Sunday, June 29, 2014

Germany Vs Algeria in the round of 16 Match Preview / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

Having beaten West Germany 2-1 at the 1982 World Cup, Algeria were denied a place in the knockout stage after a now infamous victory for the Germans over Austria a few days later – with the two sides collaborating to ensure that the 1-0 scoreline required to take both through came to pass.

The issue still rankles with the North Africans, but they can console themselves with the fact that they are now making history as they go.

Qualification into the second round has been secured for the first time – some three decades too late for some - and they can take great pride in that achievement.

Algeria finished as runners-up in Group H, with a nervy 1-1 draw with Russia in their final outing taking them through at the expense of their opponents.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic is aware that further heroics will be required if the adventure is to continue, with Germany considered by many to be favourites to go all the way.

Thomas Müller has scored nine goals in nine World Cup appearances, including four in three so far in 2014.

He said: “We are the small, small Algeria and now play against the big, big Germany. This fourth game will be more than complicated.”

Halilhodzic is expected to draft former Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra back into his starting XI, with the centre-half having been benched against Russia as Algeria freshened things up and sought to avoid any costly suspensions for those carrying yellow cards.

Germany, meanwhile, will feel that there is still more to come from them, despite making light work of a so-called ‘Group of Death’ as they collected seven points.

Their opening fixture, a 4-0 demolition of Portugal, showcased what they are capable of on their day, while battling qualities earned them a draw with Ghana and a narrow victory over USA.

Joachim Low will be hoping to draw on the positives from each of those outings as the serious business of knockout competition gets underway, but he insists there is no chance of his much-fancied side taking Algeria lightly.

He said: "If anybody thinks or believes - and I think this is a feeling among the general public - that Algeria are easy opponents and that we can already start thinking of the next round, then they're making a huge mistake.

"We must remain focused and on our toes because any complacency will be punished.

"I took a look at Algeria yesterday for an hour and I know we're up against a very compact side who run a lot and are aggressive.

"I've rarely seen a team defend so vehemently, but still attack with purpose. Their whole country is euphoric, so we're up against a strong opponents."

Low has also attempted to play down the revenge talk, although there will be no avoiding it come kick-off.

He added: "When I hear people talking about revenge, it irritates me. Apart from maybe (Miroslav) Klose or (Roman) Weidenfeller, none of our players were even born then so they have no idea what happened.

"For our players, it's not an issue."

Low has revealed that he will be persevering with Philipp Lahm in a midfield role, while he must decide whether to keep faith with Sami Khedira alongside him or offer a recall to Bastian Schweinsteiger – with the Bayern Munich man rested against the United States.

Jerome Boateng will also be hoping to be involved after shaking off a slight knee complaint, but it has been confirmed that Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski will play no part as he nurses a muscular problem – although he will be ready for the quarter-finals if Germany make it through.

by SkySports /

France Vs Nigeria Match Preview / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

France have been excellent at the World Cup so far, with Didier Deschamps' side showing no signs of the major tournament capitulation that haunted them throughout recent years. The team comfortably blitzed Honduras and Switzerland by three-goal margins in the group stages, and was only held scoreless by eliminated Ecuador after making a string of changes to its starting lineup.
They're certainly looking likely to progress into the quarterfinals, though Nigeria will be looking to stop them in their first knockout game on Monday. Stephen Keshi's side weren't great in the group stages, winning one of their three games, though nothing seems certain at this tournament.
Team news
France coach Deschamps will likely make several changes to a side that was held to a goalless draw by Ecuador in the final group stage game, having opted to rest several key players. Patrice Evra, Raphaël Varane, Mathieu Debuchy, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Valbuena are all expected to start.
Nigeria will be without midfielder Michel Babatunde after he fractured his arm, whileJoseph Yobo and Victor Moses will both have to shake off knocks if they're to be involved. Keshi has a variety of versatile options to use in attack, with Ramon Azeez and Michael Uchebo likely to battle over a place alongside Ahmed Musa, Peter Odemwingie and Emmanuel Emenike.
Projected lineups (left to right)
France (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris; Patrice Evra, Mamadou Sakho, Raphaël Varane, Mathieu Debuchy; Blaise Matuidi, Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba; Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema, Mathieu Valbuena.
Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Vincent Enyeama; Juwon Oshaniwa, Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo, Efe Ambrose; John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi; Ahmed Musa, Ramon Azeez, Peter Odemwingie; Emmanuel Emenike.
by SB Nation /


Costa Rica Vs Greece Full Time 1 : 1, Penalties 5: 3 Costa Rica take a historial win / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

Costa Rica are into the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time in their history after beating Greece 5-3 in a penalty shootout in Recife.

"To play with 10 men for so long, to hold on and maintain their composure in the penalties, there was no panic whatsoever. They had the arrogance to stay up there and say: 'I'll take it in my time.'

"They should be so proud. This is history for their country, they should celebrate now and they deserve it. Incredible scenes."

Costa Rica, down to 10 men for almost an hour after Oscar Duarte's dismissal, scored their first four spot-kicks.

Theofanis Gekas missed for Greece, and Michael Umana settled the tie.

It means the Central American side - surprise qualifiers from a group containing England, Italy and Uruguay - go through to face the Netherlands on Saturday for a place in the semi-finals as their unlikely run at the World Cup continues.

