Wednesday, 2 July 2014

WC 2014: France progress past Nigeria while Germany scrape past a stubborn Algeria:

Confident: France celebrate after beating Nigeria 2-0, despite doing it the hard way
Ozil (right) celebrates at the final whistle, while an Algerian player lies down on the ground 
You wouldn't really expect two of the best footballing countries in the world to struggle against African countries, no matter what the occasion is. But you have to give credit to Nigeria and Algeria, who both gave their European opponents a stern test of mental and physical capabilities on Monday afternoon. 

But the experience and sheer quality of France shown through in the final 20 minutes against the African Cup of Nations winners Nigeria in the earlier match, thanks to Paul Pogba and an own goal from defender Joseph Yobo.

Norwich defender Yobo makes it 2-0 on his 100th and last international appearance
My MOTM: Paul Pogba
Scored a goal, could have had two more in the process, was unluckily denied by good acrobatic saves from goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in the first-half.

Pogba was a real nuisance to deal with for the Nigerians, and played well throughout the match. 
He was bright throughout and always looked to pass the ball through towards a team-mate before having a shot on-goal, he was a real handful for the Nigerian defenders to deal with - pace, power and strength. Effective combination.

Two side notes for the match, Nigerian defender and captain Yobo did in-fact retire from international duty effective immediately after the game. He had this to say:

"This is it. I can look back on my career with great pride. I wanted to leave on a high for my country. 

Defeat by France was not the right way to go but I'm happy with all I've done for the national team. It's time to give a chance to other people to come through." 

Meanwhile Nigerian manager Stephen Keshi has confirmed that he has left the national side, as a result of the country not renewing his contract. 

He said this: "I was a bit shocked that the global media said I have quit. I told my players it was maybe my last match because my contract ended and I have not been offered a new one.

Nigeria have lost a good manager in Keshi, who has done the following - 

FACT: He became the first Nigerian to lead the country into the second round of a World Cup.

FACT: He won the African Cup of Nations in 2013, just 2 years after his appointment in charge was confirmed.

Meanwhile Germany had to fight the hard way against a stubborn Algerian side who got all 10-men behind the ball and counter attacked at pace, with Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer having to be called into action on numerous occasions to defend against the possibility of conceding.  

The match was one of the most exciting 0-0 scorelines after 90 minutes was played, simply because of the nature of the match as a contest.

One of the favourites to win the whole tournament, against one of the underdogs - it was an unpredictable match, which Germany eventually edged out in extra time with a 2-1 victory.

The Germans broke the deadlock thanks to a cheeky backheel flick goal from Chelsea winger Andre Schurrle. I'll leave you to decide as to whether he meant it or not.  

Flick: Schurrle broke the deadlock in extra time, after a low cross by Muller into the area
I'll take it: A hint of luck for his goal, but did Schurrle mean it? 
Ozil wanted the assist, but he made it 2-0 after being set up by Schurrle with a power strike from close range
Fair play to Algeria - they came out and played their game without fear of what could happen, they frustrated the German defence and exposed some defensive frailities which could have France licking their lips; France vs Germany is just one of the interesting quarter-final ties to be played this weekend. 

Unsung hero: Goalkeeper M'Bolhi was great for his country, making 11 saves against Germany