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Rainbow Laces updates and Arsenal v Manchester City: as it happened

by Aidan Elder | September 13, 2014

THE PREMIER LEAGUE IS BACK!!!

And we’re so excited we’re now running around the office with no pants on. But we can’t accurately convey that using words alone, so we’re WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS!! WOO!

Anyway, after an international break that felt like it lasted about seven weeks, we’ve got a cracker of a match to get us back into the swing of things. It’s Arsenal hosting the champions, Manchester City at the Emirates. Both teams will be unhappy with how they finished up before the break, but to varying degrees. The Gunners were frustrated with a 1-1 draw away to Leicester, but City suffered the upset of the season to date by going down 1-0 at home to Stoke. It makes for an interesting subplot going into the game.

If you’re out and about, without a TV or not arsed ordering BT Sport for the sake of one match a week, then I’ll be here to kept you up to date with all the latest going-ons complete with snarky comments. What more would want?

The international break wasn’t all doom, gloom and pretending we’ve actually got a chance of going to Euro 2016. We’ve also had a fantastic week of Rainbow Laces activity as we try to give homophobia one in the eye once and for all. The Arsenal v City game is meant to be the high point, but we’re expecting lots of players, media personalities and a few people who don’t fit into those categories to don the laces to show their support for the campaign.

Full time
Arsenal 2 – 2 Manchester City 

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17.27

That’s all from me. To finish a fantastic week, here’s an elephant trying to get into a bath. Enjoy folks.

17.25

AP McCoy is roared back into the enclosure. Tom Scudamore gets a decent cheer as well considering he rode the winner…

17.22

No dream for AP as it is Tom Scudamore and Next Sensation who win it. Ned Buntline was travelling well two out but couldn’t find any extra, and Eastlake stormed home for second with Croco Bay in third! Oi Oi. Sambuca on me.

AP McCoy Grand Annual Chase

1st: Next Sensation 16/1
2nd: Eastlake 12/1
3rd: Croco Bay 14/1
4th: Ned Buntline 4/1

17.15

And we’re off…

17.15

Eastlake is a 12/1 shot for what it is worth. AP McCoy and Ned Buntline have now drifted to 4/1 and are joint favourite with Blood Cotil. That’s the horse trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh – a partnership more deadly than Batman and Robin.

17.13

For what it’s worth I fancy Eastlake here. The King Paul Carberry is on board and he does have course and distance form so I have every hope. I did back the Giant Bolster earlier though, so I’m hardly in prolific form. Here’s where you go for a punt:

Grand Annual Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

17.07

The race of course is the AP McCoy Grand Annual Chase – named in honour of the legendary jockey as he rides for the final time at the Cheltenham Festival. Unsurprisingly AP is on the 10/3 favourite Ned Buntline. He was second in this race last year and has solid course and distance form, but more importantly it would be a fairytale ending. And who doesn’t love bloody fairytales? Come on, Frozen was a belter.

17.04

One last race to go and then I’m going to get absolutely jumbo-smashed at the Paddy Power party (Please drink responsibly btw). Apparently the theme is ‘Spring Break’ which you’d imagine would mean lots of young attractive people listening to current music and having a whale of a time. What it actually will be is a lot of men, aged anywhere between 25 and 50, awkwardly standing around, drinking stout, discussing which horses might still be well handicapped for the West Midlands National tomorrow. WILD.

16.56

That’s now eight (8) winners for Willie Mullins this week. Incidentally, that’s exactly the same number of girls I have slept with in my short life.

I’ll now bask in what I can only imagine is your rapturous applause.

16.50

Ooooh spicy. There was a battle right up to the line between Killultagh Vic and Noble Endeavor, but after a quick look by the judge the decision goes in favour of Killultagh Vic. It’s yet another winner for Willie Mullins who will no doubt be having a hell of a party tonight. Ruby will be shirt-less riding a midget like a horse, Willie will be on the decks with Swedish House Mafia. No doubt Kim Kardashian will be there for some reason. It will be epic. Probably.

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
1st:
Killultagh Vic 7/1
2nd: Noble Endeavor 14/1
3rd: Roi Des Francs 3/1
4th: Kauto Grand Mogul

All 24 ran.

16.40

And they’re off…

16.36

Oh yeah, if you want to bet head this way. We’re approximately 96.8 per cent of the way through the Festival so if you don’t know about the whole ‘Go here to bet’ lark by now there’s probably no hope. Still, the Boss is giving me the kind of stare usually used by my missus when I stumble home after a few too many mojitos

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

16.33

Up next is the Martin Pipe Handicap and Willie Mullins’ Roi Des Francs is the 3/1 favourite. I was getting a Twix from the vending machine earlier and a man in a trench coat and a bowler hat told me he was ‘the banker of the meeting’. He did have a Twirl in his pocket however and I don’t think he works in Paddy Power so don’t take that as gospel. You can’t trust these lads who linger by vending machines. Probably waiting for the chance of a double-drop. The d***heads.

16.18

With Clare Balding talking earnestly to camera and one more slow motion montage, Channel 4’s coverage of the 2015 Festival comes to an end. Now it’s time for the formulaic bitchiness of Couples Come Dine With Me.

If you want to watch the last two races of the card at Cheltenham, then you can do so by having a bet on each of them via PaddyPower.com or on the Paddy Power app. Or if you don’t fancy that, keep your eyes locked here for the next our or so. Simples.

16.15

On The Fringe wins the Foxhunters Chase under a delightful ride from Nina Carberry. It looked like it was going to be an incredible finish, but she produced her challenge at the perfect time to bound away from the challengers and put a spike in those hopes. Superb performance.

Foxhunters Chase Result
1st One The Fringe 6/1
2nd Following Dreams
3rd Paint The Clouds
Superextrabonusplace 4th Carsonstown Boy

All 24 ran.

16.04

They’re off and running in the Foxhunter’s Chase after the starter pricked around for a few minutes ..

16.00

The Foxhunters Chase is about to start. Sorry I didn’t talk about it. I was whipped up into a Gold Cup frenzy.

Foxhunters Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

15.31

Cracking race that. Coneygree made all with a brilliant front-running performance, saving just enough to pip Djakadam in a thrilling finish. Road To Riches ran a great race to complete the places. The favourite, Silviniaco Conti disappointed and was under pressure up the hill.

Gold Cup Result
1st Coneygree 7/1
2nd Djakadam
3rd Road To Riches

16 ran. Non-runners no. 13 and 6 (River Choice and Don Cossack)

15.27

Coneygree wins the Gold Cup!!!

15.20

They’re off in the Gold Cup. Best of luck one and all

15.18

After being well supported, Djakadam is now out to 10/1

15.08

15 minutes to go until the Gold Cup. Silvinianco Conti is the 10/3 favourite, which represents a slight drift in price. Many Clouds is next best at 7/1 while Coneygree is well-backed and currently 8/1 from 10/1. Carlingford Lough is out to 12/1 from 10/1 as people realise that a nice fairytale story doesn’t actually help your chances of winning.

15.04

There was a stewards’ enquiry after the last race, but it hasn’t changed the result of the race.

14.51

Martello Tower wins the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle with a gutsy performance to see off the challenge of Milsean who lead for large parts of the race. It’s a win for a Mullins, but this time Margaret Mullins is the winning trainer.

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle Result
1st Martello Tower 14/1
2nd Milsean
3rd No More Heroes

19 Ran. Non-runner no. 8 (Fletcher’s Flyer)

14.41

They’re away in the Albert Bartlett …

14.30

He’s not considered one of the main contenders, Definitly Red is now 14/1 from 25/1

14.25

We’re 15 minutes away from the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and another Willie Mullins victory can only help the support for Black Hercules. He’s now 5/2 after being 7/2 earlier.

14.18

That makes it seven wins this Festival for Willie Mullins. He agrees to talk to Clare Balding for a post-race interview, but only if she refers to him ‘The Mull Dog’ and ends each question with a curtsy.

14.16

Another win for Willie Mullins, but not one that was widely predicted. After being pulled up as recently as last Saturday, Wicklow Brave finds form in spectacular fashion to claim the County Hurdle in comfortable fashion.

County Hurdle Result
1st Wicklow Brave 25/1
2nd Sort It Out
3rd Quick Jack
4th Max Dynamite
Superextrabonusplace 5th Analifet

25 ran. Non-runners no. 24 (Minella Present)

14.07

Slightly later than planned, they’re away in the County Hurdle …

I’ll be glad when this race is over. I’m only ever one typo away from an immediate sacking.

14.05

I haven’t even mentioned the County Hurdle and it’s about to start. Oh well.

County Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

14.03

13.41

chelt_live_bookiesbeating11

Peace And Co delivers to draw first blood for the punters on Gold Cup day. It really was a superb ride from Barry Geraghty. He clearly had a lot of horse underneath, but resisted the temptation to push the button too early which proved the right choice as he needed every last bit of effort to win out in a battle with stablemate, Top Notch. Hargam claimed third to make it a 1-2-3 for the Nicky Henderson yard.

To make matters worse, the win triggers a huge Money-Back Special refund for Paddy Power as we’re refunding on the second and third place horses.

Triumph Hurdle Result
1st Peace And Co 2/1F
2nd Top Notch
3rd Hargam

16 ran. Non-runner no. 15 (Take A Break)

13.32

Day 4 is go. They’re away in the Triumph Hurdle …

13.27

If this is all a bit confusing to you, take 107 seconds out of your day and let this video clarify almost everything:

13.22

Slightly under 10 minutes until the start of the first race of day 4. Peace And Co is now the 2/1 favourite for the race

13.20

13.10

Peace And Co is now the 9/4 favourite for the Triumph Hurdle

Triumph Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

13.00

Matt’s a big fan of the montages. He likes them almost as much as he likes fake tan.

12.59

Another slow motion montage. This one made it look like Barry Geraghty lacked the brain power and physical dexterity to raise his arm in the air. Definitely creepy.

12.53

blog_clare-orange

Clare’s outfit reminded me of something, so I Google Image searched it to see what came up. This was one of the results:

Harsh.

12.45

Paddy Power is over in Cheltenham and wants to pretend he’s doing some work, not just drinking his ass off so he sent us this video of his tips.


I still don’t know why these clips are uploading upside down, but it’s the last day of live blogging so I’m not arsed learning how to fix it.

12.43

LOL!

Plus there’s ANOTHER slow motion montage.

Do Channel 4 realise they’d need less slow motion montages if they didn’t start their coverage an hour before the first race??

12.39

ANOTHER SLOW MOTION MONTAGE!! I actually quite like this one though.

12.38

Wanky slow motion montage kicks off the coverage on Channel 4.

It’s going to an special day of racing and Clare Balding whispering to make herself sound really earnest.

12.32

I switched over to Channel 4 too early and got an eyeful of Jamie Oliver dancing in the kitchen like a gimp.

Until we wait for this debacle to end, read about what Ruby Walsh reckons is his best chance of a win on Gold Cup day.

12.22

Nothing to do with the racing, but it made me laugh:

12.20

We’ve had a few non-runners announced already today.

River Choice is out of the Gold Cup. He’s reportedly very lame. He was caught photoshopping himself into photos of Caribbean resorts and trying to pretend that’s where he spends his holidays. But then it was found out he actually had a week in Eastbourne. Sad. No-one wants to see that.

Don Cossack is also out of the same race, but he ran yesterday, so that’s not a surprise.

Take A Break misses the Triumph Hurdle, Commissioned and Minella Present are out of the County Hurdle, and Edeymi and Peckhamecho are out of the Martin Pipe Hurdle.

12.15

Simon Claisse is on Racing UK right now and there’s slightly less trendy spikes on show now than there were earlier. That can only mean one thing – it’s been raining. And that the going is now Soft, Good to Soft in places. Two things. It can only mean two things.

12.04

We’ve some ACTUAL NEWS from Cheltenham and it’s a biggie.

The going is now Soft, Good to Soft in places after some steady rain this morning.

11.42

Josh Powell, of the Paddy Power Blog parish, is possibly The Giant Bolster’s only biggest fan. He had this probably copyright infringing t-shirt made in a show of support.

And no, it wasn’t for a bet.

10.52

Sent in by our man about Cheltenham, Feilim MacUnpronouncable – fair play to this security guard who nabbed this fake press pass from one cheeky bastard yesterday.

blog_security-guy

What I don’t understand is how someone went to all the effort of making it, laminating it, getting the lanyard, but then not actually putting the dates on it, just typing ‘Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’ on it. Go the extra mile for your blagging, that’s what I always say.

10.46

Tony McCoy – looking very much like a dapper mafia don – in on Racing UK. He says he fancies Ned Buntline to run well but

“he’s a ridiculous price. I think we all know why”

Grand Annual Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

10.29

chelt_live_marketmovers25

Silviniaco Conti now 7/2 for the Gold Cup after being 9/2 earlier. Holywell is drifting like Julia Roberts’ career and is not 12/1 after being available at 8/1.

10.16

It’s early in the day, but it’ll be hard to beat the LOLing I just had at Ruby talking to Oli of Racing UK. Speaking about it being McCoy’s last day at the Festival as a jockey, Oli asks

‘Will there be a quiet moment of reflection between yourself and AP today?’

Ruby looks at him wuth utter disdain as if he has just asked ‘will you fellate Tony at some point as a goodbye present?’, pauses and answers ‘no. We’re not that soppy’.

10.12

It happened a couple of days ago, but we’ve only just spotted this. In the incident in which the Racing Post photographer got his leg broken by the horses jumping out in the Cross Country Chase, there was another photographer calmly who took the ballsy move of hiding under the rail between the two loose horses and the field on the actual racetrack.

blog_photographer

Cojones like billiard balls.

09.58

Michael Owen has lobbed everywhere again. The dirty minx.

blog_michael-owen3

It would be a little more convincing if he knew the difference between bold and UNNECESSARY CAPITAL LETTERS

09.44

It’s only Simon Claisse and his trendy spiky hairdo!!! Whoop whoop! It’s looking extra spiky for Gold Cup day.

He tells us they’re running on fresh ground and he says it wouldn’t take much more rain for the going to be changed to soft.

09.42

Wouldn’t you like to be an office hero? And not for trying to burn down the office like that previous office hero who was taken into care not like after his escapades?

Download and print off our Cheltenham Tips Cheat Sheet for Gold Cup day featuring the views of top jockeys Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty, top quiff wearer, Matt Chapman and top bloke and snooker player, John Parrott.

09.33

If you’re a bit intimidated by the a lot of the races at Cheltenham today, don’t worry – we’ve had a go at narrowing down the most likely contenders and it throws up a tasty 9/1 shot.

09.25

chelt_live_shamelessplug16

We’ve got a load of great offers on the racing today and to prove that’s not a total lie, here’s a lisst of them.

We’re giving Money-Back as a free bet if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd in the Triumph Hurdle

Triumph Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

We’re paying 5 PLACES in the County Hurdle and Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle and 4 PLACES in the Foxhunter Chase. We’re so excited we had to use unnecessary capital letters.

09.13

Time for a look at the weather forecast for Cheltenham today. Look away as I slip into something skimpy

There we go.

It’s looking like a grey day at Cheltenham. There’s rain expected throughout the morning, but it should stop for the afternoon. It’ll still be really cloudy though. Sadly it won’t match the toasty 77 degrees of Ponce in the map behind me, but it will be around 48 degrees, which is 9 in Celsius money.

09.02

09.02

Over to At The Races where they’re spunking out creepy slow motion montages like its going out of fashion. Don’t worry, it’s not going out of fashion.

09.01

As another creepy slow motion montage plays, that’s it from The Morning Line. Now it’s time for Everybody Loves Raymond where the quality of the writing doesn’t really matter because they’ll just use canned laughter at any point in the script where they ideally would have liked to put a joke, but couldn’t think of one.

I think it’s called the ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’ principle.

08.44

Dammit Ted!!

He’s a ‘very good horse’??
Would you not just go the whole hog and say he’s a ‘hell of a horse’??

08.42

Pricewise has stepped out of today’s The Morning Line Fleece-off. Wise decision because Paul Nicholls is bossing it with his sleeveless effort.

blog_fleece-off2

08.19

Ha ha! Rishi gets owned by Ted Walsh. Poor Rishi says one of the horses is a ‘brave man’s ride’. Ted doesn’t take too kindly to that.

“Ahhh, for jaysus sake! They’re jockeys. They’re all brave men”

Ted says, making no attempt to hide his contempt for the question.

LOL

08.14

Mattie Batchelor is talking to Jim Culloty, trainer of defending Gold Cup champion, Lord Windemere. To say it’s a helpful conversation is to overstate things slightly.

“He wants the rain. Maybe some of the others want it more. I’m not sure how much it helps”

Cheers Jim.

08.13

Now it’s over to our betting corner where it looks like Tanya has joined a biker gang overnight:

blog_tanya-jacket

08.07

Paul Nicholls is on The Morning Line. Rishi offers him the chance to say Zarkandar was unlucky not to win the World Hurdle, but he politely declines the opportunity for a wallow in self-pity.

“If you don’t jump, you don’t win” he says rather pragmatically.

It’s hard not to like his straight-talking.

08.00

It’s over to Channel 4 for The Morning Line and today’s creepy slow motion montage account is open!!

07.56

Matt Chapman has been in fine tipping form so far this week at Cheltenham. Yeah – it’s surprised us too.

Here’s what he reckons for the last day of the Festival

07.48

I wouldn’t want to accuse a Sky Sports News journalist of powderpuff journalism, but the lad they have wandering around the place on his own this morning just asked one of the Cheltenham directors:

“So will Cheltenham Festival 2016 be even bigger and better than this year?”

Unsurprisingly, the man charged with developing Cheltenham and making it seem as good as is possible reckons Cheltenham Festival 2016 will be even bigger and better than this year.

07.29

Alex Hammond of Sky Sports News has already given us her tip of the day and after a surprise winner on Wednesday, she was back to giving the kiss of death to a well fancied horse yesterday as Don Cossack failed to deliver.

Today she’s gone for one of the worst bets you could imagine. Think of a bet ‘Tom Cruise finally settling down with a woman he truly loves’ bad. She’s going for Roi Des Francs in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle. The 4/1 favourite in a 24 runner handicap. I’m not saying it won’t win, but I’d want a bit more bang for my buck in a really competitive race.

In my tip for throwing your money away of the day, I recommend taking all of your cash, fashioning it into an effigy of Neit, the Celtic  god of war and setting it on fire.

07.16

Good morning, good morning, good morning. Let’s get this cynical show on the road with a rare moment of usefulness. After some overnight rain, the going for Gold Cup Day is Good to Soft. Further rain is expected giving the potential of today’s big prize being run on soft ground. I don’t how that will affect your betting strategy today. Me, I’ll probably just pick the losers like I always do.

17.24

That’s it for day three at the Festival. I’ll be back tomorrow for more news and cynical comment.  I hope you can e-join me then.

17.01

I strongly suspect the photographer was given a fake name to caption his photograph with.

blog_albert-barlet

16.56

Here’s a picture of David Bass returning to the winners’ enclosure after his victory on board Darna in the really long name Plate Handicap Chase. It’s not an especially amazing picture, but if someone fails to add the caption:

“All About Dave Bass”

I’ll be very disappointed.

blog_bass

16.50

Absolute carnage in the Kim Muir, but The Package navigates his way through the trouble to win it. He won comfortably in the end, no mean feat in an incredibly competitive contest.

Kim Muir Handicap Chase Result
1st The Package 9/1
2nd Bless The Wings
3rd Buddy Bolero
4th Grand Vision

All 24 ran.

16.41

They’re away in the Kim Muir Chase …

16.35

Champagne James backed in to 4/1 now.

16.34

Damn – it was starring us right in the face all along:

16.31

10 minutes to go until the Kim Muir. Champagne James will go off as favourite after strong support all day. He’s 5/1 and his nearest rivals are considered Gold Bullet and The Package who are both 8/1.

16.19

A wanky slow motion montage concludes Channel 4’s coverage. Now it’s on to Couples Come Dine With Me for that guy who does the voiceover to provide his unique brand of quips that initially seem quite amusing, but then when you think about it, aren’t actually that witty and are a bit mean. I’m sure it’ll win a Nobel prize for bitchy comments. Someone has to fill Joan Rivers’ boots.

If you want to watch the last race of the day, you can do so by placing a bet on the race and watching via the website or our app. I’m ignoring the charity race. Soz. I’ve been blogging for around 30 hours at this stage so I’m going to cut corners where I can. Ironic given that it’s Ryanair Chase day.

Or failing that, you can just stay here and I’ll give you sporadic updates and made-up quotes.

16.11

The punter’s pain continues as Darna takes the spoils at 33/1. He battled up the hill under pressure from the heavily backed favourite, Monetaire.

Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase Result
1st Darna 33/1
2nd Monetaire
3rd Rawnaq
4th Buywise
Superextrabonusplace 5th Hollow Penny

23 ran. Non-runner no. 23 (Bobcatbilly)

16.02

They’re off … really this time

16.01

I take it back … false start

16.00

And they’re away and running in the really long name Plate …

15.56

Nearly time for the really long name Handicap Plate. Monetaire has been heavily backed and is now the 11/2 favourite.

15.50

A custom-made Welcome To The Willie Mullins Show flag AND a leprechaun outfit and ginger beard.
Superb commitment to Fake St. Paddy’s Day. Well played sir.

blog_willie-mullins_flag

15.42

Noel Fehily, who rode Zarkandar, reckons he would have won the World Hurdle were it not for nearly falling at the second last. Normally I’d dismiss this as over-optimism, but it was a bad one in fairness and in general, not nearly falling is much better than nearly falling.

15.38

Warren Greatrex was speaking in the parade ring and he seems lovely. Kind of like Tintin’s dad, but without that little prick of a dog yapping all over the place. He says he hopes this win helps put him on the map a bit more and helps him compete with the big stables in the jumps game. Then he looks right down the camera and says:

MULLINS, NICHOLLS, HENDO, PIPE! I’ma coming for ya! Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. As you sleep. Well … maybe not as you sleep because I also need a good 8 hours sleep a night or else I get quite cranky. And I can’t drink coffee to keep me awake because I’m a bit lactose intolerant and black coffee is too strong for me. So, in summary, I’m coming for you, but at a reasonable hour – probably the daylight hours. But probably not between 4pm and 7pm, because I like watching all the quiz shows on TV around that time. Sometimes with a Rich Tea biscuit. BE VERY AFRAID!

He certainly looks like a talented young trainer, but his trash talk may need some work.

15.29

And that’s another kick in the pills for the punters as Cole Harden upsets the odds with a front-running display. Saphir Du Rheu ran well to finish second but couldn’t collar the winner while. Zarkandar rallied well to claim third after a bad mistake at the second last hurdle.

World Hurdle Result
1st Cole Harden 14/1
2nd Saphir Du Rheu
3rd Zarkandar

16 ran. Non-runner no. 6 (Dedigout)

15.20

They’re away in the World Hurdle …

15.20

Zarkandar is in to 6/1

15.17

15.06

15.05

15 minutes to go before the big one of day three. Saphir Du Rheu is currently the 5/1 favourite

15.01

14.57

Alice is talking to AP’s family and they’re nearly all in tears. Talking to his Dad, she says:

‘You’ve produced a legend’

‘I suppose so. But they say it all comes from the dam’s side’

Nice. Hard not to get a small bit weepy there.

14.51

Clare’s whispering earnestly over some slow motion footage. She’s so intense.

14.49

Tony McCoy gets on the board at Cheltenham with a win on the unfancied Uxizandre. He got up the hill very well and had too much for Ma Filleule. Don Cossack was a bit unlucky to get squeezed out of things at the last fence, but he wasn’t going to stop our winner.

Ryanair Chase Result
1st Uxizandre 16/1
2nd Ma Filleule
3rd Don Cossack

All 14 ran.

 

14.40

They’re away in the Ryanair.

They’ll be landing within a bus transfer of the finish line in about five minutes …

14.34

Don Cossack in to 5/2 for the Ryanair …

Ryanair Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

14.31

We’re 10 minutes away from the Ryanair Chase. Don Cossack is the well back favourite and he’s now 11/4 after being 7/2 earlier. Foxrock has drifted like Johnny Depp’s career and he’s now 14/1 after being 13/2 earlier.

14.19

Nicky Henderson is talking to Clare now and she asks about the future of Sprinter Sacre. He says:

Would you ever f*ck off Clare? You’re always asking me questions like that? Is he retiring? How’s Bob’s Worth? Will there ever be conclusive proof of the multiverse theory? I just don’t know. Now leave me alone while I go around stealing pints that people leave unattended in the Guinness village.

Yep, you guessed it – most of that didn’t happen. To the best of my knowledge.

14.15

Call The Cops wins the Pertemps! A win for the Henderson yard and although he’s not the favourite, one that’s popular with the punters. Unique De Cotte, The Tourard Man, Henryville complete the places and just because we’re lovely people, we paying out on fifth place finisher, Aqalim.

Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Result
1st Call The Cops 9/1
2nd Unique De Cotte
3rd The Tourard Man
4th Henryville
Superextrabonusplace 5th Aqalim

23 ran. Non-runner no. 4 (Closing Ceremony)

14.05

They’re off in the Pertemps Hurdle …

14.00

Not long to go until the Pertemps Hurdle and it remains wide open. Edeymi and Regal Encore are currently 8/1 join-favourites, but we’ve got eight other horses priced 16/1 or less. Good luck throwing the darts into the racecard.

chelt_live_shamelessplug14

We’re paying 5 PLACES on this race

13.42

Willie Mullins is talking to Clare yet again and this time he’s completely lost it. He’s removed his pants and he’s running around the parade ring slapping his arse shouting, ‘GET UP THAT HILL, WILLIE! HON THE BOYO!’

Who could blame him folks, who could blame him?

13.39

Vautour obliges with the most impressive wins of the week. He set the pace, jumped like a dream and eased away from a bunch of useful horses in real style. If you haven’t backed him, there may still be some good news because we’re refunding on second and third place finishers Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido. The winning distance is 15 lengths and he jumps to joint-favourite for next year’s Gold Cup.

JLT Novices’ Chase Result
1st Vautour 6/4 F
2nd Apache Stronghold
3rd Valseur Lido

8 ran. Non-runner no. 7 (The Tullow Tank)

13.30

They off in the JLT Novices’ Chase … best of luck for day three

13.26

Vautour is out to 13/8. Irish Saint is in to 10/ from 16/1

13.24

Slow motion montage of the jockeys walking out of the weighing room. Oh – the drama.

13.20

JP McManus is talking to Alice now and she’s asking him about Colour Squadron. He tells her

To be honest with you Alice, he’s going to win, I’ve had a huge punt on him, and when he wins, I’m going to get bollock naked, climb to the top of the grandstand and spray Moet on the muggles below. All the while singing We Are The Champions and playing a lute.

No he didn’t. He was as nice and typically modest as ever, which is less of a news story.

13.11

We’re about 20 minutes away from the start of the JLT.

Vautour heads the betting at a very skinny 6/4. Apache Stronghold is out to 11/2 from 5/1, Splash of Ginge is 16/1 from 20/1 and Colour Squadron has been backed in to 20/1 from 33/1.

Time for one of these:

chelt_live_shamelessplug16

JLT MBS

13.08

Remember that Racing Post photographer who nearly got smashed by the two horses who went through the rail during the Cross Country Chase? Here’s the photo he took:

12.59

‘You know what – I love Cheltenham, but I’d really love to know what any Hull player is betting on today. Well, not any player, preferably an Irish international.’

If that’s what you’re thinking, then you’re in remarkable amounts of luck because David Meyler has tweeted his punts for the day:

12.50

Nick Luck brings up the fact Tony Martin kept calling him ‘Simon’ earlier. Good to see he’s over it.

12.47

I asked our PR man, Feilim McUnpronouncable to send on any interesting or big news from the racecourse. This is what he got back to me with. Proper newshound this man is.

blog_toilet-feilim

I am surprised however with how clean Razor left the bowl.

12.44

NON-RUNNER NEWS

Dedigout is a non-runner in the World Hurdle. He’s reportedly coughing. Other reports say that he’s coughing and saying ‘w*nker’ underneath the cough everytime Matt Chapman walks towards him. We’ll keep you posted.

12.42

12.38

Slow motion montage OVERLOAD!!

12.37

If you haven’t done your Festival homework, never fear because we’ve assembled the view of some experts so you don’t need to worry your pretty little head about it.

12.34

Now it’s over to Channel 4 for the afternoon session. Right now Jamie Oliver is teaching me a recipe I’d like to attempt, but in all honesty could not be arsed actually making. We’re only seconds away from a wanky slow motion montage.

12.32

We’ve just had our first Irish stereotype of the day over on Racing UK. I’m surprised it took this long. It was something about Guinness, the Emerald Isle, sore heads, general begrudgery – I can’t remember exactly.

12.30

Michael Owen has only just gone and lobbed everywhere. The saucy little devil. Whatever you do, stay safe Micky.

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12.22

Andy Stewart, owner of Big Buck’s and now Saphir Du Rheu is talking to Racing UK.

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First of all – great hair.
Second of all, he’s remarkably downbeat about Saphir’s chances of continuing his family’s success in the World Hurdle.

He’s only such a short price because of the Nicholls-Stewart names attached to him and what we had with Big Buck’s. And he ain’t not Big Buck’s. We hope he runs well, but there are a lot of good horses in the race

Words that may point you in the direction of someone else?

11.59

In fairness, this partnership with Kyle is leading to some pretty ballsy advertising:

blog_kyle-racinguk

11.57

Jeremy Kyle is talking to Racing UK again. He enjoyed a good day of racing yesterday. And he got to shout at some chavs. That’s basically his idea of heaven.

He reveals he was partying with Andrew Balding last night and it ended with Balding asleep curled up in a ball on his kitchen floor.

Wow! How society’s elite live.

He puts Ptit Zig in the JLT up as his tip of the day. And then give out to Oli for not polishing his shoe.

11.35

Be an office hero – offer to make your boss a coffee, but instead of using foamed milk, obtain the semen of a bulldog and use that instead, mixing it with some cocoa powder for added effect. The basis of this prank comes from Van Wilder: Party Liason and its stood me well through life.

Or, if you don’t fancy that or are struggling to obtain bulldog semen, you could alternatively just print our Cheltenham Day 3 Tip Cheat Sheet featuring tips from Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, Matt Chapman and John Parrott.

11.27

GREAT (but admittedly nothing to do with Cheltenham) NEWS!!

Kylie Minogue is going to play at the night of the Dubai World Cup after the money-fight racing is over.

In words we sincerely doubt she acutally said, she supposedly said:

“To bring my show to the Dubai World Cup is something I’m very much looking forward to”

She did however feel the need to undress slightly and lay around specifically for this old photo of her:

10.49

We didn’t ask him for them, but he did them anyway and said he’d cry and revoke our Facebook access if we didn’t post them, so here’s Paddy Power’s tips for World Hurdle day. It’s worth a watch just for the way he pronounces Balder Succes with an unnecessary French accent – like a minor character in ‘Allo, ‘Allo.


Yes, I’m aware he’s upside down, but I don’t know how to fix it. If anything it makes you ignore his tiny, hungover eyes slightly more, which if anything is a good thing.

10.45

Our PR man, Feilim McUnpronouncable has been in touch and he’s got all the big stories from the racecourse.

Like this makeshift attempt at time-lapse video:

blog_time-lapse

Ah – grey tape – the old reliable. I have no idea what I’m actually looking at.

10.08

Are you sitting around, wondering where all the money is going for Day Three of the Festival? Well that’s a slightly weird thing to wonder, but we’re weird as well, so we put it all into this blog post.

10.04

Ruby is chatting away to Oli on Racing UK. He says Don Poli looks like one for the Gold Cup.

‘He looks like something special, doesn’t he?’ he says, which constitutes shouting it from the rooftops in Ruby-speak

09.57

NON-RUNNER NEWS

We’ve got some news about some withdrawals today:

The Tullow Tank – JLT Novices’ Chase
Closing Ceremony – Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle
Bobcatbilly – Brown Advisory And Merriebelle Plate

And I’ve also found out that my dream of eloping with Ellen Page is also a non-runner.

09.53

If you’re in the office and anything like me, your morning enthusiasm will be quickly ebbing away as you realise working life is a sham and you’re only task for the day is to look as occupied as is possible for as little effort as possible.

You can tick that box by reading Ruby Walsh’s thoughts on World Hurdle and making a concerned/serious face as you look at the screen, occasionally tut-tutting.

If that doesn’t seal the deal, let’s play a game. Which of the following does Ruby say in today’s column?

(a) I snuck out of the bedroom the next morning. I enjoyed the sex, but I have no idea why Helen Mirren made me watch 14 episodes of Prime Suspect beforehand. That’s a weird thing to watch to get yourself in the mood. As I left, I noticed the room smelled of a bingo hall. A bingo hall with a faint whiff of sexy allure.

(b) With Rock on Ruby’s defection it doesn’t look a high-quality World Hurdle on paper – but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier to win.

(c) I’m not sure what I’ll do when I retire. I might be a trainer. I might be a baker. I might be one of those guys who holds a sign pointing towards a shop in city centre pedestrian areas. Or if the Petitupian race of aliens finally arrive from the Abell 2029 Galaxy cluster like they promise via the music of shaggy, we could all finally be taken to the Bakinostol Palace to be the loyal subject of the King Smuldark.

You’ll only find out by reading.

09.34

And speak of the trendy haired devil, Simon Claisse is on Racing UK now. He says pretty much all of what I said just below this post, except he wasn’t wearing pants that are as sexy as mine.

09.31

Time for a bit of weather I think. Well, technically weather is always happening so that doesn’t make any sense. Time to look at the forecast. Excuse me for a second …

There we go.

We’re looking at a mixed day ahead. Sunshine for most of the morning, clouding over in the afternoon with rain expected in the evening into the night. Temperatures will be about 12 to 14 degrees during the day.

The going at present is Good, but it’s Good (Good To Soft) on the chase course. We don’t need Simon Claisse’s trendy spiky haircut to tell us that..

09.17

Just caught Paddy doing a webchat with an Irish TV programme from yesterday evening. He looks needlessly close to the camera. Like an older person who doesn’t really understand Skype and thinks by getting closer to the camera, the quality of the stream increases. Plus I’m taking it on trust he’s wearing pants.

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09.10

Shit. Caught the opening of Everybody Loves Raymond again. It’s literally only 15 seconds of it, but in the space of time, they managed to overuse the canned laughter three times, two of the times I’m pretty sure there wasn’t even a joke being made. FFS.

Anyway, if you’ve momentarily lost your mind and want The Morning Line team’s advice on where to put your money today, here’s what they went for:

Alice: Lieutenant Colonel in the World Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE
Pricewise: Valseur Lido in the JLT Novices’ Handicap Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE
Ted Walsh: Vautour in the JLT Novices’ Handicap Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE
Graham Cunningham: Valseur Lido in the JLT Novices’ Handicap Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE
Richard Johnson: Wishfull Thinking in the Ryanair Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

08.59

Nick Luck is talking to Ruby one last time. Ruby refers to him as ‘Nick’ throughout. How embarrassing.

With one last creepy slow motion montage, that brings an end to The Morning Line. Pricewise has already had one winner today with his snazzy zip-neck fleece.

08.46

Ruby has the bra on and he’s talking about Ballycasey in the Ryanair. He’s less than glowing about his mount’s attitude.

‘I was disgusted by him at Ascot. There’s a big engine in there, but he’s an enigma.’

08.43

Here’s Ruby Walsh’s NAP of the day. Wait a second … what’s he wearing???

08.35

Ruby Walsh is talking to Channel 4 from the comfort of Vautour’s saddle. He’s confident, but at the same time wary. Kind of like the way you’d be if someone got you a cake for a normal day that’s neither your birthday or another occasion that is worthy of getting cake for.

08.29

HUGE BREAKING NEWS FROM THE ‘ZIP NECK FLEECE-OFF‘ in The Morning Line studio.

Dickie Johnson has bottled it and pulled out . Possibly because he was too warm, but we’re going to pretend he was busted by those lovely Advertising Standards Authority people. Hi ASA guys. We’ll be talking to you very soon no doubt.

blog_dickie-fleece

08.25

LOL!! Tony Martin is talking to Nick Luck now. They talk about some of his runners, but I stopped paying attention as Tony kept calling Nick ‘Simon’.

‘Yes, Simon … Thanks Simon … He’s in good form Simon … Talk to you later Simon. Tell that Nick Luck he’s a jackass, Simon’

Teehee. Simple but hilarious.

08.23

Bryan Cooper is chatting to Mattie now. He rides Lieutenant Colonel in the World Hurdle and despite looking like he’s running late for school, he feels confident about his chances.

He’s an improving horse and he doesn’t need to improve a whole lot because there isn’t a world class horse in the race. I expect him to be in the first three and I wouldn’t swap him for anything.

08.18

On the subject of fleeces, we’ve got a fascinating ‘Zup Neck Fleece-off’ happening right now in The Morning Line studio.

blog_fleece-off

For me, it’s Pricewise on the left who has taken an early lead. Very solid effort breaking away from the navy uniformity.

08.15

Noel ‘Two fleeces’ Meade is talking to Nick out on course now. Two fleeces and a shirt! This man is lording it in the warmth stakes.

He has Apache Stronghold running for him in the JLT Novices’ Chase. He tells us:

‘He’s done everything he’s had to. He got outstayed by Don Poli at Leopardstown, but he drops back in trip here. He seems to be in great form and the ground will suit him’

08.11

‘Do you think people will actually see the logo. Might look a but too subtle?’
‘Yeah. Who wants a subtle and tasteful logo? Seems almost distasteful.’

blog_johnson-fleece

08.06

Mattie Batchelor is talking to Nina Carberry who got shafted by the French horse in the Cross Country Chase. She’s typically lovely and resists the chance to call him many rude names.

08.02

Two minutes into The Morning Line and we’ve already had two creepy slow motion montages. At this rate we should end up with about 58.

08.02

Alex Hammond of Sky Sports News in on now, lording it over the fact she tipped possibly her first ever winner yesterday in Windsor Park. Well played, Hammond – you win this round, but you had lost the previous 877 rounds.

Today she’s going for Don Cossack in the Ryanair.