The last-ditch equaliser and the penalty shootout added belated drama to what had been a less than enthralling encounter at times.

Dimitris Salpingidis had the best chance of a turgid first half but his close-range volley from a fine Jose Holebas cross was saved by the legs of Costa Rica's Keylor Navas - the first of several crucial interventions by the Levante keeper.

Christian Bolanos had already sent a half-chance over the bar for Costa Rica while Greece's Giorgos Karagounis saw a long-range effort comfortably saved as erratic passing meant chances were a rarity.

Greece started the second half well with Giorgos Samaras heading a Holebas cross straight at Navas from six yards.

But it was Costa Rica who broke the deadlock with their first shot on target.

Fulham forward Ruiz, who spent the latter part of last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven, converted from the edge of the area, placing a precise side-foot into the corner of the goal after a Bolanos pass from the left found him in space.

The Central Americans were incensed not to be given the chance to double their lead after Greek defender Vasilis Torosidis appeared to handle in the box and then lost Duarte when he brought down Holebas to pick up a second yellow card.

Extended deadline
I spoke to a Costa Rican journalist who was in tears after the match. He told me he is now changing his flights home for a third time. His newspaper didn't budget for the team getting out of the group.

Although the game opened up as a result of the dismissal, neither side was able to create a clear opening until the final minute of the game when Papastathopoulos found the net with a scuffed shot from inside the box after Navas had parried Gekas's shot into his path.

 Papastathopoulos's first in international football, sparked wild celebrations on the Greek bench and they might even have won it in what remained of normal time but Navas superbly tipped Kostas Mitroglou's bullet header over the bar.

Greece had further half-chances through Gekas and Kostas Katsouranis before a golden opportunity to win it arrived in the second half of extra time.
Keylor Navas stat Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas has rejected a new contract with the Spanish club and is reportedly available for £8m They broke upfield from a Costa Rica corner and found themselves with a 5-2 advantage, the ball eventually finding its way to Lazaros Christodoulopoulos - but once again Navas responded agilely to turn the strike away for a corner.

And Costa Rica had their keeper to thank yet again as he saved Mitroglou's late half-volley from six yards in the last seconds of extra time.

There was to be further drama before the penalties had even begun as Greece manager Fernando Santos was sent off.

The first seven spot-kicks were confidently dispatched before Navas made his final and decisive contribution, saving from Gekas and leaving Umana to put Costa Rica through.

by BBC /

Netherlands Vs Mexico 2 : 1 The Dutch into the next round / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

This World Cup gets more dramatic by the day. Two goals in the last six minutes, one of them a penalty in the dying moments, sent Holland through to the quarter-finals. Wesley Sneijder and the substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored them, but no one had been as significant as Arjen Robben, and he it was who sprinted towards the end of the stadium and leapt in the air, clenching his fists at the full-time whistle. It was a run he had made over and over; he had done most to drag the Dutch back into the World Cup.
Louis van Gaal explained how Holland had switched between formations as they chased the game but, whatever the shape, Robben stood at the heart of it. He was at the heart of the game’s decisive and controversial moment, too. The Mexico manager, Miguel Herrera, described the penalty that finally won this match as “invented”.
Robben cut inside, evaded Diego Reyes and went over Rafa Márquez’s leg. The question was whether he had been brought down or whether he had dived. This time Pedro Proença considered it a foul. Herrera did not. It had been Robben’s third dive, he said: a yellow card for the first would have prevented the next two.
Just before that, Huntelaar produced a brilliant header from Robben’s deep corner in the 88th minute, laying the ball into Sneijder’s path for a well-struck equaliser. Five minutes later he scored from the spot. On the bench they held their breath; on the pitch Huntelaar held his nerve. “He was very cool,” Van Gaal said.
“Sing, don’t cry,” runs the Mexicans’ tune of choice but there was no stopping the tears at the end. Just when they appeared to be on the edge of breaking a barrier that has stood before them for 28 years they will now be haunted for four more. Giovani dos Santos had given them the lead but for the sixth successive World Cup they have reached the knockout phase and been knocked out: Holland did to them what Bulgaria did in 1994, Germany in 1998, the USA in 2002 and Argentina in 2006 and 2010.
It hurt all the more for the way it happened and what has been denied them: if they had got through, then only Costa Rica would have blocked their way to a place in the semi-final. “If we had been knocked out by a great goal, fine, that’s football,” Herrera said. Now it is Holland who will be confident, even if Van Gaal scoffed at suggestions that they are now favourites and admitted it is unlikely that Nigel de Jong will be available after he was removed in the fifth minute.
When Mexico took the lead their grip on this game appeared firm, yet by the final whistle Holland could claim to have deserved it. For a long time it seemed there was no way past Guillermo Ochoa – there was something cruel about presenting him with the man of the match award in front of the media, the forced smile failing to hide the frustration – and for a long time the conclusion looked likely to be that Robben could not do it on his own. Help came from Huntelaar and, arguably, from the referee.
Mexico dominated the first half and went ahead early in the second, Dos Santos controlling on his chest and allowing the ball to bounce before striking a wonderful left-footed shot that went into the far corner, 25 yards away. It was his first goal at this World Cup, his first for Mexico in over a year, but it should have been his third. No linesman was going to take this moment from him but by the end the Mexicans felt that the referee had.
Holland, though, deserved praise for the way they responded, despite having to chase the game when so far there had been little sign of the energy that they might need in conditions that Van Gaal had feared would go against them. Yet they did react, both physically and tactically. In fact, the conditions may have helped: Van Gaal admitted that he used the water break to make and explain his changes.
They shifted from wing backs to 4-3-3 and then two up front playing longer towards Huntelaar. The second half would be all theirs. It had started immediately when Ochoa somehow kept out Stefan de Vrij’s close-range volley from a corner, pushing it against the post with a combination of head and hands.
Wide on the left, Memphis Depay was now running at them, more winger than wing back, but not as much as Robben. A familiar pattern emerged, a simple tactic: get the ball to Robben. He cut in and provided a pass for Sneijder, whose shot squirmed wide off Rodríguez; he then clipped a ball in that just evaded Sneijder; and soon after that he appealed for another penalty. He ran inside, lost his footing and, as he scrambled to his feet, tried to burst past Miguel Layún, lying on the floor and trying to reach the ball with an outstretched leg. Robben tumbled over his legs. He may have done so deliberately; certainly Proença was not convinced it was a foul or a dive.
Still they came and still it was Robben. A swivel of the hips and a cut-back, this time to the outside, took him away from Márquez but Ochoa saved again. Robin van Persie was withdrawn for Huntelaar and Holland became more direct. His impact would be decisive, nodding down for Sneijder to thump in the equaliser with five minutes left. There was still time for Robben to make his penultimate run of the afternoon, into the area to win a penalty. His last was a sprint to celebrate.
by theguardian /

