Legal disclaimer: it may not actually be coming home
“Regarding your wobbling predictions about how far England will go, I find myself in a very similar predicament – mainly after yesterday,” says Shaun Wilkinson. “Never mind whether we can avoid Germany and Brazil in the quarters, how bloody good were Colombia last night?”
If they play England it will be 5-5. At half-time.
“This is Jeff from Ferndale, Michigan, USA,” writes Jeffrey Lilly. “I look forward to the World Cup the same way I look forward to the Olympics – a great ideal, of many nations and cultures coming together to compete in a fair manner. As the USA didn’t make it this time, I don’t have a rooting interest, and thus have been able to simply enjoy the spectacle. I have so many fond memories of working and traveling abroad in years past, coming together with soccer fans all over the world to watch World Cup games – my first was being in West Germany in ‘86 for their run to the finals when I was a teenager. I was in Japan for ‘98, ‘02, and ‘10, watching with Japanese friends and British, Aussie, and Kiwi expat friends. So many lifelong friendships made, and so many great times…”
Yes, in some ways the World Cup has nothing to do with football, particularly when you’re in your twenties. And if nothing else, the time difference during the 2002 World Cup made it compulsory, never mind acceptable, to have beer for breakfast. Especially on Friday 21 June 2002.
A reminder that you can follow the big game in this group, Iran v Portugal, with Simon Burnton.
“Germany can still top their group…” says Bob Wilson, “… if Sweden manage to beat Mexico and Germany trounce South Korea. Not impossible, just implausible.”
I’m not sure it’s even implausible – but I’d still expect Mexico to get at least a draw against Sweden.
An email! “I’m very worried Brazil are going to win it,” says Andrew Hurley. “Germany are awful (Kroos though had the best individual performance of the tournament for me v Sweden). Portugal – no. England (sorry!) – no. Argentina will go out. Belgium weak and have no passion (they don’t have a strong national identity). France – too many of their players hate their country, will buckle & don’t care enough. Croatia dark horses. Spain are my only hope!”
Brazil should play Germany in the second round, and who knows what kind of muck will be swilling round their subconscious after 2014. The best thing about this tournament so far is that nobody really knows anything – it’s the most open since 2002. At different stages in the past few days I’ve decided that England are going to reach the semis, that they’re going to lose to Colombia in the last 16, and that IT’S ONLY BLOODY COMING HOME.
Spain (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Thiago; Silva, Iniesta, Isco; Diego Costa.
Morocco (4-2-3-1) Munir; Hakimi, Da Costa, Saiss, Dirar; El Ahmadi, Boussoufa; Amrabat, Belhanda, Ziyech; Boutaib.
Referee Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan).
The World Cup moves pretty fast. It’s only 12 days since Julen Lopetegui was sacked as Spain coach but there are new stories and new crises which we can use to generate hot air. Spain have gone under the radar since the actual football started, and their geriatricos have arguably been the most impressive team in the tournament so far.
A draw against Morocco tonight would secure an unexpectedly smooth passage to the last 16, where they would face either Russia or Uruguay.
It should be a formality. Morocco are a talented, likeable team but they have nothing to play for except pride, and you know what Marsellus Wallace said about that. Spain could even go through with a defeat – you can read more about the permutations here – but they will want to win the match and the group to ensure an easier path to their semi-final defeat by England.
Kick off is at 7pm BST, 8pm in Kaliningrad.
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