Monday, 30 June 2014

WC 2014 - Costa Rica qualify for the Last 8, the hard way:

No-one wants to lose a match at the World Cup; especially as a place in the quarter-finals is up for grabs.

Costa Rica vs Greece - arguably one of the most un-desirable matches in the Last 16 did not disappoint, as both teams were eager to qualify for a place in the next round of the most prestigious tournament in the world - the World Cup of course!

A rather tame first-half so limited chances for both sides, with Greece having their fair share of possession and the one clear-cut chance; a great diagonal ball into the box was parried away by goalkeeper Keylor Navas from a good close range effort courtesy of Salpingidis in the first-half.

And then the game started to open up in the second period of time; first, an ambitious effort from Fulham midfielder Bryan Ruiz paid off, as his low drive confused the goalkeeper and resulted in the opening goal of the match.

As a result, Greece were understandably rattled by going 1-0 down and felt that they needed to respond, and quickly - otherwise they would be exiting the competition despite their hard work.

Costa Rica made it hard for themselves after Oscar Duarte was given a second yellow card (and consequently sent off) for a late challenge near the flank on Cholevas.

And then, the Greeks kept up their pressure on the Costa Rican goal and frustrated their opponents, dominating possession for the most part of the match afterwards and making them worried at the back. 

Time was running out, and it was still 1-0. Greece needed a hero to step up and equalise late on, as the fourth official put up his electronic board for 5 minutes of stoppage time. 

And guess what.

Greece made their pressure pay, thanks to a rebounded effort from Dortmund defender Sokratis after a scuffed shot by Gekas was parried by Navas - into the path of Sokratis to power home. 

Mobbed: Sokratis celebrates his late equaliser to send the match into extra time
An extra 30 minutes was needed, but despite a tense atmosphere and a few half-chances for both sides neither team was able to break the other down. 

Meaning that penalties would be needed to decide the winner of the match.

And to be fair, the majority of the spot-kicks were dispatched perfectly - nothing for either goalkeeper to do about it. 

THEN, goalkeeper Navas stole the show with his quick reflexes to deny Theofanis Gekas's shot, which eventually resulted in a 5-3 penalty shoot-out win for the Costa Ricans.

They were understandably relieved having played for 120 minutes and more - qualifying for the Last 8 to play against Holland on Saturday but doing it the hard way. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

WC 2014 LAST 16 - Holland vs Mexico, LIVE COMMENTARY:

Hello again and welcome to my latest blog post - another LIVE Commentary from the World Cup, as the competition gets firmly underway with the third match of the Last 16.

Brazil have set up an interesting encounter with impressive side Colombia in the quarter-finals; and now it's time for the Dutch to assert themselves as potential World Cup winners.

They play against Mexico, who came second in Brazil's group. Holland will be eager to win, and hopefully better their result in the competition from four years ago. 

They were unlucky to finish as runners-up, thanks to a dramatic late extra time winner from Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta to give Spain the win.

Holland will be the clear favourites to win today, but Mexico will make it a tough match for them.

Here are the Last 16 matches to be played -

Costa Rica vs Greece - later today
France vs Nigeria and Germany vs Algeria - both tomorrow
Argentina vs Switzerland and Belgium vs USA - on Tuesday

Here are the team line-ups for today's match:

Holland: Cillessen, Vlaar, De Vrij, Verhaegh, Kuyt, Wijnaldum, De Jong, Blind, Sneijder, Robben and van Persie.

Subs: Vorm, Krul, Martins Indi, Janmaat, de Guzman, Veltman, Kongolo, Clasie, Lens, Fer, Huntelaar and Depay.

Mexico: Ochoa, Aguilar, Rodriguez, Marquez, Moreno, Layun, Salcido, Herrera, Guardado, dos Santos and Peralta.

Subs: Corona, Talavera, Reyes, Fabian, Jimenez, Pulido, Hernandez, Ponce, Brizuela, Aquino and Pena.

Referee - Pedro Proenca (from Portugal)

17:00 - Mexico to kick-off the first-half of action in this Last 16, they know today is a crunch match for both sides. 

Holland make two changes to the side that beat Chile 2-0 in their last group stage match, as Manchester United striker Robin van Persie returns to the team from suspension.

Mexico will be hoping that they can provide a mini-shock against Holland today, who have been impressive on the counter attack but have defensive frailties ready to be exposed.

1: Mexico kick-off, and here is a potential scenario for the second quarter-final in the World Cup.

IF, and it's an if. But IF Mexico do go onto win today, they will play against either Costa Rica or Greece in the Last 8. 

2: First shot of the game comes from Mexico, an ambitious drive from 25 yards out, courtesy of Layun flies over the bar and out of Cillessen's reach.

4: FACT - Mexico have only conceded 1 goal in the tournament, against Brazil. Meanwhile Holland have conceded 3, but only 1 from open play.

6: Good reactions from goalkeeper Cillessen to rush out of his goal to anticipate the danger next to his defenders - good decisionn by the keeper to clear the ball, but it was a poor clearance in the end and Hollan were lucky to evade the danger there.

