Match of the day: Serbia 3 – 3 Cameroon
We could have gone either way with this, as Korea and Ghana have had their own share of derailments. But we’re going to pick today’s early game because it has an extra goal. It always feels like a derivative to say that football is defined by goals or “game changing goals”, which is probably the most common expression among commentators. But it’s also just the truth.
Cameroon took the lead in the game. They had only one shot in the first 20 minutes, although Serbia didn’t do much but concede their defense in the first few exchanges. But falling behind stirred something up in Serbia that we hadn’t seen in this tournament, the team then took the lead with two goals before half-time, including an amazing header. this dictionary by Strahinja Pavlović to equalize:
By the way, can you find a guy who looks more Serbian than Pavlović? You’ve seen this guy smoke an unfiltered cigarette outside a bar with no sign, right?
After the break, the goal only made Serbia’s game even smoother, as Dusan Tadić and Sergej Milinković-Savić (who scored Serbia’s second goal) teamed up with striker Aleksandar Mitrović, culminating in this beautiful third goal that should be set to something deadly smooth like a Pink Panther theme or a Sly song:
And this is over. Or it should be. A funny thing happened. Cameroon coach Rigobert Song introduced striker Vincent Aboubakar, switching the team to a 4-4-2 formation, and Serbia reacted as if they had taken down a dinosaur. Twice Aboubakar hit Serbia’s defense/offside trap, both times Nikola Milenković to the right of Serbia’s three-man defence was the one caught too deep and kept Aboubakar on the side. The three people in the back found it easy to cover the one in the front. Throwing a second ball at them at that time was a kindergarten drill in the back. The first game, when everyone thought the flag was going to go up and in the end it did, only for VAR to get the goal back from the trash, it was Aboubakar who finished off with a kick that you should only try when was pretty sure. it doesn’t matter anyway:
If Aboubakar was sure he was around, would he be just as comfortable? Doesn’t matter now.
Second time witnessing Aboubakar square for Eric Choupo-Moting. And suddenly, without the truly deserving Cameroon, they ended the game and were more likely to be the winner. Sadly, they only produced two more shots after the equalizer, but got what they needed to at least go to the final day with something to play against. Just beat Brazil! Easy as pie!
With a 3-1 scoreline, it looks like it will be the same story for Cameroon since last winter’s AFCON where something happened. After being eliminated on the penalty spot at home, they played quite poorly and proved inadequate against Switzerland, especially after being led. They showed their guts and fought on Monday.
As for Serbia, they will regret not taking all three points here, especially when things are going on in an already seething match against Switzerland that only needs a draw. Oddly enough, after introducing both Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahović together in the qualifiers, they avoided it in this tournament. Especially with Mitrovic certainly not 100%. They played great for about 50 minutes. But in a World Cup, you can’t leave 40 people on the table.
Korea 2 – 3 Ghana
This was another match that saw a team that didn’t show much suddenly come back, except that the Koreans were then unable to continue. The worry about Korea before the tournament, especially when Heung-min Son is barely fit, is that their careful and intricate attacking construction will turn out to be tiki-taka’s worst, no the final product and the opposing teams yawn like them. easily hold them off before rushing in another direction. And that’s what the first half looks like. Ghana is virtually immune to any threat (0.37 xG vs) and can cash in on a fixture. With the lead, Ghana then took a page out of Korea’s book and put together 31 passes to set up Mohammed Kudus for the first time of the day:
However, nothing motivates a team like staring into the abyss. Finally, the first of two games. Korea played with speed and urgency in the second half, and the game changed with Gue-song Cho’s two headers. The second is a prime example of just wanting it more than anyone around you:
Since then, Korea has smashed Ghana’s goal, as they should have… except for the small problem of leaving the back door open. Which Ghana passed just seven minutes later:
Awesome dummy from Inaki Williams. At least that’s what he would say.
Ghana is not great. They scored when they needed to. Korea can not add again. Have your game.
Brazil 1 – 0 Switzerland
Yes, this is a comedy. Brazil without Neymar is certainly another monster, both lacking his immense talent as well as his tendency to try and find him. With an absence for the rest of the group stage, Switzerland has not had too much trouble making Brazil look rather faltering. Without their number 10 in the center of the attack. Brazil relies more on drifting, and Vinicius Jr. moved inward more in the first half to coordinate with Richarlison at the top.
Not afraid of anything in midfield, the Swiss simply deployed a 4-5-1 formation, and doubled the gap on the Brazilian wingers with full-backs and wingers. You can do it with this Brazilian team because unlike in the past when they had real cowboy full-backs like Cafu or Roberto Carlos or Dani Alves, coach Tite likes his full-backs. stay in their place. Éder Militao, who starts at right-back today, is truly a centre-back for a living. Switzerland has severed all links to glory from the outside, with Brazil not having too many answers in the middle.
Not much was changed in the second half, even as Vinicius returned to his usual left wing and Rodrygo linked up with Richarlison. The goal from Brazil simply solved the problem of crossing the middle with numbers instead of Neymar, as Casemiro found himself in the box to volley home in absolute fashion. There was too little time for the Swiss to react and they didn’t seem to care much about it.
Neymar will return for important matches, but if he is not completely fit then the Swiss scheme will be used again.
Portugal 2 – 0 Uruguay
And real comedy. These are the two teams capable of actually putting on a fireworks display that spent the first 45 minutes kicking each other into seven different patterns and berating the referee when they didn’t. Uruguay earned a point and did not get it.
It contains perhaps the most Ronaldo moments ever, as he tries to claim this as his goal in every way possible, even during the celebration:
Dress for the job you want and all that.
In the end, after falling behind, Uruguay actually tried to cross the halfway line with more than Darwin Nunez and the corpse of Edinson Cavani, but could only find the post again. Now they need to beat Ghana and hope Portugal doesn’t give everyone a break and has enough strength on the field to not let Korea sneak up on them. It doesn’t have to be this way, but this is clearly the way Uruguay has outlined.
Goals for the day: Aboubakar’s trampoline snap is a strong contender, but Casemiro will likely never pull off another shot like this:
Does VAR damage anything?: We have seen both sides. Aboubakar’s goal was the very reason why the assistant referees continued to raise their flags until the end of the game, because he was present and VAR saved a goal that should have stood. But the Portuguese penalty came from a handball by Jose Giminez as he just put his hand down as he slid to the ground, the only place his hand could reach and something was clearly stated. is not considered a penalty kick.
And yet, the VAR referee called the on-field referee to the screen, and that almost always resulted in a reversal. The system is still dependent on people’s opinions, and it’s not hard to force two people with a smug worldview to make these decisions.
Did Alexi Lalas say anything stupid?: No Alexi, Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t have “hate” just because he’s good. You mentioned his “off-the-field problems”, so keep going, man. Once you open that door, you can’t dip a toe in it and run away.
A real Ronaldo: It is truly inspiring to see OG Ronaldo, and more than that the consistent level of satisfaction he seems to have achieved. You may have to be the best player of your generation to exude such a relaxed state, but perhaps it is for all of us. Follow OG Ronaldo for freedom:
Finally, I know many people out there who don’t follow sports. Most of their arguments are reasonable. Sometimes I even envy them. But the question I always come back to is, if you don’t follow sports, what makes you feel this way?