Friday, June 27, 2014

Costa Rica Vs Greece Brazil World Cup 29 June 2014 / Have a Fun Flag Wig !


Costa Rica and Greece came into the World Cup with the worst betting odds to win their respective groups.

However, Costa Rica has been the biggest surprise of the tournament winning the Group of Champions, and the Greeks came in second in their group after an injury-time goal in their last match gave them a win over Nigeria.

Oddsmakers monitored by had Costa Rica as the slight World Cup betting favorite in this knockout-stage match posted at 3-2 with Greece at 2-1, roughly the same price as the draw line.

Costa Rica is making their first appearance in the round of 16 since 1990.

Los Ticos have played stellar defense so far in the World Cup, allowing a single goal and keeping a clean sheet in their last two matches facing Italy and England. Keylor Navas has been a rock in goal, and the defensive back line and the midfield has been great at thwarting the offensive forays of some talented players.

While Costa Rica only scored four goals in group play, Joel Campbell has been a force at striker. Midfielder Christian Bolanos and wing striker Bryan Ruiz have also played well.
After giving up three goals in their loss to Colombia in their first group match, Greece only conceded one in their last two. Much like Costa Rica, the strength of the squad is their defense.
Greece played more of an attacking style in their last group match, but they needed to score in order to advance. Captain Kostas Katsouranis is back after sitting out the last match due to a suspension, and he is the key for a Greek attack that is less than dynamic.

Greek keeper Orestis Karnezis and attacking midfielder Panagiotis Kone were substituted off in the last match, and each is doubtful for this one due to injury.

This may not be one of the most exciting matches, with two staunch defenses set to play it safe. In that type of match, expect the more talented squad to eventually break through, and that would be Costa Rica.

by BR /

Netherlands Vs Mexico 29 June 2014 Brazil World Cup Match Preview / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

Mexico has been one of the more impressive teams so far in the World Cup, but can it stop the mighty Dutch attack?

Keeper Guillermo Ochoa has been stellar so far, but he and the Mexican defenders will face a Netherlands offense that scored 10 goals in three group matches.

Most sportsbooks tracked by Odds Shark have the Netherlands at roughly even odds for this match in the round of 16. Mexico was priced as a nearly 3-1 underdog, while the draw line was 5-2.

Robin van Persie, who sat out the last match, and Arjen Robben lead the dynamic Netherlands offense, and each has three goals in this World Cup.

Mexico played to a 0-0 draw facing Brazil and then beat Croatia 3-1 in the last group match. Striker Oribe Peralta and midfielder Giovani Dos Santos have looked solid in the tournament, and they must lead the attack for the Mexicans.

The Dutch defense has not been great so far in the tournament, even though it held Chile scoreless in its last match. Mexico may repeat its Brazil strategy of sitting back and hoping to weather the inevitable storm.

But it will be imperative that Mexico look for counter-attack chances, as the Dutch will push hard the entire match.

Wesley Sneijder and Nigel de Jong lead the Dutch midfield, and they have to help create scoring chances for the squad. They are an attacking duo, which is yet another reason the Netherlands must be wary of the counter-attack.

Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen almost gave Chile a goal on a big mistake that may have been a penalty. The team has made mistakes on defense, especially in its 3-2 win over Australia, and it cannot let that happen against Mexico.

Mexico has taken all three of its opponents in group play out of their game and will look to do the same against the Dutch.

The Dutch boast a great attack, but defense will be the big factor in this match. That edge goes to Mexico, and this game could end up in penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.

by BR /

Colombia Vs Uruguay 28 June Brazil World Cup Match Preview / Have a Fun Flag Wigs!

Colombia was already without Radamel Falcao. Now Uruguay is without Luis Suarez.
Instead of a matchup between two of the world’s top strikers,

the Round-of-16 game between Colombia and Uruguay at the World Cup will be a test of which team copes best without its talisman.