In my tip for throwing your money away of the day, I’d recommend buying an extended service warranty on basically anything you buy. Even biscuits. You never know what will happen with those biscuits, but you’ll sleep sounder knowing you have them covered.

07.55

David Craig is at Cheltenham for SSN and he’s nabbed the interview everyone wants …

Yep, you guessed it – he’s talking to … ta-dah … the head of operations at Cheltenham

He tells a fascinating story about having to manage a tented village in temperatures of minus 12! It’s like a jungle out there.

07.39

After landing two winners on Wednesday, Davy Russell went out, got really drunk and hooked up with a TV camera.

blog_russell-tv

07.25

Right, the rain that was forecast yesterday didn’t actually arrive. That was good news for both our PR man, Feilim McUnprounounable’s friz-free hair and the going. For day three of the Festival they move to the new course and on that new course there was a going stick … e-i-e-i-o … and on that going stick there was a reading … e-i-e-i-o … and that reading said it was good, good to soft in places … e-i-e-i-o.

Don’t really know why I broke out into Old McDonald’s Farm there, but I’m just gonna go with it. I’m pretty sure I’ve put my e-i-e-i-o’s in the wrong place too.

07.17

WAAAHHEEEYYY! Day three of Cheltenham and what better way to kick it off than with an uncomfortable exchange with the this morning taxi driver? Just after settling the bill, he turned to me and said – rather judgmentally I might add –

‘Tip?’
‘Err … sorry mate. I’ve no cash on me. I’m like the Queen’
‘No, no. Tip – for the racing’
‘Oh oh. Err … em … er … em … er … Taquin De Seuil in the 2.40’

So there you have it. Not only did he not get an actual tip, but now he’s going to lose a few quid with a random tip. That’ll learn him.

17.28

That’s it for another day of live blogging. I hope it was a successful day for you. I got to slag a few people off, so I’m counting today as a success, even if my bank balance doesn’t reflect that.

We’ll have more of this shite tomorrow.

17.25

Moon Racer delivers for the punters to land the Champion Bumper and the British contingent continue the fight back. It looked like lots of them had chances turning from home, but the David Pipe trained horse found another gear to win relatively comfortably. Second went to Modus, third was Wait For Me and our superextrabonusplace fourth was Yanworth.

Champion Bumper Result
1st Moon Racer 9/2 F
2nd Modus
3rd Wait For Me
Superextrabonusplace 4th Yanworth

23 ran. Non-runner no. 15 (Pylonthepressure)

 

17.16

And after a botched attempt at the start, they’re away in the Champion Bumper …

17.13

Great picture of Frankie Dettori celebrating after Dodging Bullets’ win in the Champion Chase.

blog_frankie-dodging

I like him so much more now that he’s not flirting awkwardly with Sue Barker on A Question Of Sport.

17.09

Moon Racer is now 5/1 and the firm favourite for the Champion Bumper:

Champion Bumper Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP

17.05

WE’re about 10 minutes away from the last contest of day two and it’s the infamous Champion Bumper. A 24 runner race with very little proven form to go on. Simples.

Moon Racer, Vigil and Bordini are currently vying for the favourite tag but it’s been a very active betting market and you couldn’t really argue against lots of the runners in the field.

16.54

Forgot about this comment on the blog from Monday:

blog_pet-shop

The people at the pet shop knew! Thanks for the heads up, Julie.

16.49

Qualando takes the Fred Winter! It was a cracking race, but it’s a result for the bookies as the 25/1 outsider stayed on up the hill for an unpopular victory. It’s another win for Paul Nicholls, but not one the crowd are likely to be too enthused by. Second was Bouvreuil, third was The Saint James and completing the places was Starchitect.

Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle Result
1st Qualando 25/1
2nd Bouvreuil
3rd The Saint James
4th Starchitect

All 22 ran.

16.40

They’re off in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle …

16.39

STAT ATTACK from Chris Cook of the Guardian:

16.37

Arabian Revolution is now 7/1 favourite for the Fred Winter …

16.36

Gary Moore confirms that there are no plans to retire Sire De Grugy,  blaming the ground for his underperformance. In other news, bears continue to shit in the woods and the Pope is still a JC groupie.

He also gives out that ground hasn’t been watered.

16.32

We’re 10  minutes away from the Fred Winter. It’s wide open. Arabian Revolution is the 15/2 favourite, but there are seven runners priced at 14/1 or less. It’s more open than a paternity test on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

16.25

BREAKING: Camilla looks on the bright side despite losing today’s ‘Silliest Hat Competition’ at Cheltenham

blog_camilla-hat

Solid effort, Cam. Kind of looks like you forgot to bring a hat and at the last minute took one of those furry covers chavs have on their steering wheels.

Pic: Mirror Sport

16.20

And one last wanky slow motion montage brings Channel 4 coverage to an end for the day. Now it’s time for Couples Come Dine With Me where I’m guessing one woman will initially appear nice yet confident, but by the end of the week will have revealed to us that she is actually quite insecure and tries to hide it by making a series of bitchy comments, most of which are aimed at a woman she considers to be the Alpha Female. Such excitement.

It’s over to Racing UK for the last two races. You can watch on the website by placing small bet on the race or indeed races. Or you can just chill out here where I’ll be getting narky as my sugar levels drop at around the same speed as my bank balance.

16.16

In  all the excitement, I nearly missed the wanky slow motion montage happening right before my eyes!!

16.15

Chaos in the Cross Country Chase as Toutancarmont jumps wildly left and takes himself and Quantitativeasing out of the running. The one to emerge from the carnage was Rivage D’Or for Tony Martin. Any Currency was second, Uncle Junior claimed third and Dogora completed the place. We didn’t hear much from Duke Of Lucca once the race began.

Cross Country Handicap Chase Result
1st Rivage D’Or 16/1
2nd Any Currency
3rd Uncle Junior
4th Dogora

All 16 ran.

16.01

They’re off. Really this time …

16.00

And there off .. no they’re not. It’s a false start.

16.00

Duke Of Lucca is in to 9/2

Cross Country Chase Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP

15.56

All the stars are out at Cheltenham today. The Manchester United players have taken some time out of their extremely underwhelming yet effective season to visit the races and their entertainment seems to revolve around Rafael Da Silva miming how to ride a horse while not-miming actually holding his sunglasses.

blog_united-chelt
Pic: Mirror Sport

15.51

Toutancarmont is in to 6/1 for the Cross Country Chase:

15.49

We’re about 10 minutes away from the start of the Cross Country Chase. Sire Collonges is now in to 6/1, Duke Of Lucca is currently 5/1 and likely to go off favourite but previous favourite, Any Currency is on the drift out to 13/2.

15.37

Our very own Matt Chapman isn’t impressed by the winner:

15.35

Frankie looks more delighted than anyone else involved in Dodging Bullets’ victory. I’d say there’s a decent chance he’ll get on the horse just to do a flying dismount.

15.34

Fair play to Frankie Dettori. He ran up to Paul Nicholls and tried to lift him up. And he almost did!

He then runs up to Sam Twiston-Davies and plants a big wet kiss on his lips. What a man.

15.28

And Dodging Bullets wins the Champion Chase!! He traveled like a dream throughout the race and it’s a quick-fire double for team Nicholls/Twiston-Davies. It looks like the troubles of the last few months have caught up with Sire De Grugy and Sprinter. Sprinter ended up being pulled up. You’d have to wonder if that’s the last we’ll see of him on the race course. Somersby finished second and Special Tiara got a high creditable third.

Champion Chase Result
1st Dodging Bullets 9/2
2nd Somersby
3rd Special Tiara

10 ran. Non-runner no. 1 (Champagne Fever)

 

15.20

The big one is underway … they’re off in the Champion Chase!

15.17

Scratch that! Sprinter’s in to 9/4 and he’s ONLY BLOODY GOING TO GO OFF FAVOURITE!

You can smell the fairytale in the air at Cheltenham right about now. And the Guinness farts I’d imagine.

Sire is out to 11/4.

15.15

About five minutes to go. We’re back to having joint-favourites at 5/2.

15.12

Nicky Henderson is chatting to Mick Fitz and he’s saying Sprinter Sacre has improved from his run at Ascot.

‘He has bloomed in the last fortnight,’ says Nicky, possibly getting his horse confused with a daffodil.

15.08

Ruby Walsh misses out on this race due to Champagne Fever’s withdrawal. From the snug warmth of the weighing room, he tells us Dodging Bullets is the one he’d like to ride based mainly on his love of guns and violence good build-up to this race.

He’s a 4/1 shot if you agree with young Rupert.

15.04

Right. That didn’t last long, he’s back out to 11/4. At least I got some badly needed typing practice.

15.03

More money for Sprinter Sacre and now we have joint-favourites at 5/2

15.02

Clare  is in the pre-parade ring and she’s whispering earnestly which means she’s being quite serious and intense.

We’re 20 minutes away from the start of the Champion Chase and Sire De Grugy is currently 5/2 favourite. There’s some support for Sprinter Sacre at 11/4 and Dodging Bullets is now 4/1 from 11/2 earlier.

Time for a shameless plug I think.

chelt_live_shamelessplug16

1430_2nd_Sprinter

14.58

One and a half days into Cheltenham and we;re already paying out on Willie Mullins to be Top Festival Trainer.

He has five wins so far and already that tally would have been enough to have  won 14 of the last 17 titles.

14.54

Wanky slow motion montage time on Channel 4! Whoop whoop!

Still no actual ‘hell of a horses’ yet. That’s a disappointment.

14.51

Winning trainer, Paul Nicholls is talking to Clare now. Sadly the sound on my TV has gone so I’ll have to employ my world famous lip-reading skills. I can’t be 100% certain, but I’m pretty sure he tells us:

Those excellent biscuits need to chill. Olly Murs wants to watch me at the urinal

He’s an enigma that Paul Nicholls.

14.49

And Aux Ptit Soins wins the Coral Cup! The French import was thought to be running off a favourable handicap mark and he delivered. Zabana took second, Activial was third, Taglietelle fourth and Volnay De Thaix landed fifth place.

Coral Cup Result
1st Aux Ptit Soins 9/1
2nd Zabana
3rd Activial
4th Taglietelle
Superextrabonusplace 5th Volnay De Thaix

All 26 ran.

14.40

They’re off in the Coral Cup …

14.37

Five minutes to go before the lottery of the Coral Cup. Actival and Aux Ptits Soins are battling it out for the favourites tag at 9/1. Un Atout took a chunk out of Champagne Fever to rule him out of the Champion Chase, but now he’s hungry for a win. Tee hee.

That’s a terrible pun. I apologise. Just know that I hate myself.

14.33

Jockeys aren’t meant to have haircuts this trendy!!

blog_haircut

Well played young Mr. Shortall. Barry Geraghty is currently looking in a mirror wondering what he’s done with his hairstyle life.

14.26

Clare’s talking to winning trainer Willie Mullins. Again.

He seems to have lost all sense of humility now as he dons a toga made from dodo feathers and asks everyone in the parade ring to bow down to him and starting calling him ‘The Golden Child Master of the Universe’. He also refuses to answer any questions that don’t end with ‘Carlow for Sam!’

14.23

Joey Barton and Charlie Austin having a quiff-off at Cheltenham.

14.18

Michael O’Leary is talking to Clare now and although he might charge you for your lifevest and bottle the steam off your piss, he’s hard to dislike when it comes to his modesty when he has a Cheltenham winner. His runners claimed first and third there and here’s got some more solid chances later.

14.14

Don Poli delivers to land another victory for the punters, Willie Mullins and Ireland!! He stayed so well up the hill, there was nothing going to stop him. Southfield Theatre ran well to finish second and Wounded Warrior got up late to take third from Adriana Des Mottes.

RSA Chase Result
1st Don Poli 13/8F
2nd Southfield Theatre
3rd Wounded Warrior

All 9 ran.

14.05

They’re away in the RSA Chase …

14.03

Kings Palace in to 4/1

13.57

Why are they advertising pregnancy tests during the racing? I can understand why they might advertise pregnancy tests at the races, but what’s the link between this audience and possible pregnancy? Maybe they’re banking on Rishi’s style to inspire some afternoon delight. There’s every chance.

13.55

10 minutes away from the RSA Chase. Don Poli is currently 7/4 favourite. The other main contenders are pretty steady in the market, but at bigger odds, there’s been some money for If In Doubt who is now 11/1 from 14/1.

13.52

Just Rishi Persad. Just Rishi Persad big pimping.

blog_rishi

13.40

Windsor Park takes the opener for Dermot Weld with a strong performance in the Neptune. He traveled well throughout and delivered his challenge at just the right time. Second was Parlour Games and third was Nichols Canyon who looked like a bit of a handful for Ruby Walsh at a couple of times during the race.

Neptune Novices’ Hurdle Result
1st Windsor Park 9/2
2nd Parlour Games
3rd Nichols Canyon

Fav 3rd. All 10 ran

13.31

Day two of Cheltenham Festival is underway as they hit the road in the Neptune …

13.24

Right. You may have noticed due to the lack of updates that we’ve had some technical problems on the live blog. Or you may have actually thought ‘this is a welcome break from the steady stream of drivel’ that’s been coming from the Paddy Power blog writers office.  Either way, it’s back. For the moment.

I spotted at least two creepy slow motion montages in the last hour or so, so that’s great news for our tally.

Five minutes to go until the Neptune:

12.04

The most ballsy punt of the day has to go to BBC Radio 5 live who have let John Inverdale near a microphone:

12.00

blog_hendo-pharrell

Nicky Henderson is talking to Racing UK in actual life. His hat is fantastic. I suspect certain internationally famous musicians may have taken their inspiration from his style. On Sprinter Sacre, he’s less bullish than jockey, Barry Geraghty:

I’m not confident, I’m hopeful. Schooling went well, but we’ll only find out later if he’s back

11.53

More big news about non-runners from the Willie Mullins’ yard.

Pylonthepressure misses the Champion Bumper.

‘He’s lamer than retweeting copying and pasting your old tweets so you can retweet them’ said no-one.

11.38

Betting for the Champion Chase is back after that surprising news about Champagne Fever’s absence. Sire De Grugy is now 5/2 favourite with Sprinter Sacre now 11/4.

11.24

HUGE NEWS:

Champagne Fever is out of the Champion Chase. There’s some rumours flying around as to why, but ‘injured in transit’ is the word coming from Racing UK.

11.06

The brilliant El Flaco has been in touch via the tweeting machine to give out to me:

11.03

There’s some really shit banter flying around on Racing UK now. ‘All the chemistry of Tom Cruise kissing his leading lady’ comes to mind.

11.01

Coral Cup Preview

Here’s my preview of the Coral Cup:

Time for one of these:

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I’m going for Dell’Arca. He’s great value to place, but I doubt his ability to actually go and win it. He finds to never be able to get his head in front. It’s an absolute lottery so whatever you do, but it safely.

We’re paying five places in the race, which helps that cause.

10.55

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Don Poli is now 13/8 for the RSA Chase: MOBILE | DESKTOP. Popular choice so far today.

For a look at the best backed horses of the day, head on over to this blog about the best backed horses of the day. Handy that.

10.41

RSA Chase Preview

Time for a quick preview of the RSA Chase. I say quick because this is a tough, tough race to call and I wouldn’t try to convince anyone of the soundness of my judgement. Bear in mind, this is a man who once decided to rugby tackle a bus stop. The bus stop won.

Of the nine runners, seven have a serious chance and are difficult to dismiss totally. Don Poli, King’s Palace and The Young Master have all been there, done that, got the obligatory t-shirt at Cheltenham, but the one that ticks more of the trend boxes is Southfield Theatre. He has won at the track, reached a career high rating last time out and only has two pounds to find on the favourite, Don Poli and the second favourite, Kings Palace.

10.35

I’m thinking about backing Sire De Grugy to defend his Champion Chase title based solely on the strength of his jockey, Jamie Moore’s quiff game:

10.26

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Gordon Elliot is talking to Racing UK right now and after telling us ‘not tonight, lads. No trainers’ he reveals that he’s very sweet on Jetstream Jack in the Champion Bumper. He also likes General Principle, but reckons he’s a little too flashy in his work at home which he’s not especially happy with.

‘I prefer them to be a little more workmanlike. Like myself’

Champion Bumper Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP

10.21

We’re the filling of a Team Hendo/Geraghty sandwich at the minute as Nicky Henderson is talking to Racing UK right about now. What better time to shamelessly plug Camilla Henderson’s blog from inside Seven Barrows?

10.16

Because I’m not arsed typing it all out, here’s a photo of the graphic listing all Barry Geraghty’s rides for the day:

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If you were to ask me ‘which of them was he quietly yet smugly confident about?’ I’d answer ‘all of them’, but he was definitely most quietly yet smugly confident about Arabian Revolution who goes in the Fred Winter and wears first time blinkers.

10.08

It’s over to At The Races were a very dapper Barry Geraghty is talking about his rides. He’s looking confident and ever so slightly smug about Sprinter Sacre’s chances of landing another Champion Chase. He’s slightly starting to make me believe.

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10.00

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Oli Bell of Racing UK is talking to Ruby Walsh now. He has walked him down to the last hurdle, the scene of Annie Power’s fall and basically rubbed his nose in the error, not unlike you’d do with a puppy who has just gone to the toilet on your brand new living room carpet.

‘SEE THIS – BAD RUBY, BAD!’

he basically says.

09.53

Neptune Novices’ Hurdle Preview
There’s some utter shite being talked in Racing UK right about now so I may as well talk my own particular brand of shite and look ahead to the first race of the day. Willie Mullins looks set for more success with Nichols Canyon and Outlander at the top of the betting. Going against Willie at the moment seems as ill-advised as doing an illustrated version of the Koran, but that’s what I’ll do. (The going against Willie Mullins bit, not Koran bit).

The lack of a run for either horse at the course is a negative for me and for those reasons, I’m giving more love to Ordo Ab Chao and Parlour Games who have both ran well at the track before. Vyta Du Roc is hard to completely dismiss, but that’s what I’ll do on account of his defeat to Parlour Games over Christmas.

09.35

Clerk of the Cheltenham course, Simon Claisse and his trendy spiky haircut are on Racing UK to confirm that the ground is currently Good to Soft, Good in places, but he does say it feels like faster ground that we had yesterday. A bit of rain later would stop it from tipping into good ground, good to soft in places.

09.25

Jesus – Michael Owen has just lobbed in the Horse Racing’s Fanzone!
I don’t know what that means exactly, but I hope he cleaned up after himself.
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09.22

If you’re the type of person who likes to base their betting strategy on the off-the-cuff and not especially successful tips of the Morning Line panel, then you’re in luck. Here’s who the team are tipping for the day ahead:

Barry Geraghty: The Young Master in the
RSA Chase Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP and Vyta Du Roc in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP

Jim McGrath: Nichols Canyon in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP

Rishi: Arabian Revolution in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP

Ted Walsh: Adrianna Des Mottes in the RSA Chase Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP

Pricewise: Windsor Park in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP and Jetstream Jack in the Champion Bumper Betting: MOBILE | DESKTOP

09.14

Matt Chapman gleefully joined in with the bookie bashing of yesterday, providing four winners. Check out what he’s tipping up for day two over in this general direction

09.01

A creepy slow motion montage brings an end to the Morning Line for today. Now it’s over to Everybody Love Raymond where they’re rehashing the same old jokes, year on year, time after time. That’s basically what I do on this blog, so you’d wonder why I’m so angry about it. This time, Debra’s sister is in town and she’s a bit of a hippie. Oh wow – Ray’s no nonsense Dad isn’t going to like that! Imagine the banter!! Wow! It’s going to be a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

08.57

Willie Mullins was chatting to Nick there and he gives an upbeat assessment of his runners today. Things take a turn for the weird however when Willie breaks out a ukelele and starts to sing the opening few lines of Cotton Eye Joe all the while stomping his foot on a drum fashioned from a catering-sized bucket of Hellman’s mayonnaise.

08.49

If you’re just getting into the office and you want to look busy but also do some research for the Cheltenham day ahead, then open up and print off this snazzy list of our top tipster’s top tips for Champion Chase day. It features top jockeys Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty along with not top jockey, but nice bloke who is pretty handy at snooker, John Parrott.

08.45

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Another ‘Hell of a race’ – this time from one of the other bookie people. I’ll take it.

08.44

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Davy Russell is chatting to Mattie now and Mattie makes him look like an absolute man mountain.

Davy gives us one ‘Hell of a race’ which obviously isn’t exactly a ‘hell of a horse’ but I’ll take it.

08.33

We’re in the saddle with Ruby Walsh. So to speak. He’s riding Nichols Canyon out before racing. He’s also breaking up as he gets too far away from the Channel 4 broadcast equipment.

‘I …ink … anc  ..f da .. is .. Cha … ever’

08.21

We expect all jockeys to big up their own rides, but Barry Geraghty has no doubts about Sprinter Sacre’s return to full health:

He’s in great shape. He was in good shape going into Ascot, but now he’s in great shape. Sire De Grugy is our biggest threat.

08.18

Henry de Bromhead was interviewed by Nick there. I’ve nothing to report. Henry seems very nice. That’s all I took from that conversation.

08.16

Nick Luck has cornered Noel Meade who looks like he’s wearing a snazzy fleece, possibly even two snazzy fleeces. Noel ‘Two Fleeces’ Meade eh? Anyone, he says Wounded Warrior is his best chance of a winner today, but ‘he’s a bit immature’ then telling a story about how he wasn’t allowed go out to the scout den disco last week so he stormed upstairs to his bedroom, slammed the door and started playing Placebo records at an incredibly loud volume.

08.11

Mattie Bachelor is talking to Paul Townend. There’s nothing interesting to report. He fancies his rides on Beast Of Burden in the Neptune and Stone Hard in the Bumper. Shock horror.

08.04

They’ve let Rishi into the studio!! What’s going on? He’s normally looking at how the eggs are made in the kitchen right about now.

08.01

It’s over to Channel 4 and despite catching the last few seconds of 3rd Rock From The Sun, I’m really looking forward to it. One minute in and we’ve already had two creepy slow-motion montages. Bonanza.

07.59

Alex Hammond is going through the Day 2 cards. Her NAP of the day is Windsor Park in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle: MOBILE | DESKTOP.

In my tip for losing money for the day, I’d like to propose putting all your money in a time-share apartment in north-eastern Ukraine.

07.52

It’s not that Sky Sports News don’t have any news to report from Cheltenham, but their reporter is currently showing us Bryan Cooper’s helmet and boots. Bryan isn’t wearing BTW. That’s why people get into journalism.

07.39

Here’s a cracking picture of Ruby after the Annie Power fall in the Mares’ Hurdle yesterday:

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I really like the way the paramedic is running over to him.

Paramedic: Everything alright? Any pain?

Ruby: Just a broken heart.

Paramedic: Er … I’ve got some Band-aids … are they any use?

07.28

The going at Cheltenham for day two is good to soft, good in places but ….

*keeps people waiting while he squeezes into his sexy weathergirl outfit*

There’s RAIN on the way! Rain is 20% more scary when you use capital letters to spell it. Not over Dortmund in my weather map above, at actual Cheltenham. The temperatures could hit a tropical 12 degrees, but it will be cloudy and the rain is due to arrive about an hour before the Champion Chase. Oh – there’s a weather spanner lobbed in the direction of the horsey works.

07.20

Good morning!! It’s day two of Cheltenham and as long as I keep the false energy up, we can all pretend yesterday never happened!! Woooooo! Hooray for self-delusion. We’ve got a cracking day of racing ahead, highlighted by a fascinating Champion Chase featuring Sprinter Sacre. We haven’t got a f*cking breeze how it will actually go, but it’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

I’ll provide some actual useful information shortly.

17.41

It’s been a rough day for the bookies, but thanks to John Inverdale for lightening the mood:

*WARNING – SWEAR WORD BEGINNING WITH ‘C’ USED*

That’s a good way to end our coverage of day one at Cheltenham.

I’ll be back bright and early to bring you all the latest venom I can muster.

17.26

Irish Cavalier takes the last of day one to deny the well backed favourite, Thomas Crapper. Generous Ransom got third and Horizontal Speed finished 4th. It’s not the result punters were hoping for, but it’s not too bad given he was a 12/1 shot in a 20 runner field. This will still go down as a day the punters demolished the bookies.

Novice’ Handicap chase
1st Irish Cavalier 12/1
2nd Thomas Crapper
3rd Generous Ransom
4th Horizontal Speed

17.17

They’re off in the Novices’ Handicap Chase …

Golden Hoof falls at the first.

17.14

Dammit! They’re omitting the water jump in the next race. I’ve no idea why. If anything, they should take measures to make it more interesting. I suggest this:

17.13

STOP THE E-PRESS!!!!

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Not content with getting absolutely flogged by punters pretty much all day, we’ve decided to REFUND ALL FOUR-FOLDS ON THE BIG FOUR MULLINS HORSES which were ended by Annie Power’s fall at the last in the Mares’ Hurdle. More details over in this direction.

17.08

Thomas Crapper is named after the man who helped develop the toilet’s popularity thanks to innovations brought about by his company. Obviously that sounds like I’ve just gone a bit mental again, but it’s true. Well, as true as anything on Wikipedia is.

17.03

We’re 15 minutes away from the last race of day one and Thomas Crapper heads the betting. He’s a solid 7/1 shot. Behind him, Keltus has been backed in to 8/1 from 10/1, Stellar Notion is 10/1 from 14/1 but Gorsky Island is about as popular as a Liberal Democrat politician walking up your driveway.

16.52

Cause Of Cause wins the National Hunt Chase for Gordon Elliott and JP McManus. It was a cracking finish where Broadway Buffalo just couldn’t find enough to deny the winner. In third was The Job Is Right, giving Djakadam’s Thyestes form a little shot in the arm.

National Hunt Chase
1st Cause Of Causes 8/1
2nd Broadway Buffalo
3rd The Job Is Right

16.42

They’re off in the National Hunt Chase …

16.31

We’re about 10 minutes away from the National Hunt Chase and Very Wood is likely to go off as favourite. The Job Is Right is out to 10/1 from 7/1 and I’m emotionally spent right about now, so you can check out the rest of the odds yourself.

16.21

And with one more creepy slow motion montage, that brings an end to the Channel 4 coverage of Day 1.

Now it’s time for Couples Come Dine With Me and it looks like there’s going to be some really hijinks around Manchester. Oh, Ian and Fiona look like real wacky couple! How will this play out? If only I could keeping watching.

It’s over to Racing UK for the last two races of the day or of that’s not possible for you, you can watch live on Paddy Power by simply placing a bet on the race in question. Deal, yeah?

16.16

Ruby is chatting to Clare and he’s in surprisingly good form considering what just happened.

I don’t know why she did it. That’s racing, that happens. It’s been a super day. At least Annie Power got up, there’ll be another day. She was only going about half-speed.

16.12

Annie Power and the mare she brought down, L’Unique are up and seemingly fine.

Ruby is also fine, but we’d imagine he’s very grumpy right about now.

16.10

WOW!!! There’s a huge sigh of relief around Power Tower as Annie Power falls at the last with the race at her mercy. Stablemate, Glen’s Melody takes the honours, providing another win for Willie Mullins. Polly Peachum nearly got up to upset the Mullins bandwagon and Bitofpuzzle claimed third.

Mares’ Hurdle
1st Glens Melody 6/1
2nd Polly Peachum
3rd Bitofapuzzle

16.00

They’re off in the Mares’ Hurdle …

15.55

Annie Power is now 4/7 for the Mares Hurdle after touching 4/9. It’s not really worth talking about anyone else.

15.50

Not even a creepy slow motion montage can lift spirits around the office. This is like the time we all got told pants were compulsory.

15.46

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There’s a deathly silence around Power Tower as Paddy is going desk to desk asking his staff to empty their pockets. So far he’s collected €22.83 and four Rich Tea biscuits. Might take a bit more to cover the payout we’re expecting, especially if Annie Power wins the next one.

15.34

And Faugheen delivers in real style and if a treble wasn’t already enough for Willie Mullins, he trained the first three home in the big one too! Behind him, Arctic Fire ran a superb race for second and Hurricane Fly claimed a popular and no doubt expensive place. There’s silence around the office as the pummeling from the punters continues.

Champion Hurdle Result
1st Faugheen 4/5F
2nd Arctic Fire
3rd Hurricane Fly

15.21

They’re off and running the the big one of day one …

15.16

They’re down at the start for the Champion Hurdle and Alice’s Wonka hat is checking out the runners as they circle.

15.12

A slightly sarcastic Nigel Twiston-Davies is being asked questions about The New One and he knows haters gonna hate, but he’s gonna shake, shake, shake, shake it off.

We shouldn’t be here. No thinks we can win. Why are we even here?

He did actually say that, but it was with obvious sarcasm. He clearly thinks he’s got a real chance here, despite what the haters may say.

15.08

We’re about 15 minutes away from the Champion Hurdle. After the first two legs of the Mullins dream landed, it’s all about Faugheen who is in to 4/5. The New One is considered next best at 4/1, but defending champion Jezki is out to 6/1 and Hurricane Fly is 9/1 for a third Champion Hurdle.

14.59

After watching Ruby take the first two races, Barry Geraghty answers back with victory aboard The Druids Nephew. It was a well-judged ride for the Meathman who drove his mount out to claim an impressive win. Second was Grand Gesture and Gallant Oscar pipped Indian Castle for third.

Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase Result
1st The Druids Nephew 8/1
2nd Grand Gesture
3rd Gallant Oscar
4th Indian Castle

14.40

They’re away and running in the really long name Handicap Chase … good luck – you’ll need it.

Ned Stark starts backed into 6/1

14.38

If you fancy following Arkle 2nd, God’s Own in the future, it looks like you may have to be patient. That said, that makes it like Aintree and/or Punchestown are on the cards.

14.34

We’re about 10 minutes away from the next race that I’m not arsed typing out the full name of. Ned Stark has been the subject of strong support and he’s now 7/1. That’s promising, but what’s less promising is that just two of 28 favourites priced 11/2 or more have won at the Festival in the last five years. Pendra had been top of the market, but he’s now 9/1 from 5/1.

Festival Handicap Chase Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

14.31

Sean Bowen rides top weight, Black Thunder in the next race. I wish him well. I thought he was hilarious in The Middle.

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14.26

Willie is being interviewed. Again. He’s shirtless, standing over the lifeless corpse of Paddy Power pointing to the crowd Russell Crowe in Gladiator style shouting:

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? IS THERE NO-ONE ELSE?? IS THERE NO-ONE ELSE??

He then took out a dagger and cut a slice of cheese off a block of cheddar he had in his pocket.
What a king among men.

14.19

Sorry to hear that Chris. But chin up, there’s a first time for everything. A 24 runner handicap may not be it though.

14.13

Forgot I had this image. Got a feeling we’ll be seeing it a couple more times today.

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14.12

Un De Sceaux does the business in the Arkle and the punters have had a dream start to Cheltenham 2015. He made all the running, looked like he was under pressure heading into the straight, but he found somewhat extra over the last two fences to take the race comfortably. God’s Own ran a huge race to claim second while Josses Hill claimed third.

Result
1st Un De Sceaux 4/6F
2nd God’s Own
3rd Josses Hill

Another spanking for the bookies.

14.05

They’re away in the Arkle …

14.04

Mick Channon trains Sgt Reckless and Rishi asks him how he feels about taking on Un De Sceaux.

Mick looks at him square in the eyes and says:

F*ck off Rishi. I’m sick of your sh*t. You ruined the snooker so you did.

Sorry, I was just trying to spice things up a bit. What he actually said was:

We’re hopeful. He’s a pretty decent horse with a bit of class.

13.59

Creepy slow motion montage!! What a day!!

13.53

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We’re about 15 minutes away from our next race about 19 minutes away from our next potential pounding from Team Mullins.

Un De Sceaux is now back to 4/6 after drifting to 4/5 earlier. Vibrato Valtat is out to 7/1 from 11/2, Josses Hill has drifted to 12/1, Three Kingdoms and Sgt Reckless have been backed into 16/1.

Cheltenham Offer Day One 800 x 400

13.46

The atmosphere in Power Tower is very muted after the kicking Douvan, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh just delivered.

The staff are devastated. It’s worse than that day we were told not to drink at work and touching yourself in the toilets was now banned.

13.42

Willie Mullins is talking to Clare and with a winner under his belt and he starts to beat his chest shouting:

BRING IT ON BITCHES!! THIS IS MY DAY! THIS IS MY HOUSE! GET YO HANDS OFF MY DOUGH! I DON’T THINK YOU CAN HANDLE THIS

He then segues into the Single Ladies dance routine.

No, he didn’t really. He just admitted that his horse ran a bit free during the race, but finished in real style. The fact he Shaneshill in second was a nice bonus.

13.36

And Douvan wins the opening race!! It’s one for the punters and the Mullins dream is up and running in some style. That’s a woeful result for the residents of Power Tower who have to contend with a huge payout and a huge refund to anyone else who hadn’t back the Mullins favourite.

Result
1st Douvan 2/1 F
2nd Shaneshill
3rd Sizing John

13.30

The famous roar goes up and they’re off in the Supreme Novices’ … good luck one and all

13.29

Harry Fry – who looks like he’s bunked off school – is talking to Channel 4. He’s politey confident that Jollyallan has a genuine chance in this race.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

13.25

Superb! One more creepy slow motion montage squeezed in before the off in the first!

13.20

Oh yeah, forgot the shameless plug:

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13.18

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Right, time for a final look at the betting for the Festival opener. Douvan is now back in to 15/8 after a bit of a drift this morning. L’Ami Serge is now out to 7/2 from 11/4, Jollyallan is 10s after being 8/1 earlier and that’s about all of the major moves for the Supreme.

13.14

Nicky Henderson is talking to Clare now and he’s confident, but he’d be a lot more confident if his runners weren’t up against the Willie Mullins horses in today’s races. He ends by declaring:

Right – where is Willie Mullins? I’m going to kick him in the testicles*

*May not have happened.

13.10

Jessica Harrington is talking to Brian now, but she’s playing her cards close to her chest.

If he doesn’t win, the horse that beats him will have to very good

Good chesty-cards, Jessica.

12.58

The great AP McCoy is talking to Clare now and he doesn’t seem overly emotional about it being his last Festival. He just wants winners.

‘To be honest Clare, I just want to get through the next few weeks so I can concentrate on my real passion – training gerbils to hangglide’ he doesn’t actually say.

He does put up Jezki has his best hope of the week.

12.50

Wait … call off the search.

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12.49

We’re getting some disturbing reports that Willy Wonka’s hat has been stolen.

If anyone sees it, please contact your nearest Cheltenham steward.

12.39

Clare Balding is on now and she’s standing on a hill. This must be important.

12.38

The Channel 4 coverage is underway and we kick off with a top class creepy slow motion montage. Top stuff!

12.37

Fancy a bet on who’ll be Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey? This chart may help, but probably won’t:

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12.34

It’s over to Channel 4 for the big show … oh wait … it’s Jamie Oliver. Why is Jamie Oliver on? He’s got nothing to do with horses. Unless of course he’s cooking with Tesco value meals.

12.32

National Hunt Chase Preview

At four miles this is a stamina test, even for horseys. It couldn’t be more of a marathon if the horses were rubbing Vaseline on their nipples and telling all their friends how they should all take up running because it makes you feel so good.

None of the horses heading into this have proven stamina over the trip. That’s not a surprise because races of this kind of distance are few and far between. I like Sego Success and The Job Is Right, but one who has run well over longer distances and is available at big price is Theatre Queen. She’s a mare so gets to carry seven pounds less than the boy horses (that’s the technical term) and she has already won at the course, which is also helpful. She’s lightly raced and she’s a decent each way choice.

National Hunt Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

12.21

Jeremy Kyle is talking to Racing UK and he doesn’t think Willie Mullins is going to sweep the board in the way that has been predicted.

This is the Olympics of jumps racing and getting winners isn’t that easy

he says in the same judgmental voice as he uses to criticise out to chavs on his show. He doubts Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle and reveals that he backed Hurricane Fly as recently as last week.

12.18

Mares Hurdle Preview

Rich Ricci is back on Racing UK and he’s talking about the Mares’ Hurdle, so I’ll do the same.

If she stays out of trouble, Annie Power wins this. She’s way better than her rivals here and despite the absence, I get the impression she’ll be fine. This is her optimal distance.

In betting without and place betting, Polly Peachum and Abitofapuzzle are the ones I’m looking at backing.

12.12

Thanks to v cox who got in touch via the comments section to remind me of a tip that was given at our Rich Ricci and Sam Twiston-Davies preview night last week that I was clearly too toasted to remember. And also he provided an amusing take on Sam’s name, which as a man who is prone to some horrendous spelling errors, I fully appreciate.

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Thomas Crapper is currently 7/1 in the Novices’ Handicap Chase Betting – DESKTOP | MOBILE

12.07

NON-RUNNER

The Govaness will not be watching Annie Power disappearing off into the horizon in the Mares’ Hurdle.

Probably should have mentioned that earlier, but I didn’t. I have failed you.

12.02

I was watching Ireland getting spanked by India in the cricket earlier so wasn’t watching Sky Sports News.

‘That’s ok, they have about 70 seconds of actual content that they repeat remorselessly throughout the day,’ you might well say in this completely imaginary conversation.

‘Yeah, I know’ I’d imaginary reply, ‘but I missed Alex Hammond’s tip of the day and she’s a terrible tipster that I like to take the piss out of’.

Let’s pretend her tip was Douvan. That’s sounds like the type of horse she’d give the kiss of death to. In my tip for the best way to utterly waste your money, I’d suggest investing in my friend Dave’s business. He’s planning to open a strip club in downtown Raqqa in northern Syria. I think that’s a rock solid idea, but he says they won’t serve Bacon Fries. I think that completely undermines his entire business plan.

 

11.51

Champion Hurdle Preview

There’s some angry men shouting on Racing UK right now so let’s ignore all that talking bollocks to talk our own version of bollocks. The Champion Hurdle is probably the best race of the Festival. Faugheen is a worthy favourite, but as Sam Twiston-Davies pointed out when we spoke to him last week, his form is a bit soft in comparison to that of Jezki and Hurricane Fly.