8: Holland SUB - 
Nigel De Jong OFF
Bruno Martins Indi ON

9: De Jong is replaced by Martins Indi, suspected that he is struggling with a knock or injury of some sort, that he will be unable to continue as a result with. 

10: Martins Indi was involved in a clash of his own during one of Holland's group stage matches - he suffered with concussion and was hospitalized, but luckily he has been deemed fit to play today.

13: Half-chance for Mexico, as Layun does well to beat Verhaegh on the flank and cross an inviting delivery into the box - but there are no team-mates in the area and Holland can clear.

15: A counter attack almost results in a chance for the Dutch, Robben does well to weave past his marker before attempting to cross a ball into the box - however the ball bounces off the defender and Mexico can clear.

16: CHANCE! Mexico pass the ball around the box, and the resulting shot is dragged wide by midfielder Herrera. Great opportunity to break the deadlock by the Mexicans, the Dutch have been left off there.

19: PENALTY APPEAL! Mexico will feel aggrieved that they were not given a penalty there, the referee waves away their protests and points to the corner flag, after good control from Herrera to kick the ball over Vlaar's head. 

BUT as he goes to keep the ball at his feet, he ends up getting kicked in the head by Vlaar with de Vrij raising a high foot to try and block his attempt on goal.

21: Corner comes of nothing, replays show that there was clear contact by Vlaar on Herrera and luckily, he has not suffered any visible injuries and the game has been allowed to continue. 

22: In hindsight, I still think that is a penalty that should have been given - Herrera could have been injured badly. 

25: Wijnaldum is currently receiving treatment on the far side, after an accidental clash near the centre circle.

27: The players look tired and very hot, the weather is sunny and humid in Fortaleza today.

Holland manager van Gaal reportedly said that if they do not have a drinks break today, the players will start to hallucinate from the heat.

28: A half-chance from Mexico is comfortably held by goalkeeper Cillessen, as the Holland side push players back into their own half.

29: A couple of loose passes for both sides at the moment, neither side really having a clear-cut chance as of yet.

31: Supporters around the ground are starting to boo; they do not like the tempo that the game is being played at - Holland are eager to keep the ball at their feet, making the ball do the work and passing it across the pitch.

As the temperature in the ground today are above 30 degrees Celsius, the match is required to be halted for 3 minutes as the players are allowed to have a drinks break. 

Mexico will be the happier of the two sides, and even though it is not half-time, they have been playing well today.   

35: The referee blows his whistle to get the match back underway, still 0-0 with 10 minutes plus stoppages until the end of the first-half.

45: The fourth official has signalled for 4 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first-half, with Mexico dominating in the final third.

45+1: Penalty appeal? Holland go on the counter attack, with van Persie looking up and finding Robben in the area - the Bayern winger tries to weave past two Mexican defenders and gets sandwiched. 

45+2: Robben goes down under the challenge of Moreno and Marquez; and claims a penalty. Moreno has gone down, looking worse for wear as the physio is rushed onto the pitch as a result.

45+3: Painful blow for Moreno, who is having to be stretchered off the pitch by the physios. The replays show that Robben perhaps should have got a penalty there, after clear contact between the two defenders.

45+4: HALF-TIME - 
The referee blows his whistle to end the first period of time during the match. 0-0 at the break, and both teams arguably should have had a penalty at either end.

But, Mexico have been the livelier of the two sides so far; and look more likely to score the opening goal of the game in a very hot first period. It has not exactly been a match played at 100 miles an hour, which is understandable given the heat.

BUT, Holland need to sharpen up at the back and hit their opponents on the counter attack - otherwise they could be in for a shock exit.

FACT: Mexico have had 6 shots in the first-half, compared to just one from their European counterparts.

18:03 - The referee blows his whistle to start the second period of the match, as Holland kick off. Mexico with a substitution, as the injured Hector Moreno is replaced by Diego Reyes.  

47: GOAL! Mexico in-front! What a super strike by Dos Santos, Cillessen wasn't able to prevent the curling effort from beating him into the bottom corner of the net.

dos Santos breaks the deadlock with a curling strike past Cillessen into the bottom corner
48: The Mexicans run wild as Dos Santos celebrates his goal, and now Holland have to come from behind to win.
That's what we needed: dos Santos celebrates his finish, to make the game interesting 
52: Sneijder with a free-kick delivery into the box.... no, the free-kick wall does its job and blocks it.

55: SAVED! Peralta with a chance out of nothing, his curling shot towards goal is acrobatically held by Cillessen as Holland get the ball clear. 

56: Holland SUB - 
Paul Verhaegh OFF
Memphis Depay ON

57: WHAT A STOP BY OCHOA! Mexico are left vulnerable from a set-piece, and a lunging header from defender Stefan de Vrij is blocked by the head of Ochoa, who stands on his line and does well to clear the danger onto the crossbar, before it bounces away to safety.

Super stop: Ochoa blocks de Vrij's effort from close range to keep the score 1-0
60: Holland have started to up the ante now, they need a goal and soon.

