We already know a few teams who can book their flights home already, but it’s Monday morning and things are already depressing enough without going into details. A lot more teams will know how much further they can string out their ill-fated World Cup aspirations over the next few days, starting with today’s final round of matches in Groups A and B.
Here’s a rapid run-through of today’s games:
Netherlands v Chile | Sao Paulo | 5pm
- It’s the battle for top spot in Group B and while normally that’s just trivia to dig up at a particularly nerdy pub quiz in the future, it’s actually important as both teams try to avoid a likely Round of 16 against the power and favourable refereeing decisions of Brazil.
- Both teams dealt with Spain fairly easily and then struggled to put Australia away so the form guide would have them on similar levels.
- The teams have never previously played each other, but no doubt Chile will know all about the Netherlands famed ability to kick opponents all over the pitch.
Spain v Australia | Curitiba | 5pm
- Both teams are going home, so this game is deader than Kerry Katona’s career.
- The deposed World Champions will probably get all experimental with nothing to play for, while the Aussies would love to beat Spain just so they can rub it in their faces for the next 80 or so years, like Aussies tend to do.
- This is the first time these teams have met too which isn’t very helpful considering we’ve no idea how arsed Spain will be and how this one will go.
Cameroon v Brazil | Brasilia | 9pm
- Cameroon will be heading home, but a win for Brazil will almost certainly secure them top spot in group A, barring Mexico beating Croatia by three goals more than whatever Brazil beat Cameroon by. There’s a lot of assumptions in there, but basically: a win = Brazil win the group.
- Brazil were twarted by Guillermo Ochoa last time out, but that heroic goalkeeping performance also hid the fact the hosts weren’t especially good and didn’t take the chances that came their way.
- Brazil have won three of their four matches against Cameroon, but the Indomitable Lions have the most recent victory in the rivalry. They beat the Samba Boys in the 2003 Confederations Cup with a then spritely 44 year old Samuel Eto’o grabbing a late winner.
Mexico v Croatia | Recife | 9pm
- Not quite a ‘winner takes all’ game, only because a draw will suit Mexico just fine. The winner will go through to the Round of 16 – potentially as group winners if Brazil balls it up against Cameroon.
- After being unlucky against Brazil, Croatia ripped Cameroon apart in their second match. Mexico had goalkeeper Ochoa to thank for their point against the hosts, but they weren’t completely without an attacking threat.
- Croatia have won the two friendlies played between the teams, but Mexico won the only competitive meeting which was a 1-0 win at the 2002 World Cup.
- In some epic writing off of England’s World Cup chances, Harry Redknapp says England won’t win the World Cup. Of 2022. He’s probably right, but come on Harry, don’t kill the dream eight years out. Well, at least it’s good to see he’s not bitter about not getting the England job.
- Apparently, Roy Hodgson wants Steven Gerrard to stay on and help guide England to an underwhelming performance at Euro 2016 too. That smells a lot like bullshit used to fill some column inches, but there’s a chance it’s true.
- For his part, Steven G has said he ‘needs time’ to consider his international future. That’s handy because he’s got a couple of unexpected weeks off now.