I can’t put too many holes in Faugheen’s claims. He stays, he handles Cheltenham and he looks like he can get even better than what we have seen previously. That said, he hasn’t had a run this year and that’s not a good stat to have in the book when looking at Champion Hurdle winners.

I’d love to see Hurricane Fly win, but as impressive and defiant as his two victories at Leopardstown over the reigning champion, Jezki were, I suspect we haven’t seen Jessica Harrington’s horse at 100% so far this season.

I like The New One, but think he’s a teeny, tiny bit below winning want looks like a classy Champion Hurdle. Last year may have been his chance. Arctic Fire and Kitten Rock represent the younger horses. I think they’re classy and will get even better, but this race comes a little too soon.

Champion Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

11.41

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I forgot to include a couple of shameless plugs in my preview of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Arkle Chase earlier. And just our my own volition and not at all because my boss is shouting at me while making a ‘throat slitting’ gesture about four feet away from me, here’s a reminder about today’s unbelievably generous fantabulousmagorimcal offer:

Cheltenham Offer Day One 800 x 400

11.36

That was all a bit sad. We need a change of pace. Here’s some goats balancing on some sheet metal:

11.34

Genuinely sad not to have the gentleman and legend that is Dessie Hughes at this Festival.

blog_dessie-hughes

His daughter, Sandra is now in charge of the stable and she’s talking to Racing UK. She tells us nothing has changed with the yard’s approach to training methods since Dessie’s death. Bryan Cooper also pays tribute, crediting him for giving him his start in the game. RIP Dessie.

11.26

Be an office hero …

have sex on the photocopier just as the CEO brings his family in to show them the place he works

No, don’t do that. Print off this tip sheet featuring many of Ruby Walsh’s thoughts on his fancies for the Festival.

Ruby's-Bets-(Color)-(2)

11.20

David Pipe is in the building – whoop, whoop!

Probably not a ‘whoop, whoop’ moment, but I’m just so excited.

11.17

Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase

Ah – Ultima Business Solutions – the place I go to for all my business solutions. Get there as quick as you can cause there’s a sale on. You get two big packets of business solutions for a tenner. Great value.

I’ll clearly padding my word count because I’ve no idea who is going to win this race. I wouldn’t talk anyone out their fancy and even the ‘racecard, dart and blindfold’ approach isn’t the worst of ideas. Favourites in handicaps have a really poor record at Cheltenham in the last five years so I’ll avoid Pendra based on that. The one carrying my 20 cent each ways is Cape Tribulation. He’s experienced, had a bit of class back in the day and enjoyed some of his better days at Cheltenham. He’s a decent option to roll back the years.

blog_cheltenham_favs-SP

11.07

Just Rupert the Bear celebrating the fact he shops in the same place as Nicky Henderson:

blog_hendo-rupert

11.02

And by ‘all happenin’ Alana clearly means ‘there’s a lot of pointing going on and a blonde lady looking like she’s squaring up to the drinks truck’.

10.49

Arkle Chase Preview

Still talking about jockey diets, so I’m going to slip in my quick and not-very-detailed preview of the Arkle. Un De Sceaux is that class horse of the race and I don’t doubt his ability. I do however have concern that this is his first trip to Cheltenham – a really unique course that provides a true test of a horse’s jumping. Thoughts of Kauto Star falling on his first trip to Cheltenham in the Champion Chase of 2006 are still fairly fresh in my mind as a precedent for this strand of dubious logic. He’s an exuberant jumper – Ruby Walsh needs to keep that energy until control.

I’m going to look at the Betting Without market and the one that stands out to me is Josses Hill. Two miles is his ideal trip so that provides a convenient excuse to ignore to blots on his copybook earlier this season. Nicky Henderson will have him in better shape than he was at Kempton last month and he ran well on his previous visit to Cheltenham. In fairness, reasons to oppose Vibrato Valtat are pretty thin on the ground and he’s of interest but I reckon there’s more to come from Team Hendogeraghty.

10.33

They’re talking about what jockeys eat on Racing UK. They’re showing McVities Digestives. I’m so confused. Here’s a video of Paddy Power making Ruby Walsh feel very uncomfortable:

10.22

Supreme Novice’s Hurdle Preview
It’s time for me to put together my most-likely-inaccurate preview of the first race of the day. In short, I’m opposing Douvan because there are a lot of assumptions being made about what he had left in the tank after his two easy wins in Ireland earlier this season. He’s a classy horse, but he’s a very short price for not having much in the book and the Supreme Novices will test that to breaking point.

Looking elsewhere, L’Ami Serge is a very solid bet as is Jollyallan, but the one that stands out to me at a big price is Seedling who has just six pounds to find on Douvan, has won at Cheltenham and looks like he’s open to more improvement.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

10.15

Nigel Twiston-Davies is on Racing UK and talking about The New One in last year’s Champion Hurdle, he pretty much says:

I don’t want to say the incident with Our Conor cost him victory last year, but that incident with Our Conor cost him victory last year.

Confident.

10.12

Our PR man, Feilim McAnUnpronouncable is over at Cheltenham for his amazing skills at public relations and ability to make the women of Cheltenham feel very uncomfortable with his chatting up patter.. When not making poor attempts to hit on women, he’ll be overseeing our free beer truck outside the racecourse where we’re giving away precisely 4,344 free pints – one for every winner AP McCoy has head. Such japes.

blog_ap-pints

‘But Paddy, is it socially responsible to link alcohol and gambling?’ you may well be asking right about now. If you’re looking for an answer to that question, allow me to refer you to our PR man, Feilim McAnUnpronounceable who you can chat to on Twitter.

09.52

Ruby Walsh jogs up to Oli Bell for a quick chat. He’s never jogged up to us for a chat. Oli asks him if he feels any added pressure riding all these favourites on Day 1. Ruby looks at him with an expression that says ‘WHAT A QUESTION. YOU ABSOLUTE MUG. LOOK AT ME. LOOK HOW CHILLAXED I AM. I EAT PRESSURE FOR BREAKFAST. WELL, I EAT BRAN FLAKES FOR BREAKFAST, BUT YOU’RE FAMILIAR WITH THE TURN OF PHRASE. ESSENTIALLY, I’M JUST A VERY RELAXED MAN’ but then actually says:

‘No.’

09.49

To save you the price of the Racing Post, I’ll tiptoe around copyright law to reveal Pricewise’s tips for Day 1. He’s going for Gallant Oscar in the Festival Handicap Chase: DESKTOP | MOBILE and Vaniteux each way in the Champion Hurdle: DESKTOP | MOBILE

09.44

It’s time for a look at some market movers so far today.

chelt_live_marketmovers25

Douvan is on the drift in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He’s now 9/4 from 7/4. There’s money for L’Ami Serge who is now 11/4 from 3/1.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

Un De Sceaux has eased ever so slightly in the Arkle betting. He’s 8/11 from 4/6. Josses Hill has drifted more markedly out to 12/1 from 8/1. Clarcam is 18/1 after being 12s earlier.
Arkle Chase Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

It’s a very hot betting heat in the Festival Handicap Chase. Pendra is on the drift (7s from 5/1) while Gevrey Chambertin is now 12/1 from 16/1, Indian Castle is 16/1 from 25/1.
Festival Handicap Chase Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

In the Champion Hurdle, Faugheen is pretty much were he has always been in the build-up to the Festival at evens, but The New One is out to 9/2, Jezki is at 5/1 from 9/2 and Hurricane Fly is 10/1 from 8/1.
Champion Hurdle Betting: DESKTOP | MOBILE

Annie Power is looking rock solid at 4/6 for the Mares Hurdle, but there’s money for Polly Peachum who is 8/1 from 10/1 and Caroles Spirit who is now 20/1 from 33/1.

Mares’ Hurdle Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

There’s a lot of small changes in the betting for the National Hunt Chase, but two of the more notable ones are Cause of Causes who is now 13/2 from 8/1 and Perfect Gentleman who is 9/1 from 12/1.
National Hunt Chase: DESKTOP | MOBILE

In the last race of the day, Stellar Notion is the standout bet. He’s in to 10/1 from 14/1 while Generous Ransom is out to 10/1 from 7/1.
Novices’ Handicap Chase Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

09.39

Simon Claisse is on Racing UK now and he tells us more about the track, only this time talking more about gardening and stuff. There’s been a lot of frost and stuff which has made life more difficult this year he says. I don’t know – the grass looks pretty green, that’s a good thing, right?

09.17

No update on that rash Ray’s dad is battling, but he is getting a wet shave in his barbers. Thrilling stuff. I almost heard a joke there.

09.15

Time for me to slip into something less comfortable for today’s Cheltenham weather report:

That’s better. My stomach feels so flat these days. Must be all that Activia. Thanks for the tip Martine McCutcheon.

We’re in for a good day in the Cotswolds with sunshine and a high of 12 degrees coming our way. Well, not our way because I’m sat in an office in Dublin where the forecast is for slightly stale muffins and a lingering sense of disappointment.

As previously mentioned, the going at Cheltenham is good to soft, good in places, which is pretty much ideal for the Festival.

09.08

Balls. The Morning Line is over and it’s time for Everybody Loves Raymond. Suddenly 3rd Rock From The Sun doesn’t look so bad. It looks like a cracker as Raymond’s grumpy dad seems to have a rash on his leg. I’ll keep you up to date with all the latest developments as they happen.

In the meantime, here’s what The Morning Line panel put up as their NAPS for day one:

AliceNed Star in the Festival Handicap Chase Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

Bryan CooperClarcam each-way in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

Mick FitzgeraldShaneshill in the Arkle Chase Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE and Pendra in the Festival Handicap Chase Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

Ted WalshAnnie Power in the Mares’ Hurdle Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

I didn’t catch what Pricewise said, but it was probably something obscure in one of the handicaps.

08.59

They did a little feature on the town of Faugheen earlier on The Morning Line. The horse has no connection to the town other than the fact he’s got the same name, but since it’s about 10 houses, a shop and a church in rural Tipperary, the locals have really taken the horse to their hearts.

It’s a hard place to describe. Let’s just say it’s quiet. The type of place where men have the time to hang around the side of fields staring aggressively at the Google Streetview car:

blog_faugheen-town

08.58

Nick Luck has shoved his microphone in the face of Willie Mullins and he’s very bullish about Hurricane Fly. He says

Hurricane Fly’s prep for this year’s Festival has been better than it’s ever been

Strong words for a man who makes being your average mafia crime boss look like a reckless blabbermouth.

He also says that in general things have been going well for all his horses:

Things are going scarily well, but we’re there to be shot at

somewhat making his operation sound like ISIS.

08.51

Our glorious leader, Paddy Power is on The Morning Line right now and he’s turns to the other bookie PR guy beside him, rips his shirt off, grabs a chair and starts bashing him over the head, shouting “CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE POWER IS COOKING!” Tanya chuckles away and refuses to intervene because the alternative is cutting to Simon Claisse adjusting his trendy spikey hair in the mirror.

None of that happened, but never one to resist giving us a mental image of him with his pants around his ankles, Paddy says:

It’ll be pants around the ankle time for the bookies if all the Mullins’ favourites win

08.47

The panel are discussing the Champion Hurdle and I hope The New One isn’t watching because he’s getting roundly bashed for his performances this year.

08.36

Damn, no ‘hell of a hose’ so far, but we do have our most impressive hat of the day so far. It comes from John Ferguson. The trainer has clearly come down off Brokeback Mountain to tell us Three Kingdoms and Qewy are both in good shape ahead of their tilts at the Arkle and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle respectively.

blog_john-ferguson

P.S. We’re saying Brokeback Mountain because it looks like a cowboy hat, not because he’s gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We’re not getting all ‘Vladimir Putin’ in the Paddy Power live blog writing department.

08.29

Bryan Cooper has stopped by on his way to school to join the panel. Clarcam is his ride in the race and he says:

He’s improved a lot since last year. He’s really taken to fences

Interesting words for an 18/1 shot.

Arkle Chase Betting DESKTOP | MOBILE

08.26

The panel are talking about the Arkle Chase and Un De Sceaux so if we don’t get a ‘Hell of a Horse’ now, I might throw a hissy fit.

08.25

Quiet everyone – Ruby is talking and he’s live from the saddle. He says Annie Power is 100% after passing her veterinary inspection. Sadly technology is letting us down as he says something like:

Faugh…. re … od … vel … un … be … donut …

08.14

Here’s the look of a man who is trendy and he knows it. 

blog_claisse

08.09

Simon Claisse, clerk of the course, gets his first run out of the week and looks tres trendy with his spikey new hairdo. If that’s not enough to send disorient us, he also describes his feelings at the moment as:

It’s like being in a sweetie shop

08.05

Ted Walsh isn’t mindlessly backing his son Ruby to win aboard all four of his favourites:

It’s Cheltenham, not Disneyland

he deadpans, ruining Ruby’s hopes of getting a photo with Pluto.

08.03

Alice Plunkett tells us to ‘forget the Cricket World Cup’.

That’s a lot easier to do if you’re English rather than Irish.

08.00

I’m going to have to count that as a slow motion montage.

07.59

IT’S MORNING LINE TIME! Finally.

07.58

Here’s the Cheltenham Festival tips of top jockey and really nice guy, Barry Geraghty.

07.55

This is so bad. How often can you stretch out the ‘aliens not really understanding human behaviour’ gag? Six series??? Yeah – six series apparently. SMH. Just ignore it and enter our Cheltenham Tipster competition. It’s free to enter and it’s infinitely better than 3rd Rock From The Sun. And it’s free.

07.51

I flicked over to Channel 4 in the hope the Morning Line was just about to begin. It’s not and the god-awful 3rd Rock From The Sun is on, utterly ruining my enthusiasm for both Cheltenham and the work of John Lithgow.

07.43

As expected, the going at Cheltenham today is good to soft, good in places. The going is always good when you wear shirts like that.

07.41

Holy crap! It’s only 25 to eight and already we may have had our fashion moment of that day.
Stewart Machin of Racing UK is the man responsible for this remarkable effort.

blog_ruk-shirt

Magical things can happen when you forget to change out of your pyjamas and head straight to the studio.

07.22

This is how excited I am:

07.19

Good morning. It’s finally here! There’s no real news so far this morning, we’re just really f*cking excited. That’s not really news. Although not really being news makes it very likely to appear on the Mail Online website.

16.59

Russell Martin of Norwich wears the Rainbow Laces and they contributed to a stunning comeback win away to Cardiff. Trailing 2-0 at half-time, the Canaries turned it around to win 4-2. Delia must have given one of her trademark half-time inspirational speeches.

blog_martin_rainbow

16.40

One of the Crystal Palace players wearing the Rainbow Laces during the game with Burnley. We’re not trying to protect his identity, we just didn’t actually get told who it is.

blog_palace_rainbowThank you, mysterious Rainbow Laces wearer.

16.35

Erik Lamela laces up ahead of Tottenham’s game against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light:

blog_lamela_rainbow

16.21

Per Mertesacker wearing his Rainbow Laces earlier today:

16.07

Leinster star, Ian Madigan tweeted about lacing up yesterday and they might be staying in. He’s scored two tries today against the Scarlets, equalling his tally for the entire 2013-14 season in one afternoon.

madigan-try

15.10

Professor Green is getting in on the Rainbow Laces act:

P.S. That’s Rory Scott of Paddy Power in the photo, not the Posh Bird he fell for.

14.51

The Arsenal Rainbow Laces Ad followed by the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles ad. Great timing!

14.40

FULL TIME! A cracking match, particularly in the second half ends in a draw. Arsenal looked brilliant and woeful at times while City didn’t ever really hit the highs or lows. It’s a fair result overall.

14.37

GOAL! BUT OFFSIDE! Nasri has the ball in the Arsenal net, but as it was a rebound from Dzeko’s shot, it is rightly ruled out.

It was Dzeko who really should have scored after Silva played him in about 10 yards out. He tried to roll the ball past Szczesny, but the keeper got a firm hand to it. Nasri tapped the ball into an empty net, but was quite clearly offside.

14.35

POST! It’s City once again but this time it’s Laurent Koscielny who finds the woodwork. His attempt at a clearance is sliced and spins past Szczesny and onto the post.

14.33

Six minutes of added time to be played.

In the meantime, Michael Owen says Jack Wilshere is his man of the match. Hmm …

14.31

WOODWORK! Kolarov lashes a shot off the near post of Szczesny’s goal.

SUB! That not all that terrible attempt at goal was Danny Welbeck’s last of the game. He comes off and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes his place.

14.29

Danny Welbeck tries to bend in a screamer from about 20 yards out. It’s not a bad attempt, but as you’ve probably not seen the words ‘Danny Welbeck’ and ’20 yard screamer’ in the same sentence too often, you can guess at the result.

14.26

GOAL! DEMICHELIS! 2-2! It’s a corner, Arsenal just don’t bother marking the City defender who heads it into the top right hand corner of the goal, aviding the attempts of Szczesny and Sanchez to keep it out.

14.23

SUB! It looks like a bad injury to Matheiu Debuchy as he gets stetchered off after getting his leg caught in the turf. Calum Chambers takes his place, which is generally ‘on the receiving end of bad tackles from James Milner’.

14.22

SUB! Kolarov comes on for Fernandinho as City look for an equaliser.

We’re seeing more replays of the penalty shout and it really looks like Arsenal got away with one there. It looks a lot less accidental from Wilshere after repeated viewings.

14.19

PENALTY SHOUT! City shout for a penalty and they looked to have a case. The ball bounced up and seemed to catch Jack Wilshere on the arm but it also hit Navas on the arm, so maybe it was the right result.

14.17

BOOKING! Alexis or Sanchez got booked for taking his shirt off during that celebration. He couldn’t give a shite.

14.17

GOAL! ALEXIS OR SANCHEZ! 2-1 ARSENAL! It’s a stunning finish from the Chilean striker. Wilshere heads it to Sanchez who volleys it side-footed past Joe Hart from about eight yards out. Super goal.

14.13

CHANCE! Demichelis versus Welbeck looks like a cargo ship versus a jet-ski. The City defender can’t keep the Arsenal striker out and it’s up to Joe Hart to snuff out the chance by rushing out and blocking the shot.

14.09

SUB! Aguero comes off and Dzeko comes on.

14.09

As you can imagine, that goal has put the cat among the punting pigeons. The odds are:

Arsenal 23/10 | Draw EVS | Man City 11/4

BET NOW: MOBILE | DESKTOP

14.07

BOOKING! Aguero picked up a yellow card for moaning about not getting a free-kick in the aftermath of the Arsenal goal.

14.06

GOAL! 1-1 WILSHERE! Cracking goal from Arsenal and probably not what many people were expecting. Ramsey lays the ball off to Jack Wilshere who sweeps by Clichy and beats Hart with a shot high at the near post from about four yards out to the right of the goal.

14.04

YELLOW CARD! Nacho Monreal gets booked for going into the back of Jesus Navas. Again, it’s a fair cop.

14.02

CHANCE! It’s Gael Clichy – yes, Gael Clichy – who does close for City. He storms forward, plays a one-two with Aguero and beats Szczeny to the return pass. He flicks it over the keeper, but the shot is heading wide before it gets intercepted anyway.

14.00

YELLOW CARD! And for once it’s not a City player. Matheiu Flamini gets booked for pulling down Silva when there was a counter-attack in the offing. No complaints.

13.52

YELLOW CARD! Another City player goes into the book. This time it’s Fernandinho for a poor tackle on Wilshere.

13.50

Nice play from Arsenal leads to a half chance for Danny Welbeck but true to form, his ability to make every pass he gets look like a hospital pass means he’s closed down and can’t get his shot away.

13.47

City get the second half under way and they’ve made a SUBSTITUTION. Frank Lampard and his midfield waddling will play no further part in the action and Samir Nasri has entered the fray.

13.34

HALF TIME! It’s time for the half-time bollockings and it’s Arsene Wenger who’ll be breaking out the hairdryer. After a bright start, Arsenal have struggled. They’re looking shaky at the back and lacking precision up front. Midfield is alright.

On the other hand, City look to be in control. They’ve had a couple of scares, but when they attack, they look like they can unlock the Arsenal defence at will.

13.31

Debuchy gets a measure of revenge for people with elaborate haircuts. He fouls Milner and avoids a card.

13.30

Another bad tackle by James Milner on Mathieu Debuchy. Milner clearly isn’t a fan of the Frenchman’s elaborate haircut. He avoids a booking despite Clattenburg’s fondness for elaborate haircuts.

13.27

Scuffing it low into the City defenders is the answer. The ball breaks to Mesut Ozil outside the area and smashes it into the roof …

not the roof of the net, just the roof. It was really bad.

13.25

Alexis or Sanchez gets a kick from Navas and it gives the Gunners a free-kick about 22 yards out, just to the left of the penalty area. How will they waste this one?

13.23

Despite some neat haircuts and attacking play, Arsenal are looking deflated now. Alexis or Sanchez chips a free-kick in a promising position over the crossbar and the crowd sort of groan.

Jack Wilshere is starting to get cranky, like he needs a nap. Or a better understanding of how to play in central midfield.

13.19

Get a shot on target against Arsenal and you’re generally laughing.

13.18

CHANCE! Szczesny is called into action to stop Silva after some neat play down the right flank. From about seven yards out, he tries to roll it into the far corner, but the Pole in the goal makes himself big and because it doesn’t actually involve catching the ball, does quite well.

13.14

GOAL! AGUERO 1-0 CITY!! Great play from Navas down the right hand side who holds up play to wait for his team-mate to get into the box and the Argentine striker neatly slides it low inside the near post.

All Arsenal’s early pressure now counts for nowt.

13.12

James Milner gets City’s first shot on goal. It’s slightly high, but it looked semi-decent. We wouldn’t normally bother talking about it only for the fact it’s taken 25 minutes to happen.

13.11

YELLOW CARD! Zabaleta joins Frankie Lamps in the book thanks to a foul on Alexis or Sanchez. Totally justified to be fair. It was more misjudged that pretty much everything Mel Gibson has done since Lethal Weapon 4.

13.07

YELLOW CARD! Frank Lampard marks his debut with a booking. He brings down foul-magnet, Aaron Ramsey with a clumsy, break-ending sliding tackle.

13.03

James Milner thumps into Debuchy at the Arsenal corner flag. It was a shocking tackle that probably deserved some sort of a card. So naturally, Mark Clattenburg gave a goal-kick.

13.01

SHOT! Aaron Ramsey has a pop from distance after some lovely play from Sanchez or Alexis in midfield. Nice football but ultimately the shot was lamer than a Kanye West rap and Hart catches it easily.

12.59

WOODWORK! Danny Welbeck is denied a dream start to his Arsenal career. He’s one on one with Joe Hart, about 12 yards out and he dinks it over the City keeper. It looks like it’s sailing in, but as the first word of this update suggested, it hit the post and City clear it.

The finish looked lovely, but kind of takes away from the fact he really should have put the chance away.

12.56

10 minutes gone and Arsenal have started the better. The odds are looking like:

Arsenal 6/4 | Draw 11/5 | Man City 15/8

BET NOW: MOBILE | DESKTOP

12.53

SHOT! Sanchez or Alexis or whatever he wants us to call him these days fires in a shot from the edge of the box. It’s straight at Hart who fumbles it a small bit before grabbing it.

Arsenal press some more and some acrobatics from Hart stop the ball getting through to Sanchez or Alexis. Well, I say acrobatics, but it was more ‘falling in installments’. He doesn’t look entirely comfortable so far.

12.51

The Arsenal fans go a bit mental as it looks like Jack Wilshire is brought down on the edge of the City box. Clattenburg disagrees which would imply that he thought it was a dive, but then doesn’t punish Wilshire – thus sort of making a quintessential non-decision.

12.49

Fernandinho clatters into Ramsey. It’s a clear free-kick, but sensing the opportunity for some screen time, Mark Clattenburg plays a pointless advantage which comes to nothing.

12.46

Arsenal get the game underway. Both teams wearing their first choice kits.
No-one has opted for 17th Century battle armour, which is disappointing.

12.44

This game could be won or lost in midfield

Cheers, Michael Owen.

12.40

Paul Scholes describes Jack Wilshire as being ‘confused’. I wouldn’t blame anyone for that after Wrighty’s ‘kittens’ comment.

12.26

Ian Wright seems a little bit worried about Nacho Monreal going up against Jesus Navas. I think. I don’t actually know WTF he was trying to say here:

‘If I could have kittens, he’d give me them’.

Er … what now?

12.24

Now Ray is chatting to Manuel Pellegrini and his first question is about Yaya Toure’s absence. The City manager responds by slapping Ray in the head, picking him up, raising him up over his head and saying ‘I’m the one calling the shots around here, Stubbsy. You will never understand the depth of my power and intelligence’ before casually throwing him to the ground and walking back to the dressing room.

No, of course he didn’t. He just said Toure was a bit tired after travelling gack from international duty so he’s being given time to recover.

12.18

Danny Welbeck is in the building. And he’s looking slick.

Yes, I’m aware he’s probably been in the building for the last couple of hours, but Arsenal only just tweeted the pic, so it’ll have to do.

12.14

Ray Stubbs is asking Arsene Wenger some pre-match formulaic questions, the pick of which is ‘What’s your early impression of Danny Welbeck?’

Arsene suddenly breaks down and between sobs says:

WHAT WAS I THINKING??!! DANNY F*CKING WELBECK?? AND HE’S A D*CKHEAD. YESTERDAY I SAW TAKING A SANDWICH FROM AN ORPHAN. OHHH!! WHAT WAS I DOING? *SOB* *SOB*

Obviously that’s a lie. He said he’s excited to have him in the team and he strengthens a part of the team that was lacking in depth or something to that effect.

12.04

62 year old Frank Lampard is making is City debut today. He looks fairly excited with the news:

11.56

TEAM NEWS!

It’s just under an hour to go until kick-off at the Emirates and the teams are in. And they’re quite interesting for a change.

Ramsey starts for the Gunners, despite picking up an injury while on international duty and up front, ‘not good enough for Manchester United’ striker, Danny Welbeck makes his debut. Flamini also starts which is also a middling level surprise.

Arsenal
Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Wilshere, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Welbeck

City give Frank Lampard a surprise start with Yaya Toure not in the matchday squad. Aguero starts up front with Jesus Navas and James Milner also getting starts that weren’t entirely expected.

City
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Lampard, Navas, Silva, Milner, Aguero

11.27

Here’s the brilliant Rainbow Laces made by the Arsenal players. Well, it wasn’t made by the Arsenal players – they weren’t the ones scripting, lighting and editing it – but they’re in it and they’re all brilliant.

11.24

The Arsenal programme for today’s match featuring Rainbow Laces throughout. Nice.
No need to ‘shhh’ it now – because tomorrow is now today.

10.52

Well done Matt Lucas. Top bloke:

10.49

Good to see the Cambridge United supporters wearing the Rainbow Laces on Soccer AM:

But damn you David Gray!! You’re just too damn fashionable!! The wobbly-headed singer have opted for these stylish slip-on kind of brogues. Good for fashion, less helpful for wearing Rainbow Laces.

blog_david-gray_shoes

10.34

It’s been a busy morning already for Thomas Hitzlsperger. After a whistle-stop tour of the BBC, he’s now at the Emirates providing a bit of the ‘Mumford and Sons’ look to Fletch & Sav alongside Owen Hargreaves and Micheal Owen.

22.57

Lionel Messi wins the Golden Ball for best player at the World Cup. This World Cup. In football.

22.57

Manuel Neuer is first up to receive the Golden Glove award. He looks delighted:

charlie-bucket1

22.55

Sepp Blatter’s appearance is greeted with a chorus of boos. Popular the world over is our Sepp.

22.44

Sabella looks absolutely gutted:

22.40

Yaaaaayyyyy! It’’s the first cheque from Ireland that hasn’t bounced! And we won the World Cup:

22.38

There can be no complaints. They’ve been the best team from beginning to end, with a bit of a dip in the middle. It’s harsh on Argentina who probably had the better chances on the night, but them’s the breaks. The players celebrate on the pitch, showcasing their variety of sensible haircuts.

22.36

FULL TIME!! GERMANY HAVE WON IT!

22.35

And Messi balloons it over. It’s all over, surely.

22.34

Injury time is over, but Schweinsteiger is getting treatment and we’re still waiting …

22.33

Free kick Argentina. Surely the last chance. Messi brought down about 30 yards form goal.
It’s a little far out, but who knows …

22.32

Two minutes of added time to be played …

22.32

SUB! Ozil comes off and Per Mertesacker comes on for some last gasp battening down the hatches.

22.31

One minute of normal extra time to go …

22.30

CHANCE! The ball was hoofed aimlessly into the box. It comes down with snow on it, but Messi gets it goalwards. It goes narrowly over the crossbar, but in all likelihood, Neuer would have had it covered.

22.29

More craziness from Neuer rushing out from his goal, but again, it just about works and it brings an end to a promising Argentina attack.

22.27

Germany are 1/40 to win it from here:

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22.27

Just over five minutes to go. Argentina look shattered and seemed to be happy enough with penalties. They need something special now.

22.26

GOAL!!!! 1-0 GERMANY! Mario Gotze grabs the goal that could win it for the Germans. It was sweet. Schurrle did well down the left, crossed it to Gotze who controlled it on his chest and volleyed it past Romero.

22.22

Schweinsteiger is pumping blood after his face came off second best in a clash with Sergio Aguero’s arm.

22.19

Another foul from Mascherano and the fact it was a double team effort in conjunction with Biglia may have saved his skin again.

22.17

Argentina get the second half of extra time underway. If it’s the last kick-off of the night, we’re going to penalties.

22.15

Ian Wright says ‘I love extra time’.

Oh Ian, you’re so alternative and different. And not in that really forced way some pundits are just to stand out from the crowd.

22.14

Half time in extra-time.

That’s the sound of penalties rumbling in the distance.

22.12

Mascherano is lucky to still be on the pitch. He fairly clattered Schweinsteiger and fairly clattered is the right description based on the referee’s view. He fails to give the yellow card that would have added up to a red.

22.07

GREAT CHANCE! After some dodgy defending from Hummels on the edge of the box, the ball falls to Palacio who chests it down and from about 10 yards out, he tries to lob it over the on-rushing Manuel Neuer, but it goes narrowly wide.

22.02

Two minutes in and already we’ve had more action than you normally get in most extra time periods. Palacio bursts into the German box and tries a ridiculous shot when trying to pick out Lionel Messi in support would have been the smarter option.

But then look at his hair – this man does not know smart.

22.00

Cracking start to extra time. Schurrle has a great chance for Germany and then Messi looks like he’s going to play Aguero in – all within the first 60 seconds or so.

21.58

The Germans kick-off the first half of extra time.

21.53

FULL TIME! There’s no breakthrough and we’re getting superextrabonus time. The second half wasn’t as good as the first, but that’s to be accepted as the penalty for making a mistake grew bigger.

21.49

Three minutes of added time before this one is heading to extra time …

21.47

SUB! Germany make their last change and it’s Miroslav Klose’s goodbye to the World Cup. He bows out with the record for most World Cup goals. Mario Gotze fills those sizeable boots.

21.45

SUBSTITUTION! Argentina make their final change as Perez gets the hook and Gago takes his place.

21.41

GREAT CHANCE! Another one on the edge of the box for Toni Kroos and another waste. It wasn’t the easiest, but once again, he was free on the edge of the box with time on his side and he didn’t test the goalkeeper.

21.39

Sustained pressure from Germany without a clear cut chance. And there was a half-arsed penalty shout thrown into the mix as well. Nothing came from any of them.

21.37

SUB! Another chance for Argentina as Higuain comes off and the shit haircut of Palacio comes on.

21.34

Messi with a shot from outside the area. Everyone gets very excited by it, but it was miles wide no-one would have been half as bothered about it if it was let’s say … Steve Sidwell on the ball.

21.30

20 minutes to go and the tension is high, but the actual chances are low. Schurrle almost gets in, but a bad first touch sees the ball run away and into Romero’s arms.

21.24

ANOTHER YELLOW! Sergio Aguero joins his team-mate in the book for cleaving Schweinsteiger out of it.

21.24

YELLOW CARD! Mascherano picks up his inevitable booking for chopping down Klose.

21.21

Here’s Neuer clattering Higuain:

21.17

Neuer clatters into Higuain in a manner not dissimilar to Toni Schumacher in 1982. This was less malicious, but Higuain is laid out on the floor receiving treatment. AND HE GAVE AWAY A FREE-KICK!!

Shit refereeing. Neuer cleared the ball fairly, but it certainly wasn’t a free against Argentina.

21.14

Nearly 10 minutes gone in the second half and it’s looking very finely balanced. Germany are still favourites to lift the trophy, but the draw is now the favourite in the 90 minutes betting:

Germany 11/5 | Draw 6/5 | Argentina 13/5

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21.10

The wind was playing havoc with Hoddle’s glorious man on ITV’s coverage. I knew he reminded me of someone:

hoddle-medusa

21.07

CHANCE! Argentina have made a great start to the second half and Lionel Messi has a superb chance to give them the lead. He’s played in and from about 12 yards out to the left of Neuer’s goal, he hits a low shot that curls wide of the right hand post.

21.05

SUB! Argentina have made a half-time change. Sergio Aguero comes on and Lavezzi – who was playing really well – goes off.

Argentina kick-off the second half.

20.49

HALF-TIME And that was the last incident of the first half. Germany have had more of the ball, Argentina have had the better chances, but Howedes really should have given his side the lead at the death.

That’s the fourth World Cup Final in a row to be level at half-time, three of which were 0-0. It’s not been the dullest of scoreless draws. More of the same, but with a couple of goals would be very welcome in the second half.

20.47

POST/OFFSIDE! From a German corner, Howedes powers a header off the post and the rebound falls to Muller who was offside. A real let off for Argentina.

20.45

Two minutes of added time at the end of the first half.

20.44

SAVE! Great chance for Kroos on the edge of the area. It was on the edge of the area, but he did have a bit of time to pick a spot. In the end, he pretty much hit it straight at Romero who gathered it gratefully.

20.40

GREAT CHANCE! Messi bursts into the German box and just as he closes in on Manuel Neuer, Boateng gets a foot in to cut out the danger. Germany are living dangerously here.

20.37

SAVE! Germany take it down the other end and Schurrle forces a save from Romero. It was fairly standard, but needed to be dealt with. And after all that, it looks like it may have been given as offside because Mesut Ozil unsighted the goalkeeper.

20.36

CHANCE! Not a real chance per se, but a chance to create a chance goes astray. Lavezzi combines with Messi and just as the latter tries to play Higuain in, the Germans snuff it out.

20.34

BOOKING! Another yellow card for Germany. Howedes goes into the book for a bad challenge on Zabeleta. The replays show that it might have been a lenient call. High and into the Argentine’s thigh – definitely made the referee think.

20.31

SUB! It’s all happening at the moment. After taking a heavy blow earlier, Kramer gives up the ghost and Andre Schurrle replaces him.

20.31

GOAL! BUT NO … OFFSIDE! Argentina think they’ve scored through a lovely goal from Higuain who latched on to a great ball from Messi. He runs off celebrating like a madman, but everybody else in the stadium seems to have noticed the flag.

20.29

YELLOW CARD! Bastian Schweinstieger gets the first booking of the night. It’s harsh. It was for a foul on Lavezzi.

20.28

Germany seeing lots of the ball, but Argentina remain solid at the back. Sabella is looking more relaxed now.

20.22

GLORIOUS CHANCE! Toni Kroos attempts to head the ball back to Manuel Neuer. It only falls about 15 yards short. Higuain latches onto to the ball and with just Neuer to beat 18 yards out, he shanks his shot to the left and wide. Gift-wrapped chance for Argentina to take the lead.

20.18

Kramer is on the ground after taking an apparently accidental shoulder to the jaw. It was a big hit. If it was a cartoon, he’d have stars orbiting his head right about now. And a smug mouse laughing at him. The little prick.

20.16

German corner, Argentina counter attack, Enzo Perez tries to outrun Mesut Ozil. Fails repeatedly. He gets a thrown-in for his valiant but misguided efforts.

20.11

Lavezzi gets a ball across the German box that no-one touches and it goes right through to the other side. Promising signs for Argentina. Brazil were 15-0 down at this stage against Germany.

20.09

Messi skins Howedes, not once, but twice for good measure. He surges dangerously into the German box, but his cross is as effective as a transfer ban on Barcelona and the Germans get the ball away.

20.04

The spray is out for a free kick to Germany, 25 yards out. Toni Kroos does a fine job of hitting the wall.

Argentina break and Higuain has a half a half chance – a quarter chance really. He shots harmlessly wide from a tight angle on the right.

20.02

Germany make the marginally brighter start. There’s not much in it, but Sabella looks worried already.

20.00

Germany, wearing their white kit, gets things underway. Argentina are in their blue second kit – boooooooooooooo!

19.54

Time for the bad singing of the national anthems and the obligatory heart-felt handshakes.

19.53

Both teams are in the tunnel, looking pensive and chewing gum aggressively.

19.53

PRE-MATCH CHANGE! In a late change, Sami Khedira has dropped out of the starting XI and Christoph Kramer takes his place. Calf strain apparently. That or ‘looking too similar to Milan Baros to grace a World Cup Final’.

19.50

Glenn Hoddle reckons Germany might not bother man-marking Lionel Messi and could man-mark Javier Mascherano instead. Got many job interviews of late, Glenn? No … strange that.

19.48

The Allianz Arena in Munich has got all dressed up for the night that’s in it:

19.36

If you’re watching the ITV coverage, you’ll probably fancy a drink by now. Why not try our World Cup Drinking Game?

19.27

Think you know the cliches the BBC commentary team are likely to spout once the game kick-offs? Check out our Cliche Betting.

You’ve got to think ‘That Famous Trophy‘ is a great shout in this game of two halves of ours.

19.22

So who do we fancy tonight? Portugal or North Korea?

The North Koreans have been brilliant at this World Cup. I think they’ll win it 6-0.

19.16

Top quality analysis from Ian Wright. On Sharkia. Definitely not creepy. In fact, Adrian Chiles’ awkward ‘yeah’ at the end totally shows how not creepy it is.