61: Mexico SUB - 
Giovani dos Santos OFF
Javier Aquino ON

65: The referee hesitates and almost gives a yellow card, after Depay is hit with a high kick by Aguilar.

66: Offside flag is up against Aquino, who gets past the final Holland defender and almost creates a half-chance - he scores but the linesman puts his flag up for an offside.

67: Goal-kick given by the referee, despite a penalty appeal from some of the Holland players as Robben goes down after a challenge inside the box. 

68: Replays show that although there was contact on Robben, he fell to ground theatrically and was probably looking for the foul more than anything.

69: Aguilar is given the first yellow card of the game after a late tackle on the heels of Depay. 

70: Holland have a set-piece whipped into the box, but the danger is cleared away and eventually they have a corner. Robben whips a delivery into the box, Ochoa punches clear.

71: Ambitious drive by Sneijder on the edge of the area, but his effort is high and wide of the goal as he had to rush his shot with the oncoming defenders rushing towards him.

73: SAVE! Great save by Ochoa again, this time as Robben has the chance to equalise for Holland after evading the challenge of Marquez before having a low shot towards goal blocked by the legs of the goalkeeper.

74: Mexico SUB - 
Oribe Peralta OFF
Javier Hernandez ON

75: 15 minutes left for Holland to get back into the match, they have not shown their real qualities today - and "super sub" Hernandez replaces Peralta.
Holland SUB - 
Robin van Persie OFF
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar ON

Another water break, coming at the best time possible for Mexico - time for a breather and time to re-group.

80: 10 minutes remaining for Holland; the referee has blown his whistle to restart the match and Mexico will be happy to keep possession now. 

81: A real shame that Holland have only started playing properly when they conceded thanks to dos Santos' goal in the early stages of the second half - Ochoa has been superb again for his country today. Candidate for Man of The Match!

83: Time's ticking down, and Holland sure do know it. Mexico defending bravely, the Dutch are getting players forward now.

84: SAVE BY OCHOA AGAIN! Ochoa just keeps delivering the goods - Huntelaar with a close range lunging effort despite being offside, the goalkeeper gets both hands on the shot and parries it away as the linesman flags for offside.

88: GOAL! Holland equalise late on! Harsh on Mexico, who have played well all game but have looked vulnerable from set-pieces and Sneijder makes it count with a thumping shot just inside the box.

Ochoa was unable to stop that strike, he couldn't see the ball in time and in truth it was simply too powerful for him. 

89: Sneijder runs over to celebrate with the Holland bench, you can see what it means to him. He was visibly distraught after their final loss to Spain in 2010 - and he may have just given the Dutch a lifeline.

90: The fourth official has signalled for 6 minutes of stoppage time to play; and Holland are dominating now. Mexico need to hold on for extra time at this rate, all of their players are back trying to defend.

90+1: PENALTY! HOLLAND HAVE A PENALTY! Robben does well to weave past three challenges, before he is tripped by captain and defender Rafael Marquez inside the area.

90+2: Marquez can have no complaints for that challenge, and gets booked for his troubles aswell.

90+3: Huntelaar steps up to take the penalty, and Guardado is booked for protesting - he shoots.... GOAL! Holland leave it late, but they are ahead now!
Huntelaar sends Ochoa the wrong way, and it's 2-1 with seconds remaining!

90+5: Mexico are desperate to score now, they just look overwhelmed, having conceded two goals within the space of 5 minutes. 

90+6: FULL-TIME - 
Holland 2 Mexico 1
Football is a really cruel game. Mexico will be the first to agree with that statement. 

Having dominated for the majority of the match, with minutes remaining - they concede two goals in the space of 5 minutes thanks to Sneijder and Huntelaar from the penalty spot. 

Back in it: Sneijder equalises late on with a thumping finish inside the area past Ochoa
Dramatic late winner: Huntelaar comes off the bench to score the winner from the penalty spot

Saturday, 28 June 2014

WC 2014 LAST 16 - Colombia vs Uruguay, MATCH REPORT:

Hello again and welcome to my latest blog post - as I have a match report plus summary of the second match in the Last 16 of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

After a dramatic end to an enthralling match between fellow South Americans Brazil and Chile; the host nation eventually progressed through to the quarter-finals after extra time and penalties. 

The winner of this match would be up against the hosts in the quarter-finals next week Friday, so there was obviously pressure on both teams to win.

Here are the other Last 16 matches to be played -

Netherlands vs Mexico and Costa Rica vs Greece - tomorrow

France vs Nigeria and Germany vs Algeria - both on Monday

Argentina vs Switzerland and Belgium vs USA - Tuesday

Here are the team line-ups for tonight's match:

Colombia: Ospina, Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero, Aguilar, Sanchez Moreno, Cuadrado, Rodriguez, Martinez and Gutierrez.

Subs: Vargas, Arias, Carbonero, Guarin, Ibarbo, Mejia, Balanta, Bacca, Ramos, Quintero, Valdes and Mondragon.