Suarez was banned by FIFA on Thursday from all football for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy in their last group game, a result that sent his team through to the knockout rounds.

That means the World Cup lost one of its best and most colorful players, and Uruguay lost its main scoring threat.

Uruguay struggled badly without him in its opening loss to Costa Rica, when the Liverpool striker remained on the bench as he recovered from knee surgery. Suarez returned to score both goals against England in a 2-1 win, showing just how important he is to the team.
As part of his ban, which covers Uruguay’s next nine games, Suarez isn’t even allowed to enter the Maracana for Saturday’s match.

Colombia has already proven it can cope without Falcao, the country’s biggest star who missed the tournament after failing to recover from a knee injury. Colombia was one of the most impressive teas in the group stages, winning all three of its games and scoring nine goals in the process.

“We know we have done some great work, but we need to keep going,” Colombia forward Jackson Martinez said.

In Falcao’s absence, Monaco playmaker James Rodriguez has stepped up to become the team’s focal point, scoring three goals and setting up two more in the group stage.
“Something really important has taken place,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said this week. “I think everyone who knows football knows Falcao. … He is one of the reasons we are playing in this World Cup.

“But the players have reacted in a positive way. For me, as a coach, this proves that my players have a strong character because they have played very well and shown wonderful performances.”

What Uruguay’s reaction to the Suarez ban will be is anyone’s guess. The Uruguay federation has already lodged an appeal.

The team didn’t immediately comment on the ban, but it does have players who can step up — notably Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan. Cavani scored Uruguay’s goal in the 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, but has been quiet in the subsequent two games. Forlan was named the best player of the 2010 World Cup, but hasn’t shown any of that form when he’s been on the pitch in Brazil so far. Defender Diego Godin has maintained his good form, however, heading in the winner against Italy just minutes after the Suarez biting incident. Godin also scored a vital goal against Barcelona that gave Atletico Madrid the Spanish league title last month, and netted his team’s goal in the Champions League final loss to Real Madrid.

Many of Uruguay’s players have been here before, too. The team reached the semifinals at the 2010 World Cup, while Colombia hadn’t even qualified for the tournament since 1998.
Colombia defender Mario Yepes said before Thursday’s FIFA announcement on the Suarez ban that his team wasn’t worried about whether the striker would be playing or not.
“We are thinking only of our work,” Yepes said. “It is going to be a difficult match, very difficult, because we have had the opportunity of watching Uruguay’s matches during the World Cup, and we have seen it is a difficult team (to play).”

by EPOCH /

Thursday, June 26, 2014

First Game in round of 16, Brazil vs Chile 28 June preview / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

Brazil came into the World Cup as the tournament favorite while Chile weren't even picked to get out of Group B.

While the hosts did not look impressive in their first two group matches, they appeared to hit their stride against an overmatched Cameroon team.

That performance added a bit more hype to Brazil, and they are bigger favorites than they should be facing Chile in the round of 16.

Sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark had Brazil as 8-13 favorites and Chile at 5-1 with a draw line of 16-5.

Chile came in second in their tough group, which included 2010 champion Spain and Holland. Their defense led them to a win over Spain, and they played well in a 2-0 loss to the Dutch.
While Brazil striker Neymar has been opportunistic with four goals in three matches, Fred and Oscar have been mediocre. Oscar is the leader of the midfield and must play better in this match.

Brazil have not played a great attacking squad in this tournament. While Chile does not have a dynamic attack, they scored five goals in their first two group matches before losing to Holland, 2-0.

Dani Alves, who has not looked great in the World Cup, leads the defense that has only conceded two goals. They must key on Chilean attacker Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.
In 15 matches between these two South American squads, Brazil have 13 wins, one loss and one draw. In those matches, Chile have conceded an average of 2.81 goals per match.
While Chile have not had much success against their South American neighbors, the last two matches resulted in a 2-2 draw and a 2-1 loss.

Chilean captain and keeper Claudio Bravo will be under attack the whole match, and the defense and midfield have to look for counter-attack chances. The Chile squad may want to take a page from Mexico's successful blueprint that led to their 0-0 draw facing Brazil.
That strategy was tightly marking Neymar the whole match and attacking only when the opportunity safely presented itself.

Brazil showed what they could do in their easy win over Cameroon, but can they play like that facing Chile? Will the pressure of the knockout stage be too much, or is the team just waiting to erupt?

Expect Chile to play much like they did in the Holland match, settling into a defensive posture. If they can remain patient and bend but not break under the expected early onslaught, they can pull off the huge upset here.

by BR /

Do we need to give more support for Suarez ? Luis Suárez suspended for nine matches and banned for four months from any football-related activity !

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has reached a decision in the case related to Luis Suárez of Uruguay following an incident that occurred during the FIFA World Cup™ match between Italy and Uruguay played on 24 June 2014.

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided that: The player Luis Suárez is regarded as having breached art. 48 par. 1 lit. d of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC) (assault), and art. 57 of the FDC (an act of unsporting behaviour towards another player).

· The player Luis Suárez is to be suspended for nine (9) official matches. The first match of this suspension is to be served in the upcoming FIFA World Cup™ fixture between Colombia and Uruguay on 28 June 2014. The remaining match suspensions shall be served in Uruguay’s next FIFA World Cup match(es), as long as the team qualifies, and/or in the representative team’s subsequent official matches in accordance with art. 38 par. 2a) of the FDC.

