The second round of group games come to a close today and although it’s technically not do or die for a few teams, in all likelihood it really is. Although some teams do admittedly face do-ier or die-ier games than others. Portugal need to get their shit together fairly quick-smart and Algeria need to beat South Korea if they are going to have hope of achieving anything more than scarring football’s hipsters by giving Belgium a scare on Tuesday.
Here’s a rapid run-through of today’s games:
Belgium v Russia | Rio de Janeiro | 5pm
- It looks like the battle for top spot in group H, but equally, it could lead to a nervy final group game for whoever loses this one.
- Russia were considered a little but lucky to get a draw against South Korea on Tuesday. Not ‘Reese Witherspoon having a lucrative career in acting’ lucky, but certainly fortunate. Then again, their keeper did Rob Green one into the net, so that’s not ideal.
- Belgium were shaky against Algeria, but showed some spirit to fight back from a goal down. They even got a goal from Marouane Fellaini! They lead the all time head to head 3-0 too.
South Korea v Algeria | Porto Alegre | 8pm
- The battle of two teams looking to squeeze themselves into the frame for getting out of the group against the odds.
- Ghana showed a remarkable ability to miss shots from several angles in losing to the US on Monday, while Algeria gave Belgium a surprise run for their money.
- The teams have met once before and South Korea won that game but it was 29 years ago and just five members of the 23 man Taegeuk Warriors squad were alive for it and only one of them has any chance of having a conscious memory of it. Sorry old man, Kwak Tae-Hwi (32).
USA v Portugal | Manaus | 11pm
- USA couldn’t have started the tournament better if FIFA decided that it wasn’t about scoring goals, it was about who could shoot the most people. Clint Dempsey scored after 31 seconds of their 2-1 win over Ghana – the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history.
- Portugal were humiliated against Germany. Partially because they got thumped 4-0, but also because of Pepe being mental. They’re dealing with injuries and suspensions as they look to stay in the tournament.
- The USA beat Portugal in their last meeting – a 3-2 win in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup which featured a substitute appearance from current Seleccao manager, Paulo Bento.
- Like a death row prisoner meandering towards the electric chair, England make their preparations for their dead rubber with Costa Rica. It’s only a dead rubber from their point of view because the central Americans can seal a stunning top spot in group D with a win. Wayne Rooney has apologised for England’s performance at the tournament, which is nice. Not as nice as banging in a couple of hat-tricks and getting England into the second round, but better than nothing. Just.
- Despite the terrible disappointment, FA boss, Greg Dyke says that Roy Hodgson’s job is not under threat and he’ll continue to lead the underwhelming performances all the way to Euro 2016.
- There’s a lot of knee-jerk reaction and scape-goating to England’s exit, but for something a little more considered, check out Paul Scholes’ view of what went wrong and what needs to be done.