Uruguay: Muslera, Maxi Pereira, Gimenez, Godin, Caceres, Pereira, Gonzalez, Arevalo Rios, Rodriguez, Cavani and Forlan.

Subs: Munoz, Fucile, Gargano, Hernandez, Stuani, Lodeiro, Perez, Ramirez, Coates and Silva.


The best team won on the night, thanks to a great solo display by Monaco creative midfielder James Rodriguez.

Colombia were simply the better team when it came to the crunch, and Uruguay lacked any real attacking threat and were poor at the back - losing the ball in dangerous positions and failed to test their opposition until the final twenty minutes, when the game was virtually over by this point.

It was pretty evident from the start that Uruguay were missing a key player: Luis Suarez. 
Star man: Rodriguez was on top-form yet again for Colombia; scoring two goals in a fine display
He scored twice, including a stunning first-half strike on the volley from 25 yards out, which slammed off the crossbar and past Muslera into the net. 

The goal had everything; control, vision, swerve, power and a top-quality finish. Nothing Muslera could have done to stop the shot either.  

Fierce drive: Rodriguez with a goal of the tournament contender to give Colombia the lead
Unselfish play saw Cuadrado's cross fall into the path of his team-mate, to complete his brace
This result means that Colombia have now set up an interesting quarter-final fixture with Brazil, and it could have all the makings of a super match.

Tomorrow's Last 16 fixtures - 

Holland vs Mexico at 5pm, followed by Costa Rica vs Greece, at 9pm

World Cup 2014 LAST 16, Brazil vs Chile - LIVE COMMENTARY:

Hello again and welcome to my latest blog post - another LIVE Commentary from the World Cup, as the competition gets firmly underway with the first match of the Last 16.

The host nation Brazil, play against fellow South American side Chile in an intriguing match-up on this Saturday afternoon.

It's the start of the knock-out rounds, meaning that only one of these two teams will progress to the quarter-finals.

Here are the other Last 16 matches to be played -

Colombia vs Uruguay - later today
Netherlands vs Mexico and Costa Rica vs Greece - tomorrow
France vs Nigeria and Germany vs Algeria - both on Monday
Argentina vs Switzerland and Belgium vs USA - Tuesday

Here are the team line-ups for today's match:

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Fernandinho, Gustavo, Hulk, Oscar, Neymar and Fred.

Subs: Jefferson, Paulinho, Dante, Maxwell, Henrique, Ramires, Hernanes, Willian, Bernard, Jo, Maicon and Victor.

Chile: Bravo, Mena, Isla, Silva, Alexis, Vidal, Vargas, Medel, Jara, Aranguiz and Diaz.

Subs: Toselli, Albornoz, Carmona, Pinilla, Valdivia, Rojas, Orellana, Beausejour, Gutierrez, Fuenzalida, Paredes and Herrera.

Referee: Howard Webb (from England)

16:50 - There will be increased interest for this game as there are many key players for both sides; Chile have the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal while the hosts will be under a lot of pressure to succeed in-front of their home support. 

16:55 - Howard Webb walks out of the tunnel first, alongside his officials for the match. Both sets of teams walk out, to loud applause and noise from the crowd inside Belo Horizonte.

16:57 - National anthems time. Chile first, to a chorus of boos from the Brazilian supporters, unsurprising.

16:59 - Passionate, loud and proud from Brazil - they've worked hard to get there and they need to win today to get into the quarter-finals.

0: Chile kick-off the match, and the knock-out stages has begun!

1: Manchester City defensive midfielder Fernandinho starts for the first time during the competition for Brazil today; ahead of Premier League rival Paulinho, of Tottenham.

2: David Luiz shakes off a back injury to start again for Brazil in the centre of defence, alongside future club team-mate Thiago Silva.

3: Aranguiz goes down after being clattered by Fernandinho, replays show that it was an accidental clash and referee Howard Webb thinks long and hard before giving a Chile free-kick, without showing any cards luckily enough so early on.

4: Neymar goes down near the centre circle, after being fouled by Aranguiz. Free-kick to Brazil.

5: A half-chance for Brazil goes narrowly wide! A poor partial clearance falls into the path of Real Madrid left-back Marcelo who shoots first-time from 25 yards out, but his effort fizzes out for a goal-kick.

7: Neymar jogs off towards the touchline, as he is receiving treatment from the physio from the earlier tackle - looking as if he is in serious pain. The spray is coming out, as well as the water.

8: Safe to say that it would be a disaster for Brazil if their star man was injured at such an important time for them - he is joint top of the goal-scoring at this World Cup, with 4 goals in 3 matches and he will be expected to help spur the Brazilians to a famous home victory this year.

9: Neymar jogs back onto the pitch, grimacing but trying to jog his knock off - hopefully he'll be okay.

10: Chile look organised and comfortable at the back, and Neymar looks okay to continue.

11: A half-hearted penalty appeal is waved play on by the referee, after an attempted through ball into the box from the flank by Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez falls into the gloves of goalkeeper Julio Cesar; despite Valencia striker Eduardo Vargas falling to ground after clear contact from the oncoming David Luiz.