19.08

Why does Jogi Loew have a wheelie suitcase with him at the ground? Is he heading home straight after? And what’s in there? Spare shirts? Notes? The severed head of Phil Scolari? It’s certainly not hankerchiefs, that much we know. loew-wheelie-case

19.05

And the ITV dream team for the night is Martin O’Neill, Ian Wright Wright Wright, Lee Dixon and Glenn Hoddle who is currently looking like a low budget Blues Brother.

19.01

It’s over to ITV where Adrian Chiles and the gang are on Copacabana beach trying to pretend it’s not really windy and difficult to broadcast from.

18.59

TEAM NEWS! The news so exciting it needs capital letters and bolding to be communicated with the appropriate level of excitement.

Unsurprisingly, Jogi Loew has stuck with the team that spanked Brazil on Tuesday. Klose leads the attack abd Lahm will play at left back rather than in the midfield.

Germany
Neuer, Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Howedes, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Muller, Kroos, Ozil, Klose

The Argentina team is also unchanged from their semi-final. Sergio Aguero hasn’t won his race to fitness, but no doubt we’ll see him later in the game.

Argentina
Romero Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo, Biglia, Mascherano, Perez, Lavezzi, Messi, Higuaín

18.55

The BBC panel seem to be under the impression they’re presenting the trophy or getting some sort of award tonight judging solely on the level of unnecessary over-dressedness they’ve managed for this evening:

18.50

If you’re killing a bit of time before kick-off, then get your looking gear around our World Cup Final edition of Stupid Punt featuring a banker 3,000/1 shot.

18.47

In case you missed it. Here’s a summary. There was Shakira holding a baby, Wyclef Jean looking like an extra who wandered off the set of the Thriller video, a man with a silly black and white head-dress and what looks to be a man trolling the baby. Brilliant fun for all the family.

18.43

The closing ceremony is over and if you missed … let me tell you … you’re one lucky bastard.

Great dancing, brilliant music, a visual feast – these are just some of the things it completely failed to incorporate.

09.54

Goodbye

09.49

Welcome

09.47

3rd entry

09.32

2nd test

09.28

Hello Jon

09.27

Hello world

09.26

New entry

23.49

Argentina reach the final two for the first time since 1990 where they lost 1-0 to Germany and look to win for the first time since beat the then West Germany 3-2 in 1986. The Dutch return to the land of the windmills but not until after a 3rd place play off against Brazil on Saturday night.

A harsh way to decide a game? They could have played for another hour and still not scored as both sides strangled the creative life out of each other. The Dutch can have no complaints really as they never reached the heights of their opening game heroics against Spain.

But Messi has one more game to shine on the World stage.

23.44

He does and Argentina are in the World Cup final 

23.44

Rodriguez has to score

23.44

Dirk Kuyt SCORES to keep the Dutch in it for now

23.43

A good penalty but a great save as Aguero SCORES

23.42

ROMERO SAVES from Sneijder

23.41

GARAY blasts it home for Argentina, 2-1

23.40

Robben SCORES

23.40

Messi to take the first for Argentina and SCORES

23.39

No hiding place now.  Holland up first and Vlaar MISSES

23.34

The Germans must be loving this

23.33

FINAL WHISTLE: Game over – but game on! Penalties for the Dutch in consecutive games.

23.32

Into the last minute with another minute added. Whoever scores now wins

23.31

GREAT TACKLE: Robben will wake up with Mascherano in the bed beside him tomorrow – hasn’t left his side all night

23.30

EFFORT: Good work by Messi but Rodriguez couldn’t get a proper connection and his volley hits the ground first before Cillessen gathers – two decent chances for Argentina that they should have done better with

23.28

Zabeleta has returned by the way with tissue rammed in his mouth

23.28

CHANCE: Palacio through on goal after a bouncing ball but his weak header was caught by Cillessen

23.26

Some good work by the Dutch but snuffed out by Argentina in the middle

23.25

Aguero drifting wide to try and get a kick of the ball. Been relatively anonymous since he came on

23.22

This may be your last chance. Holland 5/1. Draw 1/3. Argentina 9/2 in extra time

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23.21

Argentina down to 10 men for the moment

23.20

Zabaleta on the flat of his back after a clash with Kuyt

23.18

Holland get us underway for the final 15 minutes before penalties

23.15

END OF FIRST PERIOD: Still 0-0 and very few chances.

23.14

Messi floats it in to Aguero but Cillessen punches it clear  … just

23.13

YELLOW CARD: Badly judged tackle by the sub who hacks Mascherano down from behind

23.11

Eight Argentine players behind the ball now and the Dutch are barely over the half-way line

23.10

Sneijder has a quick stamp on Messi’s foot as he broke forward but referee missed it

23.08

SUB: Lavezzi makes way for the 33-year-old Maxi Rodriguez

23.08

Rojo finds Row Z with an attempted cross

23.07

SHOT: Bit of trickery from Robben who fires in a strike that Romero saves comfortably

23.05

Holland continue to press forward but Sneijder loses possession with a poor cross

23.04

SUB: Huntelaar will make his 65th international appearance as RVP gets the hook. That’s three subs for the Dutch now so Krul won’t be the hero tonight

23.02

Holland try to work it forward but another wasted ball into the area this time from Dirk Kuyt

23.01

The odds on the Dutch winning have shortened to 7/2

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23.00

Wonder if sub goalkeeper Tim Krul fancies his chances again of seeing some action if we drift towards penalties

22.58

EXTRA TIME: And for the seventh time in Brazil we have extra time. Argentina kick off

22.57

Hard to know where the break through is going to come from – creative genuis or defensive error

22.53

FULL TIME: 30 more minutes after the ref blows for full time   

22.51

PUNCHED CLEAR: Romero gets it clear as Sneijder delivers a decent ball into the box for once

22.50

GREAT CHANCE: Robben takes an extra touch when in on goal but wins a corner. Could have won it there

22.49

ADDED TIME: Three minutes extra to be played

22.48

Sneijder and Robben try to work a way through but Argentina double up at the back to regain possession

22.47

DANGER: Aguero looking lively in the Dutch box

22.46

CORNER: Demichelis gets a tackle in on Robben who goes down like a tonne of bricks as usual

Arjen Robben

22.44

FOUL: Aguero’s first involvement is to try and knock the ball from Cillessen’s grasp

22.42

Argentina must feel they can win this game with just eight minutes left

22.41

DOUBLE SUBSTITUTION: Palacio for Perez and Aguero for Higuain.

22.39

Sergio Aguero is about to come on for Argentina

22.37

SHOCKER: Poor effort again from the Dutch. Neither side delivering quality ball into the area tonight

22.36

FREE KICK: Zabaletta fouls Daley Blind as the Dutch get the chance to launch one

22.35

CHANCE: Argentina break quickly and Higuain hits the side netting

22.34

The rain may have an effect as players starting to slide now. Break by the Netherlands sees RVP flagged for offside as he tries a spectacular overhead kick

22.32

POOR EFFORT: Messi floats it high and wide beyond Cillessen’s post

22.31

Messi stopped by two Dutch defenders but recovers to poke it through to Higuain who wins a free-kick out wide

22.30

20 minutes left and Holland are 9/2 to win in 90 minutes.

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22.28

Argentina want the ball put out of play for an injury to Holland’s Janmaat but Dutch players haven’t noticed

22.26

I’m not sure if I share their confidence about this semi-final not ending 0-0

 

22.22

Biglia still down after that challenge as de Jong makes way for Jordy Clasie on the Dutch side

22.21

FOUL: Janmaat over runs it and leaves his studs showing

22.18

The game badly needs an RVP or Messi special soon

FairImperturbableLaughingthrush

22.14

Van Persie comes deep and gets a ball out wide to Janmaat who promptly gives it straight back to Argentina

22.12

Scrappy start to the second half with a lot of head tennis going on at the moment. Very little room in the middle to get anything started

22.10

OFFSIDE: Mascherano nearly gets Messi away but he’d just strayed into an off side position

22.09

Sneijder fires it high and wide

22.08

FREE KICK: Robben upended after the Dutch held onto possession a little too long for the Argentine Demichelis’s liking. He’s got himself a yellow card for that

22.05

FREE KICK: Perez bodychecked by de Vrij who somehow manages to escape a caution

22.04

KICK OFF: The Dutch get the second half underway

22.04

SUB: Janmaat on for Indi who was on a yellow card. Another game-changer by LVG?

21.53

Think you can call it? Holland 11/4. Draw 5/4. Argentina 15/8. 90 minutes betting.

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21.49

HALF TIME: Honours even and precious few chances in Sao Paulo.

21.48

Lovely diagonal ball from Messi gets Rojo free down the left but his poor cross has Higuain fuming as the ref blows for half time

21.47

ADDED TIME: Two minutes extra to be played at the end of this first half

21.46

Messi over hits the free and Cillessen gathers safely

21.45

YELLOW CARD: Indi gets booked for a foul on Messi as he showed some magic

21.43

Few tackles going in now as we get towards the end of the first half. Be a few minutes of injury time for Mascherano injury

21.40

Five goals by this time last night but ..

 

21.39

Sneijder getting medical attention and could be about to come off

21.36

OFFSIDE: That’s the second time Argentina have been caught out in as many minutes when a break was on

21.34

Referee blows for offside as the ball is delivered to van Persie.  Struggling to make his presence felt at the moment

21.32

Robben wins a corner off Demichelis. Holland’s first of the game

21.31

The Barca man returns

21.29

CLASH OF HEADS: Mascherano down and getting medical attention after accidental collision with Wijnaldum. Looks groggy and is walking to the touchline.

21.26

Long ball forward to RVP who fails to control it in a tight spot and Romero will kick it out for Argentina

21.25

CHANCE: Lavezzi swings it in and Garay gets his head to it but it’s just over the bar

21.24

Kuyt clears for an Argentine throw-in but they’ve worked a corner for themselves now as they start to get on top in this game

21.22

Lavezzi wins another corner off Indi and steps up to swing it in. RVP heads it away

21.20

Drilled in low but nobody could get on the end of it. The Netherlands come away again

21.19

Messi coming deep to try and get Argentina’s attack moving and they win a corner

21.15

GOOD SAVE: Cillessen stands his ground and takes it well

21.15

FREE KICK: Messi lines it up on the edge of the Holland 18-yard box

21.14

SHOT: Sneijder gets a shot in but doesn’t trouble Romero in the Argentine goal

21.13

Kuyt tries to get Robben in down the wing but again Mascherano gets the tackle in

21.09

All Argentina’s players are behind the ball and they’re either trying to draw the Dutch in …. or no one wants to tackle de Jong

21.08

The Dutch are having the best of the opening exchanges and have Argentina pegged back a bit here

21.07

Robben closely marked as soon as he gets on the ball. Mascherano in quickly there with a well-timed tackle

21.05

Cagey start by both teams but holding the ball well when they have it

21.01

KICK OFF: Argentina get the second semi final underway

21.00

Anthems done … and a minute’s applause for the great De Stefano

20.56

Maybe they’re apologising in advance …

Holland-Hit-Them-Hard

20.54

The players are in the tunnel – LVG and Patrick Kluivert just shook Messi’s hand. About 5 minutes to kick-off.

 

 

20.47

840x400_paulscholes2

If you’ve had enough of the ITV experts our World Cup columnist Paul Scholes had this to say on tonight’s game:

I can’t see this game being anything other than a shootout between Arjen Robben and Lionel Messi.

The rest are supporting actors, really. Don’t get me wrong, both Holland and Argentina have great centre-forwards in Gonzalo Higuain and Robin van Persie. But the real match winners are Messi and Robben.

I don’t remember Robben being half as good in the Premier League for Chelsea. Since he went to Bayern Munich he’s grown in stature, and grown unbelievably in the quality of his play. You think, would Chelsea have ever sold him if they knew the type of player he was going to turn out to be? He’s 30 years old and seems quicker than ever. The pace of Robben is frightening.

20.33

So that’s why Brazil never turned up last night – they’d discovered the Paddy Power drinking game. Or they really are that crap …

drinking-game_template-day-8-feature

20.21

7-1 anyone? Or will it be Messi or RVP to fire their side into the final?

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20.11

Reports from Argentina’s dressing room suggest Alejandro Sabella has warned his players of the danger they face from de Jong. Nigel-de-Jong-warming-up

20.06

Argentina have drafted Enzo Perez into replace Angel Di Maria while Marcos Rojo returns from suspension at left-back. No news on whether Sergio Aguero will start from the bench.

20.03

No it’s not a typo – although there may be a few later – but Nigel de Jong returns for the Dutch after injury supposedly ended his World Cup. Van Persie is also fit enough to start. A van Gaal miracle or mind games?

19.59

TEAM NEWS:

Argentina: Romero, Garay, Zabaleta, Biglia, Perez, Higuaín, Messi, Mascherano, Demichelis, Rojo, Lavezzi

Holland: Cillessen, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind, De Jong, Van Persie (c), Sneijder, Robben, Kuyt, Wijnaldum

22.53

That’s a broken heart symbol by the way, if it doesn’t come up on your device. Sums it up far better than Alan Shearer and co ever could.

22.50

Georgia has it pretty much nailed on I think

22.49

It’s over. Germany win 7-1. A simply incredible victory. Germany showed no mercy and tore Brazil to shreds. The performance of the hosts deserved nothing more than they got. An astonishing result. Germany are the first time to ever score seven goals in a World Cup semi-final and that is the biggest semi-final victory ever. Alan Hanson says he is a distraught man.

22.47

Nueur is a furious-looking man. You wouldn’t think his side were 7-1 up in a World Cup semi-final

22.47

GOAL! Oscar scores a consolation. Nueur thinks about coming, hesitates and then Oscar slots it past him. Nobody celebrates.

22.46

I say almost, Ozil is slipped through one-on-one but slots it wide. Should have scored.

22.45

Into stoppage time here, and the embarrassment for Brazil is almost over.

22.45

Oscar’s shot goes out for a German throw. Write your own punchlines, folks. That’s exactly how the game has gone.

22.35

A rocket of a left-footed shot in off the bar after perfect control. The Brazilians have been floored.

22.35

GOAL! Andre Schurrle has his second and Germany’s seventh!

22.33

Khedira makes way here for Draxler. 15 minutes of Brazilian punishment to go. David Luiz looks like he might explode here. Anyone fancy a red card?

 

 

22.27

Stop the fight ref.

22.27

Fred comes off and Willian comes on. He looks less than enthusiastic to play this final 20 minutes. As for the fans, plenty of them are heading for the exits as well.

22.25

GOAL! Schurrle makes it six with a simple tap-in

22.25

Yellow card: Dante goes into the book for a late tackle on Muller. First booking of the game.

22.23

Julio Cesar comes flying out of his goal to deny Muller with a sliding tackle. This could have been seven or eight in all honesty.

22.22

This game is at walking pace now. The Brazilian fans are booing Fred whenever he touches the ball. Plenty of people still can’t believe what they’re seeing.

22.18

Maicon dives in the box but the referee is unmoved. Brazil deserve to go out purely for antics like that. Garbage.

22.16

SAVE! Muller whips a lovely left-footed shot from the edge of the area and Cesar tips over. A very good save.

22.16

Muller tries to make it six but Julio Cesar just about gets a sliding tackle in to put it out for a corner. Unorthodox, but it did the job.

22.15

The record-breaker Klose makes way for Andre Schurrle. Breaking Ronaldo’s goal-scoring record in a match were your side are humiliating Brazil on their own turf. Life is sweet if your name is Miroslav Klose.

22.10

Germany could be 12 goals ahead and Nueur would still play like his life depended on it. He is desperate for the clean sheet, while the rest of the German team are treating the second half like a training match.

22.09

And as I type, Brazil should score! Oscar’s shot is well saved by Neuer. The german keeper then pulls off a fantastic double save to deny Paulinho.

22.08

Nueur is still keen on that clean sheet, Fred squares it across goal but the German keeper punches clear. Brazil are 7/5 to score the next goal, Germany are 11/10. The Germans are ruthless on the break, and that might be the better bet as Brazil keep pushing forward

22.05

Oscar goes down easily looking for a penno, and then Fred does the same. Even the referees have given up on Brazil it would appear.

22.04

Incredibly Fred is still on the pitch. Someone is definitely having a laugh.

22.02

Three changes at the break.

First up, Germany give Mats Hummels are rest and bring on Per Mertesacker.

And Brazil replace Hulk and Fernandinho with Ramires and Paulinho.

22.01

The players are back out. Can Brazil salvage any kind of pride?

21.53

Brazil fans – looking for some good news? Bernard has made 12 passes and 100 per cent have been successful. Woohoo!

21.52

A few half-time stats for you to soak up. Germany have had 10 shots, seven on target and have scored five goals. Brazil have had two shots, neither on target.

21.50

God has spoken

21.47

Half-time: Brazil are booed off. Humiliated.

21.46

Interestingly Brazil’s heaviest defeat was 6-0 back in 1920 to Uruguay. The heaviest semi-final defeat was Argentina 6-1 USA in 1930 and West Germany 6-1 Austria in 1954.

21.45

Heading into half-time here. Is Big Phil Scolari even going to bother? What’s the point?

21.43

Oscar has a shot blocked by Boateng. For a tiny, tiny millisecond, the comeback was on. But it’s not. Definitely not.

21.41

This pretty much sums up the first half for anyone who is just joining us…

already-dead

21.39

Ozil has a free-kick but it’s over the bar. Joachim Lowe could seriously start to think about resting players for the final at half-time. Nobody would have thought that an hour ago.

21.37

21.36

Incredibly one Paddy Power punter has Germany 5-0 Brazil to be the correct score at half-time. He is 10 minutes away from clicking a crazy 500/1 shot #StupidPunt

21.32

Germany almost make it six as Kroos’ shot is closed down. They look so composed. It’s like a testimonial game for them. This is just unbelievable.

21.31

Gary’s son has it pretty much nailed on…

21.30

That’s now four goals in six minutes as Khedira taps it in after more great work from Klose, Muller and Kroos. Brazil aren’t helping themselves. Luiz making a mistake for that goal after Fernandinho’s error for the fourth.

21.29

GOAL Yup, it’s now 5-0. Khedira gets in on the act.

21.28

Carnage. Absolute carnage. Three goals in three minutes. The Brazilian dream is over. 40/1 if you fancy them to qualify. Anyone? No? Thought not.

21.25

GOAL! 4-0 There are children crying in the stands! Kroos again!

21.24

GOAL! O.M.G. Toni Kroos makes it three.

21.24

Good work from Kroos again, and although Julio Cesar saves Klose’s first effort, he isn’t going to miss the rebound. Brazil are two down inside the opening 23 minutes, and the players look stunned. Germany are cutting them open at will down both flanks.

21.22

GOAL! Klose has his World Cup record and Germany are 2-0 ahead. The hosts are bang in trouble.

21.19

Marcelo reminds me of this fun guy. He would never have condoned diving I tell you. Never.

hair-bear

21.18

HANDBAGS! Marcelo bursts into the box and Lahm slides in, and it is inch perfect. The referee signals a corner but it all gets a bit messy as the Germans think Marcelo went down looking for a penno. There’s a bit of pushing and shoving but no more. The kind of scene you’d see outside Wetherspoons of an evening.

21.15

As do the many, many punters who had ploughed into Muller to open the scoring. That’ll have cost Paddy a pretty penny. Anyone backing Brazil to qualify now at 2/1?

21.14

Eat this stat up. Love it.

21.12

It really is appaling defending from the hosts. Kroos’ ball is whipped in, nobody picks Muller up, and he slots home from seven yards on the volley. That’s right nobody picked him up. The man who won the Golden Boot four years ago and already had four goals to his name in this World Cup before the game began. Crazy defending.

21.11

GOAL! Muller from the corner. Germany lead 1-0! Terrible marking from Brazil

21.10

Khedira’s ball in is blocked by Marcelo and Germnay have a corner.

21.09

Maicon and Marcelo, the Brazilian full-backs are playing so high up that Germany are getting round the back quite easily. This is incredibly open so far and we’re only 20 minutes in.

21.08

Germany come forward and Klose’s pull back is lashed towards goal by Khedira but luckily for Brazil it cannons of Toni Kroos.

21.04

Brazil are well up for this. David Luiz pings a long ball over for Fred but his cross is smothered by Neuer. Germany haven’t quite got a foothold in this game yet.

21.03

Good opening spell by Brazil who aren’t giving Germany a look in. Marcelo has a left-footed crack from distance but it doesn’t trouble the wandering Manuel Neuer

21.01

Brazil win an early corner off Schweinsteiger, but Oscar’s corner is headed away by Boateng.

21.00

Nothing drastic mind. Just a tidy up. His Mum will be delighted.

21.00

And we’re off! Germany go right-to-left, Brazil the other way. In other news, Oscar appears to have had a nifty haircut.

20.57

It would be no surprise if Brazil retired the number 10 jersey at this rate.

20.56

David Luiz kicks off the Brazil anthem by holding up a Neymar jersey! Good job his absence isn’t overshadowing this massive World Cup semi-final or anything…

20.54

If anybody cares Alan Shearer and Alan Hanson are going for Brazil, Rio Ferdinand has plumped for Germany and will no doubt jump around shouting ‘YOU’VE BEEN MERKED’ if his prediction comes in.

20.53

The teams are in the tunnel, it’s almost time folks. Get comfy, make sure you have a beer in hand (or tea if, like me you’re in work) and make sure you have the mute button handy because Martin Keown is commentating.

20.45

Between Dante, Maicon and Luiz, the Brazilian backline has some incredible barnets. Nothing sensible about those haircuts at all.

20.43

Woah there cowboy. Muller and Germany 2-1 is 33/1. Apologies folks. It’s 80/1 for Muller to score first and Brazil to win 2-1. Blame the herbal tea, it’s gone straight to my head.

20.42

Elsewhere, the most popular first goalscorer by a country mile is Thomas Muller at 11/2. The most popular correct score is Germany 2-1 at 9/1. If you fancy both, the scorecast of Muller to score first in a 2-1 win for Germany you can get on at 80/1.

This is where you can go to get all the latest markets and odds, just remember folks that a lot of the markets are 90 minutes only.

20.38

Interestingly 75 per cent of the cash in Paddy’s 90 minute book is on Germany. In the ‘To Qualify’ market a whopping 82 per cent is on the Europeans. Fair to say Paddy is fully behind the hosts tonight…

20.27

Look at me being all hilarious on Twitter. But in all honesty, this is the absolute banker of the night:

 

20.25

Of course if that punt loses I will put the sole blame on Mr Elder and gain my revenge by making his desk marginally taller each day for the next four years Twits-style. Or I might just piss in his work-slippers. Actually yeah, that seems a lot simpler.

20.22

So where is your money going folks? Personally I think Brazil will struggle up top without Neymar, and according to some numbers crunched by Blog chief Aidan Elder, these semi-finals are rarely won by more than one goal. So with that in mind, I’m going 1-0 to the Germans at 15/2.

blog_world-cup_semisv2

20.18

Danny Dyer is quoting Celine Dion on Eastenders as he tries to talk to his son about the birds and the bees. It is terrible. Probably wise to avoid it for now and head over to the latest betting here. Brazil are 7/4 to win in 90 mins, Germany are 9/5 and the draw is 11/5. To make the final, both sides are 10/11. The traders cannot split them folks!

20.11

If you want to tuck into the rest of Scholesy’s column head over this way. I guarantee it’s better than watching Eastenders on BBC1 right now.

20.10

One man who proabbly knows his football slightly better than me, is former Manchester United and England legend Mr Paul Scholes. The midfielder said this in his latest big game preview, and is tipping up a 2-0 win for the Germans at odds of 12/1

Think of the great players who have lined out for Brazil – Ronaldo, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho. Aside from Neymar, they’ve nothing like that quality in this tournament.

David Luiz has shown a little bit of flair, but little else has excited me about this team. It is probably the most un-Brazilian I’ve seen in my life.

Germany are a far superior footballing side and, with Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger, they have a midfield with greater imagination, which keeps the ball comfortably and creates more chances for Thomas Muller to convert.

You never quite know Muller’s best position but he scores goals. I loved his finish against USA. He’s done it in the last World Cup, and this World Cup – it’s a finishing quality Brazil just don’t have.

20.03

No pressure Bernard, but you’ve got big shoes to fill.
Neymar has been Brazil’s main attacking threat in this tournament, highlighted by this little infographic we knocked up over the weekend.

No-Neymar-No-Chance

19.59

The notable news from the hosts is that Bernard comes in, rather than Willian, for the injured Neymar. He made 17 appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk this season scoring just twice, but that still makes him far more prolific than Jo. Unfortunately it also means all my Will.I.Am jokes have been shelved #Boo

19.55

Right, team line-ups seems like a sensible place to start proceedings, so here we go:

Brazil: César; Maicon, David Luiz, Dante, Marcelo; Fernandinho, Luiz Gustavo; Bernard, Oscar, Hulk; Fred

Germany: Neuer, Hoewedes, Hummels, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Klose, Muller, Lahm, Kroos, Boateng

23.52

23.50

Netherlands win 4-3 on penalties after finishing 0-0 following 90 minutes play.

Van Gaal takes the men in orange through to a semi-final against Argentina. The daggers were out and being sharpened after he changed goalkeepers just for the shoot-out. Put them away people, the future Manchester United manager nailed it as Krul made two great saves to knock out plucky Costa Rica.

23.47

Costa Rica Penalty 5: Umana misses. Krul saves again and Van Gaal is a goddamn genius.

23.46

Netherlands Penalty 4: Kuyt scores, bottom left-hand corner.

23.46

Costa Rica Penalty 4: Bolanos scores. Top left.

23.45

Netherlands lead 3-2 after three rounds.

23.45

Netherlands Penalty 3: Sneijder scores. high to the left, sending Navas the wrong way.

23.44

Costa Rica Penalty 3: Gonzalez scores. High to the right.

23.43

Netherlands lead 2-1.

23.43

Netherlands penalty 2: Robben scores. Top left corner.

23.43

Costa Rica Penalty 2: Ruiz misses. Again the same spot as the first two penalties but Krul gets down to save. Van Gaal you clever man.

23.42

Netherlands Penalty 1: Van Persie scores. Same spot as Borges, bottom right.

23.41

Costa Rica Penalty 1: Borges scores…bottom right-hand corner.

23.41

Costa Rica to go first. Let’s see what you’re made of Tim.

23.39

This Tim Krul thing is awesome. I’m a big fan.

23.38

Costa Rica didn’t miss a penalty against Greece whilst the Dutch don’t have a great shoot-out record at major tournaments.

23.36

Tim Krul has saved two of twenty penalties at Newcastle. Which isn’t great.

23.36

If Tim Krul screws this one up then Van Gaal will take the flack, if the Dutch go through he’ll be a goddamn genius.

23.35

FULL-TIME: That’s it. 120 minutes, no goals and now we have a penalty shoot-out.

23.34

Tim Krul comes on for Jasper Cillessen.

23.34

Arjen Robben lays one off to Kuyt but his shot is blocked.

23.33

Tim Krul is warming up and looks to be coming on just for the penos. I like it.

23.32

Sneijder hits the bar!! He curls a great shot in from left of the box and it comes off the woodwork.

23.31

The Dutch go right down the other end with Robben searching for a gap. He doesn’t find one but shoots anyway.

23.30

Close!! Urena almost scores for Costa Rica. Some great play sets him up in the box, he sifts the ball this way and that before lashing a shot goal-ward. Cillessen gets down to make the save.

23.29

Bolanos’ corner is poor, sailing over both sets of players and out for a goal kick.

23.28

Bolanos in the Duct box, makes space to get a shot. It’s blocked behind for their first corner of the game.

23.28

Sneijder plays in Lens, Gonzalez makes the tackle, getting a lucky ricochete to bring the ball clear.

23.26

Bolanos threatens to slalom through the Netherlands box, he beats two before a tackle comes in.

23.25

Kuyt swings a cross in, Navas gets out to claim it. Huntelaar jumps for it with him, giving away a free-kick and earning a yellow card. Seems a bit harsh to me as Navas runs down the clock a little.

23.21

Kuyt and Robben combine to win a corner, the latter looking very sharp.

23.20

Robben and Acosta clash as the Dutchman attacks down the right. Acosta goes in the book (I think) and the Dutch have a free-kick.

23.18

KICK-OFF: Costa Rica start the final 15 minutes before the shoot-out. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar comes on for Martins Indi.

23.16

HALF-TIME: Still no goals…should we go straight to penalties?

23.15

At the end of the first period Kuyt curls in a good ball which Navas fists away.

23.12

Costa Rica go on the attack. Urena makes a great run through the middle but Ruiz’ pass is over hit.

23.11

Robben fails to beat the wall with his free-kick.

23.11

Robben looks like he just came off the bench as he sprints down the right flank. He has two attempts at a shot on target, the second one is deemed to have hit a Costa Rican hand.

23.10

Booo…Sneijder is instructed by the ref to put the ball out play as Bryan Ruiz lays prostrate on the ground. As soon as play is stopped he’s back to his feet. Of course he is.

23.07

Robin Van Persie is caught offside for the 713th time in this game.

23.06

Myrie goes down under a challenge from Vlaar in the box. There’s definitely contact but he makes too much of it and the ref isn’t interested.

23.05

Pinto makes his final change bringing on Jose Cubera for Yeltsin Tejeda. Navas better be okay so.

23.04

Navas is okay to continue…the Netherlands continue to search for a breakthrough.

23.03

Then he almost adds one the the blooper reel. Navas came out for a corner and got nowhere near it, the ball almost loops up and in. Navas is currently down injured. This would be a blow for Costa Rica.

23.02

Robben takes a corner, Vlaar meets it well and Navas adds another save to the highlight reel.

22.59

KICK-OFF: The Netherlands start extra-time.

22.53

FULL-TIME: It finishes 0-0 but I don’t know how. The Dutch had some great chances, hitting the woodwork twice. 30 more minutes to play, the shock is still on.

22.51

Holy batballs!! de Vrij puts a great ball in, RVP gets it at the backpost. His shot comes off Urena and on to the bar. How did that stay out??

22.50

RVP’s free-kick goes straight at Navas.

22.49

Diaz hacks Robben down on the edge of the box. That probably should have been a second yellow but the Dutch have a free from a dangerous spot. RVP lines up to shoot….

22.48

Four minutes of injury-time.

22.47

Now there’s a stat. The Netherlands have never won a World Cup game which has gone in to extra-time. They have 30 seconds plus injury time to score.

22.46

What a miss! Sneijder plays a great ball in to RVP who airshots it.

22.43

A ball over the top almost puts RVP clear but his usually immaculate control lets him down and the defenders recover.

22.42

It’s last ditch stuff from Costa Rica as a series of crosses tests the defence. RVP gets space in the box but his shot is blocked…there’s a few moments of madness, Costa Rica threaten a counter before the Netherlands regain the ball.

22.40

Close!! Sneijder curls one on to the post from the free-kick.

22.39

Almost a penalty there. Robben ghosts past Gonzalez on the edge of the box and the Costa Rican pulls him down. Free-kick and a yellow card. Robben attempted to dive into the box for a penalty but the ref was on top of the situation.

22.37

Just over ten minutes remaining. Come on goals!!

22.35

It appears Gamboa hasn’t recovered properly and will come off for David Myrie.

22.33

Van Gaal makes a change bringing on Jeremain Lens for Memphis Depay.

22.32

Sneijder puts in a good ball but Vlaar doesn’t get a clean contact and the ball goes over the bar. We continue to wait for a breakthrough.

22.31

Gamboa has come back on with a little devil in his step. He gives away a free-kick for a dangerously high-kick.

22.30

Bolanos is in a good gets into a good position wide left but his indecision gives the defenders time to get back and clear the ball.

22.28

Gamboa returns.

22.28

Gamboa is injured after landing awkwardly following a header. He leaves the pitch on a stretcher, which doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be running back on within seconds.

22.26

Robben is the most dangerous player on the pitch. He comes in off the right, plays a one-two with RVP but the defenders get out quickly as he lines up a shot.

22.24

Arsenal’s Joel Campbell is the first player to come off with Marco Urena taking his place.

22.23

Bolanos curls a great free-kick in. Gonzalez stretches to get a head on it but the presence of de Vrij puts him off.

22.22

Martins Indi goes in the book for dragging back Bryan Ruiz.

22.21

Van Persie goes ealry and is caught offside as Sneijder’s plays a through-ball. Come on goals…or a red card…or something.

22.20

Bolagnos twats one from 35 yards…no chance son, no chance.

22.19

Now it’s de Vrij’s turn to bodycheck Campbell. Cost Rica have a free-kick 35 yards out.

22.18

Diaz powers down the left, he squares for Campbell who goes down under a nudge from Martins Indi. No free,

22.17

22.16

Robben out wide plays a ball to Kuyt in the box but Acosta is there to block.

22.14

Robben feeds one in to Van Persie in the box, wide right of goal. His attempted cross is blocked for a corner.Robben’s corner finds de Vrij at the back post but his header is blocked by the back of Gonzalez.

22.11

Robben rolls the free-kick to Sneijder on the edge of the box. He puts his foot through it and launches the ball skywards.

22.10

Robben goes down theatrically…and it isn’t a dive. Umana goes in the book and the Netherlands have a free-kick from near the right byline.

22.08

Van Gaal’s side continue to dominate possession.When they do lose the ball Costa Rica give it right back.

22.04

KICK-OFF: The Netherlands start the second half.

21.49

21.48

HALF-TIME: Netherlands were the better team and created more and better opportunities, however Costa Rica have defended well and Keylor Navas retains his clean sheet.

21.46

The Costa Rican players and staff got a little miffed with something RVP did to Umana there. Perhaps we’ll find out what happened at half-time. One minute of time added on.

21.43

de Vrij almost puts RVP in again with a reverse pass. Umana keeps his concentration and makes the tackle.

21.42

Robben powers through the middle, puts Van Persie in but Navas is out quickly to claim the ball at Robin’s feet.

21.42

Costa Rica sitting very deep as Netherlands pass the ball back-and-forth, looking for an opening. Good discipline but poor entertainment.

21.39

Sneijder takes the free-kick from 30 yards out. It’s up and over the wall but Navas gets across to make a good save.

21.38

Diaz goes in the book for a foul on Robben. The Dutchman went down theatrically but then when doesn’t he? He may have a pop from here…

21.35

A free-kick into the box is headed back into the danger area from Borges, there’s a dangerous scramble but the Netherlands clear. As they break Robben is hacked down by Campbell.

21.30

Netherlands win possession in midfield. Van Persie breaks and plays Depay in. Navas saves with his feet.

21.26

The Netherlands are getting men over in attack now. Kuyt almost plays Van Persie in but the United man was fractionally offside. The men in orange are looking the more likely to score.

21.23

Netherlands should have scored. The ball is worked across to Van Persie in the box, his shot is blocked and Sneijder’s follow-up was straight at Navas.

21.20

Campbell and Gamboa combine well on the right, Gamboa’s attempted cross is blocked for a throw.

21.19

If the game finishes 0-0 do both teams go through? This one is reminding me of the last ten minutes of Ireland v Netherlands from Italia ’90.

21.17

Some jittery defending from de Vrij almost sets Borges free but the Costa Rican’s heavy touch ends the opportunity.

21.12

Good skill and pace from Gamboa as he gets to the byline and puts a cross in. It fails to find a team-mate but better from the underdogs.

21.10

Robben is looking lively early on. Costa Rica are struggling to maintain possession.

21.08

Robben refuses to go down as he rides a couple of tackles and powers in to the Costa Rica box, winning a corner.

21.03

A tentative start with the Netherlands defenders passing back-and-forth to each other.

21.01

KICK-OFF: Costa Rica gets the last of this World Cup’s quarter-finals underway.

20.59

The quarter-finals are now apparently known as the banner holding stage of the World Cup. I’m all for kicking racism out of things but I’m not a big fan of pre-game rigmarole.

20.58

Costa Rica certainly has one of the livelier national anthems. We did get to hear the vocal talents of several of the players. Thankfully they’re better with a ball at their feet than with a song in their hearts.

20.53

The players are out on the pitch now.

20.49

There is little doubt that Arjen Robben is a talented player. There is even less doubt that he’s a diving bollox. Expect to see both elements of the man on display in Salvador.

20.46

20.33

20.33

20.25

Oscar Duarte’s red card in the previous round sees Cosra Rica make one enforced change with the experienced Johnny Acosta playing in his stead.

20.22

Nigel De jong is out for the remainder of the tournament with a groin injury and he’ll be replaced by Martins Indi in the lineup. Louis Van Gaal has made one other change bringing in Depay for Verhaegh.

20.18

Teams

Netherlands
01 Cillessen
21 Depay
15 Kuyt
04 Martins Indi
02 Vlaar
03 de Vrij
20 Wijnaldum
05 Blind
10 Sneijder
09 van Persie
11 Robben

Costa Rica
01 Navas
16 Gamboa
15 Díaz Campbell
04 Umaña
03 Gonzalez
02 Acosta
10 Ruiz
05 Borges
09 Campbell
17 Tejeda Valverde
07 Bolaños

18.55

FULL-TIME: There we have. Argentina progress thanks to Gonzalo Higuain’s early goal. Belgium tried to get back in the game but the lacked the quality up front break through the Argentine defence.

The South Americans won’t have convinced everyone with that performance but that’s five wins from five and a spot in the semi-finals. We’ll find out who they meet later on this evening.

18.53

Lukaku gets free inside the box, he puts a great ball across but Garay makes a crucial interception.

18.52

Biglia puts Messi through one-on-one with Messi. Courtois comes rushing out to make the save.

18.50

Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis will be at home getting rather aroused by Belgium’s direct tactics. It’s not proving very effective mind.

18.49

There will be five minutes of injury-time.

18.48

Perez receives a well-timed winding from team-mate Zabaletta. Take your time pal, there’s no rush.

18.47

Fellaini heads on te Mertens but he handles the ball and another Belgian attack is killed by an infraction.

18.47

De Btuyne’s corner finds Chadli at the back-post but he’s unable to control the ball and his shot floats into Romero’s hands.

18.46

Three minutes to go and the long balls continue to rain down on the Argentine backline.

18.45

Another ball into the box, aimed at Fellaini and Lukaku but the later is deemed to have fouled Basanta.

18.44

Belgium lumping balls into the box, they have the height to cause problems but the flag goes up for off-side and Argentina get the ball away.

