Day 14 Review: Germany go down & Brazil march on
Germany are out of the World Cup! For the fourth time in five World Cup’s the holders have gone out in the group phase.
Germany as their manager was quick to point didn’t deserve to qualify and after their stunning last gaps victory came another lifeless performance against South Korea. But at half time it appeared to be enough for Germany to get through as Sweden and Mexico were also level at 0-0 with Mexico seemingly in control having gone close through Carlos Vela. But everything changed early in the second half when Sweden left back Ludwig Augustinsson volleyed home to put Sweden in pole position, leave Mexico sweating on a place and Germany out. The Mexicans were stunned and were caught out by a Swedish counter leading to a penalty despatched by Andreas Granqvist for 2-0 and suddenly a German goal would put Mexico out. The Germans pushed with Mats Hummels and Mario Gomez going close but the Korean defence held and started hitting the Germans on the counter. By the time Mexico had scored an own goal to go 3 down Sweden were through and the Mexicans were left desperately hoping South Korea would hold on. But 3 minutes into injury time Mexican nerves were settled and German hearts broken when Kim Young-gwon tapped home from a corner, the goal was initially ruled out but correctly reinstated by VAR. The Germans pushed everyone including Manuel Neuer up into Korea’s half in desperation but Neuer lost the ball and Korea broke to set Son Heung-Min up with a tap in on the break to conclude a stunning afternoon of football.
After the drama of Germany’s demise the question became would Brazil follow them out? It became quickly apparent they wouldn’t as Brazil eased past Serbia. Brazil dominated possession from the outset and a defence splitting from Coutinho played in Paulinho for a deft finish. Serbia showed more intent in the second half and a good period of possession saw them create numerous chances but sadly they fell to Alexsander Mitrovic having one of his off nights and just as Serbia were building up a head of steam Neymar’s corner found Thiago Silva who settled the game with a bullet header. In the other game Switzerland confirmed their passage with a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica. The Swiss started well and scored early through Blerim Dzemaili. But a Kendal Watson header early in the second half saw Costa Rica equalise and get their first goal of the tournament. It seemed the game was heading for stalemate until Josip Drmic face Switzerland an 88th minute lead only for the excellent Yannick Sommer to blot his copybook in the Swiss goal by conceding an injury time equaliser but the Swiss had done enough to guarantee a meeting with Sweden.
Day 15 Preview
The last day of the group phase sees Group’s G & H conclude.
Group H will conclude this afternoon with Colombia needing to beat Senegal who themselves need a point as do Japan against eliminated Poland. Colombia and Senegal are both sides tilted to attack with Colombia’s creative trio of Quintero, James & Cuadrardo coming off an excellent display against the Poles. Senegal have worked in fits and starts so far and the absence of Balde Keita from the starting lineup remains mystifying. I suspect that creative trio will be key and if they find their range I think Senegal will be going home.
Japan are solid and Poland are dour so I don’t think their clash will be a thriller. The return to form of Keisuke Honda is a boost to Japan particularly as Shinji Kagawa is struggling for form. For Poland it feels like the final chapter of many an international career but any side with Robert Lewandowski up front have a chance, I think Japan will need a goal to secure their place in the last 16.
Predictions: Senegal 1-2 Colombia, Japan 1-1 Poland
There’s very little left to settle in Group G with top dogs England and Belgium playing to see in which order they will enter Round 2. They each have scored 8, conceded 2 and have a maximum 6 points. Both are likely to name much changed sides and appear to have one eye on the knockout phase. Panama and Tunisia play to avoid the wooden spoon. Tunisia have the greater quality but Panama have plenty of spirit and will be desperate to get a point.
Predictions: England 1-1 Belgium, Tunisia 2-1 Panama
Football fan, follower of England, Leeds and will watch any game possible (between raising twins!)