12: Another penalty appeal, this time from Brazil. A quick 1-2 pass between Hulk and Marcelo on the edge of the area is blocked by a last-gasp challenge in the area, and Hulk drops to ground - Howard Webb tells him to get up.

14: Half-chance for Brazil, a free-kick from 20 yards out on the far side of the pitch is whipped into the box by Neymar - but goalkeeper Claudio Bravo jumps highest and comfortably catches the delivery, as Chile get players forward.

15: A Brazil counter attack could have resulted with a goal! Neymar wins the ball near the centre circle, runs in-behind the last two Chilean defenders and only has the goalkeeper to beat, but he hesitates and gives Chile a chance to get back unaware. 

16: First yellow card of the match goes to Chilean defender Eugenio Mena, who purposely blocked the ball to stop an attempted cross into the box. Free-kick for Brazil.

18: GOAL! 1-0 Brazil, David Luiz! Chile fail to clear the danger from a set-piece, and the ball bounces into the path of David Luiz at the far post who flicks the ball on from close range into the bottom corner of the net, out of Bravo's reach!

First goal: Luiz runs away to celebrate after scoring to break the deadlock at the far post
19: Luiz instantly runs over to the Brazil sub bench on the far side to celebrate his goal, you can tell what it means to him. His first goal in a Brazil shirt!

20: And the replays show that it could be classed as an own goal, after Luiz and Jara were close together and the ball flicked off both players. Own goal or Luiz? 

24: Counter attack for Brazil - the resulting shot from Neymar is dragged wide of the post. 

26: Chile do look organised at the back, like I have said previously. But, they look just as vulnerable on the counter attack as they look dangerous on it.

28: Powerful tackle by Vidal on Neymar, who flies onto the turf in discomfort as a result of the wild swing from the Juventus midfielder.

29: Neymar lies down on the ground, receiving some help to his feet as Brazil manager Scolari screams at Vidal, gesturing as to why he fouled Neymar.

30: It's clearly obvious to see that Scolari knows how vital the Barcelona striker is to the team, as does his team-mates.

They all look in shock every time Neymar goes down, in the hope that he is not badly injured.

31: Fernandinho is arguably lucky not to be in the referee's book, after his second late tackle of the match. Howard Webb waves play on as Chile play the advantage rule as they still have the ball.

32: GOAL! Chile back in the match! Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez makes the score 1-1, clinical in the box - making a chance out of nothing.

A poor throw-in by Brazil is picked off by the Chileans near the touchline, before a through ball from Vargas is thread into the path of Sanchez who does not hesitate to slot the ball past Cesar into the bottom corner of the net. 

Clinical: Sanchez slots the ball past Cesar into the net, equalising
Top-class forward: Sanchez celebrates his goal, created out of a defensive mistake by Brazil
33: Chile do look dangerous on the counter attack; and have made Brazil pay for sloppy defending. Marcelo threw the ball into Hulk's path, a poor touch by the Zenit forward resulted in him losing the ball to Vargas, who does not hesitate to slot the ball across into the area for his team-mate, who makes it 1-1.

34: Hulk has looked sloppy on the ball today, and it was evident beforehand that Sanchez would provide an attacking threat throughout.

35: Great defending by Chile, to clear the danger as a cross into the box falls into the path of Neymar - who heads the ball towards goal. Just past the post, as he is closed down well and forced to rush his effort on-goal.

38: Chile have had their fair share of possession, and have passed the ball better that their opponents so far - but Brazil have had the most chances with 6. 

39: Another half-chance almost results in Brazil going back in-front before half-time!

Neymar does well to control the ball and evade two challenges from Chilean defenders, before he is tackled in the area and the ball falls into the path of striker Fred, who mis-connects with the strike and it swerves over the bar!

40: Chilean defender Francisco Silva is the second player to be booked, after a late challenge on Neymar. He, along with Mena will both miss the quarter-finals, IF Chile manage to beat Brazil today.

41: CHANCE! Barcelona full-back Dani Alves with a long-range effort, 30 yards out but Bravo does well to parry the shot over the bar and out for a corner.

42: The corner comes of nothing, as Chile clear the danger.

45: The fourth official indicates for 2 minutes of stoppage time to be added on. 

45+1: Another half-chance, this time for Chile; David Luiz fails to clear the danger with a panc clearance, and a nice lay-off flick falls into the path of Aranguiz who attempts to have a shot from close range towards goal - blocked and out for a corner.

45+2: The referee blows his whistle, to end the first-half of action between these two sides. 

Brazil have had more of the notable goal-scoring chances in the half, but Chile have been clinical with their only real chance of the game - and look organised as a team unit. Can they provide a shock?

18:05 - The Chilean players are already jogging back onto the pich, their opponents still talking to each other in the tunnel.

18:08 - Brazil eventually walk out of the tunnel, ready for the second-half.

45: Second-half has begun! If the match continues with the same intensity as the first 45, this game could become a real spectacle to watch. 

46: Quick reminder that there is another knock-out stage match later on tonight. Between Colombia and Uruguay, which promises to be an intriguing match to watch.

