World Cup Daily: Mexico flop in second round…as does Robben
The weekend’s World Cup action saw three teams from the Americas advance, two penalty shootouts take place and James Rodriguez play one hell of a game.
In The Headlines
Things started well with Brazil and Chile competing in 5pm thriller on South American Saturday that featured a first Selecao goal for David Luiz before some comedy defending gifted Chile an equaliser – though Sideshow Bob wasn’t involved for a change.
It was left to the combined efforts of Action-Man-lookalike Julio Cesar, Neymar, and the goalkeeper’s left-hand post to inspire Brazil to victory on penalties as the lack of depth in Chile’s squad proved telling with Nottingham Forest reject Gonzalo Jara missing.
The late clash between Uruguay and Colombia belonged to only one man and for a pleasant change it wasn’t Luis Suarez.
Instead, James Rodriguez, the player Manchester United rejected in favour of Bebe, was the star with two goals in the 2-0 win – the first channelling the spirit of Tony Yeboah in his pomp.
On Sunday, Holland’s 2010 World Cup hero Wesley Sneijder recovered from his amnesia just in time, remembering who and where he was with two minutes to spare against Mexico to hammer home a leveller.
It was left to Arjen Robben to set up the winner with a questionable fall from a Rafael Marquez challenge in the box. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar celebrated scoring the resulting spot kick with a kung-fun kick on the corner flag that was part Louis van Gaal and part Nigel de Jong.
Mexico departed with Marquez bowing out after four World Cups as El Tri captain.
It was all left for 10-man Costa Rica to survive a Greece onslaught in extra-time before defeating the Ethniki on penalties, with Theofanis Gekas missing the decisive kick.
Did Keylor Navas prepare by watching this advert perhaps?
The non-England Camp
Cesar went from zero to hero for Brazil, with many of those questioning Scolari’s faith in the QPR keeper left eating their words after a fine display against Chile that culminated in two impressive penalty saves in the shootout.
“This shows I was well trained for the World Cup,” he said after the game, which helped banish memories of his flap-handed nightmare against Holland four years ago.
“Being labelled a villain after South Africa was very hard, but this proves that if you have a dream you go after it and never give up. What will crown this will be to kiss and lift the trophy.”
Neymar also stepped up with the decisive kick, though he is now a doubt for the quarter-final showdown with Colombia. Unfortunately both Jo and Fred are fully fit.
It’s advantage USA heading into their round of 16 meeting with Belgium amid reports suggesting Jozy Altidore may be back for the Americans while the Red Devils are sweating on the fitness of Premier League trio Marouane Fellaini, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen. Oh dear.
Nigel de Jong is out of the World Cup as is Switzerland’s Mario Gavranovic, who tore his cruciate knee ligament in training – ouch. Arjen Robben appears fit and well after his dramatic tumble in the box.
The story of 85-year-old Brazil fan Joedir Belmont bears repeating. Back in 1950 the Brazil fan had a ticket to the World Cup final but for a number of reasons was unable to attend the game, which ended in defeat for the Selecao.
But some 64 years on, after writing to FIFA to reveal he still had the ticket and would be willing to donate it to a football museum, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke gave him tickets to this year’s final. Let’s just hope Brazil make it there and don’t lose again!
In Other News
Greece may have played dour, defensive, long-ball football but the Euro 2004 winners nevertheless deserve respect for this story.
Due a bonus for reaching the last 16 of the World Cup, the retiring Giorgios Karagounis and his squad waived the fee, asking that the funds be put towards the development of a training facility for the national team in their economically-damaged home land.
Kind of puts all the fuss around Cameroon and Ghana’s squabbles in perspective.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.