18.38

Gago comes on the replace Higuain, the goalscorer put in his best shift of the World Cup so far.

18.38

Belgium have been trying harder in this half but they’ve lacked the necessary quality/luck to equalise.

18.34

Biglia was booked for that foul on Vertonghen.

18.33

Nacer Chadli replaces the ineffective Hazard. It’s been a poor tournament for the Chelsea star.

18.33

Argentina are holding out but Belgium have moved up a few gears. Biglia takes out Vertonghen, giving Belgium a free kick in a dangerous area.

18.30

Belgium have yet to score a goal before the 70th minute in this tournament so they won’t be panicking just yet.

18.28

Palacio replaces the tiring Lavezzi.

18.27

Alderweireld goes in the book for a late tackle on Biglia.

18.23

De Bruyne drives a low cross across the box. It’s aiming for Lukaku when Garay comes sliding in to intercept.

18.21

Our guys on Twitter are not fans of the afroed one.

18.20

Those changes seem to have enlivened the Belgian team. There’s a little more urgency about their play now.

18.19

Vertonghen puts in another good cross. Fellaini gets up well but he’s under duress and can’t keep his powerful header down.

18.18

Origi and Mirallas go off with Lukaku and Mertens coming on. Can Wilmots work more substutution magic? Four Belgian goals have come from substitutes at this World Cup.

18.17

Lavezzi runs at the centre of the Belgian defence. Kompany make a heavy challenge and Lavezzi goes down. No foul though.

18.15

A double substitution on the way for Belgium Lukaku and Mertens are ready to come on. Origi will be one of the players to make away.

18.13

Close! Higuain walks through Kompany, cracks a shot from the edge of the box with a clear view of goal and it clips off the top of the cross-bar. He should have done better once he found himself clear of Kompany.

18.12

Messi’s cross worries Courtois and the keeper palms it behind. He then gathers Lavezzi’s corner.

18.11

A nasty challenge from Hazard on Biglia sees him go in the book.

18.10

Lavezzi put s a great ball across the front of Courtois’ goal but none of his team-mates were arsed making a run into the box. Belgium haven’t gotten going yet.

18.10

Lavezzi passes to Higuain out left. He cuts back into the box and his shot deflects off Van Buyten.

18.07

There’s a factoid. Origi is the youngest player to play in a World Cup quarter-final since Pele in 1958. Sadly today that’s where the comparison ends.

18.05

Kompany fells Mascherano. Messi’s dinked free-kick fails to Basanta at the back post.

18.03

KICK-OFF: Argentina get the second period underway.

18.00

It’s the creepy little final stroke he has that gets me.

17.47

HALF-TIME: An entertaining first half which Argentina edge takes to Higuain’s goal.

17.46

It’s been an even enough game but we’ve seen very little from either Origi or Hazard for Belgium. Wilmots will either need to get them more in the game or make one of his magic subsitutions in the second half.

17.42

Close! Vertonghen curls in a low cross from the left, Mirallas makes contact with a diving header but it flashes just wide of Romero’s post.

17.41

The ref sprays down a double line for the wall. He’s not messing around…..Messi flashes the free-kick just over. Too much power, not enough accuracy.

17.39

Messi takes the ball down on the edge of the box, beats three players, getting fouled by each one. He finally hits the deck and the ref has his choice of infractions to blow up for.

17.35

Belgium seeing more of the ball now but Argentina are defending well.

17.33

Enzo Perez makes his World Cup debut replacing the injured Angel di Maria.

17.32

di Maria is back on the turf rubbing his thigh. Sabella is readying Perez to replace the Real Madrid winger.

17.30

di Maria has been receiving treatment on his thigh. It looks like it was just a knock, the magic sponge has helped and he’s good to go.

17.29

Messi plays a stunning, defence-splitting pass to di Maria. He attempts to cut back inside Kompany but the Belgian gets the block in. Probably should have done better.

17.27

Belgium are on the front foot now with crosses being pinged in from both wings.

17.27

De Bruyne tests Romero with a rasping strike from distance. A good save and Origi just misses out on the rebound.

17.26

Messi looking for a free-kick after he’s crowded out by three Belgian defenders. He may have stood on the ball.

17.23

17.22

di Maria is looking sharper from the off today. An attempted back-heel threatens to put Higuain through but there’s too much pace on it.

17.18

Kompany gets his head on Hazard’s corner but his flick-on loops up and over the bar.

17.17

More good play from Vertonghen who gets a good ball in to the box from out left. Garay gets up to head behind.

17.17

Messi seeing plenty of the ball so far. He keeps it too long and Fellaini feels obliged to foul him. the free-kick comes to nothing.

17.15

A poor corner goes out for a throw.

17.15

Hazard attacks down the right and wins a corner off Basanta.

17.14

De Bruyne lashes an effort high and wide with his left-foot from 30 yards. Biglia let him got there, he’s looked a little lost in the opening 13 minutes.

17.12

Vertonghen is threatening again down the left-hand side but he’s unable to control Alderweireld’s cross-field pass.

17.10

Messi spins away from Fellaini and De Bruyne in midfield, he lays it off to di Maria. His attempted through-ball pops up for Higuain and he volleys it past Courtois from 12 yards out. A good finish for his first goal of the tournament.

17.08

GOAL!! Higuain puts Argentina 1-0 up.

17.06

And now we’ve had our first “Mascherano being a dick by asking for an opponent to be booked” moment of the day.

17.04

di Maria has his first good run and poor shot combo of the day.

17.03

Argentina create the first opening as Messi is given too much room, Lavezzi can’t convert but the blue and whites are controlling early.

17.02

17.01

We didn’t manage to get to the 60 second mark without a mention of Maradona and that Belgium photo. You know the one.

17.00

KICK-OFF: Origi and De Bruyne get the game going for Belgium.

16.57

Anthems done. High-fives along the line, done. Let’s get going in Brasilia.

16.57

Messi in particular struggled in extra-time against Switzerland. Has he had sufficient time to recover?

16.55

The teams are lining up. What unnecessary delays will FIFA have instore for us today. Ah, Messi giving some kind of speech…and now . My Spanish is as good as my Belgian so I’m guessing it has something to with Sepp Blatter being a d*&#.

16.36

Alejandro Sabella makes two changes for Argentina. Jose Maria Basanta replaces the suspended Rojo in central defence and Lucas Biglia takes Fernando Gago place in midfield. di Maria keeps his place…okay he did score the winning goal and despite his numerous poor decisions and terrible he shots he didn’t stop working. More di Maria may be on its way though.

16.31

Marc Wilmots makes just one change with Kevin Mirallas starting ahead of Dries Mertens, the man became off the bench to replace against the USA. That was a tiring game so it will be interesting to see how the players.

16.28

Teams

Argentina:
01 Romero
04 Zabaleta
23 Basanta
14 Mascherano
15 Demichelis
02 Garay
22 Lavezzi
06 Biglia
09 Higuaín
10 Messi
07 Di María

Belgium:
01 Courtois
02 Alderweireld
05 Vertonghen
06 Witsel
15 van Buyten
04 Kompany
11 Mirallas
08 Fellaini
17 Origi
07 De Bruyne
10 Hazard

19.00

A poor game to start the quarter finals but Germany won’t care. They’ve set up a last four clash with the winners of Brazil v Colombia. 

France can’t have too many regrets as they never really got into the game for any length of time and Die Mannschaf did what they do best and got the desired result in tournament football. 

They will need to raise their game again against the South Americans – whoever it is – on Tuesday.

18.55

FULL TIME: Germany are through to their fourth semi final on the bounce

18.54

CHANCE: Benzema forces a one-handed punch from Neuer

18.53

If France can get an equaliser they’ll face a weakened German side in extra-time. Big if though

18.52

SUB: Kramer for Toni Kroos as the Germans waste some more time at France’s expense

18.50

Hummels gets a foot in to break up some French play on the edge of the area as we enter four minutes of added time

18.47

Muller gets away from Evra to cross for Schurrle whose shot is blocked. Let off for the French

18.46

The game is slower than Joey Essex as Germany play down the clock

18.44

SUB: Olivier Giroud replaces Valbuena for France

18.43

SUB: Ozil is given the hook as Gotze comes on for the last seven minutes

18.41

CHANCE: Germany counter but both Muller and Schurrle miss glorious chances to make it 2-0

18.40

Seven players up for France as the free kick floated in and the French win a corner

18.40

YELLOW CARD: Ozil loses the ball on the edge of France’s box and forces Schweinsteiger into the foul as Les Bleus try to break forward

18.38

Deschamps is off the bench pushing for a final effort as Germany look to be running on empty

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18.36

France have started to up the tempo with less than 15 minutes remaining. Better late than never

18.35

CHANCE: Benzema’s shot form six yards out blocked by goalscorer Hummel

18.33

SUB: Cabaye off and striker Loic Remy is on

18.31

FRENCH SUB: An off-form Sakho off is replaced by Arsenals’ Laurent Koscielny

18.30

BAD CALL: Officials asleep at the wheel as Germany denied a clear-cut corner from a deflected shot

18.28

SUB: Klose makes way for Schurrle to give them a bit more energy up front

18.26

Germany seem content to break up France’s rhythm and hold onto their lead

18.24

Schweinsteiger clatters into Valbuena which prompts the millionth reference to France v Germany at World Cup 1982.

Luckily, we’ve the skinny on it from Graham Hunter here

18.21

Neuer goes for a quick stroll outside his box but manages to punt it clear. Had to happen sometime

18.20

BREAK: Matuidi gallops down the wing and wins a corner that Germany manage to clear

18.15

YELLOW CARD: Khedira booked for a cynical foul on Griezmann who was breaking through the middle for the French

18.13

Ozil hasn’t gone missing in action  yet – but there’s still time …

blog_ozil-medical_1

18.11

Kroos breaks forward for Germany and Ozil’s cross is turned behind for a German corner

18.10

FOUL: Free kick against Schweinsteiger and Evra finds himself unmarked in the box. Three French players offside but linesman never flagged

18.08

Lloris was quick off his line there to blunt a German attack and punts it long upfield

18.07

They’ve got to play this second half at pace as they made it too easy for Germany in the first half

18.06

No changes by either side at the break as France signal their intent by getting at Germany early

18.04

SECOND HALF: France get the game underway

17.49

HALF TIME: Poor kick out by Neuer as the ref blows for the end of the first 45 minutes.

17.48

Just one minute of stoppage time remaining at the end of this first half

17.47

CHANCE: Benzema cuts in past two defenders but fires his shot straight at Neuer who deals with it comfortably

17.46

CLAIM: Benzema’s volley comes off goalscorer Hummell  – no-one’s too sure where – but no penalty given.

17.44

Cabaye wins a kick-out for France

17.41

Everyone just taking advantage of Khedira’s smack in the face to get some liquids on board

17.37

SAVE: Benzema’s shot deflected over for a corner after Neuer saves from Valbuena

17.36

CLAIM: Muller’s going down in the box quicker and more often than Ashley Young

17.33

Mesut Ozil floats it in and wins Germany’s – and the game’s – first corner

17.32

Germany keeping possession well and win a free kick on the edge of the area after Evra fouls Muller

17.29

TUMBLE: France break up the other end and Evra stumbles over Neuer who was actually in his six-yard box. For once.

17.28

PENALTY CLAIM: Muller goes down in the box under pressure but referee waves his spot-kick claim away

17.26

Cabaye tries to get Griezmann through but no joy

17.25

STAT: Germany have only failed to reach the World Cup quarter finals once in their history and are 4/7 now to win in 90 minutes. France 5/1. Draw 11/4.

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17.21

France are beginning to push forward down the flanks now but Germany are happy to let them chase around in the sweltering heat

17.18

This could be a good time to refresh yourself with our neat little drinking game

drinking-game_template-day-8-feature

17.16

That’s injected a bit of life into what was a quiet start. Game On!

17.15

GOAL: Almost against the run of play Mats Hummels heads in from a Tony Kroos free kick and Germany lead

17.14

Mathieu Valbuena looks the biggest threat for France and is at the heart of everything France do right

17.13

Another hot day at the Maracana is having an effect. Both sides just finding their feet

17.12

OFFSIDE: Benzema just caught out from a through ball

17.10

SHOT: Benzema fires just wide after some nice build up play from Les Bleus. They’ve started to wake up

17.09

France building from the back as they try to play themselves into the game

17.08

FREE KICK: Muller sliced down by Evra

17.06

Ozil wins a throw in down the left – Germany making the French work hard

17.05

Early pressing being done by Germany

17.02

KICK OFF: Germany – all in white – get us underway

16.58

ANTHEM TIME: The French are singing something about Eric Cantona

16.51

Just 10 minutes to go to kick off so better get these stats up in case we have an early goal. That’s the French manager on his knees in case you’re wondering

Statsbomb draws-half-time

16.38

EXCLUSIVE: We’ve managed to get a sneaky peek of the Germans tactics board from deep inside the Maracana. Neuer’s in for a busy night.

neuer-germany-teamv2

16.33

Germany have won the last two heads to head clashes between the sides at the World Cup.

Die Mannschaft won 5-4 on penalties at the 1982 World Cup in Spain (after a 3-3 draw) and 2-0 in Mexico in 1986.

16.28

Hard to split these sides in the betting with both sides at 9/5 to win over the 90 minutes and the draw chalked up at 21/10 

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16.03

And here are the teams: 

France: 

  • 01 Lloris
  • 02 Debuchy
  • 03 Evra
  • 06 Cabaye
  • 04 Varane
  • 05 Sakho
  • 19 Pogba
  • 14 Matuidi
  • 10 Benzema
  • 08 Valbuena
  • 11 Griezmann

Germany:

  • 01 Neuer
  • 16 Lahm
  • 04 Höwedes
  • 06 Khedira
  • 05 Hummels
  • 20 Boateng
  • 07 Schweinsteiger
  • 18 Kroos
  • 11 Klose
  • 08 Özil
  • 13 Müller

23.33

It was a slow start but it turned into the most exciting game of the tournament so far. I for one am sorry to see Team America exit the competition but exit they do. They progress to face Argentina in the next round.

23.32

FULL-TIME: Belgium win 2-1 AET.

23.31

Just the one added minute. Jurgen is not a happy man.

23.28

Yedlin puts in a great cross…someone should be getting on the end of that. Just three minutes to go, this is what football is all about. Best World Cup ever!!!!!

23.25

Close!!! A brilliantly worked free-kick ends at the feet of Dempsey but Courtois gets out to close him down. The men in white believe they can get back into this. Belgium are on the ropes.

23.23

Mirallas looks like he’s about to get a shot off but stands on the ball and the USA break…Cameron wins a free-kick 35 yards out.

23.22

Chadli comes on for Hazard.

23.21

Lukaku takes on two American centre-halves, shrugs them both off and Howard pulls another great save with his legs.

23.20

Belgium are looking a little nervous as chants of “U!S!A!” are heard in the stadium.

23.19

Close! Jones goes so close to equalising…Yedlin crosses, Wandolowski heads down and Jones almost sticks it away.

23.18

Bradley chips one over the top, Green makes a great run and volleys it in to the top corner. Team America, f@#k yeah!!!

23.17

GOAL: Julian Green makes it 2-1!!!

23.16

KICK-OFF: No messing around with this ref.

23.15

HALF-TIME: It’s Belgium’s to lose now after two goal in the first have of extra-time.

23.13

The USA are hit on the counter. De Bruyne carries the ball down the left, he plays it in to Lukaku who smashes the ball high into Howard’s net. That should be game over now.

23.12

GOAL: Lukaku puts Belgium 2-0 up.

23.11

Howard again denies Mirallas. The Everton man should have done better and the USA are still in this.

23.10

Beasley is getting down the right and puts in a good cross but no one gets on the end of it. Play is currently stopped as Jones gets attention after taking a ball to the face.

23.08

Lukaku again uses his pace and power to get into the USA box. Howard forced into another good save.

23.07

The USA haven’t given up. they’re still pushing on but the tiredness is showing with both sets of players.

23.04

Lukaku has made a big difference he has a shot from the left which Howard pushes around the corner.

23.03

Belgium have three-on-three but Vertonghen wants to sit down and have a cuppa before deciding what he wants to do. A half-arsed, half-blocked shot is the result. Lukaku does not look happy.

23.00

Lukaku powers down the right, shrugging of Besler. He gets into the box and pulls it back to De Bruyne, he dances around and lashes a shot across goal into the bottom corner.

22.59

GOAL: De Bruyne puts Belgium 1-0 up.

22.58

The USA have the first attack with Beasley crossing for Jones, who can’t keep his header down.

22.57

Lukaku is on for Origi.

22.57

KICK-OFF: USA start extra-time.

22.52

FULL-TIME: We’re heading in to extra-time. It’s been entertaining stuff but neither side has managed to find a decent finish.

22.51

Never has a player been so happy to see the offside flag go up. the ball drop to an unmarked Wandolowksi and he skies it over from four yards out. The flag went up but he was yards onside. A poor finish and a poor decision.

22.50

Three minutes of injury-time to play before we go in to thirty minutes of extra-time.

22.49

De Bruyne takes a corner which Fellaini gets his head to. The United man can’t keep it down and the ball sails over the bar.

22.48

En-to-end stuff. Into the last minute and Kompany gets forward, De Bruyne finds him in the box and he scuffs a shot on goal which Howard has to push behind.

22.46

Belgium burst forward, De Bruyne puts Hazard in out right and he has a shot into the side of the net instead of pulling it across goal.

22.44

Jones whips a good ball into the box. van Buyten clears with his heel.

22.43

Hazard to Origi, he turns and has a strike from the edge of the box. A venomous hit but right down the middle and Howard tips over. Fellaini gets up well but heads the corner behind.

22.41

Besler slides in and denies van Buyten just as he’s about to shoot. They’re full of character but starting to tire are the USA.

22.40

Yedlin is having a cracking game. He crosses from the right but Jones fails to control the ball. Yedlin then chases down Hazard and wins the tackle.

22.38

Ten minutes to go. Both sides are trying but still no goals.

22.38

Another good save from Howard. Mirallas gets down the right, pulls it back for Hazard who tries to guide it into the bottom corner. Howard is having none of it…and the USA go on the attack. I’m getting worn out just watching this..

22.36

Gonzalez is down injured. He landed badly on his ankle after going up for a header with Kompany. Let’s see if he can run it off….he does look like he’s going to return.

22.35

Hazard carries it forward, he plays it to Origi who produces a lovely turn and pass to Mirallas. He’s in on goal but Howard sprawls well and gets a toe to it. Corner to Belgium…Kompany gets his head on it but it’s just a glance and the ball continues to the far sideline.

22.32

Dempsey carries the ball from the half-way line and has a left footed shot from the edge of the box. Courtois has to get down sharply to save.

22.31

Vertonghen crosses to Fellaini. He takes it on his chest but the ball bounces on to his hand and the referee gives a free out.

22.30

Wondolowski is on for the tiring Zusi.

22.29

Some good footwork from Mirallas down the other end sets up Origi and Howard has to save with his feet.

22.29

Dempsey has a pop with his left after more good work down the right from Yedlin, Courtois saves.

22.28

Twenty minutes to go and still no goals.

22.27

Witsel is the latest player to have a pop from distance. Well hit but a couple of feet wide of Howard’s post.

22.25

It’s back and forth stuff now. Yedlin gets forward again and Courtois has to stretch his lengthy frame to pluck it from the air.

22.19

Kevin Mirallas is on for Mertens.

22.18

More good skill from Origi, he puts a ball across for Mertens who tries a flick between the legs but can’t get it on target.

22.17

And the USA go right down the other end… Kompany fails to deal with a cross and the ball falls to Zusi, he has a shot but the Belgian defenders get the block in. The game is picking up again after a slow start to the second half.

22.15

De Bruyne and Vertonghen exchange passes and Vertonghen forces another save from Howard.

22.13

Hazard sets Vertonghen down the left, he beats Zusi and puts a great cross in. De Bruyne can’t get to it and Origi can’t sort his feet out. They should have done better, great ball.

22.10

Fellaini dispossesses Bradley on the half-way line then shoots from 40 yards out. It does not go as he planned unless he was aiming for someone in the crowd.

22.06

Some good feet from Origi, he plays it to De Bruyne who crosses to Mertens. Howard spectacularly tips his looping header over. Mertens puts in a poor corner which the USA clear.

22.03

KICK-OFF: Origi and De Bruyne start the second half for Belgium.

22.02

The players come out onto the pitch for the second half. All we ask for is a few goals, even one goal in regular time will do.

21.49

HALF-TIME: Considerably more entertaining than the earlier game but still no goals. It’s been an even back-and-forth affair so far. Half-time tea is now required.

21.47

That Yedlin chap is rapid. Hazard had a good five yards on him and the right back just ate up the ground to get a tackle in.

21.46

Belgium defend the corner and go on the break. Origi passes to De Bruyne who hits it first time from distance. A decent hit but an easy enough save for Tim Howard.

21.45

It’s Zusi’s turn to trouble Vertonghen. The Belgian just gets a toe in and USA have a corner.

21.43

Vertonghen gets down the left and puts in a cross which Gonzalez clears behind with a diving header. Howard punches the corner away to safety.

21.42

Vincent Kompany is handed a yellow after he clatters through the back of Dempsey.

21.41

Again Yedlin goes flyuing down the win, he gets his head up and plays it into the path of Zusi but he whiffs at it.

21.38

Yedlin is doing well. He gets down the right and puts in a great cross which Dempsey goes close to getting his head on. Come on goals!!!

21.33

Dempsey is allowed to bring Zusi’s corner down on his chest. He lays it off to Jones who pulls his shot wide left.

21.33

Yedlin’s first action is to have a go at beating Eden Hazard. He wins a corner which ain’t bad.

21.32

That’s a blow as Johnson hobbles off to be replaced by the inexperienced Yedlin.

21.31

Johnson is down with an apparent hamstring problem. His night is over as the players use the break in play to chug some liquids.

21.30

There’s a lot of space down that American right. Origi is the latest player to find space but not quite make the most of it.

21.29

The USA attempt to break but Dempsey can pull the ball down…Eden Hazard goes right down the other end and pulls a save from Howard.

21.28

Hazard uses his speed down the right, yhis cross gets caught under Gonzalez’ feet and he bumbles it behind for a corner….which the USA clear.

21.27

Vertonghen wins a corner. The Spurs man has been involved in much of Belgium’s good attacking play.

21.26

Again Vertonghn finds himself in a great attacking position. He holds on a little too long and by the time he squares to Fellaini, Beasley is able to get across and make the clearance.

21.23

Zusi loses possession in midfield. Belgian players pour forward out-numbering the defenders. Vertonghen plays it to De Bruyne who drags his shot wide. They should have made more of that position.

21.22

The USA are gaining the upper hand. Beasley is a driving force in the middle of the park and they have plenty of pace on the break.

21.21

A one-two between Bradley and Dempsey. The latter gets a shot on target but he couldn’t quite sort his feet properly and Courtois saves well.

21.20

Zusi plays the ball in behind Vertonghen. He has a heavy touch and the ball goes behind for a USA corner….Cameron gets a head on the cross but can’t direct it towards goal.

21.18

Boom!! Cameron wallops Mertens late and goes in the book. It was a good foul that.

21.17

A fan is running around the pitch largely unaccosted. After a couple of minutes letting him run free he gets tired and gives himself up.

21.13

Origi is down after a late challenge from Besler. The youngster should be fine to continue.

21.12

After a good start we’re starting to get a little bogged down here. Neither side managing to find the gaps on the attack.

21.06

DeMarcus Beasley gets forward down the left but Fellaini sticks close and forces him to put his cross behind. Both teams fancy this one.

21.04

It’s been a lively start with both sides showing good pace up front.

21.02

De Bruyne carries the ball forward, gets a shot awat which is deflected behind for a corner.

21.01

We almost have a goal in the first minute. Origi uses his pace to get in behind the American defense but Howard does well to save his effort.

21.00

KICK-OFF: Bradley and Dempsey get the game underway for the USA

20.56

The Belgium anthem is being played….another dreary affair. The Star Spangled Banner isn’t much better but here it comes all the same.

20.55

I’m cautious making any predictions after suggesting there could be something of a goal-fest in the earlier game. At least the USA will have a good go at the Belgians. They’ve held their own in the tournament so far and I expect them to make this an even contest.

20.51

Just watching clips of Obama discussing the USA getting out of the group of death. You get the impression he doesn’t quite know what’s going on…much like George W Bush’s entire two terms in office.

20.33

di Maria’s decisive goal from Argentina’s injury-time win over Switzerland earlier this afternoon.

20.28

Two changes from the side which lost to Germany for Jurgen Klinsmann. Cameron and Bedoya start instead of Beckerman and Davis.

20.26

Marc Wilmots returns to his strongest line-up after several changes against South Korea. There are two changes from the side which beat Russia 1-0 with Origi replacing Lukaku and Vertonghen starting ahead of Vermaelen.

20.24

Teams

Belgium:
01 Courtois
02 Alderweireld
05 Vertonghen
06 Witsel
15 van Buyten
04 Kompany
14 Mertens
08 Fellaini
17 Origi
07 De Bruyne
10 Hazard

USA:
01 Howard
23 Johnson
07 Beasley
20 Cameron
03 González
05 Besler
19 Zusi
13 Jones
08 Dempsey
04 Bradley
11 Bedoya

19.38

Argentina go through but they don’t look up to much.m Saying that with Belgium or the USA next up in the quarter-finals they have an easier rout to the semi-finals than most.

19.36

FULL-TIME: Shaqiri fails to beat the wall and the referee blows the whistle. A poor game in which the match-winner was one of the poorest players. Switzerland will be gutted but my pre-tournament pick limps on.

19.34

Shaqiri goes down on the edge of the Argentine box after Garay dives in. The defenders complain but the ref gives the free and Garay gets a yellow. This is Switzerland’s last chance…

19.33

Benaglio is up in the Argentine box when Switzerland lose the ball…di Maria has a shot at the empty goal from his own half but it floats wide. Now the game gets exciting.

19.31

So close!! Dzemaili heads a cross against the base of Romero’s post and the rebound comes back, hits him on the shin and goes wide. Unlucky.

19.30

di Maria goes in the book for a foul on Rodriguez.

19.28

Who else but di Maria? Palacio wins the ball in midfield setting Messi free. He powers forward and lays it off to di Maria to his right. The winger, who has been shocking all day, keeps his calm to side-foot across the keeper and into the back of the net.

19.27

GOAL: di Maria puts Argentina 1-0 up.

19.26

Players are looking tired on both sides. Which might at least make the penalties exciting. I think we’ve earned at least that much.

19.24

Zabaleta gets down the right, hooks a cross in which Djourou gets up to head away.

19.22

The hard-working Mehmadi comes off for Blerim Dzemaili. Did someone say penalty specialist?

19.22

Djourou gets his head in the way of di Maria’s shot and the ball goes behind for a corner. Messi’s corner comes out to di Maria and he leans back and twats it miles over.

19.20

Ten minutes to go and there will plenty of viewers hoping the ref blows up early so we can get to the inevitable shoot-out.

19.19

The Argies have been so laboured in this game…and di Maria puts yet another poor ball into the box.

19.18

di Maria has been storing that up all game. He finally unleashes a decent strike but Benaglio pushes over.

19.16

Argentina make two changes bringing on Lucas Biglia and Jose Maria Basanta for Gago and Rojo. Sabella isn’t exactly throwing caution to the wind with those changes.

19.14

KICK-OFF: Switzerland get the last fifteen minutes underway.

19.12

HALF-TIME: We’re at the half-way mark of extra-time. There isn’t a tonne of desire to win this game in blue and white.

19.11

Argentina breaks but it’s di Maria on the ball and once again he puts in a poor cross.

19.10

Rafael Nadal has been knocked out of Wimbledon in three sets by the mercurial young Aussie Nick Kyrgios.

19.06

Some entertaining tennis from Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon earlier…

19.05

This has felt more like an end of season friendly for large swathes of the game.

19.01

Shaqiri has a whack from distance which never threatens Romero’s goal.

19.00

Mascherano fouls Shaqiri. Clearly a foul but he still protests about something or other.

18.59

Djourou loses the ball indefence then pulls at Higuain to give away the free-kick. The cross comes off the back of Palacio’s head but not with sufficient velocity to trouble Benaglio.

18.57

Signs of frustration as Messi hauls down Inler…the referee, as he has done all day, plays advantage.

18.56

We almost have an instant goal. di Maria puts a rare good cross in which Benaglio has to fight to fist it away for another corner.

18.55

KICK-OFF: Extra-time begins.

18.49

FULL-TIME: A poor game comes to an end…and then continues for another 30 minutes. This has penalties written all over it.

18.47

Schar gets his head on a free-kick into the Argentine box but the ball is too high and he can’t keep it down.

18.47

Three minutes of injury-time. Come on someone, save us from another 30 minutes of this.

18.46

Rojo goes in the book for a cynical hack on the breaking Rodriguez.

18.45

Messi almost takes Switzerland on by himself, he lays off to Palacio in the box but the defenders gets several feet in.

18.44

We’re into heartbreak time with just two minutes of regular time left one the clock. It’s been largely Argentina in this second half but it’s hard to argue a case for either team deserving the win.

18.43

Behrami gives away a free-kick for a foul on Messi, who proceeds to give the Swiss midfielder a light shove which sends Behrami sprawling embarrassingly to the floor.

18.41

Rojo the latest player to try his luck from outside the box. His fortunes prove no better than those who have gone before him in this game.

18.39

Seferovic gets on the ball in midfield and races towards Romero’s goal but without support the Argentine defenders crowd him out before he can cause any problems.

18.37

Drmic has been replaced by Seferovic.

18.37

It’s been all Argentina the last few minutes but they are unable to break through the red swarm.

18.35

Benaglio is down injured after taking a clatter from the on-rushing Palacio. He looks good to continue as di Maria takes a corner…which goes out of play before even making it to the box.

18.34

Messi bursts into the box, gets a shot off which Benaglio does well to save. That was dangerous.

18.31

Palacio almost scores with his first touch but he can’t guide Messi’s chipped cross on target. He may have done better leaving that for Higuain, there didn’t appear to be a shout though..

18.30

The hard-working but largely ineffective Lavezzi is replaced by Inter Milan’s Rodrigo Palacio.

18.29

Fernandes shares my feeling on di Maria and duly hacks the winger down. I enjoyed that..

18.27

Twenty minutes to go and this game has the stale odour of a draw.

18.25

Fernandes almost makes instant impact. His tackle sets Drmic through on goal but Rojo defends well.

18.23

Zabaleta crosses from the right, again Higuain gets his head on but he can’t steer it on target. This is then followed up a shot from Messi which whistles just over the bar. Switzerland need to get themselves back in this game.

18.21

Xhaka is coming off with the more defensive-minded Fernandes coming on.

18.19

Argentina are pushing on now, they need to do more to get through this Swiss defence. It’s been relatively poor individual efforts in the first 60 minutes.

18.18

Rojo puts a great ball in, Higuain meets it well and Benaglio has to tip over.

18.16

Typical di Maria, he gets into space down the right and then tries a fancy cross which doesn’t come off. Selfish and wasteful that.

18.15

Messi to Lavezzi to Rojo…Rojo gets a shot/cross away which almost catches Benaglio out but he adjusts well in mid-air to save.

18.12

Messi out wide to Rojo, he whips in a good cross which Benaglio has to get a fist on…it come to di Maria and he does sod all.

18.10

Mascherano is the latest Argentine player to put in a poor cross.

18.09

Rodriguez has a shot from 30+ yards out. That’s also how far wide it was.

18.08

Argentina play the ball back and forward on the fringes of the Swiss box. It ends when di Maria has a poor effort blocked.

18.06

Shaqiri almost catches Romero out with a free-kick. The Argentine keeper manages to save then has to scramble to gather the ball.

18.04

Messi is referred to as a “little Magician” and then puts in a very unmagical cross.

18.03

Xhaka taking some chances by fouling Messi. He could have picked up a second yellow for that.

18.02

Messi ande Lavezzi combine, the latter’s cross is blocked for a corner.

18.01

Just in case this half is a stinker here’s today’s drinking game…

drinking-game_day20

18.01

KICK-OFF: Switzerland start the second-half.

18.00

After a cup of tea and some mindless chatter from the pundits the teams are spilling out on to the pitch. Let’s hope for a little more excitement in the second forty-five.

17.48

A half-time cuppa is in order seeing as there wasn’t a whole lot to pour over in that first half.

17.46

HALF-TIME: Shaqiri’s corner fails to beat the first man and we go in to half-time scoreless.

17.45

Drmis attacks down the right, Fernandez comes across to get a tackle in and giving away a corner.

17.44

Rojo gets on the end of a Messi pass but his cross from the byline is cut out and cleared.

17.42

Switzerland threaten through Shaqiri and Mehmedi on the break. It doesn’t progress any further than a mild threat.

17.41

As half-time approaches Messi attacks the Swiss backline, he works an opening but sadly it’s di Maria who has the chance and another weak effort is saved.

17.39

What has he done there? Drmic is put through one-on-one with Romero, the keeper refuses to leave his six yard box but the Swiss player chips the ball weakly into the keepers hands. That’s a poor, poor effort.

17.36

That yellow has been coming. Xhaka goes in hard on Lavezzi and floors him with an arse bump to the midriff.

17.35

Shaqiri crosses from wide right.. Romero gets up to push it away to relative safety.

17.34

Shaqiri beats a few players out wide, Lavezzi loses patience and hacks him down.

17.32

Djourou takes the ball of Messi on the egde of the Swiss box, stumbles around like a drunken baby giraffe for a minute but keeps possession and works the ball out of defence.

17.30

di Maria whips an excellent corner across the front of goal and Garay should have gotten a head on that.

17.29

di Maria chips one in to the box, Higuain challenges and the ball falls to Lavezzi, his snap shot is saved by Benaglio.

17.27

Shaqiri has just won a corner. That’s as good as it’s been so far. His corner doesn’t trouble the defence but it does lead to another corner. This one is taken quickly and Xhaka gets a shot away from 12 yards which Romero does well to save with his feet.

17.26

Messi puts a ball in the box, it’s a little behind Higuain and he isn’t able to guide his header on target. It’s been 13 months since he’s found the net for Argentina.

17.25

di Maria gets clattered again. This time Mehmedi is the culprit. A definite free-kick but di Maria makes the most of the attention with a roll and some pained expressions.

17.24

Plenty of hustle in this game but bugger all else. The referee’s whistle is getting a work-out.

17.22

Messi dispossessed in midfield by Inler, Mascherano comes in and gives away a free-kick. Then finds something to moan about. It’s a skill of his.

17.21

di Maria getting his own back after taking some kicks in this game with a late one on Behrami.

17.20

Messi attacks down the right, he threatens to skip through two defenders but a scrambling Rodriguez gets a foot in to dispossess him. Good defending.

17.16

Lavezzi dinks in a ball from the right, Benaglio catches it without a challenge. Not exactly a rapid start to this game.

17.15

As soon as Messi gets on the bal he’s being swarmed. This time Xhaka is a little to vigorous and the referee blows up. Still no chances created.

17.13

Messi works Benaglio with a toe-poke pass in to Higuain. The Swiss stopper gets out to smother it. More from Messi please.

17.10

di Maria wins another free-kick out near the left sideline. He whips it in to the box and Djourou heads away.

17.09

They work the corner out to Inler on the edge of the box but he slashes the ball higher than a former child star in their 30s.

17.08

Shaqiri and Mehmadi are worrying the Argentine defence down the right. It ends with a corner for Switzerland.

17.07

Lichsteiner pulls back di Maria near the sideline. The Argentine calls for a card. I do not approve. The subsequent free-kick into the box is cleared easily. Switzerland are packing the midfield.

17.05

Not much has happened football wise so far but Lawro is being his usually chipper self..

17.03

Shaqiri puts in an ankle rattler on Lavezzi near the half-way line. Later in the game that’s a yellow card.

17.00

KICK-OFF: Argentina get the game underway.

16.59

It’s currently 20 degrees celsius in Sao Paulo. That doesn’t sound too bad…as long as I only have to drink cocktails and lay by a pool.

16.58

“Of the 17 outfield players in the Argentina and Switzerland squad who have each played at least 200 minutes in the World Cup so far, Messi has covered fewer metres than any of them except his team-mate Sergio Aguero”

This stat has been stolen from the brain of Mr Ken Early. Good work Ken.

16.57

Two of the drearier anthems from this World Cup have just been played.

16.54

Show him to his right, show him to his right!! That’s how you nullify Messi say the BBC panel. Then someone says something inane and they all have a chuckle. Business as usual.

16.52

There have thirteen goals in Switzerland’s three games so far. That’s 4.3333333 goals per game. I’ll take four goals this afternoon thank you very much, you can keep the 0.33333333.

16.50

I’m still standing behind my picks Argentina but they’ve been far from convincing in their three games so far. Messi has had to dig them out of some holes with moments of brilliance but the overall quality of play has been inconsistent.

16.43

Xherdan Shaqiri apparently scored the first ever left-foot hat-trick at a World Cup. I’m not sure what to do with that information. Ideas can be mailed in or left in the comments section below.

16.35

As we all now know, thanks to Mr Robben, diving isn’t wrong as long as you admit to doing. Just not that time when he won the penalty though, some other time. Basically what he’s doing is creating what police would call form.

16.32

As always some funny work from our guys on Twitter…

16.28

No changes for Switzerland from the team which beat Honduras 3-0. There’ll be plenty of money on Shaqiri after his hat-trick.

16.26

Lavezzi coming in for the injured Aguero is the only change for Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella.

16.18

Teams

Argentina:
01 Romero
04 Zabaleta
16 Rojo
14 Mascherano
17 Fernández
02 Garay
05 Gago
10 Messi
22 Lavezzi
09 Higuaín
07 Di María

Switzerland:
01 Benaglio
02 Lichtsteiner
13 Rodriguez
11 Behrami
22 Schär
20 Djourou
10 Xhaka
08 Inler
19 Drmic
23 Shaqiri
18 Mehmedi

23.52

Right, that’s it from me tonight. We’ll be back tomorrow with more snarky live text commentary of the last remaining round of 16 matches.