47: Uruguay will be without talisman striker Luis Suarez, after his silly behaviour and violent conduct in the previous match against Italy - he has been banned for 9 international matches and prevented from all footballing activity for 4 months, if you didn't know already. Big blow for both his nation, and his current club Liverpool.

48: Meanwhile, Colombia have been in impressive form in their group stage so far - can they do the same in the knock-out rounds? The likes of on-form James Rodriguez, Cuadrado and Guarin all in their ranks. Interesting.

49: Half-chance for Brazil, as Fernandinho lets a shot fly from 25 yards out towards goal while he slips onto the turf - the effort swerves wide of Bravo's goal.

50: Fair play to Chile, but looking forward in the tournament quickly for a moment. IF Brazil do go on to win today, I highly doubt they will go all the way and win the competition because of their defensive frailties.

51: They are not an organised unit and make too many mistakes in that part of the field, against the best nations they will suffer, as they have done in the past. 

54: GOAL! Brazil take the lead again! Scruffy contact by Hulk inside the area, but his low volley into the area trickles past Bravo into the net! 2-1!

55: Wait, no! Referee Howard Webb runs over to the touchline, with a yellow card in his hand. He gave the goal previously, but the goal has now been disallowed! Still 1-1, as Webb brandishes a yellow card to Hulk, for an attempted handball to control the ball before shooting. 

Controversy: Hulk had a goal disallowed, as he was adjudged to handle the ball to control it
56: Controversy now, and the match has just taken an unexpected twist. Replays show that the ball did hit Hulk's arm, but it appears as though it hit his shoulder instead of his hand.

Meanwhile, Chile are making a substitution: 
Eduardo Vargas OFF
Felipe Gutierrez ON 

57: A big call by the referee, but it was not exactly Howard Webb's fault as Brazil try to understand why the goal was not given. Scolari is fuming on the touchline, Webb DID say the goal had counted, but the linesman on the far side had his flag up.

59: Another yellow card in this match, which is soon turning into a feisty encounter. A late challenge by Luiz Gustavo on Arturo Vidal - and a yellow card for the former Bayern midfielder, currently playing for Wolfsburg.

63: Brazil SUB - 
Fred OFF

64: GOAL-BOUND SAVE! A super stop by goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who reacts quickly to palm away an effort from Aranguiz, from close range. Chile almost in-front after that shot, and Brazil are now on the back foot.

65: Half-hearted penalty appeal from Brazil; again from Hulk as he is shoulder barged off the ball by Aranguiz in the area and drops to ground. 

66: However, Howard Webb says play on, much to the discontent of both Hulk and the Brazil supporters around the ground.

68: Just over 20 minutes plus stoppage time remain in an enthralling end-to-end match between two teams who are eager to prove a point. Chile have looked impressive this year, and have not been pushovers at all today - any mistakes now could be costly for either side.

71: Brazil SUB - 
Fernandinho OFF
Ramires ON

72: Tactical substitution for Brazil; Ramires replaces Fernandinho who has played well today - limps off as if he is carrying a knock.

73: CHANCE! Great inviting cross into the box by Hulk, falls into the path of Jo who lurks near the far post to try and connect with the delivery - but a last-gasp block by a Chilean defender ensures that Jo cannot get there in time to shoot.

74: Jo stands in disbelief, as the referee points to the spot for a goal-kick. Replays show that it actually was the correct decision, he was put off by the attempt to block his shot and failed to connect with the delivery. Probably would have scored if he had shot properly aswell.

77: Chile happy to keep the ball in midfield, as they look for space with the game starting to open up. Brazil have looked off the boil since the disallowed goal, and they could be exploited if they do not keep their composure.

80: Half-chance for Brazil is parried away before being caught by Bravo, after a diagonal cross into the box towards the movement of Neymar is headed into the Barcelona goalkeeper Bravo's path.

81: Brazil have dominated the stats in terms of shots on-goal, but not really taken their chances as of yet.

83: CHANCE! Hulk does well to waltzes past the Chilean defence, before having an effort on-goal parried away by Bravo! 

85: 5 minutes plus stoppages to separate the two teams, otherwise extra time and possibly penalties...

87: Chile SUB - 
Arturo Vidal OFF
Mauricio Pinilla ON

89: Chile are doing their best to get players forward, Brazil look fatigued and are trying to clear the ball away.

90: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time.

90+1: Looks as though the possibility of extra time has become a reality. 

90+3: And there it is. Howard Webb blows his whistle; and there are at least 30 minutes of more late drama left to go.

19:03 - And it begins once again. 30 minutes remain, for either side to score and win the game. Otherwise, the match will go to a dramatic ending - with penalties. 

93: A 50-50 challenge for the ball ends badly for Chilean goalkeeper Bravo; he collides with striker Jo who kicks at the ball in the air. Slightly harsh decision by the referee, who gives Jo a yellow card for is troubles.

94: Bravo eventually gets to his feet, luckily for Chile as he is okay to continue with the match. 

103: Another yellow card, as Pinilla is booked for a blatant trip. 