· The player Luis Suárez is banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) for a period of four (4) months in accordance with art. 22 of the FDC.

· A stadium ban is pronounced against the player Luis Suárez in accordance with art. 21 of the FDC as follows: the player Luis Suárez is prohibited from entering the confines of any stadium during the period of the ban (point 3). The player Luis Suárez is prohibited from entering the confines of any stadium in which the representative team of Uruguay is playing while he has to serve the nine-match suspension (point 2).

· The player Luis Suárez is ordered to pay a fine in the amount of CHF 100,000.
The decision was notified to the player and the Uruguayan FA today.

“Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field. The Disciplinary Committee took into account all the factors of the case and the degree of Mr Suárez’s guilt in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code. The decision comes into force as soon it is communicated,” said Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

by FIFA /

Portugal beat Ghana 2-1, but the result means that both teams have been eliminated from the World Cup / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

Portugal and Ghana played a thoroughly entertaining match that perhaps neither team deserved to lose. So, naturally, both lost -- Portugal claimed a 2-1 victory on the day, but the result eliminates each side in Group G, with Ghana consigned to last spot with one point and Portugal missing out on second place thanks to goal differential, allowing the USA to progress in the World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo -- and, by extension, Portugal -- very nearly started off the match with a bang. On the right wing, the Real Madrid star spotted Fatau Dauda off his line (or so he'll tell us) and laced a shot over his head from an impossible angle. Alas for Ronaldo, what would have been the goal of the tournament didn't get quite enough dip on it to drop below the crossbar, instead rebounding back into play for the Black Stars to clear. Perhaps that's just as well; I don't think anyone was looking forward to the "did he mean it?" debate after the match.

Portugal pressed the attack, coming within inches (again!) of going ahead when Ronaldo met a João Pereira cross with a powerful header only for Dauda to beat the effort over the bar, and the Black Stars' defence was eventually breached in the 30th minute through the unfortunate John Boye. João Moutinho juggled his way through the centre of the pitch, slashed a pass wide to Miguel Veloso, and the erstwhile left back's delivery was deflected by Boye's knee, flicking up to the crossbar, then to the post, and then to the back of the net for an own goal.

Ghana had been looking intermittently dangerous themselves. Asamoah Gyan was at the heart of most of their good work, coming close a number of times and also seeing what looked like a very reasonable penalty shout turned down after clashing with Bruno Alves in the left channel.
But despite their attacking intent, the Black Stars went into halftime 1-0 down. That situation would change after the break -- Ghana came out strong and soon drew level via Gyan. Kwadwo Asamoah got free on the left and fired in a cross with the outside of his boot, and Gyan was on hand to steer a header past Beto and put the game back to 1-1.

And Ghana, who now only needed a goal to claim second spot and advance, nearly made it 2-1 minutes later when Abdul Majeed Waris escaped his market on a corner. But instead of finding the goal, as looked briefly destined, he steered his header implausibly wide.

The momentum, however, was firmly in the Black Stars' favour, and it took a phenomenal last-ditch tackle from Pepe to prevent Waris racing onto a pass in the Portuguese box just after the hour mark. Ronaldo tried to turn things around via an amusing dive for a penalty, but his rolling around failed to amuse referee Nawaf Shukralla, and Ghana immediately went back on the attack.

If not for a goalkeeping howler, it's not at all out of the question that the Black Stars could have gone on to win the match. But a howler is exactly what they got -- Boye popped a cross into the air, and Dauda, challenged by Silvestre Varela, couldn't catch the ball, instead virtually throwing it at Ronaldo's feet. And Ronaldo didn't miss.

Portugal needed to make up a five-goal swing, and with 10 minutes left they were still down by three. There simply wasn't enough time to score the goals they needed, and try as they might they failed to find the goal again despite getting plenty of chances -- including a point-blank flick by Ronaldo -- in the game's dying moments.

by SBNation /

USA Vs Germany, Group G 1-0, USA loose this game but advances / Fun Flag Wigs !

There was no handshake agreement to play to a draw, as Germany came out gunning from the opening minute. The European side put the United States under siege immediately, getting wide-open spaces down the flank for crosses. Tim Howard was forced to dive and intercept a couple of crosses, while Omar Gonzalez also made a couple of desperation tackles and clearances. Meanwhile, Portugal went up 1-0 on Ghana after an own goal from the African team.

Things looked comfortable heading into halftime. If things stayed the same, the United States was clean through.

And then that suddenly became very, very nervous.

Germany began the second half similar to the first, attacking the United States down the flanks and looking to cross into the middle. Miroslav Klose came on for Germany, and made an immediate impact, finding space in the U.S. box. Then Thomas Muller scored in the 55th minute for Germany, after Tim Howard's diving save sent the ball right to him.
And then Ghana scored to tie the match.

The United States was still through, but one more Ghana goal would have sent the U.S. packing. Portugal looked tired, the United States looked tired, while Germany and Ghana looked likely to get another goal apiece. It was time for butterflies and nervous shaking.
No chances seemed to be coming for the U.S. -- so the hero everyone expected emerged: Ronaldo. The world's best -- or second-best -- player finally scored for Portugal, putting them up 2-1 on Ghana.