23.49

Gordon Strachan remains tight-lipped as Glenn Hoddle tries to get to the bottom of the ‘who replaced my sun-cream with Yop’ mystery:

blog_hoddle-sun

23.40

Gordon Strachan is pooping the Algeria love-in party.

Have I been watching the same game? Germany created 30 odd chances. That’s a great achievement.

Boooooo! Who wants stats and rational analysis from their pundits, Gordo? We want simple, easily digestible narratives about the underdog being robbed by the sporting gods, even if the data tells us otherwise and the Algerian goalkeeper had the game of his life.

23.37

Manuel Neuer looks delighted to be on his way to the quarter-final:

23.34

FULL TIME! Algeria launch one more attack, but Bougherra’s header is tame and Neuer hangs on. The ref blows his whistle and books Germany their ticket to the quarter-final.

Germany’s class got them over the line, but they look like they have huge problems in defence and a midfield that’s producing less than the sum of its parts.

23.31

GOAL!! Hold the phone! 2-1 ALGERIA A cracking goal from Algeria. Djabou volleys home.

23.31

GOAL! 2-0 GERMANY Mesut Ozil has been absolutely rubbish tonight and he even manages to be rubbish in the act of goalscoring. After almost fluffing a chance with an ill-advised pass to Schurrle, the ball breaks to the Arsenal man who lashes the ball into the Algerian night and seals the deal for the Germans. France await on Friday.

23.29

Slimani is played in with a cracking through ball, but he moves like the Tin Man without his oil and Boateng intervenes.

23.27

CHANCE! Kramer has the fresh legs and he nearly puts it beyond doubt for Germany. M’Bolhi with his 700th save of the night denies him.

23.25

Five minutes to go. Algeria look out on their feet.

23.20

10 minutes to go. It’s 15/2 we get the draw that would take this to our third dose of penos in three days.

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23.18

SUB! Germany use their last change. Schweinsteiger limps off and Cristoph Kramer comes on.

23.18

YELLOW CARD! Lahm does into the book for trying to remove the shorts of an Algerian. The booking was for the attempt to hold him back rather than any homophobia from the referee.

23.15

Algeria get the second half of extra going started.

23.14

HALF TIME IN EXTRA TIME!

15 minutes to go and one honourary German starts to feel he can relax:

23.12

One minute of injury time in extra time.

23.09

GREAT CHANCE! A brilliant chance for Algeria to equalise goes wide. The ball broke to Mostefa from a corner and from 11 yards out, his first time hoof towards goal is hooked wide. Algeria won’t get many better chances than that in the next 18 minutes.

23.07

SUB! Algeria make their final change and it’s Soudani making way and Djabou takes his place.

23.06

CLOSE! Muller with a shot from about 20 yards out. The replays so that is was well wide, but the crowd get very excited by it.

23.04

SUB! Halliche makes way and Bougherra comes on.

23.02

Ozil – played through, doesn’t score. No-one is surprised.

23.00

Germany now 1/25 to advance to the quarters. 17/2 Algeria.

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22.59

GOAL! 1-0 GERMANY! Andre Schurrle! And you can say what you want about heroic Algerian performances, but that’s been coming. Muller plays a low cross into the Algerian six yard box and Schurrle sort of hooks the ball into the net.

22.56

Germany get the first half of extra time started.

22.56

The odds tell us Germany are the favourites to go through, but not by much.

To Qualify: Germany 2/5 | Algeria 7/4

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22.55

Back to the studio. Strachan hasn’t switched back to the shorts. Sadly.

22.51

FULL TIME! It’s going to extra time as Germany can’t find the breakthrough and Algeria seemed happy to take the extra 30 minutes by the end.

22.50

Great defending from Halliche stops the ball getting to Lahm who surely would have spared up extra time.

22.48

Here’s that ridiculous German free-kick routine:

Deliberate? Or just shite?

22.47

Four minutes of injury time to get us a winner in normal time.

22.46

CHANCE! Another chance for Germany and Schweinsteiger. His header is saved by M’Bolhi.

22.45

Manuel Neuer races out of his box to snuff out another German attack.

22.45

A bizarre free-kick routine sees Thomas Muller fall to the ground, possibly deliberately. Whether it was intentional or not, it turned out to be a bit shit.

22.43

Great acting from Feghouli. He gets penalised for handball, but then goes down like he’s taken it firmly in the face. The replays show it was a harsh free kick, but it did hit in in the arm rather than the face as his poor acting suggested.

22.41

Not much happening at the minute. There’s a pause in the game as the players perform some elaborate stretches.

22.39

GLORIOUS CHANCE! Another chance for Muller and another wasted. He took the ball down brilliantly about eight yards out, beat the defender and just needed to apply the finish. His attempt skewed wide of M’Bolhi’s near post.

22.37

SAVE! M’Bolhi denies Germany again. From 12 yards out, Muller heads it at the Algerian goalie and Schurrle can’t turn the rebound home.

22.35

CHANCE! Good work from Muller down the right and his cross is met by Schweinsteiger who can’t get enough of a head on it to send it goalwards.

22.34

SUB! Algeria make their first change as Taider makes way for Brahimi.

22.32

Feghouli and Slimani with two decent attempts at the German goal. The first one came from the former whose half-volley went about two yards wide of Neuer’s right post while the latter was a low shot straight at Neuer that he clung on to.

22.30

Schurrle with a shot that the Algerian keeper saves easily. It’s not really worth a mention, but not much else is happening. Except I found out you can get a Fennec Fox as a pet.

22.27

SUB! Sami Khedira comes on and Mustafi comes off as a result of that injury. Sadly the power ballad didn’t have the desired effect.

22.25

Mustafi is on the ground receiving treatment. Schurrle is trying to ease the pain by singing a wind-swept power ballad at him. It looks to be working.

22.19

That better not have been a Mexican Wave. Come on Brazilian public – it’s not been that bad a game.

22.19

Andre Schurrle upset as another German move goes awry:

22.17

Poor attempt from distance by Schurrle. He can comfort himself with the fact he looks like the most ’80s Boyband’ of anyone on the pitch.

22.12

GREAT SAVE! Nice build-up play from Germany leads to a fierce shot from Lahm outside the area. It’s heading for the top left hand corner, but M’Bohli dives and gets enough of his fingertips on the ball to tip it around the post.

22.10

Blatant handball from Mesut Ozil. Even Thierry Henry would have owned up to that.

22.09

Algeria are now 7/1 to win this in 90 minutes and 3/1 to qualify.

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22.08

And Algeria go up the other end and fail convert with two men unmarked at the far post!

Lots of excitement and hopefully little chance of a crappy Mexican Wave breaking out.

22.07

End to end stuff. Neuer nearly drops the ball at the feet of an Algerian and in the same play, boots it forward and nearly plays Schurrle in route one style.

22.05

CHANCE. KIND OF Not really sure how it happened, but the ball broke to Schurrle about 12 yards out. His shot got blocked and went narrowly wide for a corner.

From the corner, Mustafi wins the header well, but powers it straight at M’Bolhi.

22.03

Fair play to Algeria. They’ve been well organised, but not without an attacking threat. Like a less tedious version of West Ham.

22.01

Yep – that’s confirmed and Algeria get the second half underway.

22.01

Reports of a half-time change from Germany. Gotze off and Schurrle comes on.

21.53

The ITV lads are off the beach and back in the studio. Sadly Gordon has put slacks on instead of his shorts and Lee is now wearing a shirt instead of his Lidl ‘Brazil’ t-shirt.

21.48

HALF-TIME! A fascinating half of football with Algeria enjoying more than their share of chances. Germany look very shaky at the back, but they’re not without an attacking threat. That’s about as interesting as it gets without actually getting a goal.

21.46

The camel doesn’t give a shit. Probably wants to watch ‘What Happens In Sunny Beach’.

21.44

SHOT! Kroos with another attempt from distance. It’s high and it’s wide, but it’s not as bad as that sounds. It had the keeper worried anyway.

21.42

YELLOW CARD! Halliche goes into the book for a poor tackle on Schweinsteiger.

21.42

DOUBLE SAVE! After looking hopeless, Germany go up the other end and nearly break the deadlock. M’Bolhi gets down low to save a good effort from 25 yards out, the ball rebounds to Gotze, but the goalie gets back up to the second save.

21.40

CHANCE! Not quite a chance, but it nearly went in. Mostefa hits a shot from outside the area. It hits Boateng and spins about two yards wide of the German goal with Neuer stranded.

21.38

SAVE! Mesut Ozil has a shot from distance. It’s not very good but M’Bolhi in the Algerian goal makes a dog’s dinner of trying to save it and can’t hold on to it. The ball falls to Muller, but in keeping with what Germany have gone for most of the first half, the move breaks down tamely.

21.35

CHANCE! Not really a chance, but the crowd got all excited by it so I thought I should mention it. Thomas Muller gets a head to a cross about 12 yards out and it goes about 12 yards wide. Not much to write a blog home about, but the crowd seemed to like it.

21.32

Good work from Ozil sets up a half-chance for Lahm. His shot is blocked and Algeria break. Gotze fouls to give Algeria a free-kick in a dangerous position.

Which comes to nothing.

21.29

More crazy but effective sweeping up at the back from Neuer. The German defence is looking as vulnerable as the European federalist project if you like your shit geopolitical jokes.

21.24

CROSS/SHOT Mesut Ozil with a crap shot and a crap cross that the Algerian goalie needs to put over the bar at the expense of a corner.

21.22

Algeria are 7/2 to qualify. After the start they’ve had, a few people will fancy a nibble on that like a Fennec Fox fancies a nibble on … er … rodents, insects, birds or eggs.

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21.20

Ozil is doing what he does best of late – getting named in the team and then pissing off for the next 90 minutes.

21.19

GREAT CHANCE! More great play from Algeria and good work down the left gives Ghoulam a chance about eight yards out to the left of Neuer’s goal. He tries to slot it in to the far post, but drags it wide. The Fennec Foxes are looking Fennecy and Foxy.

21.18

NO GOAL! Algeria have the ball in the German net. It’s a great bit of play which ends in Slimani heading past Neuer, but he strayed slightly offside and it’s correctly ruled out.

21.16

GREAT CHANCE! Algeria work a great opening and when it looks like rolling the ball across the six yard box will give a team-mate a tap in, Soudani attempts a shot from a ridiculously tight angle, resulting in a ridiculous outcome.

21.14

Schweinsteiger with a shot from about 30 yards out. It’s straight at the keeper, but he makes it look like the most amazing shot of all time.

21.10

Great if somewhat mental defending from Manuel Neuer.

The German goalie races about 35 yards off his line to intercept an Algerian through ball. He fails, but just as it looks like Slimani is going to go around him and slide the ball into the net, he launches into a tackle and blocks the ball out for a corner.

21.07

Six minutes in and it’s a bit flat. There’s a real danger of a pointless Mexican Wave breaking out.

21.04

Not much happening in the early stages, but Germany are owning the ball like they own most of the Irish economy.

21.00

The handshaking are out of the way, it’s about time to play some football. Germany get us started wearing their dapper white jerseys while Algeria wear a green that makes them look like 11 luminous markers.

20.56

Germany are the big favourites to win at 1/3, but Manuel Neuer is looking a bit worried:

Charlie_Bucket_1971

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20.54

Time for some bad singing of the national anthems …

20.45

Germany are the kings of the last 16. In the seven editions of the World Cup to have a round of 16, they’ve won all seven of their matches:

World Cup 2014 Round of 16 Sweet 16

20.37

Interesting stat:

Not many teams that boast a 100% record against Germany from two encounters. Except of course, the Allied Forces.

20.35

Adrian is joined by Lee Dixon and Glenn Hoddle but stealing the scene are Gordon Strachan’s legs which are brought to us courtesy of a pair of snazzy shorts.

20.31

They;re out of the studio and on the beach!! Oh – this is living.

20.31

Over to ITV where it’s Adrian Chiles time!!!!

20.20

Really hope Jogi Low is on top nose-picking form tonight. If he can re-create the levels he managed against Portugal, we’re in for a treat:

19.55

TEAM NEWS!

Oh yeah! It’s over an hour away, but the Germans have their team announced already. Gotze is restored to the starting XI at the expense of Podolski while Mustafi takes the place of Hummels.

Germany
Neuer; Mustafi, Boateng, Howedes, Mertesacker; Lahm, Schweinsteiger; Ozil, Kroos, Gotze; Muller

Algeria have made a few changes to the team that got the draw they needed against Russia. I could go into detail, but it would be a waste of everyone’s time.

Algeria
M’Bolhi, Ghoulam, Belkalem, Halliche, Lacen, Feghouli, Slimani, Soudani, Taider, Mandi, Mostefa

19.46

Time to shamelessly blow our own trumpets via the medium of telling you about our Money-Back Special for this match:

18.59

Right, that’s about it for this game. The BBC panel are currently panning the Nigerian goalkeeper they were heaping praise on only about two hours ago. I’ll be back for the Germany v Algeria game which gets underway at 9pm.

18.55

FULL TIME! France are successfully into the quarter-finals without tearing into each other.

It’s harsh on Nigeria who played their part in making it a tough afternoon for the French, but Les Bleus had the class to get the job done as the game went on. The French players are currently doing some crap dancing in front of their own fans – oh, you’ve got to love the World Cup.

18.51

SUB! Valbuena is meandering off in no great hurry and Sissoko takes his place for the remaining 90 seconds of this game.

18.50

GOAL! 2-0 FRANCE! And that’s that. Griezmann looks like he scored for France. It’s definitely a goal, but the element of doubt is that it may well go down as an own goal against Yobo.

Griezman tried to get onto the end of a low cross. It looked like he did, but maybe he didn’t. It’s 2-0 – that much we know.

18.47

We’re into injury time and Nigeria have five minutes to save their asses.

18.46

SUB! Victor Moses gets a late hook and Nwofor replaces him for Nigeria.

18.42

CHANCE! Super break from France. Griezmann hits it high from just inside the penalty area. Enyeama gets a firm hand on it to put it out for a corner.

18.38

GOAL! 1-0 FRANCE We’ve got a goal and it’s less surprising than the time Ricky Martin came out of the closet. Pogba nods home after Enyeama flaps at a corner.

France have taken control for the last 10 minutes and they get their reward. Nigeria have about 10 minutes plus stoppage time to turn it around.

18.36

SAVE! France continue to turn the screw. Benzema gets a head onto a Valbuena cross and Enyeama gets it away for a corner!

18.35

CROSSBAR/OFF THE LINE MEGAMIX!! Two great chances for France to take the lead. First of all they have a shot cleared off the line from Benzema and from the breaking ball, Cabaye hits a shot that rattles the crossbar from just outside the box.

Upon reflection, the Benzema shot was more of a cross, but it was hard to tell at the time and I got a bit excited.

18.33

France enjoying their best spell of the match. They’re applying the pressure like French people apply their smug sense of superiority to virtually everything.

18.31

Here’s a picture of the Benzema shot/rebound that definitely didn’t cross the line. If we look closely, we can see it definitely didn’t cross the line.

18.28

CHANCE! Brilliant and then not so brilliant from France. Benzema is played in with a one-two with Griezmann. He’s one on one with Enyeama who saves the shot. The rebound hits Benzema, loops over the keeper and Victor Moses gets back to clear the ball off the line. It really should be 1-0 to France, but great scrambled defending from Nigeria.

18.22

CHANCE! Good save from Hugo Lloris as Peter Odemwingie fires in a shot from about 20 yards out. It’s once again pretty much at the French goalie, but it was hit hard and he gets it away from danger.

18.20

SUB! Olivier Giroud’s handsome good looks have run their course for the afternoon and Antoine Griezmann will try to replace his moody, rugged contribution.

18.19

Around half an hour of normal time remaining. France still the favourites, but they’re hardly dominating and Nigeria are interesting 9/4 shots to qualify for the Quarter-finals.

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18.16

SUB! And that’s the end of Ozani’s afternoon. Gabriel comes on for Nigeria.

18.14

Onazi is stretchered off for the second time today. Rough day at the office.

18.13

YELLOW CARD! Blaise Matuidi goes into the book for going into ankle of Onazi. That was nasty. Not bad enough for a red, but certainly on the more severe end of the yellow card scale. If such a scale actually exists.

18.11

Varane is in the France net. It looks like he took a ball in the temple. That’s not a shit euphemism – I mean the side of his head.

18.07

This is a cracking game if you measure entertainment value by corners that come to nothing.

18.05

The half-time bollockings look like they’ve worked because both teams have started the half brightly. Nigeria counter-attack, win a corner and it comes to nothing.

That sounds a lot less impressive when it’s reduced to those words, but trust me, it was nice to look at.

18.04

Nice play from Giroud. He dispossess the Nigerian defender just outside the penalty area and plays a cross that would have been perfect for anyone who wasn’t the five foot nothing that Mathieu Valbuena is.

18.03

France get us underway for the second half. Doesn’t look like the players have been killing each other during the break.

17.49

HALF-TIME That’s it for the first half. Not the worst game we’ve ever seen, but a bit low on attacking cutting edge.

Nigeria are working hard, but France look like they have the class to up it a gear or two and take control. Having said that, it’s France and they’re just as likely to start ripping each other apart at a moment’s notice.

17.47

Two minutes of added time at the end of an ok, but far from brilliant first half. It’s kind of like the Ellie Goulding of football matches.

17.46

SAVE! And a slightly overly dramatic one from Hugo Lloris. Emenike smashes a shot from the corner of the penalty area, right side. It’s hard, but pretty much straight at Lloris who beats it away, almost into the path of Victor Moses.

17.44

There’s been some nice touches from the diminutive Mathieu Valbuena so far this half:

17.41

CHANCE! Probably not one that deserves capital letters, but a decent one nonetheless.

Debuchy fires wide from about 16 yards out after a nice move from France. It wasn’t gilt-edged, but we have seen them go in on occasion. That really wasn’t the occasion.

17.39

Nice rugby tackle by Evra on Odemwingie during a Nigeria corner. The referee sees it, has a word with the Frenchman about it, but decides not to penalise him. Strange.

17.31

Lloris flaps at a high ball, completely misses it and gets a free-kick as per the ‘secret goalkeeper flapping rule’ that only referees seem to know about.

17.30

Half an hour gone and I’d better talk about betting because it’s really cool and you should do it. Not just because I’m contractually obliged to.

France remain the favourites, although slightly less favouritey than they were earlier. The odds are:

France 8/15 | Draw 13/5 | Nigeria 13/2

BET NOW: DESKTOP | MOBILE

17.25

Here’s the still from that Nigeria offside earlier. Not much in it. Could have been trouble for France if Patrice Evra was chilling out and leaning back any more at the far post.

17.23

GREAT SAVE! Great play from France and a superb save from Enyeama.

France work the ball down the right hand side, Valbuena picks out Pogba in the middle about 14 yards out from goal. He blasts a volley at the Nigerian keeper who manages to beat it away for a corner.

17.20

GOAL!! NO WAIT … NO GOAL! Nigeria get the ball into the French net thanks to a lovely cross from Moussa and a tidy finish from Emenike. It’s given as offside, which it is, but not by much.

17.17

The free-kick gets blasted over and if we’re not careful, we’re going to get our first Mexican wave of the day any time soon.

17.16

Free-kick to Nigeria in a dangerous position. So dangerous that the ref has his magic shaving foam out. 25 yards out, fairly central.

17.16

And just like that, Onazi returns to the fray without a care in the world.

17.15

Ogenyi Onazi is stretchered off the field after coming off second best in a collision with Paul Pogba. There were almost many tears as you get in an average Best Actress Oscar winning speech, so there’s a chance it’ll be the end of his afternoon.

17.10

10 minutes gone and Nigeria have had the better of the opening exchanges. Mind you, that’s about as comforting as being told you’re the most talented one in The Wanted. Cold comfort really.

17.08

It looks like one of the mascots has stayed on the pitch following the anthems and launched himself into a tough tackle on a Nigerian player … no wait … that’s teeny, tiny Mathieu Valbuena.

17.04

It’s begun at a nice leisurely pace. Not dissimilar to the pace you’d play at in the park on a sunny day with your mates with a beer in your hand. None of the players have a beer in their hands I might clarify.

16.59

Nigeria get the game underway – wearing their customary green kits. France wear white and sport some very spiky hairstyles.

16.58

That really was some top class terrible singing of the national anthems. And with the obligatory heart-felt handshakes out of the way, it’s about to begin. France win the coin-toss and Hugo Lloris decides he fancies the shaded part of the ground for the first half.

16.54

The teams are out on the pitch and about to indulge in some bad singing of their national anthems.

16.54

The panel are currently lavishing praise on Rafeal Varane of France. Martin Keown is impressed as they watch a highlights montage.

I sit and watch this with my son.

What a picture of perfect parenting that is.

‘Daaaaddddddd. Can we not just go to the playground?’
‘No son. Now get your pencil and notepad and pass me that Best of Titus Bramble DVD.’

16.49

Good to see Adrian Chiles enjoying a bit of time off. Less good to see that amount of his chest.

16.47

Nigeria lost narrowly to Argentina in their last group game and at half-time time, Nigerian goalie, Vincent Enyeama had a few [light-hearted] words to the ref about giving Lionel Messi free-kicks.

16.39

Danny Murphy is reviewing the Robben penalty that saw the Netherlands go through against Mexico and he’s not happy. Talking about the incident he says:

I watched that 400 times yesterday and there’s no contact until Robben kicks him [Marquez].

So you got to see it just the 399 more times than the referee, in slow motion and you’re still not sure. Cheers.

16.36

Rio Ferdinand, Danny Murphy and Martin Keown join Gary in the BBC studio. Keown looks like he’s going to pick up his chair, throw it through the window and make a break for the freedom and thongs of Copacabana beach behind him.

16.31

It’s over to BBC1 where already Gary Lineker is looking insufferably smug.

16.20

If you’re desperately trying to look busy in the office until today’s first match begins and you’re thinking ‘I wonder what ginger footballing legend, Paul Scholes makes of today’s matches’ then you are in luck because here’s the thoughts of ginger footballing legend, Paul Scholes on today’s matches.

16.10

It’s TEAM NEWS time – the news that ‘s so important it needs unnecessary capital letters and underlining.

Didier Deschamps has named a team high on quality, but sadly lacking in outrageous hairstyles. Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema will carrying the bulk of the goalscoring threat, while Patrice Evra will look brilliant when attacking, but then like a total liability in defence.

France
Lloris (c), Debuchy, Evra, Varane, Cabaye, Valbuena, Giroud, Benzema, Matuidi, Pogba, Koscielny

The Nigeria team looks a lot like it should, but Victor Moses gets his first start since the opening game against Iran.

Nigeria
Enyeama, Yobo (c), Ambrose, Musa, Odemwingie, Emenike, Mikel, Moses, Oshaniwa, Onazi, Omeruo

19.01

It was 1986 when they hosted the World Cup that they last reached the QF’s – while the Dutch become the first European team to get there at World Cup 2014. Will Greece join them later tonight? Here’s a snazzy image of the continental divide.

WC_continentaldivide

18.58

FULL TIME: Holland go through in dramatic fashion but you have to feel sorry for Mexico. A real game of two halves to use the over-used cliche and the South American’s wait to reach the last eight continues.

18.56

Mexico are throwing everything forward

18.56

Ochoa dives the wrong way as RVP’s replacement scores the 25th goal from a player coming off the bench. And Holland are just minutes away from being the eighth team to come from behind and win.

18.54

GOAL: Super sub Huntelaar may just have fired Holland into the last eight

18.52

PENALTY: The third foul inside the box on Robben gives the Dutch a penalty. Marquez lunges in and the ref points to the spot.

18.51

Six minutes of injury time: Someone could be a hero yet

18.50

Extra time just a few minutes away. Dutch may have gotten out of jail here for the time being.

18.48

GOAL: Sneijder fires in from the edge of the box to pull Holland level. Keeper no chance. Rocket into the bottom corner.

18.47

Holland break to win the 10th corner of the game. Need to make it count

18.46

5 MINS LEFT: Hernandez takes the pressure off Mexico by running at the Dutch defence

18.45

OFFSIDE: Huntelaar gets on the end of a Robben cross but Ochoa gets his body in the way again

18.44

I think this Mexican weather woman is happy the Dutch are wilting in the heat

mexico-weatherwoman

18.40

STAT: Players coming off the bench have scored 24 goals at World Cup 14. Will one get the 25th here?

Bet now: Desktop | Mobile  

 

18.39

RESTART: Ochoa kicks it out for Mexico as we get underway again

18.38

COOLING BREAK: Another chance to get the tactics across as we enter the final 15 minutes. Are Mexico ready to park the bus?

18.36

SUB: RVP taken off as Huntelaar comes on.

18.36

SUB: Peralta makes way for Javier Hernandez. Don’t fancy his chances of a long-tern future at United if he scores here

18.34

Robben getting some joy down the flanks but Ochoa blocks on the edge of the six-yard area

18.33

Mexico happy to play it out from defence and win a free kick just inside their own half

18.30

Kuyt whips in a cross but Reyes clears for corner number seven – Mexico deal with it but Dutch have possession

18.29

BOOKING: Aguilar will miss the next game if Mexico progress after getting a yellow card

18.28

PENALTY SHOUT: Robben’s jinking run ends with him throwing himself to the ground in front of the ref – no spot kick

18.26

OFFSIDE: Peralta scores but flag was up

18.25

Robben floats in the fifth corner of the game but the Dutch are having no joy from dead-ball situations

18.24

CLOSE: Sneijder ghosts in but just can’t make contact from a Robben cross

18.22

Ochoa hardly had a save to make in the first period but could end up being man-of-the-match as the Dutch press forward. Looks assured so far

18.21

The Dutch ramping it up now as Mexico take off goalscorer dos Santos for club mate Aquino 

18.19

Easily the best chance for Holland as they try to get back on level terms – needed the post to keep it out too

18.18

GREAT SAVE: Ochoa point blank save from the sub Depay – just like the one he made against Brazil

18.17

SUB: van Gaal brings on Memphis Depay for Paul Verhaegh to try and get their attack going

18.16

SHOT: Peralto fires in another shot for Mexico that has Cillessen in trouble

18.14

CORNER: Reyes gets across to block Robben. Another corner floated in but Dutch give it away too easily.

18.13

FREE KICK: Sneijder hits it straight at the wall from 25 yards out

18.11

Looks like an uphill battle for the Netherlands now if they can’t up it a gear. Mexico have gone odds on

Bet: desktop | mobile 

18.08

GOAL: Out of nothing dos Santos fires in from 25 yards to give Mexico the lead

18.06

SUB: Reyes has officially replaced Moreno for the second period

18.05

SECOND HALF: The Dutch didn’t look like a side that scored 10 in the group stages as they get the second half underway. 38.8 degrees in places in the first half 

17.50

HALF TIME: Diego Reyes could replace him when the players return. Hard game to call

17.50

STRETCHER: Hector Morena is carried off

17.48

Robben can be overly theatrical at times though

Arjen Robben

17.47

MISTAKE: Rafael Marquez slips to nearly let RVP and Robben in on goal. Penalty shout for the Dutch not given

17.45

The Dutch seem to be happy playing the waiting game in this heat. No fluency to their play as we enter time added in the first half

17.43

CHANCE: Good break by Mexico but dos Santos can’t find the net from a tight angle

17.40

If the players can have a cooling break we should have a drinking game right?

drinking-game_template-day-8-feature

17.36

Mexico are coping much better with the conditions and have that extra yard of pace going forward

17.35

Game gets underway again

17.35

The cooling break is all very well for the players – but it means we have three more minutes of Adrian Chiles & Co. to listen too. FIFA may need to rethink this …

17.32

And here it is. The first official three-minute water break to counter the 35 degree heat. Time will be added on at the end of this half.

17.31

That Spain result seems a long time ago now for Van Gaal’s side as we pass the half-hour mark. Mexico have threatened more.

Latest Odds: Desktop | Mobile 

17.29

Peralta and dos Santos are causing real trouble for the Dutch defence  – dragging them out of position every time they get the ball up front

17.27

Holland passing it around at the back before a long ball to RVP. Brings it down but shoots off target

17.25

Ball looks to come off RVP and Kuyt but ref gives Holland a goal kick for some strange reason

17.24

Mexico are working the ball well and Salcido tests the Dutch ‘keeper from 25 yards. Turned away for a corner

17.23

We got a penalty shoot out in the Brazil v Chile game and this offer on the usual markets applies to all round of 16 games

800x400_penalty_shootout

17.20

CORNER: Mix up in Dutch defence gives Mexico the first corner of the game

17.19

Some patient build-up play by the Dutch but all in front of the Mexican defence. RVP penalised for tugging at a Mexican’s shirt

17.17

CHANCE: Herrera just shoots wide after some good work by Peralta

17.16

SHOUT: Robben looks for a penalty after his cross hits a Mexican defender’s arm

17.14

CHANCE: Layun whips in a teasing cross but just too long for dos Santos. Mexico have had the better of these opening 15 minutes

17.13

Good break by Mexico but the Dutch clear their lines

17.11

Just as well I got that de Jong gag in ‘early doors’

17.10

SUB: Spoke to soon. De Jong has been taken off after just nine minutes! Bruno Martins Indi has slotted in at centre-back

17.08

Apparently Nigel de Jong has already claimed he’s not a dirty player. Nigel-de-Jong-warming-up

17.07

The new Manchester United boss has claimed that the players could start hallucinating if they don’t get enough liquids on board

17.06

It’s hotter than Mila Kunis at pitch-side and Louis van Gaal has demanded that the players are allowed water breaks during the game

17.04

Poor cross there by Wesley Sneijder for Van Persie and Mexico build from the back

17.03

SHOT: Layun lets fly for Mexico but it sails over Cillessen’s bar

17.02

Dirk Kuyt is winning his 100th cap and starts again at wing back in a Dutch 3-5-2

17.00

KICK OFF:  Mexico get us underway

16.56

Just getting the anthems underway now. Holland 11/10 Draw 23/10. Mexico 14/5

Bet now: DESKTOP 

16.37

TEAM NEWS: 

Netherlands: Cillessen, Vlaar, De Vrij, Blind, De Jong, Van Persie (c), Sneijder, Robben, Verhaegh, Kuyt, Wijnaldum.

Mexico: Ochoa, Rodriguez, Salcido, Marquez (c), Herrera, Layun, Dos Santos, Moreno, Guardado, Peralta, Aguilar.

22.52

FULL TIME! Colombia are into the quarters and face Brazil on Friday, deservedly. Uruguay join Suarez on the sofa. Best team, by far, won. Disciplined, fast, attacking side. Go on the lads.

22.51

If Cavani is a £55m striker we want a raise.

22.50

Wonder how the Uruguay fans and management feel now after being let down by Suarez? Still as loyal? His biting has cost them making any meaningful attempt at progress beyond the last 16.

22.48

Three added minutes and not a snowball’s chance of penalties in this one.

22.47

There’s a sea of glorious yellow in the stadium. Some are cheering. Some are not – that’s because they are Brazilian fans who scored some tickets. Still, we love yellow.

22.45

Cavani goes down after being fouled. He and Christian Rodriguez have been the main dangers for Uruguay in the second half but they’re a bit toothless without that other lad.

 

22.44

Cavani gets a kinda-miscued-shot on target and forces a corner as James Rodriguez leaves the pitch and Adrian Ramo (Borussia Dortmund) comes on. Bit more shirt pulling and nonsense from the players. Nothing comes from the corner and we’re into the last five minutes. Paul Scholes had predicted a 3-1 win to Colombia and he was pretty right with the two-goal margin at least.

22.41

Colombia heading for their first World Cup quarter-final appearance. Uruguay 6/1 to score the next goal.

22.39

Cuadrado comes off to a standing ovation as Fredy Guarin of Inter Milan comes on. Uruguay still trying to press but Colombia have now reverted to 10 at the back. Can’t blame them really.

22.37

Great chance for Uruguay – Pereira forces a great close-range save from Ospina. There’s life in the old dogs yet.

22.36

Armero limps back on for Colombia after that incident. God Uruguay are poor. Poor in only the way a team capable of knocking England out are.

22.35

Fisticuffs on the pitch and somebody gets a yellow on the bench. Uruguay don’t look happy. There’s a shock. It was injured Lugano who’s got the card.

22.34

Cuadrado (plays for Fiorentina) is having a blinder of a tournament really. He goes juggling down the left wing with the prospect of him taking on Thiago Silva or Marcelo next Friday night looking very tasty. Nom.

22.29

Colombia’s passing way ahead of their rivals. Their pass total is at 382 compared to Uruguay’s 285.

22.25

King James is loving it…

22.24

Uruguay again coming back into the game a little. Christian Rodriguez has just had a thundering saved by David Ospina to his left.

22.21

Almost forgot. Here’s a cheeky little Vine of that second Colombia goal…

22.19

Uruguay hacking away at Colombia. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a red card in this game yet. Looking at you, Arevalo Rios.

22.18

The latest World Cup prices see Colombia in to 11/1. GULP!

22.17

Gonzalez gets a daisy-cutter on target for Uruguay. People still say ‘daisy cutter’ right?

22.15

Rodriguez has gone down heavily under a tackle from Cavani which Andy Townsend has described as ‘a bit naughty’. He’s back up, thankfully.

22.13

Low free-kick straight into the wall. We won’t hold that against him.

22.13

Terrible tackle from Gimenez sees him get a yellow close to the edge of the Uruguay box. Danger here, as one may say. Rodriguez will take the free kick.

22.12

Cuadrado has four assists now for Colombia in this tournament. Time for Uruguay to ring the changes – Diego Forlan is off and Cristian Stuani comes on while Southampton’s Ramirez replaces Pereira.

22.09

Beautiful cross from Armero, Cuadrado nods it down. That man bangs it in. What would this Colombia team have done with Falcao in the team?

22.07

2-0 to Colombia. Rodriguez again after a stunning team move.

22.05

Diego Forlan’s got an interesting free-kick technique. It’s a bit of a hoof, really. Not unlike something you’d see from the half-way like at Croke Park.

22.04

We’re off again, with Uruguay pressing. Anyone remember the last brilliant Colombia No10? Course you do.

22.02

Martin O’Neill, speaking on ITV, tells Cavani to get the finger out. Here, here. Sh*t or get off the gold-plated pot.

22.01

More Rodriguez-lovin’ – he’s scored in each of his last six internationals.

22.00

Second-half coming up.

Colombia 2/7, Uruguay 12/1, draw 7/2.

21.58

Here’s how the first-half stats have emerged

Colombia – Greece

13 DANGEROUS ATTACKS 12
7 TOTAL ATTEMPTS 3
1 DELIVERIES IN PENALTY AREA 2
7 CLEARANCES 2
223 PASSES COMPLETED 113

0 BITING 0

21.52

Here’s a nice GIF of THAT goal. Beaut.

21.49

Here’s a handy montage of Rodriguez celebration pix which will come in handy while I raid the fridge for cold pizza.

https://twitter.com/WorIdCupTweets/status/482988503127445505

21.47

Half-time. Probably the best goal of the tournament so far gives Colombia the lead. Uruguay not out of it yet despite the 12/1 price.

21.43

Forlan and Rodriguez standing out in the first half for their respective teams. Wonder where Suarez is watching from? Oh, here’s a handy heat map…

21.39

Great shot from Gonzalez on the right side of the box on the half-volley brings a save from Ospina.

21.38

Uruguay getting in nice crosses down Colombia’s left wing. Diego Forlan is getting fiesty in the box with a bit of pushing and shoving. Think somebody slagged his hairband. Yepes says sorry.

21.34

Down the other end, Cavani pings a free over the bar. Colombia now 1/4. Uruguay out to 13/1. Draw 7/2.

21.33

Here’s a Vine of that Rodriguez goal…

21.31

Meanwhile, a lovely cross from Cavani is turned away for a corner by Sanchez. Forlan takes but it’s headed away. Getting lively now.

21.31

Four goals in four games for Rodriguez. No doubt we’ll see the headlines about Premier League clubs knocking. However, he did cost Monaco €45million so won’t be cheap…

21.28

OH MY GOD! Stunning goal from Rodriguez. Volley from outside the box. 1-0 Colombia.

21.26

If the last game had it all – Neymar, penalties, flair, daft defending – this game is the opposite so far. It’s got a lot of whistling from the crowd though. And silly fans waving at the camera.

21.24

Colombia are spending more time on the floor than Natalie “Fig” Figueroa in Orange is the New Black.

21.23

Arevalo Rios commits a foul. Won’t be the last. But Colombia waste the free kick from distance.

21.22

Corner to Colombia (a clever little routine) – into the back post and… nothing happens after a bit of slopping about.

21.20

Latest odds: Colombia 13/10, draw 17/10, Uruguay 3/1. Mark to win Big Brother (is that still going?) 9/4.

21.17

Cavani fact! He’s a devout Christian who worshipped Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta as a boy. That is, when Cavani was a boy he worshipped the professional Batistuta. He didn’t worship a young Batistuta. That’d be just weird.

 

21.14

Forlan’s resorted to shooting from 40 years. Over the bar and far away.

21.13

A picture from our pals across the desk…

21.12

First decent chance for Colombia – their right back, Juan Zuniga, lashes a shot on target but saved.

21.11

Uruguay coming into it a little, inspired by their pro-Suarez team talk, and Forlan is dropping deep to pull the strings.

21.09

Andy Townsend predicts Cavani could be a big player tonight for Uruguay. Not hard to see why he gets the big bucks. Still, we said similar, we just enjoy taking the piss out of Andy. Cavani has 22 goals in 63 games for his country. Solid.

21.07

We’ve seen the Uruguay tactics sheet for tonight. ‘KICK FELLA IN THE YELLA’ it says.

21.06

Rodriguez swings in the free but it’s punched away by Muslera. All Colombia so far. They’re high on life.

21.04

Some nice early touches from Rodriguez in the middle of the park and Cuadrado has just won a free kick on the right for Colombia.

21.02

Two minutes gone, and there’s been quite a bit of hoofing, kicking and Andy Townsend. Grim.

21.00

PEEEEEEEP! We’re off!