105: 1 minute of stoppage time to be added on, as Alves is booked for a foul on Pinilla. 

106: Half-time in extra time and the scoreline is still the same. 15 minutes remaining, but Brazil have dominated extra time so far.

105: Brazil SUB - 
Oscar OFF
Willian ON

108: A real shame for Chile; Cardiff defensive-midfielder Gary Medel, who has worked hard today is being replaced by Jose Rojas. He is stretchered off, with suspected cramp. He is applauded off the field, and this could be the last of him in this tournament.

110: Brazil need to take advantage, and quickly. Chile have lost their pivotal players in midfield - both Vidal and Medel have gone off and they should attack the Chilean goal for the remainder of the game. 

117: Brazil have dominated for the most part of the extra time period, but Chile have played well throughout, especially in the defensive third.

120: 2 minutes of stoppage time to play. Desperation for Brazil; they are hoping that they can snatch a late winner now.

121: Chile will be happy for penalties now, especially as they are under more pressure on their goal.

122: Full-time. Penalties are needed, and it's a really dramatic situation out there. The stress, the pressure and the expectation for both teams right now. Just wow. 

19:40 - Cannot wait for the penalties now, both teams need to win.

19:42 - Cameras are showing some pretty nervous Brazilian supporters in the crowd; if they don't win today, imagine the outcry.

19:43 - Julio Cesar and Claudio Bravo are the two goalkeepers for either side, time to be a hero for your country.

19:44 - Both sets of players are struggling with cramp, just a few minutes to go before the penalties are taken. 120 minutes of lung-busting football.

PENALTIES - Brazil vs Chile:

  • GOAL! 1-0 to Brazil, slotted into the bottom corner of the net by David Luiz.
  • SAVED! Still 1-0. Pinilla looked hesitant with his run-up, and his shot was blocked by Julio Cesar.
  • MISSED! Willian fails to hit the target, his shot narrowly wide of the post. Still 1-0.
  • SAVED! And it's somehow still 1-0! Sanchez with a fierce drive into the corner of the net, but Julio Cesar reads his effort well enough to stop the shot. 
  • GOAL! 2-0 to Brazil, thanks to a cooly slotted strike from Marcelo. Advantage to Brazil.
  • WHAT A STRIKE! 2-1, Chile suddenly back in it. What a power strike by Araguiz, Cesar would have broken his hand trying to save that.
  • SAVED! Hulk steps up to take it, but his shot is blocked by the legs of Bravo! Bravo.
  • GOAL! Marcelo Diaz makes it 2-2, and it's just got a whole lot more interesting..
  • GOAL! The golden boy Neymar sends the goalkeeper the wrong way, with a stuttered slot into the net. 3-2 to Brazil, Chile NEED to score now otherwise they are OUT.
  • OFF THE POST! Heartbreak for Jara, as his effort towards goal beats Cesar but not the post. Chile are dramatically OUT!
Unbelievable scenes at the moment; Brazil players with relief etched across their faces. They live to fight another day, against the winner of Colombia vs Uruguay next Friday night. 

Relief: Marcelo runs wildly after seeing Jara's penalty hit the post, while Neymar starts crying
Stark contrast: Despite having played remarkably well, Chile were unlucky and lost on penalties

Friday, 27 June 2014

Paper Talk: Transfer rumours, latest news, done deals and updates

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have the latest paper talk in the media at the moment - football updates, transfer news and rumours from across the world, including Europe and the EPL. 

I will do my best to have at least one blog post each week about the latest transfer rumours, news and updates. 

Here is the latest -
Manchester United have unveiled Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera as their first signing of the summer, for a transfer fee of £30million pounds from the Spanish club.

Done deal: Herrera has signed for Manchester United, the transfer fee to be £30million pounds
They announced the deal yesterday afternoon, after Herrera was seen in Manchester beforehand - having a medical and agreeing personal terms. 

Herrera has signed on a four-year contract deal, with the Spaniard saying "signing for Manchester United is a dream come true."

Ryan Giggs (United number 2) on Herrera signing. "We believe he's one of the brightest young prospects in Spain. I'm certain he'll be a big hit."

Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner is one of nine players to be released by the club, when his contract comes to an end next Monday. The Danish striker spent 10 years at The Gunners, scoring 47 goals in over 150 appearances for the side.

DONE DEAL: There are questions over English midfielder Jack Rodwell's future, after Manchester City announced the signing of £12million pound midfielder Fernando from FC Porto on Wednesday.  

Off to Manchester: Fernando is joining City, after Porto announced the deal on Wednesday
CONTRACT SIGNED: Everton right-back Seamus Coleman has quashed rumours of a potential move to Arsenal, after signing a new five-year contract deal until 2019 with The Toffees, who have qualified for European competition after a great campaign last season.

Boost: Coleman has confirmed that he will STAY at Everton, amid rumours of a move to Arsenal
SPECULATION: Newly-promoted QPR have all but signed Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, who was released by the Red Devils at the end of the season, having played for United for 12 years.

However, neither the club or Rio himself have confirmed the deal, which means that it is still transfer speculation at the moment.