The United States had some chances in added time, as DeAndre Yedlin made an impact as a sub, but they couldn't find the back of the net. It ended up not mattering, as Ghana couldn't score again.

by CBSSports /

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

USA vs Germany Group G Preview / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

You may be new to the World Cup, you may have hated soccer in the past for the lack of scoring and simulation ("diving") or you may have played since you were five, followed the sport religiously and watched it develop to the point where even former NFL players are going ape over it:

Whichever category you fall into, you are probably a bit concerned over the USMNT's failure to close out their match against Portugal.

Take a deep breath. Now, exhale. It's going to be all right.

The shock should have worn off by now, and you realize that, while a bit deflating, their stoppage-time draw against Portugal was not a death blow. The U.S. can still advance to the knockout stages via multiple scenarios.

Yes, the U.S. should have seen the Portugal match out. Even a Cristiano Ronaldo playing at 60 percent should not have been given space to play in his fateful perfect cross.

Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) needed not to shank the early clearance that led to Nani's sitter—Cameron also needed to man-mark Silvestre Varela (FC Porto) on the equalizing header.
Michael Bradley needed to hoof it out instead of doing this with 30 seconds left, courtesy of Austin Gourlay (via Philadelphia-based writer Brian P. Hickey):

Again, my fellow Americans, it's going to be all right.

Yes, Germany is ranked No. 2 in the world, according to FIFA. Guess who's No. 1 in the world, Spain: the first team eliminated from this edition of the World Cup.

Germany is scary good, as evidenced by its 4-0 win over Portugal. That same team looked vulnerable in its 2-2 draw versus Ghana.

Here's the thing, the U.S. can still advance to the knockout stages even if it loses to Germany. Does that make you a little less anxious?

If the U.S. can't produce a result against the Germans, it can still advance if Ghana doesn't make up a two-goal deficit in differential.

If Ghana and the U.S. tie on goal differential, the next tiebreaker is most goals scored, and the third tiebreaker is head-to-head, where the U.S. own the advantage.

Portugal can only advance if it defeats Ghana and makes up a five-goal difference.
Germany enters the match with a full complement, as Thomas Muller appears to have fully recovered from the bloody knock he took at the end of the Ghana match, as per the Irish Independent.

Defender Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich) and midfielder Sami Khedira (Real Madrid) both appear to be fit as well, as per The Associated Press (via ESPN FC).

The U.S. will again be without Jozy Altidore but found a superb replacement in Graham Zusi, who assisted on Dempsey's apparent game-winner against Portugal.

Right wing-back Fabian Johnson (1899 Hoffenheim), whose swooping and slaloming runs gave Portuguese defenders fits all game long, could expose Germany's one real defensive weakness in converted center back Benedikt Howedes, who struggled versus Ghana.

Dempsey is the Dempsey of his Fulham days, playing with supreme confidence and finishing. German-born Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), not known for his scoring prowess (three goals in 44 caps for USA), showed world class in his strike against Portugal.

In his World Cup debut, substitute DeAndre Yedlin proved his salt with an end-line run and diagonal ball to Bradley, who set up Zusi's chip-cross for Dempsey's chested goal.
Klinsmann has stamped this U.S. team with something of a German imprint: crisp passing and superb linkup play from wing-backs and midfielders.

Germany has a wealth of attacking options in Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Bastian Schweinsteiger, Muller, Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich) and the ageless Miroslav Klose, who tied famed Brazilian striker Ronaldo with his 15th World Cup goal in equalizing against Ghana.
Center backs Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) and Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) are tall, physical defenders who will be tough to break down.

The matchups and conventional wisdom may favor Germany, but on current form, the U.S. can do the job. If they can keep their nerves from jangling and eliminate some naivete at the back, this team is going to be fine.

by BR /

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Greece vs Ivory Coast 2 : 1 Group C: Giorgios Samaras is Greek hero with late penalty to secure knockout place / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

Incredible drama unfolded in Fortaleza when Georgios Samaras converted a stoppage-time penalty to secure Greece a 2-1 victory over Côte d'Ivoire to set up a Round of 16 clash against Costa Rica at the FIFA World Cup™.

A truly topsy-turvy encounter appeared to be finishing in the African challengers’ favour until they conceded a crucial spot-kick in the closing seconds, providing their opponents with a chance to progress and maintaining their frustrating record of not qualifying from a group stage at the tournament.

Côte d'Ivoire duo Kolo and Yaya Toure were both named in the starting XI just days after the tragic passing of their brother, Ibrahim. Didier Drogba, meanwhile, was included from kick-off for the first time in the competition. From the opposition dugout, Fernando Santos opted for three changes in a must-win encounter.

After a tightly-contested opening, the Greek rhythm was disrupted by the misfortune of two injuries; Panagiotis Kone was forced off and replaced by Andreas Samaris, before goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis had to submit and Panagiotis Glykos entered the fray. But, incongruously, Santos’ charges would soon begin to pepper the Ivorians’ goal in search of a tangible foothold in the match.