20.59

Think Colombia are a big price? Previously they had not qualified for a World Cup since 1998 and their best performance is still only a last-16 place when El Pibe, Carlos Valderrama, was the midfield general, back at Italia 90. (I’ve backed them outright though. Along with Chile and Spain. Omen).

20.57

Colombia’s James Rodríguez has two assists and three goals so far – marking him out as the most creative player from the group stages.

20.55

It’s anthem time! Saturday night, I feel the air is… blah blah.

If you’re not near a telly, the Maracana looks bloody unbelievable from the air.

Mark Lawrenson also looks good from a considerable distance.

20.52

Yes, the entire Uruguay team plays better with Suarez in it. But they’ve still got 53-year-old Diego Forlan (player of the tournament in 2010) and pretty boy Edinson Cavani who’s due a cracker, right?

 

20.45

Over on ITV, Adrian Chiles is talking about how Luis Suarez needs help.

The millions watching might need help after viewing Chiles’ flip-flop and pink t-shirt combo. Painful.

Martin O’Neill wonders if Suarez has got an Irish grandmother. Hmmm.

 

20.42

Recap – Whigfield’s real name was Sannie Charlotte Carlson (born 11 April 1970).

20.41

Recap – Brazil are through despite missing two penalties and will face the winners of this game on Friday.

20.40

Anyone remember Comical Ali?

Well, Uruguay’s plodding captain Diego Lugano flipped on Wednesday when he asked about the Suarez incident. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” They’re loyal if nothing else.

20.36

This is our favourite tweet of the week.

20.34

Colombia are favourites to win tonight at 11/10 with Uruguay at 14/5. However, we’ve just spotted a large Dominos delivery to the traders and with that amount of pizza and Coke on board lord knows what’s going to happen the prices in running. Right now, Cavani is a 12/5 anytime goalscorer shot if that tickles your fancy over here.

20.31

The team news for tonight. Diego Forlan replaces Count Suarez.

Uruguay (3-5-2): Muslera; Caceres, Gimenez, Godin; Maxi Pereira, Arevalo Rios, Gonzalez, Rodriguez, Alvaro Pereira; Forlan, Cavani

Colombia (4-4-2): Ospina; Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero; Sanchez, Aguilar, Cuadrado, Rodriguez; Gutierrez, Jackson

20.01

FULL, FULL TIME: Brazil reach the last eight as the cliches start to roll out in the BBC studio. Chile pushed them all the way and whatever about tonight’s result they will have to raise their game again against the winner of Colombia v Uruguay coming up at 9pm. They won’t worry about that as the party gets started across Brazil right about now.

19.55

Championship journeyman Jara hits the post and Brazil are through 

19.55

Neymar makes it 3-2. #Nervesofsteel

19.54

ALL SQUARE: Diaz makes it 2-2

19.52

Miss 

Hulk fires it off the keeper Bravo

19.52

Rocket

Chile get one back

 

19.51

Marcello makes it 2-0 to Brazil

19.50

Alexis Sanches …

Cesar saves again  – still 1-0 to Brazil

19.49

Willian up next ..

and MISSES

19.49

SAVE: Julio Cesar saves from Mauricio Pinilla

19.48

Here we go ….

GOAL: David Luis scores the first penalty for Brazil

19.43

800x400_penalty_shootout

Not great news if you’re supporting Brazil or Chile and close to a nervous breakdown. But very good news if you’ve backed a loser in the first/last, correct score or Scorecast betting as you’ll be getting money back as a free bet.

19.40

FULL TIME (again): The first game of the round of 16 produces a penalty shoot-out

19.39

Ball breaks to Ramirez on the edge of the box but he drags his shot past Bravo who is in no hurry to kick it out

19.37

HITS THE BAR: Pinilla fires it off the crossbar completely against the run of play but Brazil have a corner from the break

19.36

There’s more prone bodies on the pitch than an episode of Game of Thrones. Just two minutes left

19.34

Brazil pushing forward relentlessly as Chile looked to have parked the bus. Hard to breakdown though.

19.30

Sloppy passing by Alves (twice) but Chile fail to make the most of it. Has the look of penalties with seven minutes left

19.27

Willian adding a bit of impetus to Brazil’s attack as the hosts try to make this half count

19.25

SUB: Rojas replaces the heavily-strapped Gary Medal. Been superb for Chile in defence

19.22

Brazil get the second period underway

19.19

HALF TIME (again): First half of extra-time ends

19.18

One minute of injury time left in extra time

19.15

SHOT: Bravo gets down well to parry away a pile-driver from Hulk. Good save

19.14

YELLOW CARD: Pinilla booked for foul on David Luiz

19.13

Header by Oscar at the back post saved by Bravo

19.11

Jo getting in good positions but Brazil not making it count

19.07

Sanchez fouled in midfield as three Brazilians hound him – he’s getting a touch of the treatment Chile have been giving Neymar

19.05

BOOKED: Jo gets a yellow card though which may have been a little harsh.

19.05

FOUL: Jo races onto a long ball from defence and clatters into Claudio Bravo who was slow off his line. Free out for Chile.

19.03

Could be a good time to get the World Cup drinking game started

19.02

EXTRA TIME: Chile kick off in the first period

19.01

Both side went rope-a-dope in the first half so it’s whoever has the legs now. Or the bottle if it goes to penalties.

Bet now on: DESKTOP

18.54

FULL TIME: Howard Webb blows the final whistle so 30 minutes of extra-time at least.

18.53

Danger cleared as Brazil get a free out. Bet it gets launched …

18.53

Acres of space for Diaz as he drives forward and shoots as Alves turns it behind for a corner

18.51

Brazil throw as we enter the 90th minute.

18.50

Into the final three minutes and Chile are swarming over Neyamr. They’ve really blunted the Brazilian attack by hassling the Barca man every time he gets the ball

18.47

Blow for Chile as Vidal replaced by Mauricio Pinilla

18.45

Chile look to be playing for extra-time now. Slowing it right down

18.44

GREAT SAVE: Hulk bustles forward beats two players and fires in a right-foot shot that Bravo saves. Bravo!

18.41

Are we heading for extra time?

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18.39

Marcelo Diaz pulling the strings for Chile in midfield now. Brazil have slowed the tempo

18.35

CHANCE: Hulk whips in a fantastic cross that Jo fails to convert. You’ve heard that before too.

18.34

Sloppy defensive clearances by Brazil as they start to look a bit tired

18.21

Nice graphic here by Rob Dore of the World Cup’s Continental divide

WC_continentaldivide

18.15

DISALLOWED GOAL: Hulk gets booked for controlling with his arm before firing into the net. Brazil not happy.

18.14

Long ball from the Chilean keeper Bravo finds Mena out wide but his cross floats out and Brazil break forward

18.12

Vidal robs Neymar of possession in the centre of the pitch. Cleanly, for once.

18.10

STRIKE: Fernandinho gets an early shot in

18.09

End to end stuff – much like the first half. Hard to see how they’ll both keep up this pace for the 90 minutes.

18.06

KICK OFF: Brazil start the second half

17.55

No doubting who got Chile’s equaliser though ….

17.53

Francisco Silva picked up a booking for Chile (40 mins) so he’ll also miss the QF should they advance

17.51

Still some doubt over who got the goal. Fifa going with Luiz apparently

17.49

HALF TIME: Webb blows up for half time and it’s all to play for in the second period

17.48

Second corner to Chile as Brazil look rattled

17.47

Chile break forward and Brazil scramble it away on the stroke of half time. Squeaky bum time

17.47

Neymar breaks forward but Fred and Fernandinho get in each other’s with two minutes of injury time

17.45

Chile play themselves into trouble but luckily for them it fell to Fred.

17.44

STRIKE: Stunning effort by Alves

17.41

CHANCE: Ball ricochets out to Fred who skies it over

17.39

Oscar gets a second corner in but Claudio Bravo punches clear

17.37

CHANCE: Oscar floats in a cross that Neymar just fails to convert as Silva gets the block in

17.36

Brazil gift Chile a goal after Marcelo messes up a straight-forward throw in the corner. Different game now.

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17.33

GOAL: Alexis Sanchez equalises.

17.33

Chile press forward as Silva finds Row Z from inside his own box

17.32

Neymar back on his expensively-priced feet

17.30

Fred falls over – and not for the first time as Vidal upends Neymar down by the touchline

17.27

Neymar sprints forward but drags his shot wide across goal

17.26

Brazil long odds on now at 1/5 to win over 90 mins. Draw 11/2. Chile 13/1.

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17.23

Free kick to Chile as Marcelo gets a little too up close and personal with Diaz. Danger cleared

17.21

Chile caught out by a set piece again. That and not having anyone over 4′ 8″ in their squad.

17.20

GOAL: David Luiz scores from a croner by Neymar and flick by Thiago Silva. 1-0 Brazil.

17.19

YELLOW CARD: Mena booked and will miss QF if Chile go through.

17.17

CHANCE: Neymar breaks forward into the box but no-one there to support him

17.16

Neymar curls it in but Claudio Bravo gathers easily in the Chilean goal.

17.16

FREE KICK: Gustavo fouled on the edge of the area

17.15

Big call:  Good run from Hulk – took a 1-2 into the box – and went down – NO PENALTY

17.13

Felipe Scolari out of the dug out now as Chile stretching his side a bit

17.11

Vidal wins a free kick for Chile as Hulk clatters into him

17.10

Sanchez bundled over in midfield as Chile try to counter

17.09

Chilean manager Jorge Sampaoli prowling the touchline as Neymar gets some attention to his leg. Limping a bit. Neymar that is.  Sampaoli fine.

17.07

Just wide: Hulk swings in a corner and Marcello gets a shot in from the edge of the box.

17.06

Took over three minute but Neymar has been fouled

17.05

Free kick to Chile as Howard Webb comes close to booking Fernandinho

17.04

Brazil keeping the ball in the early stages

17.03

Martin Keown calls the atmosphere ‘spine-tingling’ which it’s fair to say has never been applied to his punditry.

17.01

GAME ON: Howard Webb in his non-customary Manchester United gear gets the match underway as Chile kick off.

16.59

Chile try to get their own back – but no chance. The hosts are fired up. That’s the most I’ve seen Fred move in three games.

16.57

Brazil’s fans drown out Chile’s national anthem by booing. Bad form. But hardly a shock.

16.54

But if it that seems like too much work for a Saturday night there’s always our Beerly Legal Drinking game.

16.52

We’ve crunched a few numbers too in What to expect in the Round of 16

16.48

The two ‘Alans’ Hansen and Shearer running through the strengths/weaknesses of Brazil and Chile in a by no means heavily-scripted piece by the BBC stats’ team.

16.35

TEAM NEWS: 

Brazil:

Julio Cesar, Alves, Silva, Luiz, Fernandinho, Marcelo, Hulk, Fred, Neymar, Oscar, Gustavo

 

Chile: 

Bravo, Mena, Isla, Silva, Sanchez, Vidal, Vargas, Medel, Jara, Aranguiz, Dias.

22.54

FULL-TIME: Belgium win 1-0 despite playing more than half the game with ten men. The 1-1 draw in the other game means Algeria go through to face Germany and Belgium progress as group winners. Their reward is to face Team America in the next round.

22.49

South Korea are still looking for a goal. Lee hits one straight at Courtois who doesn’t do very well but does enough to keep it out.

22.47

Great Save. hazard darts into the box and smashes a shot across Kim who gets a strong hand on it to keep it out.

22.46

Eden Hazard gets a run out, replacing Mirallas for the last few minutes.

22.44

Belgium are going through as group winners. South Korea are going out but in the other game, which is poised delicately at 1-1, a Russian goal will see them go through as runners-up. If it remains 1-1 Algeria will play Germany in the second round.

22.42

The eleven men are still pushing to get something out of this game but they’ve lacked a bit of composure in good attacking situations. Belgium have defended well.

22.39

South Korea haven’t given up. Lee Keunho gets his toe on a ball through the middle but he can’t keep it down and it goes over.

22.37

Origi hits a shot from the edge of the box, Kim gets down to make the save but he only pushes into Vertonghen’s path and the makeshift left-back puts Belgium on course for nine points and meeting with Team America.

22.35

GOAL: Vertonghen puts Belgium 1-0 up.

22.31

Belgium are looking dangerous. Chadli carries the ball into the box, gets a shot away which is deflected behind.

22.23

Son is played in through the middle and bears down on goal, Vertonghen puts in a fine challenge before he can get a shot away.

22.21

In the other game Algeria have equalised through Islam Slimani. That puts the African side through as things stand.

22.19

Belgium make a double change with Chadli and Origi on for januzaj and Mertens.

22.19

Ki get up well for a corner a heads the ball down in to the ground. It bounces safely into Courtois’ hands.

22.17

South Korea hit the crossbar with a speculative cross.

22.16

Mertens gets forward and hits one from outside the box. Kim gets down and pushes it away.

22.10

Some good play from South Korea. Lee Keunho gets up well for a cross but the towering fellaini gets back and heads away. The eleven men in white are starting to control this game.

22.07

Dembele goes in the book for a foul on Ki.

22.05

An awkward challenge leaves Hong in need of treatment. He looks okay to continue.

22.04

KICK-OFF: South Korea start the second-half.

21.49

HALF-TIME: The score remains 0-0 but with Belgium down to ten men South Korea can still dream. A stonking half-time team talk from national legend Hong Myung-bo is needed now.

21.45

RED CARD: Defour is off for a nasty looking little two-footed stamp. Well spotted officials, have to agree with that one.

21.42

Mertens tries an odd hook shot thing from distance. Not a bad effort but nothing too troubling for Kim.

21.40

Januzaj returns the favour and fouls Ki, whose cross from the free-kick sails over everyone in the Belgium box and goes out for a goal-kick.

21.38

Vertonghen smashes another one but the ball is charged down following the lay-off from the free-kick.

21.37

Ki barges into the back of Januzaj to give away a free-kick on the edge of his own box.

21.34

Hong goes in the book for dragging Mirallas back.

21.34

Another woeful effort from Mertens. He has defenders in front f him but that’s no excuse for ablooning another one into row Z…or whatever the rows go up to.

21.32

Belgium break through Mirallas, the ball is worked over to Fellaini whose cross has to be punched away by Kim.

21.31

And from the corner Dembele almost deflects the ball into his own net but again Courtois gets down at his near post to turn it away.

21.30

Now that’s better from Ki. Belgium are dispossessed in midfield which results in Ki aiming one toward the bottom left corner which Courtois turns away.

21.29

South Korea are looking to get forward it’s just there’s a lack of quality when they do. Ki scuffs a shot badly wide.

21.25

Miss of the tournament? I think so. Fellaini heads it down to Mirallas, he lays it off to Mertens who proceeds to blast it way over the bar from about four yards out.

21.24

Mertens passes to Mirallas in the box, it’s slightly behind the Everton man so he can’t get a shot away. Probably would have scored if he had. He maintains possession works his way out right and puts in a decent cross. His team-mates stood and watched instead of trying to get on the end of it.

21.20

Mirallas runs 50 yards with the ball and slots it in the bottom corner. Sadly he was well off-side and the game remains 0-0.

21.19

Vetonghen tries his luck from 30 yards out. Fortune does not favour the Spurs centre-half as the ball nestles somewhere in the middle tier.

21.13

South Korea enjoying more possession now. They’ve yet to test Courtois in the Belgian goal but at least they’re not sitting back.

21.11

Russia take the lead against Algeria through Kokorin. As it stands Belgium and Russia progress.

21.09

Mertens whips in a dangerous cross and Seung-gyu clears with a flying one-handed punch.

21.08

South Korea appeal for a penalty when Koo Ja Cheol swan dives to the ground. No chance son.

21.04

Dembele takes an early knock and receives some treatment on the pitch.

21.00

Kick-Off: Belgium get the game under way and go right on the attack.

20.33

South Korea make just two changes. Between the sticks Kim Seung-gyu replaces Jung Sung-ryong and up front Park Chu-young makes way for Kim Shinwook.

20.28

Unsurprisingly Marc Wimots has made a number of changes to the Belgian team. Seven to be exact. Alderweireld and Witsel are both on yellow cards so they start on the bench. Vermaelen has a knock and Hazard needs a rest from being underwhelming. De Bruyne, Kompany and Lukaku are also rested.

20.12

Team News

South Korea: S G Kim, S Y Yun, Y G Kim, H M Son, Y Lee, J C Koo, K Y Han, S Y Ki, C Y Lee, S W Kim, J H Hong.

Belgium: Courtois, Vertonghen, Fellaini, Mirallas, Mertens, Van Buyten, Defour, Lombaerts, Dembele, Januzaj, Vanden Borre.

18.54

FULL-TIME: It’s all over in both games. Germany go through as group winners and the USA join them as runners-up. They’ve impressed so far in this tournament and you wouldn’t put it past them to beat Belgium in the second round.

18.51

The USA almost equalise at the death. A wonderful sweeping counter-attack ends in Bradley’s shot being blocked behind. Dempsey then goes close from the corner but he can’t keep his header down.

18.50

Germany finishing this game on the attack. Just two more minutes…U!S!A!

18.49

We’re in to injury-time with four minutes being shown on the assistant’s board.

18.47

The final change for Germany as Schurrle replaces Ozil.

18.46

The USA have dropped right back as they look to hold on without conceding again.

18.43

Yedlin comes on for Zusi as Klinsmann makes his second change.

18.41

More good last ditch defending from the USA. Gotze finds Ozil but Besler produces a great sliding tackle to clear the danger.

18.40

Ten minutes to go and it’s Germany and the USA going through as things stand…plenty of time for things to change though.

18.38

The tensions ease for the USA as Ronaldo gives Portugal a 2-1 lead.

18.37

It’s still all-square between Ghana and Portugal. One more goal for the Africans and the USA could be out.

18.34

Germany make a change bringing on Mario Gotze on for the impressive and oft-kicked Bastian Schweinsteiger.

18.32

There’s been a lot less of an attacking threat from the USA in this half so far….they do finally get some men forward and two of them run in to each other. Jones and Bedoya are currently prostrate on the turf after an unnecessary clash of heads…that’s the second time Jones has run in to someone today after his clash with the ref in the first half.

18.28

A long ball in to the box comes of Lahm’s head and goes behind for a corner….a poor delivery from Zusi is easily nodded away.

18.26

18.22

Neuer proves he’s awake as he rushes out to clear a through ball from Bradlye, Jermaine Jones was outpacing the German defenders.

18.20

Kyle Beckerman has just had his mellow harshed after he receives a booking for a foul on Schweinsteiger. The German number 7 is taking a kicking today.

18.18

Alejandro Bedoya, who is just on for Brad Davis, is lucky to avoid an instant yellow for hacking down Schweinsteiger.

18.15

Ghana score to make it 1-1 against Portugal through Asamoah Gyan.

18.14

Howard saves from Schweinsteiger, the balls comes out to Muller and he curls in a fine, right footed strike from 20 yards out.

18.12

GOAL: Muller puts Germany 1-0 up.

18.10

Klose goes close to breaking the goalscoring record. Schweinsteiger chips one in to the box, the defenders in white leave Klose go and he almost gets his header on target. He just has the knack that man.

18.08

Suarez looks even weirder without teeth….

18.05

Great defending from Omar Gonzalez, getting in to put Ozil off what could have been a simple nod-in from Boateng’s cross.

18.03

KICK-OFF: Germany get the second-half started.

18.03

Germany make a change with Klose on for Podolski. The Arsenal man did bugger all in the first half.

18.02

The teams are back out on the pitch.

17.55

John Boye’s impressive own goal in the Portugal v Ghana game.

17.46

HALF-TIME: A couple of tasty tackles wrap up an interesting but not exactly action packed first half in Recife. Portugal still lead 1-0 against Ghana.

17.42

Germany sticking with the intricate passing football around the USA box but the white shirts are getting their tackles in.

17.37

Gonzalez goes in the book for a foul on Schweinsteiger.

17.35

Ozil cuts in from the left wing, makes some space in the box and hits a hard, low shot which Howard has to push away. Better from Germany.

17.33

Things aren’t quite clicking for Germany and there are some signs of frustration as Schweinsteiger over hits a pass in the final third.

17.31

We have our first goal of the afternoon. John Boye slices a cross over his own goalkeeper to put Portugal 1-0 up.

17.29

The referee gets involved, body-checking the considerably larger Jermaine Jones and sending him sprawling. No harm done.

17.27

Germany are being very patient so far, partly because the USA are standing up and defending well. Very disciplined work from Klinsmann’s team so far.

17.24

Germany are dominating possession but the USA’s defence is holding out nicely. Kroos the latest German to have the ball at his feet in the box only to find several white shirts surround him in an instant.

17.22

The USA show some good speed as they counter-attack. Zusi gets the all on the edge of the box, cuts inside and has a decent shot. Plenty of power but a couple of feet too high.

17.17

Klinsmann has the Tony Pulis look going on in the Recife rain. Rain jacket and tatty looking baseball cap.

17.16

Schweinsteiger puts Mueller in on goal, Gonzalez has to slide in to clear with a last ditch challenge.

17.14

More great play down the German right flank. Ozil to Boateng and he delivers another threatening low cross which Mueller slides in for. Again Howard gets there first but big gaps are appearing down the USA’s left.

17.13

The USA are enjoying their first spell of possession. They’re yet to create an opening but they look confident on the ball.

17.11

Howedes gets the first yellow of the game for clipping the heels of Zusi, who was leading a dangerous looking counter-attack at the time.

17.10

Ozil puts a dangerous ball in the box but Mertesacker fails to make contact. Should have done better with that one, defender or not.

17.08

Ozil links up with Podolski who whips in a low cross from out left. Mueller comes sliding in but Tim Howard gets there first.

17.07

Germany retaining possession, moving the ball around with ease. So far the USA are maintaining their shape well.

17.05

Germany contorl possession early, passing their way to the edge of the box. Schweinsteiger pings a cross-field pass to Boateng put right but his cross fails to find a team-mate.

17.02

Germany have the first attack. Mueller tries a bicycle kick in the USA box but fails to make sufficient contact.

17.02

German fans will be happy to see Schweinsteiger in the German midfield. I’m not because I’m not a very fast typists.

17.00

KICK-OFF: The USA get the game underway.

16.59

It’s a half-empty stadium in Recife. Who’d have though South Americans wouldn’t be selling their babies to get tickets for this one?
(I am not suggesting that South Americans eat their babies…this is not Top Gear)

16.55

Are we set for a nail-biting, balls to the wall affair or 90 minutes of trying not to make it too obvious both sides are playing for the draw?

16.54

Germany looking like eleven very efficient Dennis the Menaces as the walk out on to the pitch. The USA line-out in all white.

16.53

How important will Silvestre Varela’s late, late equaliser prove today? Without it the USA would already be through and Ronaldo would already be out.

16.51

Omar Gonzalez is in for Geoff Cameron and Brad Davis replaces Alejandro Bedoya as Klinsmann also makes to changes from the USA’s last game.

16.47

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski come in for Sami Khedira and Mario Gotze for Germany.

16.43

Team News

Germany:
1. Manuel Neuer
20. Jerome Boateng
17. Per Mertesacker
5. Mats Hummels
4. Benedikt Howedes
7. Bastian Schweinsteiger
16. Philipp Lahm
18. Toni Kroos
8. Mesut Ozil
13. Thomas Muller
10. Lukas Podolski

USA:
1. Tim Howard
23. Fabian Johnson
3. Omar Gonzalez
5. Matt Besler
7. DaMarcus Beasley
15. Kyle Beckerman
13. Jermaine Jones
19. Graham Zusi
4. Michael Bradley
14. Brad Davis
8. Clint Dempsey

22.56

It wasn’t the most exciting game of the tournament. There was a distinct lack of quality in the final third from both sides. Ecuador tried but they didn’t try hard enough for me and deservedly go out. Valencia’s red card didn’t help but Ecuador didn’t look much more likely to score before he went off. In fact they created better chances when they were down to ten men.

France and Switzerland march on, Ecuador and Honduras go home. That’s all for tonight folks.

22.53

FULL-TIME: The game finishes 0-0. France go through, Ecuador go out.

22.52

Switzerland’s game has finished 3-0 so Ecuador need two goals in about 30 seconds.

22.50

France just don’t want to score. He gets free in the box and meets a cross with his head. Straight at Dominguez. Another one for the stats.

22.49

Yup Dominguez is fine and the game continues. Into injury time with four minutes flashed up by the fourth official.

22.48

Caicedo comes on for Noboa. Dominguez is down injured at the moment but Ecuador have no more subs so hopefully it’s just a touch of cramp.

22.47

Some great footwork from Pogba allows him space on the edge of the box. He tried to sidefoot one in to the bottom corner but misses with right.

22.46

Benzema to Remy, Remy creates space in the box and tries to curl one past Dominguez, who makes another spectacular looking save which wasn’t really all that spectacular.

22.43

Pogba picks Noboa’s pocket. He lays it off to Benzema who trades passes with Giroud before smashing another one straight at Dominguez. The Ecuadorian keeper will have some good stats after this game, largely thanks to some sloppy finishing from France.

22.41

Ecuador threaten again. Ibarra comes in from the left flank, tricks his way past a defender and gets a shot off which Lloris bats away.

22.40

Noboa pings a cracking 45 yard cross field pass into the path of Arroyo. He creates the space for a shot and then proceeds to smash it into the upper stands.

22.36

Deschamps makes his final change bringing Loic Remy on for Griezmann.

22.36

Benzema tries yet another shot from distance. Straight at Dominguez.

22.33

Well Ecuador look pretty f@#£#d now. Shaqiri completes his hat-trick to put Switzerland 3-0 up against Honduras. That means Ecuador need to win 2-0 to go through. It’s hard to see them getting one the way the game is going.

22.31

Sissoko floats one to the back post. There are four French players there, Pogba shouts loudest and should guide the ball back across the goal into the far corner. Instead he steers is wide.

22.28

Speculative shots all round now. A poor long range effort from Arroyo is followed by a possibly worse effort from Pogba.

22.25

Another change for France. Matuidi makes way for the ever-handsome Oliver Giroud.

22.23

France haven’t been shy taking shots on. The latest one from Benzema is on target before it hits and Ecuadorian arse and goes for a corner…..which comes to nothing.

22.22

Ecuador make a change of their own. The over-hyped speedster Montero makes way for fellow winger Alex Ibarra.

22.20

Ecuador lose the ball in midfield. Matuidi wins the ball, plays a one-tow with Benzema and then gets a good shot away. Domniguez handles it nonchalantly.

22.19

Raphael Varane comes on for Mamadou Sakho. The Liverpool defender came into the game with a thigh strain and Deschamps is taking no chances.

22.17

Benzema gets the ball in the box, his shot is blocked so he passes it back to the on-coming Pogba. Noboa gets a great sliding block in.

22.14

This is the challenge which earned Tony Valencia his red card.

22.13

A really promising break after Pogba loses possession in midfield. Monero races towards goal with Enner Valencia out left andNoboa out right. He hesitates, finally passes to Noboa who fails to get a decent shot away.

22.10

That sending off makes things that much more difficult for Ecuador. It’ll also make it that much more heroic if they can find a goal and qualify.

22.08

RED CARD: Antonio Valencia is off for that tackle on Digne. Not sure if it’s a bit unlucky or a bit nasty from the United man.

22.07

A nasty looking one from Tony Valencia. He goes in with studs showing. He makes contact with the ball then follows through and rakes down Digne’s leg. The French defender is still down receiving treatment.

22.06

CLOSE: Sagna crosses from the right and Griezmann steers his near post volley on target. Dominguez gets his hands up and pushes the ball onto the bar. Great build-up play from the French.

22.03

Kick-Off: France start the second half.

21.54

Shaqiri’s first goal for Switzerland in Manaus.

21.53

Here’s a little Suarez based entertainment seeing as there isn’t too much to talk about from that first 45 minutes.

suarez-pringles

21.49

HALF-TIME: 0-0 at the break. Both sides have huffed and puffed with no great results. France look like they’re already through, which they pretty much are, and Ecuador still look nervous. A good half-time team talk and we should see them offer more in the second half because they have to. With Switzerland 2-0 only a win will do.

21.47

Luis Suarez doesn’t get a mention from Phil Neville as he runs down the list of current great strikers to compare to Benzema. He may be a lunatic Phil but he’s still one of the greatest strikers playing today…in footballing terms.

21.44

Antonio Valencia finds himself with space 30 yards from goal. The crowd gets excited. Tony gets excited. He shoots too early and Koscielny gets a block in.

21.43

Benzema plays one around the corner. The Ecuador defenders leave it for Dominguez who gets there just before Griezmann, having to dive at his feet to secure the ball.

21.41

Enner Valencia gets his head on a cross to the back post. He nods it down, as you should, and Lloris threatens to spill the ball but gathers it in. A great leap from the Ecuadorian.

21.38

Griezmann in possession near the corner flag. Paredes uses very little subtlety in barging him over. The free-kick is put in the box, Pogba gets his head on and Dominguez tips over.

21.33

Someone must have leaked the score from the other game. Ecuador go on the attack but Arroyo’s cross fails to find a target.

21.32

It’s not looking good for Ecuador as Shaqiri doubles Switzerland’s lead with his second of the game.

21.30

Noboa comes back on with blood seeping through the bit of white fish-net stocking they’ve encased his head in.

21.28

Benzema uses his burst of speed to get free down the left, he whips in a cross but no French player can get on it and Ecuador eventually win a free-kick after Noboa takes an accidental boot to the face.

21.27

Sagna puts in a cross, Dominguez whiffs at it and Benzema is close to getting his head on it. He doesn’t and the game remains 0-0.

21.26

Not a whole lot happening in this game. France push on, get in to a good position and then lose the ball. Ecuador don’t quite get that far into French territory before they relinquish possession.

21.22

A long ball over the top has Enner Valencia worrying Koscielny and Sakho. He gets on the ball but is too wide and too off balance to threaten Lloris. He looks to be over that leg knock though.

21.21

Matuidi loses the ball in midfield and Ecuador break. They threaten to break through the centre of defence but Koscielny and Sakho manage to crowd Montero off the ball. Poor from Matuidi.

21.18

This is not good. Enner Valencia is being led off the pitch by the physios, that looks like a real limp too. Ecuador need him on the pitch tonight so let’s see if the magic sponge does it’s trick.

21.16

Matuidi puts in a cross from the left which the defence fails to deal with. It makes it to Sissoko on the opposite side of the box, he controls the ball and hits a good volley. Alexander Dominguez gets his body behind it but great technique from the Frenchman.

21.14

Pogba loves an old dink. He attempts to dink one in to Sissoko but they’re not quite on the same wavelength and the ball goes out of a goal kick.

21.13

No real chances as of yet. France are dominating in midfield and look to burst forward as soon as they get on the ball. Neither goalkeeper has had much to do so far.

21.10

Switzerland take the lead in Manaus with a cracking strike from Bayern Munich’s Shaqiri. As things stand France and Switzerland progress.

21.07

Matuidi gets down the left, his attempted cross is blocked for a corner. The corner comes to nothing.

21.03

France on the front foot early. They look rather keen to win this game. A French squad with good morale is a dangerous thing.

21.00

KICK-OFF: Ecuador start proceedings in Rio.

20.58

I think we can all agree Enner Valencia will be on a few manager’s wishlists this summer. He’s impressed with three goals in two games in Brazil.

20.56

Benzema has impressed for me. I questioned whether France had a leader in their ranks and the Real Madrid has really stepped up to the plate. He could catapult himself right into the Golden Boot race with a couple tonight.

20.53

The teams are coming out on to the pitch. Can Ecuador cause an upset?

20.27

Ecuador make one change with Michael Arroyo replacing Felipe Caicedo up front.

20.25

France make six changes for this game. A sign of how comfortable Didier Deschamps feels. Has no one told him that a 4-0 defeat could see his side knocked out…if Switzerland win 5-0? I’m guessing not.

20.19

Teams

France:
01 Lloris
15 Sagna
17 Digne
22 Schneiderlin
21 Koscielny
05 Sakho
19 Pogba
14 Matuidi
10 Benzema
18 Sissoko
11 Griezmann

Ecuador:
22 Domínguez
04 Paredes
10 Ayoví
14 Minda
02 Guagua
03 Erazo
16 A Valencia
06 Noboa
13 E Valencia
15 Arroyo
07 Montero

18.57

FULL-TIME: Argentina win 3-2 to top the group with nine points. Nigeria follow them in to the knock-out stages.
Messi is now the joint top goalscorer in the competition with Neymar on four goals. He started to come to life as the game wore on, which bodes well for Elejandro Sabella’s chances of going all the way. They look suspect at the back at times but then which country has looked flawless so far? I’m off for a cuppa before the build-up to the next lot of games.

18.53

This game is winding down now. Bosnia have beaten Iran 3-1 to pick up their first ever World Cup finals win and avoiding finish bottom of the group. That honour goes to Iran.

18.50

Sabella makes a late change bringing on defensive midfielder Biglia for Higuain.

18.49

Mascherano has a stike from distance. A decent hit but too straight and Enyeama holds on.

18.47

Efe Ambrose cuts into the box from the wing, he unleashes a shot and only for Garay’s block we could be all square.

18.45

di Maria through and once again his effort is too close to the keeper and Enyeama saves easily.

18.43

It’s all happening in the other game. Iran threaten to make things interesting when Ghoochannejhad made it 2-1. That threat was squashed immediately when Avdija Vrsajevic restored the two goal cushion a minute later.

18.41

Uche Nwofor is on for Peter Odemwengie.

18.39

Garay gets a free-header in the box but guides his header wide. He should at least have got that one on target.

18.38

Musa threaten to repeat his first goal but Zabaleta is on to him and when he cuts inside the Man City fullback is there with a great block. Good play all round.

18.37

Some clever stuff there as di Maria scoops the ball over the wall, Lavezzi runs in behind and gets a good volley on target. Enyeama gets down well to save.

18.36

Alvarez wins a free-kick in Messi range…but there’s no Messi on the pitch so di Maria and Levezzi stand over the ball.

18.34

Musa is looking for his hat-trick. He volleys a shot towards goal from inside the box but it’s comfortably over.

18.32

Nigeria are still going for this, Argentina look like they have another gear just in case things are evened up again. As I type Lavezzi gets to the byline and puts a decent ball across the box. There’s no one close enough to attack it though.

18.28

He may only be 26 but Higuain looks like he’s a 36 year old veteran who doesn’t always have the legs to do what he’d like.

18.25

Michael Uchebo replaces the injured Babatunde.

18.24

Babatunde is down with an arm injury, it appears to have happened when he inadvertently blocked his own team-mate’s shot.

18.22

Two goals is your lot young Lionel. Sabella brings his star man off to a standing ovation, replacing him with Ricky Alvarez.

18.21

Nigeria win their first corner of the match. Argentina fail to clear and the ball falls to Mikel, it’s a tricky one to hit and he fails to get sufficient purchase to trouble Romero.

18.20

It’s looking good for Nigeria as Bosnia go 2-0 up through Miralem Pjanic.

18.19

Messi claiming for a penalty. Rojo gets the ball out left, puts in a dangerous cross which Messi is unable to steer on target. He’s claiming he was pushed. Questionable.

18.16

MEssi is getting on the ball and starting to beat players now. Nigeria have responded by hacking at his legs whenever they get close enough.

18.14

Messi carries the ball forward, takes a few kicks but continues on regardless. He plays in Higuain but Enyeama is out at his feet to block the shot.

18.12

Argentina threaten again. Messi to Lavezzi, he flashes in a dangerous cross but Nigeria clear. A
di Maria cross follows and Enyeama bats it away.

18.11

Messi puts the corner in. It misses the first few targets and hits Rojo on the knee and goes in. A touch fortuitous but Argentina are back in front.

18.10

GOAL: Rojo puts Argentina 1-0 up.

18.09

Nigeria defend a Messi cross. The ball falls to di Maria who forces a save from Enyeama who pushes over.

18.08

Some sloppy defending leaves a massive gap in the centre, Musa gets the pass, goes through on goal and smashes in the equaliser.

18.06

GOAL: Musa scores his second to make it 2-2.

18.04

KICK-OFF: Nigeria start the second half.

18.04

Despite his questionable goalkeeping for Messi’s second goal, Enyeama appears for the second half with a smile on his face. Apparently he had a chat with the ref first, admitting he wasn’t good enough to stop the free-kick. You have to admire the honesty.

18.00

I hadn’t noticed that before. The FIFA message no returning from the ads is together we can fight match manipulation. How about you stop manipulating everything else about football FIFA?

17.56

Considering he’s nowhere near his best Messi is still doing pretty well with four goals in three games. I’m not sure I’d do much better.

17.50

HALF-TIME: Argentina score right before the break to retake the lead. Bosnia still lead in Arena Fonte Nova so Nigeria are going through as the scores currently stand.

17.49

From all over 20 yards out Messi curls a wonderful free-kick over the wall in. for some reason Enyeama decides not to dive for it. A decent free-kick but some shocking goal-keeping from the first few replays.

17.46

GOAL: Messi score his second of the game to put Argentina 2-1 up.

17.45

Another free-kick outside the Nigeria box as Omeruo hacks down Messi. This one is closer and more central.

17.44

Messi hits a great free kick from out left. Enyeama gets across to push it over. It was heading for the top corner, a touch more power and it would have beaten the keeper.

17.43

Argentina go looking for a goal before half-time. Nigeria are holding them at bay thanks in large part to some poor final passes from Messi and co.

17.40

After a frantic start this game has found it’s rhythm. Argentina are controlling much of the ball with occasional bursts forward from Nigeria. di Maria continues to waste a lot of the ball.

17.38

Babatun floats a ball in but Yobo gives away a free.

17.37

Before the free kick can be taken Sergio Aguero looks to have done his hamstring and Ezequiel Lavezzi replaces him.

17.36

Mascherano pulls down Emenike on the edge of the Argentine box.

17.33

Zabaleta puts in a cross, the ball is headed out to Aguero whose shot is deflected wide for a corner. the corner comes in. Enyeama gets his hands on it then goes down injured for a few minutes after Higuain’s elbow grazed his shirt.

17.30

Just as I abuse one di Maria hits an ambitious strike from 30+ yards out. He catches it well and Enyeama is forced to puch the ball around the post.

