Mark July 1, 20145:48 pm

Nil-nil. Pearce thought we’d have a flood of goals, apparently. Not the worst game. But getting a BBC booting seemingly on the basis of Argentina’s laboriousness. Switzerland have been really good, though, as Shearer – at last – notes.

Richard July 1, 20145:43 pm

Switzerland have been really well drilled here so far. Definitely having the better chances and Xherdan Shaqiri is patiently waiting for an opportunity to break.

Mark July 1, 20145:43 pm

Messi and Di Maria play a, what, a one-four? Di Maria’s shot is weak, though.
Stretched.

Ian July 1, 20145:42 pm

Drmic should absolutely have scored, there. Goodness knows what Romero was thinking, but his positioning was about as bad a goalkeeper’s could be whilst being in the general area of the goal.

Mark July 1, 20145:41 pm

Replays show that Xhaka’s earlier chance was a damn fine one. “Put your foot through it, Xhaka,” tweets an exasperated Swiss Ramble. But its not as good a chance as Drmic has just weakly chipped into Romero’s hands. Dear me. A dink when he should have “hit it with his laces.” In fact, if he hit it like he’d ACTUALLY just used his laces…

Ian July 1, 20145:37 pm

This stadium reminds me a little of the Velodrome in Marseille, where Argentina lost to the Netherlands in 1998. Not very potent, as omens go.

Mark July 1, 20145:36 pm

I agree. Rojo is just not on his game.
Meanwhile, Pearce slips in a “Liver Birds” reference while Shaqiri leads the Argentine defence a merry dance. Credit where its due to the BBC shoutyman there.

Ian July 1, 20145:32 pm

Yet again, Argentina don’t look terribly impressive, a certain person notwithstanding.

Mark July 1, 20145:31 pm

Higuain heads over a Messi free-kick, with both cited as “top scorer in qualifying” by Pearce – and he didn’t mean jointly.
Meanwhile, latest replay of a corner being given away re-affirms that technology can be used to make such decisions without holding up play. True in 2010 too.
And Switzerland’s Xhaka and Schar force two saves out of Romero. The game’s quite even and there are unconfirmed reports that its “getting stretched” – Garay misses a semi-sitter for Argentina from another corner

Mark July 1, 20145:17 pm

And there’s Pele – best known for his “best supporting actor” Oscar-nominated role in “Mike Bassett – England manager.” Well, if he wasn’t, he should have been.
The game’s lively but tight, BTW. And Messi’s on the move. Unlike most of the game against Iran.

Mark July 1, 20145:13 pm

The referee – a Mr Angel Di Maria – is having a lively start.

Mark July 1, 20145:12 pm

Lawrenson seems surprised that one of the Argentine fans is “dressed like the Pope.” Someone should tell him…it was in all the papers…

Ian July 1, 20145:05 pm

Here’s a thing that has annoyed me about the World Cup (and in the overall scheme of things it’s not a big deal) – I’ve seen a preponderance of rectangular Swiss flags over the last couple of weeks and, as any foo know, the Swiss flag is square.

Mark July 1, 20145:04 pm

Early hat-trick for the Swiss Messi/Andy Reid (Shaqiri). One dive, one foul, once fouled. Busy.

Mark July 1, 20145:00 pm

First two bars of Swiss national anthem = theme tune to “Open All Hours” (mentioned already, I’m sure). Which has now replaced Metallica’s “One” as the song in my head. Its been a difficult day.

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