Indeed, woodwork was shaking on 32 minutes, when Samaras knocked a diagonal ball into the path of Jose Cholevas, who showed too much speed over the turf for Kolo Toure. The Olympiacos man’s shooting technique matched his pace, but the well-struck drive from distance in the right channel agonisingly bounced off the crossbar and away to safety. Boubacar Barry smartly handled a subsequent free-kick from Georgios Karagounis.
Three minutes before the break, Greece struck. Cheick Tiote was lackadaisical in possession, handing control straight to substitute Samaris. The 25-year-old correctly selected a one-two with near-namesake Samaras as his best option, took the return pass and calmly lifted a side-foot finish over the oncoming Barry and home to drastically alter the situation in Group C.
The fledgling moments of the second period featured a flurry of activity. Dimitrios Salpingidis nodded back a delivery to the far post, with the ball staying out of the net through a combination of a deflection and the frame of the goal. Tiote, keen to make amends for his earlier error, worked Glykos with a crashed strike from around 25 yards, though the ‘keeper was comfortable.

Barry, on the other hand, was a spectator when Lazaros Christodoulopoulos shimmied into range for a strike – the No16’s eventual pummel drifted harmlessly wide, however. But the Côte d'Ivoire custodian produced an important, acrobatic stop to keep out a thump from the right edge of the penalty box by Salpingidis shortly after.

Salomon Kalou threatened momentarily when he scampered inside from the left wing, but his shaped curler was slightly too high and a touch wide to settle in the top corner. At the other end, Karagounis took a more straightforward route by simply smashing the ball from fully 30 yards and was left bemoaning his luck when the piledriver rattled against the crossbar.
With little over a quarter of an hour left, though, the tide turned again. An impressive passing move brought space to create for Gervinho, who found substitute Wilfried Bony inside the area and the Swansea City striker was coolness personified in expertly clipping in the equaliser despite pressure converging from all angles.

There was a sharp intake of breath for Côte d'Ivoire supporters when Salpingidis fired a devilish cross across the six-yard box, but Serge Aurier narrowly avoided contact and a guaranteed own goal. But their nightmares became reality when Giovanni Sio upended Samaras inside the area in the 92nd minute and the striker stepped up to lash the spot-kick home and spark Greek celebrations.

by FIFA /


 Ivory Coast

Japan vs. Colombia Japan vs. Colombia Japan vs. Colombia 1 : 4 Group C Match / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

Carlos Valderrama and that mop of hair remain synonymous with Colombia but there is a growing sense that this generation can earn legendary status of their own.
Jackson Martinéz set the South Americans on their way to a third group victory with two second-half goals before a sublime James Rodríguez finish set up a meeting with Uruguay on Saturday.
This was another formidable performance from a team who could better the achievements of the 1990 team led by Valderrama, which reached the second round. In Monaco midfielder Rodríguez, they have one of the tournament stars.
There was also a memorable moment for goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, who at 43 became the oldest player at a World Cup when he came on as a substitute, and Uruguay will face a tough task to progress.
Only a victory would have sufficed for Japan but at times this was another frustrating, trademark performance.
While Japan may be attack-minded, well-drilled and technically astute, they are pacifists in the opposition penalty area.
Their hopes appeared forlorn after 17 minutes when Yasuyuki Konno inexplicably brought down Adrian Ramos in the area, with Juan Cuadrado scoring from the spot.
Japan levelled on the stroke of half-time when Shinji Okazaki headed in to breathe life into the Samurai Blue.

That life was strangled out of them when Martinéz pounced from close range after brilliant approach play from Rodríguez, who had been introduced at the break.
Japan had chances, through Honda and Okubo, but Martinéz settled it with a cool finish before Rodríguez chipped in a fourth to add the gloss to another striking performance.

by Telegraph /



Italy vs Uruguay 0 :1 World Cup 2014: Luis Suarez 'bite' overshadows Uruguay progress while Italy are out / Fun Flag Wigs !

The Atletico Madrid defender rose highest from a corner with nine minutes remaining on the clock to complete a remarkable turnaround for his country, who had been beaten in their opening fixture of the tournament but now progress to a meeting with the winners of Group C.
Italy held the safety net of knowing that a draw would be enough to reach the knockout stages but the Europeans nevertheless probed with regularity in the opening exchanges. The anxiety of La Celeste to register an early impact, meanwhile, led to the concession of numerous free-kicks – one of which Andrea Pirlo punted with power straight at goal to worry Fernando Muslera into diverting over.
The four-time world champions’ total control of the ball – more than 60 per cent possession during the first 20 minutes – ensured that chances were hugely limited for Uruguay. When Edinson Cavani did attempt to flick dangerously at the near post from Alvaro Pereira’s rolling delivery into the area, the Paris Saint-Germain goal-getter fired off-target under pressure.
Mario Balotelli collected a needless but deserved booking for a hefty challenge on Pereira. It could have been a costly yellow card too, ruling the enigmatic forward out of the Italians’ next fixture. By way of recompense, the 23-year-old surged into open space on 27 minutes, but his focus was out of kilter when unleashing a right-footed shot from long range and the opportunity passed.

Out of the relative impasse suddenly came a Uruguay chance. An intricate one-two between Nicolas Lodeiro and Luis Suarez at close quarters released the Liverpool talisman inside unprotected Italy territory, only for Gianluigi Buffon to rush from his goalline instantaneously to smother the No9 and prevent a genuine strike. The goalkeeper’s reactions were equally quick, and no less vital, in denying Lodeiro’s follow-up.