Speculation or almost done? Ferdinand has been heavily linked with a move to QPR
It has been reported that he will take a pay cut to join them, as he is desperate for first-team football.

RUMOUR: Sunderland are reportedly willing to offer £10million for Liverpool striker Fabio Borini, after a successful loan spell at the club last season. 

DONE DEAL: Southampton teenage left-back Luke Shaw is set to become the third most expensive defender in world football, as Manchester United have announced the signing of Shaw - for a transfer fee in excess of £30million pounds from The Saints.

Shaw is set for a move to United - £30million pounds is the transfer fee
Record-breaking: Shaw's move to United is the third most expensive transfer fee for a defender
Done: United announced the transfer in the last few minutes on their Twitter account
Arsenal have reportedly rejected Manchester United's opening offer for captain and defender Thomas Vermaelen, who has been linked with a move away from The Gunners this summer after a lack of first-team football. 

Vermaelen has been linked with a move to Manchester United, who are in search of a new centre-back after the departures of Vidic and Ferdinand
PSG have admitted their interest in Manchester City's defensive-midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure, who has had a few arguments and disagreements with his club.

Interesting situation: Toure has publicly said that PSG are a "wonderful club" - is he open to a move?
First, he was reportedly unhappy after the club did not celebrate his birthday - then, a few days ago he publicly stated that City did not give him time off or space after the death of his younger brother, Ibrahim - who died last week.

ALMOST COMPLETE: Liverpool are set to announce the £25million pound signing of Southampton creative midfielder Adam Lallana, who has been linked with a move to The Reds since the end of the season.

England international: Lallana is set for a £25million move to Liverpool, after being heavily linked with The Reds
The 26-year-old is currently in Melwood for a medical at the club, where he is expected to agree personal terms and he could be unveiled as a Liverpool player by later tonight. 

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he is NOT interested in bringing former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli back to the Premier League, despite reports that Balotelli is interested in signing for Arsenal.

However, he has admitted his interest in Chilean duo Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, who could cost a total of £50million pounds between them - but it will be hard to sign them as many other European clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool are also interested.

Attacking intent: Sanchez has scored 20 goals and created 12 assists for Barcelona this season
Maestro: Vidal has also impressed in Europe this season; 18 goals and 5 assists for Juventus
Sanchez and Vidal are both on the watch list of many European clubs, including Arsenal

Brazil WC 2014, USA vs Germany + Portugal vs Ghana - Match Reports:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post - where I have two match reports from the final group stage fixtures in Group G as USA played against Germany, while Portugal were up against Ghana.

Below was the situation in Group G before the matches were played:

  • Germany were top of the group with 4 points, with USA on 3 (in 2nd) and Ghana and Portugal occupying the bottom two places
  • Germany virtually already sealed their place in the knock-out rounds, while the USA only needed a draw to be certain of a place in the Last 16 
  • Portugal needed to beat Ghana by more than 4 goals (as their goal difference was negative) and hope that USA lose, in order to progress
  • Ghana needed to beat Portugal and hope that the USA did NOT match their result - to get into the Last 16
Here are the team line-ups and news, ahead of both matches in Group F earlier on:

USA vs Germany - 

USA: Howard, Johnson, Gonzalez, Besley, Beasley, Beckerman, Jones, Zuzi, Bradley, Davis and Dempsey.

Subs: Guzan, Yedlin, Diskerud, Brooks, Altidore, Bedoya, Johannsson, Wondolowski, Green, Cameron, Chandler and Rimando.

Germany: Neuer, Boateng, Mertesacker, Hummels, Howedes, Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Kroos, Ozil, Muller and Podolski.

Subs: Zieler, Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Ginter, Khedira, Schurrle, Klose, Draxler, Durm, Gotze, Mustafi and Kramer.

Portugal vs Ghana - 

Portugal: Beto, Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Veloso, Moutinho, Carvalho, Amorim, Nani, Eder and Ronaldo.

Subs: Eduardo, Vieirinha, Costa, Neto, Silva, Meireles and Varela.

Ghana: Dauda, Afful, Boye, Mensah, Asamoah, Atsu, Rabiu, Agyemang-Badu, Andre Ayew, Waris and Gyan. 

Subs: Adams, Inkoom, Opare, Essien, Acquah, Jordan Ayew, Adomah, Sumaila, Wakaso and Kwarasey.

Match Report - USA vs Germany:

PRE-MATCH: It was always going to be a tense affair between the two sides, not least because 5 of the USA's players in this World Cup were eligible to play their trade for Germany.

The likes of Bundesliga duo Jermaine Jones and young winger Julian Green could have both represented Germany, but were persuaded to play for America - by manager and German boss Jurgen Klinsmann. 

Both teams would secure their place in the Last 16 with a draw in the match, and despite the pre-match analysis from both sets of countries in the media, it would be an intriguing encounter between two sides of completely different situations.

The USA were expected to be the "whipping boys" of the "Group of Death" - while Germany were not expected to take their foot off the pedal as they were hoping to go on and win the whole tournament itself.