Sunday, 15 June 2014

An Incomplete Day 3 Round-Up

Saturday brought the end of this writer's unbroken streak of viewing. Bills to pay etc. Colombia v Greece I kept interesting from afar by attempting to take advantage of my free bet - 5-1 for Colombia to win and both teams to score.

Greece, true to form, screwed me over, and themselves it has to be said. Based on the three minutes of highlights I saw, they had their chances, but Colombia on South American soil will be a tough ask for anyone.

As it turned out, Uruguay succumbed to the first total shock of the tournament, in a match I followed first on radio, then on my computer screen. 1-0 seemed a fair score at the break and in all honesty as I unpacked my laptop I expected a sleepy second-half with little action other than perhaps a Luis Suarez run-out and a second goal.

As the screen flickered on, I noticed it was 1-1 - before I could even come to terms with this the second goal went in. The game then took on a Spain v Holland feel, albeit with less goals and drama, but still an unbelievable night for the Costa Ricans.

I will skip right ahead and say that I am yet to see Ivory Coast v Japan. I write this from my bed, with the aformentioned game waiting on the BT Vision, having conceded defeat in my all-nighter attempt. Hoping for both Toures to score and their infectious street chant to take over Brazil for a few days.

Anyway, to England v Italy. The match played out as nearly everybody sensible must surely have expected. Raheem Stirling was England's best player, Andrea Pirlo passed the ball a lot, and lots of long shots were skied.

With a little more patience, and faith in their own abilities, England would have won the game. Daniel Sturridge's goal came from the rare instance where they actually found the killer pass instead of attempting to re-create Michael Owen's France '98 wonder-goal.

The performance was by no means bad, just not quite good enough. Leighton Baines will be looking over his shoulder at Luke Shaw after a poor display, but the real congratulations must go to Italy. At 2-1 they always looked in control, even when under the cosh, as if they knew England would burn themselves out.

A well-worked corner routine brought their opening goal, and Mario Balotelli capped a quietly-threatening display with the winner. I fancy Italy to go a long way, but can England recover in time to qualify out of the group? They better hope Suarez is unfit, or they'll be praying for a miracle.

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