The frustration of the South Americans was perhaps most evident by Martin Caceres’ ambitious and futile effort to beat Buffon with a lobbed drive from midway inside his own half. When the two teams trotted back out for the second half, Balotelli was conspicuous by his absence, Marco Parolo replacing the AC Milan superstar. For his part, Oscar Tabarez swapped Maximiliano Pereira for Lodeiro in search of a breakthrough.

Stalemate reigned again until an action-packed minute just before the hour mark. Cristian Rodriguez penetrated along the left flank, fed Suarez and collected the return pass as he sprinted into the box; once there, however, the wide-man disappointingly sliced his left-footer far wide. The dynamic was altered further within seconds, when the referee brandished a red card in the direction of Claudio Marchisio for a high tackle on Egidio Arevalo.

Buffon served unnecessary notice of his unrivalled skills by pouncing low to his right when Suarez took control of a scramble at the edge of the Italy area and dispatched a strike towards the corner that looked a certain goal until the ‘keeper’s fine intervention. But the veteran stopper was helpless when a Gaston Ramirez set-piece sailed in and Godin forced over the line with a clumsy combination of shoulder and back to send La Celeste through and Italy home.

by SB Nation /

Uruguay Female Long Flag Wig

Italy vs Uruguay: Luis Suarez takes swipe at England before Uruguay set sights on Italian job / Have a Fun Flag Wig !

What Luis Suarez has done once he will have to do again. His remarkable display of skill and willpower against England was one half of the only equation that would let Uruguay escape from this group of death with their lives. The other comes this afternoon against Italy.
In the wake of that extraordinary display in Sao Paulo, Suarez made some strange statements implying it had been a payback of sorts. “People in England laughed at my attitude over the last few years,” he said. “I’d like to see what they think now.”

Here, he was asked how a nation that had voted him Footballer of the Year twice in a single season could be accused of disrespecting him. “You work in England, you should know what was in the papers,” he retorted. “You know that before the match, the media started making fun of me. You are in the media, you should know what happened.”

He has not forgiven and he has not forgotten. This may be because the victory he conjured over England has released a dam burst of emotions about his treatment over accusations he racially abused Patrice Evra and the cold fact that he bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

Or it may be part of an exit strategy; that he will demand to break the contract with Liverpool he signed last year because it is now impossible for him to live in England – not that he will find the press in Madrid or Barcelona any less intense.

This was not his first public appearance of the week. On the surface, Diego Maradona and Suarez are similar men. Their football and their cunning was learnt on some unforgiving streets. They each scored two goals to knock England out of World Cups.

Suarez was a natural for Maradona to invite on to De Zurda, the chat show he co-hosts on Argentine television. The interview was a bit of a love-in. Maradona may be many things but he is no Jeremy Paxman. “May I congratulate you on being one of the three finest strikers in the world?” was his opening question. “Uruguay’s oxygen,” he called him.

“That match meant everything,” Suarez said of the England game. “It meant everything because, had we lost, we would have been out, because of everything I went through in England and because I was coming back from an operation.”

Suarez added that it touched him how deeply his manager, Oscar Tabarez, had believed in him. Tabarez’s great gamble in Sao Paulo came off spectacularly. Not only did Suarez unhinge the England defence; his decision to bring Nicolas Lodeiro and Alvaro Gonzalez into his midfield also paid off. There will be no further changes. Here, as in Sao Paulo, the only result that will do is a win.

Tabarez was, as he sometimes is, in gentle, philosophical mood last night. Asked if he was nervous, he replied: “There is no room for fear in football. In life you can be afraid for someone you love but this is a game. The match will be characterised not by fear but by motivation. To play Italy is a gift from heaven and the motivation will be to beat one of the world’s great teams.”
For Italy things are considerably more equivocal. A draw would keep them alive in this World Cup but after their limp, barely focused display against Costa Rica, their manager, Cesare Prandelli, knows he cannot trust in the same players for a match he called  “the most important match of my professional career”.

Prandelli will change personnel and he will change the system, deploying three centre-halves in a 3-5-2 with Mario Balotelli playing alongside Torino’s Ciro Immobile – a combination many believe does not function well together.

The mood in the Italian camp has been a determination that, if they are go out, they will not do so “cowering in a bunker” as Gazzetta dello Sport put it. There is also a realisation that they have been here so many times before.

“This is my 10th major tournament with the national team and in only one can I remember us having qualified from the group with a game to spare – and that was in a Confederations Cup,” Gianluigi Buffon remarked. “We are used to this. We know what the critics and the columnists have been writing and, though some of it is justified, the only people who can get us out of this situation are the players.

“This has been a group of iron and nobody anticipated Costa Rica would top it after two matches. But in this situation Prandelli is a master.” In Euro 2012 he proved it, overseeing a stunning display to overcome Germany in the semi-finals and something similar is required now.

And yet they still appeared to be looking for excuses to explain their defeat by Costa Rica, still talking about the injustice of being asked to kick off against a Latin American nation at 1pm in the heat of north-east Brazil – just as they will do this afternoon. Andrea Pirlo talked about “two World Cups; one in the north one in the south.” Italy have played all their games in the heat of northern Brazil.

Nevertheless, the rain was streaming down over Natal as Pirlo spoke and the forecast is for the game to be played in rain and cloud. For Italy, there are now no more excuses.

by Independent /