17.29

Messi makes one poor pass and it warrants five slow-mo replays. Good thing di Maria isn’t as popular, we’d never get to see the game.

17.27

Odemwengie has a blast from 25 yards out. A decent strike but a good two yard s over.

17.25

Argentina move the ball around well. Di Maria gets it in the box but a weak effort rolls wide. I’m not a di Maria fan me, he too often flatters to deceive.

17.24

Edin Dzeko puts Bosnia 1-0 up in the other game. That result makes things more comfortable for Nigeria.

17.23

Nigeria enjoying more possession in front of the Argentine box but the South Americans are defending well.

17.20

Messi wins a free-kick 40 yards out. He floats in a decent cross which comes off Obi Mikel’s head and goes straight in to Enyeama’s arms.

17.19

Emenike gets a talking to from the ref after he unleashed some tasty words following a nothing clash with Zabaleta.

17.17

Messi takes the corner. Enyeama catches the corner. That is all.

17.16

Aguero wins a corner.

17.16

We haven’t seen much from Aguero at this World Cup but he’s looking sharp and lively today. Some good work out right results in a decent cross. The keeper sprawls out to collect but Argentina are looking to get a grip on this game.

17.11

It’s been an open game so far. Neither defence is looking very convincing, which is how we like it.

17.09

Angel di Maria has a pop from distance. It appears to move in the air and the keeper punches away. Fast on the heels of this incident, Higuain gets a half chance but is forced wide and can’t get his shot on target.

17.08

Nigeria didn’t let their heads drop after conceding so early. With their World Cup future at risk it’s good to see a team come outfighting.

17.06

I know I mentioned the 1-1 scoreline before the start of the game but with 84 minutes to go and both sides going for goals it’s looking unlikely.

17.05

Nigeria break, Musa gets the ball on the left hand side of the Argentina box, cuts back inside and unleashes a curling effort around Zabaleta and past Romero.

17.04

GOAL: Instant equaliser from Musa.

17.04

Mascherano plays a defence splitting pass to Di Maria, putting him clear on goal. The winger hits the post, the ball bounces around a bit, comers out to Messi on the penalty spot and he smashes it high into the net.

17.03

GOAL: Messi opens the scoring after 3 minutes.

17.02

There is of course the possibility of lots being drawn if Iran and Argentina both win 2-1 today. That would put Iran and Nigeria on an equal footing in all the significant categories. Seems a bit archaic, drawing lots, but what else can they do?

17.00

KICK-OFF: Higuain and Aguero get things under way in Porto Alegre.

16.56

It was heart breaking stuff for Ivory Coast last night, can Nigeria become the first and possibly only African team to make it out of their group? Algeria will be Africa’s last hope if Argentina and Iran win over the next two hours.

16.54

The teams walk out on to the pitch, hands in hands with the FIFA approved mascots. Messi is taller than his wee escort but only just.

16.53

It’s not often I agree with Mark Lawrenson but his 1-1 prediction in the Argentina v Nigeria game is an interesting one. I’m aware that doesn’t really count as agreeing with him but it’s close enough. 1-1 pays out at 15/2 in this game.

16.46

Sooooo….Luis Suarez eh? I missed all the madness in the office thanks to being on the late shift to do the live blogs. As a Liverpool fan I’m wondering if it’s a good thing. Yes he clearly has some deep seated issues which results in him going all carniverous once a year but he is a very good player …damnit, I’m being one of those blinkered apologists. Okay it was pretty inexcusable but I’m not sure the Hitler comparisons I’ve been reading are particularly balanced. It’s an ugly, childish act and likely to lead to a significant suspension. Surely any big money move he was hoping for before the start of the new club season is in serious doubt now. £70m+ for a player who might go all Hannibal Lector at any moment?

16.39

Will we see Lionel Messi light up the World Cup stage this evening. Two subdued performances, albeit with game winning strikes, has resulted in a lot of pondering from analysts and commentators. Can he only do it with Barcelona? Is this the right team set-up to get the most of his talents? The World Cup is a marathon not a sprint, or maybe it’s more like the 1500 metres but either way the analogy stands.

16.32

No changes in either side as both managers keep faith with the sides which secured 1-0 wins in their last outings respectively. Though the odds weigh heavily in the favour of the South Americans they’ve looked far from convincing. Relying on individual moments of brilliance from Lionel Messi. Nigeria can get something from this game if they’re brave enough….cue a 5-0 Argentina win.

16.27

Team News
Argentina:
1. Sergio Romero
4. Pablo Zabaleta
17. Federico Fernandez
2. Ezequiel Garay
16. Marcos Rojo
5. Fernando Gago
14. Javier Mascherano
7. Angel di Maria
10. Lionel Messi
9. Gonzalo Higuain
20. Sergio Aguero

Nigeria:
1. Vincent Enyeama
5. Efe Ambrose
2. Joseph Yobo
22. Kenneth Omeruo
13. Juwon Oshaniwa
17. Ogenyi Onazi
10. John Obi Mikel
18. Michel Babatunde
8. Peter Odemwingie
9. Emmanuel Emenike
7. Ahmed Musa

18.57

FULL TIME! Uruguay win and Italy are going home at the group stage for the second World Cup running! It was a terrible, terrible match, but the drama of the last 15 minutes has made up for that.

Suarez is under the spotlight for allegedly chomping down on opponent once again. Ridiculous scenes. Uruguay march on, but it may be without their superstar striker.

18.54

And the hoof comes to nothing.

18.53

Last gasp hoof into the box for Italy …

18.53

It’s all over for England. Well, more all over than it already was. They play out a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica.

18.50

YELLOW CARD! Muslera gets booked. For time-wasting apparently.

18.49

Five minutes of added time. Five minutes left for Italy to fumble around hopelessly for an equaliser.

18.47

Fair play to Suarez. Failed to pass when Uruguay had a two man overlap. Twice.

18.45

The only footage we’ve got of the Suarez incident so far. Inconclusive is the nice way of putting it:

18.44

Pirlo has a shot a goal from a free-kick 30 yards out. It’s decent, but gets a deflection and goes out for a corner. Italy don’t do anything with the resulting set-piece.

18.42

Uruguay are now 1/9 to see it out. 5/1 for the draw.

BET NOW: DESKTOP | MOBILE

18.41

GOAL! 1-0 URUGUAY!! We’ll the latest biting incident will have to wait because Uruguay have taken the lead thanks to a ‘header’ from Godin. It came from a corner, Godin rose highest and got his back/head to it. Probably more of his back than head to be honest.

Italy on the verge of joining England in the departures lounge.

18.40

That’s certainly what Chiellini is claiming. He’s pulled his shirt down and he’s trying to show the referee something. Possibly ‘sexy’ but more than likely evidence of bite marks.

That’s insane. There’s no conclusive evidence, but the footage shows Suarez move his head towards Chiellini. After that it’s all very unclear.

18.38

HAS SUAREZ BITTEN SOMEONE AGAIN??????????????????????????

18.37

SUB! Uruguay make their last change. Gaston Ramirez comes on and Christian Rodriguez makes way.

18.36

BOOKING! De Scgilio gets booked for an attempted rugby tackle on Pereira.

18.34

SUB! Verratti goes off after a picking up an injury. Motta comes into the fray for the last 15 minutes of this shitfest.

18.33

Nearly 75 minutes gone and we’ve crossed the 40 infringements mark. That’s some achievement.

18.30

SUB! Cassano comes on for Italy and Immobile comes off. Cassano might do something. Whether or not it’s football related or just something a bit mental remains to be seen.

18.27

Corner to Italy. Something nearly happened. But then it didn’t.

18.25

GREAT CHANCE! Suarez with a glorious chance! The ball breaks to him on the edge of the box and he storms through. From 12 yards out he tries to hit it low to the keeper’s right, but Buffon sticks out a hand and sends it wide for a corner. Really should have stuck that one away, Luis.

18.22

SUBSTITUTION! Uruguay make their second change. Christan Stuani comes on for Alvaro Pereira.

18.21

That’s changed the odds a fair bit. The Italians are now 4/1 to win this game:

ITALY 4/1 | DRAW 6/5 | URUGUAY 6/4
BET NOW: DESKTOP | MOBILE

18.20

RED CARD! Holy shit – something has actually happened. The Italians are down to 10 men as Marchisio is given his marching orders. He went into a 50-50 with a Uruguayan, had his studs high and into the shin. Not the worst of tackles, but for a referee looking for something to do, it’s the perfect excuse to get involved.

18.18

CHANCE! That’s the best chance of the game and possibly the best bit of football we’ve seen. Christian Rodriguez links up with Suarez down the left. Suarez plays him through with a chipped through ball and with Buffon to beat, he screws his shot wide.

18.15

Coming up to 55 minutes gone and between free kicks and offsides, we’ve had 34 stoppages for infringements, roughly averaging one about every 90 seconds. That suits Italy, but for the other 7 billion people in the world, it’s been attrocious.

18.11

Suarez blasts a free kick about 20 yards over the cross-bar. This game is so shit.

18.10

Penalty appeal for Uruguay. Cavani goes down under pressure from Bonucci. It was a tad underwhelming to be honest, in keeping with pretty much everything that has happened thus far.

18.05

And Uruguay get the ball rolling on the second half in Natal.

SUBS! They’ve also made a change at half-time Lodeiro comes off. Pereira takes his place. As Expected, Mario Balotelli was looking like a liability and has got the hook. Marco Parolo comes on for Italy.

YELLOW CARD! And straight away there’s a yellow card for Uruguay. Arévalo goes into the book for a fairly soft tackle.

That’s about more excitement than we had in the entire first half.

18.02

England start the second half in Belo Horizonte …

17.59

Well, at least this England fan can laugh about it. And we can all laugh about his spelling.

blog_priceless

17.49

HALF TIME IN THE MAIN EVENT! And ‘event’ is a strong word for what we’ve just seen. We get glimpses of what both teams can do, but precious little of it comes in the attacking thirds of the pitch. It’s been shit and although we were expecting a tight game, the hope was there would be enough individual talent to overcome that. There really hasn’t been though.

17.47

Half time in Belo Horizonte and England are still bottom of the table, but this time they’re bottom of the table with one point.

17.46

Luis Suarez. Free -kick cross. Something nearly happened but it didn’t. This is still a shite game.

17.43

In truth, this is terrible. The biggest issue is when Mario Balotelli is going to get himself sent off. Already on a yellow and doing some very Mario Balotelli things – it looks nailed on.

17.39

Caceres just tried to lob Buffon from about 70 yards out. He’s a defender and Buffon wasn’t that far off his line.
It didn’t work.

17.37

Sturridge just missed a great chance for England. Free header, six yards out, disappointment – you know, the usual for England at this tournament.

17.34

CHANCE! Oh my god – something has happened! Uruguay create half a chance thanks to nice link up play between Luis Suarez and Nicolas Lodeiro on the edge of the box plays Suarez in. He’s one on one with Buffon and tries to play it back to Lodeiro, but the Italian keeper smothers the chance and we’re back to the tedium that has dominated this game so far.

17.31

Half an hour gone in Natal and it’s remains cagier than the spare room in Josef Fritzl’s house.

Both teams show slightly glimpses of being good, but they can’t string enough of that skill together to carve out a decent chance.

17.29

England have a penalty appeal turned down. Daniel Sturridge looked like he was taken out by a hefty challenge from a Costa Rican’s arse. Decent shout but the referee says no.

17.27

So, as it stands, Costa Rica will be going through as group winners and Italy will join them in the next round.

As it stands, both teams will worry precisely zero of their potential opponents.

17.25

In Belo Horizonte, Costa Rica just hit the cross bar with a free-kick. It was kind of a save from Ben Foster too.

17.24

YELLOW CARD! Just because there’s nothing happening, the ref decides to book Mario Balotelli. It may also have had something to do with all the fouls he has committed so far. He goes into the book for jumping really high and clattering a Uruguayan with his legs. Nice jump though. He’s suspended if Italy get through this and into the next round.

17.21

20 minutes gone and do say it’s been cagey is being rather flattering. It’s been a game of football largely made up of bad passing and aggressive tackling. But not so aggressive than it’s interesting. It’s a fine line.

17.18

This could be the last time we’ll see Andrea Pirlo’s magnificent hair in an Italian jersey. That’s a frightening thought.

17.17

If football was all about giving away free-kicks, we’d currently be witnessing a classic. Sadly it’s not and not much of note is happening.

17.13

SAVE! Pirlo just does what Andrea Pirlo does. From about 35 yards out and an unpromising angle, he takes a free-kick that everyone expects him to cross, but instead, he shoots and a bit of fumbling from Muslera makes it look more dangerous than it should have been.

17.11

10 minutes gone in both games and so far they’ve largely been shit.

17.09

Some pressure from Uruguay and an unconvincing punch from Buffon is what results. That and Chiellini rolling around on the ground complaining about an alleged elbow to his beautiful face.

17.06

And now we’ve had our first Suarez dive of the game!! Well, maybe it wasn’t a dive, but it was definitely ‘exaggerating contact’.

17.04

Three minutes in and we’ve already had a bit of a hissy fit from Mario Balotelli and a lot of rolling around on the ground. A promising start …

17.01

Italy get us underway wearing blue, as you probably expected.

16.59

The bad singing of the national anthems and obligatory heart-felt handshakes is over and we’re all set for kick-off.

16.54

Right, that England funeral pyre was obviously a lot of fun, but now the attention turns to Italy and Uruguay. The teams are currently walking out of the tunnel accompanied by an impressive array of flags.

16.45

This World Cup hasn’t been a total bust for Glenn Hoddle. Looks like he picked up quite a snazzy charm bracelet during his time in Brazil.

blog_hoddle-charm

Nice Glenn. You’re the envy of 10 year old girls up and down the land.

16.34

Betting talk time. My favourite part of live blog and not the one that I’m contractually obliged to do. No way.

Costa Rica (Two wins from two games at the World Cup) are the outsiders to beat England (no wins from two games at the World Cup). I’m no gambling genius, hence I’m stuck writing a live blog, but I know where my money would be going:

Costa Rica 3/1 | Draw 14/5 | England 10/11 – BET NOW: DESKTOP | MOBILE

16.27

Andros Townsend is down beside the pitch and it looks like he went halves on a two for one shirt deal with Adrian Chiles. Both sporting a very similar shade of dark navy.

16.22

And there we were wondering what England’s big problem was:

#SHITSTAT

16.20

Costa Rica have adds on ITV!! Not for the football team, just general ads trying to convince you go or invest in the country. Oh you may have our place in the knockout rounds, but we’ve got your advertising spend.

16.17

Glenn Hoddle, Lee Dixon and Ian Wright are the ITV dream team covering the England game. Hoddle and Wright are bringing some the light-hearted atmosphere of their earlier ‘beach chats’ by resolutely refusing to tuck their shirts in. Fabio Cannavaro would not approve.

16.13

Roy Hodgson is being interviewed now and when asked by the ITV microphone holder if a result is more important than a good performance, he rips his shirt open and starts shouting “WHAT DID YOU SAY PUNK? DON’T COME AT THE KING WITH THAT ATTITUDE YOU LITTLE WORM. I SPIT IN YOUR FACE”.

Obviously he didn’t because he’s Roy Hodgson, but he did say he’s not as bothered about getting England off their duck eggs points tally as he is in getting a good performance from his team.

16.08

SUPERBONUSEXTRA TEAM NEWS!

And because I’m trying to cover two matches at the same time, that means we’ve also got team news from the main event of the evening as Italy and Uruguay try to out-streetwise each other for a place in the last 16.

Italy have made a whole heap of changes to the team that lost meekly to the Costa Ricans last Friday. De Rossi, Abate, Candreva and Motta are out of that team and in comes De Sciglio, Immobile, Verratti and Bonucci. Will it make a differnce? We don’t know, but they’re very nice names to say in a slightly offensive bad Italian impression.

Italy
Buffon, De Sciglio, Chiellini, Darmian, Marchisio, Balotelli, Barzagli, Immobile, Bonucci, Pirlo, Verratti

The Uruguay team remains the same to the one that condemned England to their early journey through passport control. That means it’s Suarez and Cavani up front with nine other less famous players playing the supporting cast.

Uruguay
Muslera, Godin (c), Pereira, Rodriguez, Suarez, Gimenez, Lodeiro, Arevalo, Gonzalez, Cavani, Caceres

15.59

And the Costa Rica team looks a lot like a Costa Rica team should. I spot a couple of names I recognise so I’ll lazily assume it’s pretty much the same as it always is.

Costa Rica
Navas, Gonzalez, Borges, Duarte, Campbell, Ruiz (c), Brenes, Diaz, Gamboa, Tejeda, Miller

15.57

Well, we’ve had England TEAM NEWS! since yesterday, but that won’t stop us getting overly excited by using capital letters and underlining those words.

Roy Hodgson has rung the changes for this dead rubber, giving players a start who could actually have made a difference if they were allowed start the other two games. What says ‘forward progress’ more than starting Frank Lampard, 31 year old Ben Foster instead of 27 year old Joe Hart and vastly experienced 28 year old James Milner instead of 19 year old in need of experience, Raheem Sterling? The future is bright, the future is Hodgson.

England
Foster, Jones, Cahill, Smalling, Shaw, Wilshere, Lampard, Lallana, Barkley, Milner, Sturridge

22.55

Full-time: And that’s all she said. Two very eventful games as Brazil and Mexico come out on top, and even Fred found the onion bag. The hosts top Group A and will face Chile at 5pm on Saturday in the knockout round, while Mexico face the daunting task of playing Holland at 5pm on Sunday. What a top notch weekend to look forward too.

22.50

Willian has a chance to make it five, but it’s straight down the throat of Itandje

22.49

Just stoppage time remaining in both games, and we’ve been treated to two crackers this evening

22.47

RED CARD: Rebic sent off for Croatia for a horrible tackle. His World Cup ends in shame.

22.45

GOAL: Croatia pull one back, and Brazil are 100 per cent through top of the group. It’s Perisic with what appears to be nothing more than a consolation.

22.44

Mbia loses it after Cameroon attempt a quick free-kick. Some slick one touch passing later and Fernandinho toe-bungs it into the bottom corner. Relief for the hosts.

22.43

GOAL: Fernandinho makes it 4-1 to Brazil and pretty much secures them top spot. It was squeaky bumtime for a few minutes there for the hosts!

22.41

10 minutes to go in both games and a goal for Mexico (or for Cameroon) will put them top and Brazil will qualify second and face Holland in the next round

22.40

GOAL! Chicarito makes it 3-0 to Mexico and now both Mexico and Brazil are level at the top of Group A on goal difference!

22.39

SUB: Quick change for Cameroon, Makoun is on for Choupo-Moting

22.39

YELLOW: Mbia clips the heels of Fernandinho and he goes into the ref’s book.

22.36

If, and it is a mighty big if, but if Mexico were to score another two, they would be top of Group A on goal difference, and Brazil would be looking at a second round clash with the Dutch. Now that’s tasty.

22.34

GOAL! Mexico lead 2-0 now and that surely puts paid to Croatia’s qualification chances. Guardado with the goal.

22.33

Dani Alves is in a fair bit of pain here, after Mbia appeared to leave his studs up in a 50:50 challenge

22.31

GOAL! Mexico lead 1-0 thanks to a bullet header from Rafa Marquez. That doesn’t change the table though, as Brazil are top on goal difference.

22.30

Neymar goes down and appears to twist his knee. Luckily the poster boy is back up and walking, but Scolari is taking no chances and subs him for Will.I.An

22.29

In the Croatia v Mexico game, Srna has blocked a shot with his hands and it looked ridiculously blatant. Unsurprisingly the Mexico players are furious, but somehow the referee misses it. This is just how obvious it was…

22.26

The pace of this game has dropped significantly here. 25 minutes until the end, but Brazil have this wrapped up. Their game with Chile looks set to be 5pm on Saturday.

22.22

SUB: Hulk makes way for Ramires which puts a slight dampener on my corners bet.

22.20

Quick odds update – Brazil are 1/100 which isn’t a working man’s price. However if you do a bit of digging around you’ll see Brazil are 8/11 to have more corners than Cameroon. At the minute it’s 6-6 but Brazil are doing all the attacking and that price looks a lot more appealing than 1/100

22.17

SUB: Cameroon make their first move, bringing on Edgar Salli for Moukandjo

22.16

Yet another chance for Brazil, but Hulk is well shepherded away from goal so that he can neither get a shot away or slip in Neymar for his hat-trick

22.13

Fernandinho clatters into Bedimo who requires the trusty magic sponge.

22.12

Just got a replay of Fred’s goal. Definitely offside. That’s two international goals in 12 months of football. Proper naff.

22.10

Plus I think he was offside anyway.

22.10

After wave and wave of attack the ball comes to David Luiz on the right hand side of the box, he whips in the cross and not even Fred can mess it up at the back stick. It’s an easy finish and Fred heads into an empty net. The commentator gets ridiculously excited and yells ‘That’s why he’s in the team’. Don’t be fooled folks, the chance was unmissable. Fred is still absolutely crap.

22.08

GOAL! Fred makes it three. Yes, Fred!

22.08

Enoh, who has already been booked, clatters Neymar after a short corner and should really be off. It’s one of them where if he hadn’t already been in the book it would be a yellow but the referee lets him off. From the free-kick Neymar’s shot is tipped over.

22.06

CHANCE: Hulk is through on goal but hesitates instead of pulling the trigger and Bedimo makes a perfectly timed tackle. Then Dani Alves picks the ball up 20 yards out and leathers it towards the bottom corner only for Itandje to claw it wide. Good save.

22.04

Here come the teams out for the second half. Fernandinho is coming on for Paulinho as Luiz Scolari spices it up. Apparently Neymar has also changed his jersey and given his original one to the suspended Alex Song. Shocking.

21.49

Anyone else need a cup of tea and a lie down? A cracking first half in both games.

21.48

Half-time: Brazil lead 2-1 and could be well clear. They look dangerous every time they go forward and Cameroon’s defence has been as sturdy as wet cardboard. Neymar has both goals and could have five or six before the evening is out if he keeps getting that amount of time and space. On a positive note for Cameroon they have looked like they could pose a threat from set-pieces and have had a couple of chances themselves, but they’ll be on the end of a hammering if they don’t sort out that back line.

21.47

CHANCE! Some unbeliveable football from Brazil featuring Neymar and Oscar. It’s all delightful, intricate one-touch stuff. Unfortunately it falls to Hulk seven yards out and he fluffs his lines completely, giving a Cameroon defender the chance to get the all important block on it.

21.45

Just in case you thought I’d been ignoring Croatia v Mexico, I haven’t, it’s just still 0-0. As it stands Mexico will qualify in second behind Brazil. We’ve got one minute of added time before the oranges.

21.43

Yet again, I say, yet again, Fred is having a poor game

6677

21.41

A Mexican wave has started, but don’t let that make you think it is a poor game. It’s not. It’s just clearly those fans are morons.

21.39

A little over five minutes before the break and in the betting it is 14/1 to end in a draw. Cameroon might be prone to a serious of clusterf**** at the back but going forward they have posed a threat in the first half, and that price is almost tempting.

21.36

Plenty more pish defending here to get stuck into here. Cameroon are going four v four at the back and Neymar simply has to pick up the ball in an acre of space, shift the ball onto his right foot, evade a lazy leg and slot past the keeper who is diving the wrong way. Brazil are back in control after a worrying 10 minute spell, and Neymar is on a hat-trick.

21.34

GOAL! Neymar gets his second and Brazil lead again!

21.32

Cameroon enjoying themselves now. Marcelo slices a clearance and Cameroon have a corner. They’re growing into this game more and more, and that goal has given them a real boost. Brazil look dazed.

21.29

A goal from Cameroon here, and as it would stand, Brazil would be out. Let that sink in for a minute…

21.28

Cameroon get a couple of corners and in the second phase, Nyom the left-back gets down the wing against Alves. His first cross is blocked by Dani Alves but he gets a second bite at the cherry and drills in a lovely low cross down the corridor of uncertainty. It evades David Luiz and the keeper, but at the back post defender Joel Matip is there to poke home. Game on.

21.26

GOAL! Shocker – Cameroon are level!

21.25

Struggling to catch a breath here, Brazil look like they could easily score every time they come forward. Some of the defending from Cameroon would be deemed scandalous at Sunday League level, let alone at a World Cup. This is a completely different Brazil side from the one that labored in their first two games.

21.22

CHANCE! This is getting silly now. Cameroon get picked apart, Paulinho drives a ball across the six yard box and N’Koulou slides in to stop Fred scoring a certain goal. It’s 5/1 that Brazil are 3-0 up at half-time and they have 25 minutes left until the break.

21.20

SAVE: A rocket of a volley from Neymar as the ball drops out of the sky, and Charles Itandje can only parry it clear. Anywhere other than straight at the keeper and that was 2-0.

21.19

Brazil are now 8/11 to score four or more goals in this match #Ominous

21.18

Great work from Luiz Gustavo who hassles and hurries Moukandjo into making a mistake. He then puts a great cross into the Cameroon box and Neymar opens up his body and slots a right foot shot into the bottom corner. A lovely finish and that might just be the first of many here.

21.16

GOAL! Neymar opens the scoring for Brazil – and I’d say that goal has cost Paddy a fair whack!

21.16

15 minutes in and we have handbags! The ball is drifting harmlessly out of play as Neymar chases it down, but Cameroon captain Nyom decides to give him a healthy shove anyway. brazil’s star man ends up on a photographer’s lap and everyone gets slightly uppity. No cards though.

21.14

Cameroon with another half-chance. The man with the best name at this World Cup – Aboubakar – slips in Choupo-Moting and he slides a dangerous ball across the six yard box which David Luiz deals with in a surprisingly calm and sensible manner.

21.12

YELLOW: First booking of the game is for Eyong Enoh who slides in with a tackle described as a ‘scissor slide’ by the commentator. Marcelo does a couple of rolls and a girly scream and that is enough for the ref to take the Cameroon winger’s number.

21.10

CHANCE! Against the run of play Cameroon make a rare foray forward and Brazil’s left back Marcelo is in the right place at the right time to make a crucial block. The corner is easily dealt with by Thiago Silva, but that was more positive from the African side

21.05

Hulk is up against Henri Bedimo on the right hand side and the Brazilian has his marker for pace and power every time. The hosts look certain to have plenty of success down that side tonight, and Hulk is 5/1 to open the scoring. Get the latest odds here.

21.03

CHANCE! The free-kick comes to nothing, but from the clearance Neymar slips in Paulinho who looks certain to score before a great last ditch tackle. Brazil have flown out of the traps here. They are well up for it.

21.01

Early free-kick for Brazil. You know it’s in a threatening position when the ref whips out his magic spray. Neymar is going to swing it in…

21.01

And we’re off and underway. We’ve had just 15 seconds and Sam Matterface has mentioned ‘Swinging samba style’. This is going to be a joy to listen to, I can tell.

20.59

Neymar rocking the Miley Cyrus haircut once again…

 

"Paranoia" - Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

20.53

The players are on the way out. Brace yourselves for the anthems folks…

20.50

My favourite bet of the evening is the man who has put £1 on Oscar to score the first goal, but Cameroon to come back and win 7-1 at odds of 1500/1 #StupidPunt

20.47

15 minutes until kick-off which means just another 900 seconds of having to watch Adrian Chiles’ and Ian Wright talk nonsense before the action begins.

20.38

Elsewhere in the book, 67 per cent of the cash in the first goal scorer market is on Neymar at 5/2, the most popular punt in the anytime goalscorer market is David Luiz at 8/1, and a crazy 14 punters are on Fred to score a hat-trick at odds of 10/1. I don’t know who is more likely to be taking drugs, the traders offering just 10/1 on a Fred hat-trick, or the 14 punters having a bet on it.

Anyway, if you fancy a sensible punt, all the latest odds are over here.

20.21

The three most popular correct score bets in Paddy’s book tonight? Brazil 3-0, Brazil 2-0 and Brazil 4-0. Great minds think alike and all that.

20.17

OK stat-lovers here we go. Brace yourselves and gobble these up…

  • Cameroon have had 30 shots in their previous two World Cup games, but just three have been on target
  • Nine of Cameroon’s last 10 tournament matches saw under 2.5 goals – the 4-0 hammering last time out against Croatia being the exception
  • Brazil have won all six of their World Cup games against African sides – five of them have been without conceding
  • In seven of Brazil’s last 11 games they have kept a clean sheet and in seven of them they have been winning at half-time and full-time
  • In four meetings with Cameroon, Brazil have won to nil on three occasions

Get a load of that folks!

 

 

20.10

A whopping 87 per cent of punters are backing Brazil in the win-draw-win market, but the odds of 1/7 are a bit skinny for my liking. I much prefer Brazil to win to nil at 8/11, and Brazil to win 2-0 at 6/1. Let me know your top punts below or get stuck in here.

20.00

I’m off to make a cheeky cup of tea if anyone wants one? When I get back I’ll have some red-hot tips for tonight’s game and the occasional Statbomb for you to impress your mates/loved ones with. It’s an absolute fact that chicks dig quirky World Cup knowledge.

19.59

Here’s how the teams line up.

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva (c), David Luiz, Marcelo, Hulk, Paulinho, Fred, Neymar, Oscar, Luiz Gustavo

Cameroon: Itandje, Nkoulou (c), Nguemo, Moukandjo, Aboubakar, Bedimo, Choupo Moting, Mbia, Enoh, Matip, Nyom

19.57

And to prove stranger things have happened on the pitch, just look at these stats from Norwich’s Leroy Fer in Holland’s win over Chile…

Leroy-Fer-Fernominal-2

19.57

Could Brazil really crash out tonight? A defeat to Cameroon plus a draw between Croatia and Mexico is a 75/1 shot, but stranger things have happened in football…

18.53

FULL-TIME: Holland go through Group B with a 100 per cent record and Chile now face the daunting prospect of facing Brazil in the next round. Spain also win 3-0 but that game is about as meaningless as most of Robbie Savage’s analysis.

18.51

Depay finished the chance well but Robben put it on a plate for him, handed him a knife and fork and practical spoon-fed him the opportunity. A lightening fast break kills off this game.

18.50

GOAL! Holland break after Chile’s corner and it is devastating. Robben does the hard work, jinking down the left and then slips over an inch-perfect pass across the box which Memphis Depay finishes.

18.48

3 minutes of added time and Chile have a corner

18.48

SUB: Dirk Kuyt can’t shake off that cramp and he’s heading off. Meanwhile Chile have what feels like their seventh half-hearted appeal for a penalty. None of them have even been dubious, the referee has got them spot on.

18.45

Dirk Kuyt has cramp. The Chile players are less than impressed as they suspect it’s all for show. They’re probably right…

18.44

PENALTY SHOUT: Panilla goes down and there are claims for a penalty, however the referee had rightly called for offside 10 seconds earlier but everybody just ignored him and carried on. It’s 6/1 to finish as a draw in-play. Five minutes plus stoppage time to go for Chile to find an equaliser.

18.42

GOAL: Juan Mata makes it 3-0 to Spain.

18.41

SUB: Panilla is on for Vargas as Chile take one last throw of the dice. Seven minutes plus added time remaining.

18.40

OWN-GOAL ALERT: Well, almost. From the corner Nigel De Jong flicks it towards his own goal unintentionally but it is blocked on the line before we get a classic scramble where all 20 outfield players swing wildly a t a bobbling ball. A pleasure to watch.

18.39

Chile have a corner and there are plenty of handbags in the six yard box. Gary Medel ends up on his behind and Eduardo Varags is having a right tug at someone else. It’s all a bit silly.

18.37

Correction: According to Lee Dixon that was actually Fer’s third touch of the game which is far less of a fairytale story.

18.36

That’s Fer’s first goal for Holland and it was a really good header. He was unmarked and would be expected to score six yards out, but all in all it is a good header into the corner giving Bravo no chance.

18.35

GOAL! Holland lead and it’s a header, buried by the substitute Leroy Fer – that’s his first touch of the game.

18.34

TOP SAVE: Claudio Bravo tips over a long range shot from Memphis Depay.

18.33

SUB: That’s the last part Sneijder will play in this game, he makes way for Norwich’s Leroy Fer.

18.32

Sneijder whips it in but it is headed behind at the expense of a corner by Vargas. From Robben’s cross, Dirk Kuyt can only head wide.

18.31

Gary Medel hacks down Robben from behind and the Dutch have a free-kick in a very dangerous position to the left of the corner of the box. The ref has his magic spray out so you know the set piece is threatening.

18.30

Another StatBomb for you – Daley Blind has committed seven fouls in this game, and every single one of them has been on Alexis Sanchez. Don’t expect those two to share a flirty WhatsApp conversation filled with suggestive emoticons after this game, that’s for sure.

18.29

SUB: Silva comes off for Chile and in his place is Jorge Valdivia

18.28

GOAL! On the other TV Fernando Torres has made it 2-0 to Spain. Fernando Torres! BEST WORLD CUP EVER.

18.27

SUBS: Change by the Dutch – Memphis Depay is coming on for Jermain Lens.

18.25

CHANCE: You wait an hour for a shot on target and then two come along at once! This time Arjen Robben, gets the ball onto his left foot (surprise surprise), elects not to pass (again, huge surprise) and his shot is straight at Claudio Bravo.

18.24

CHANCE! Alexis Sanchez has a spillage of skillage on the left hand side as he puts it through Lens’ legs, dances into the box, but from a tricky angle hits it straight at Cillessen. He probably should have cut it back to a teammate but nobody looked to be gambling on the near post. Great feet though to embarrass Lens.

18.22

YELLOW: This one is for Daley Blind who goes into the book for a trip on, guess who, Alexis Sanchez.

18.21

STAT BOMB: Alexis Sanchez has been fouled seven times in this match – giving him an average of a clattering every 8.85 minutes #Crunched

18.19

Gonzalo Jara brings down Lens, but Robben’s free-kick is headed clear by one of Chile’s Ronnie Corbett-sized defenders.

18.17

The Chile manager, Jorge Sampaoli, is angry with a tackle from Dirk Kuyt. He also looks a bit like the cousin of the man who presented Crystal Maze.

rob-crystalmazes1e01-intro

18.15

Sanchez goes for goal from what must be 30 yards. It’s dipping, but unfortunately by the time it dips enough it has already planted someone in the top tier. Still 0-0.

18.10

Not a whole lot happening so far, and almost as if to emphasise that point, the ITV cameraman is keeping himself busy by picking out attractive supporters in the crowd.

18.05

Alexis Sanchez fouled by Blind. We’ve now had a whopping 23 fouls in this game already – the Dutch lead 15-8. Absolutely filthy.

18.03

We’re underway in the second half…

18.03

SUB: Chile bring off Gutierrez and Wigan’s Jean Beausejour is on in his place.

18.02

A few half-time nuggets to inform your betting coming up:

  • Robben (13/2), Lens (15/2) and Gutierrez (16/1) have all had two shots in the first half, although none of them were on target.
  • Since the 2010 World Cup, Chile (21/10) have been drawing five times at half-time, they have gone on to win two, draw two and lose one. The Dutch (21/10) have a marginally better record, winning 50 per cent of the six games they have been drawing at half-time in the last four years.
  • Almost a quarter of Holland’s goals in Euro 2012, World Cup 2010 and 2014 World Cup qualifying came in the 15 minute spell after half time. It is 9/4 for there to be a goal between the 45th and 55th minutes and Holland are 7/5 to score the first goal.

Eat that up guys, and head this way if you fancy a punt.

17.49

I’m off for a Twix and a cup of tea. BRB as the kids who still use MSN messenger would say. For anyone over 24, I’ll return shortly.

17.48

There’s the half-time whistle. Goal-less although not completely uninspiring. Chile have had lots of the ball and probed away, but their final pass has lacked a touch of quality. For the Dutch Arjen Robben looks dangerous every time he picks up the ball, and his pace is causing the South Americans plenty of problems. The draw is now 6/4, with both Chile and Holland available at 21/10. Get stuck in here.

17.46

CHANCE! Felipe Gutierrez finds himself completely unmarked eight yards out but his glancing header sails just wide. Holland’s defense looked as well-managed as the Northern Rock bank.

17.43

When he made that run, Robben took eight touches with his left foot according to the number-crunchers at Squawka. If he tried to get on a bus right-foot-first he’d fall over.

17.41

CHANCE! Best chance of the game so far by a mile. Robben picks the ball up in his own half and takes off. The Dutch midfielder is at full flight, dances around a couple of defenders but drags his shot just wide. I got a stitch just watching him whiz past defenders there.

17.39

Lee Dixon says Chile have done everything right in this half apart from score. Similarly England did everything right in this World Cup apart from win.

17.38

Dirk Kuyt puts an arm across Alexis Sanchez in the box and the striker goes down claiming a penalty. Interestingly no referee at this tournament has given fewer international penalties than the man in charge of this one. This one is waved away as well.

17.37

GOAL! Spain take the lead against Australia. A delightful flick from David Villa after the ball was cut back from the by-line.

17.36

CHANCE: Robben whips in a free-kick but it’s flicked wide by the head of De Vrij. Easily Holland’s best chance of the game.

17.34

Blind flies in on Aranguiz and there’s big claims for a penalty. Unfortunately the claims are from the Chile fans, rather than the players and the referee rightly ignores the roar. At the other end Holland break and Robben has to do better with his pass. He tries to slip De Jong in, but his through ball is approximately 20 yards behind his teammate.

17.30

Half an hour in and we’ve had just three shots, with none of them on target. The draw is available at 15/8 and it’s 9/2 to finish 0-0. Bet here folks.

17.28

Silva, who is already in the book, gives Lens an unnecessary barge as the ball bounces out for a throw in. He needs to be a touch careful here, that was as needless and as petulant as you can get.

17.26

YELLOW: And despite Holland’s record for fouling it is actually for Chile defender Francisco Silva, who has a tug at Jeremain Lens’ shirt. Sneijder whips it towards the near post, but it’s easy for the keeper, and in all honesty, was probably heading wide.

17.24

Robben darts around the couple of defenders and his shot is well blocked. The rest of the Dutch side are so amazed that their captain didn’t go to ground that nobody can react quick enough to capitalise on the loose ball.

17.23

CHANCE: Chile win the first corner of the game and it’s one right off the training ground. Plenty of movement in the six yard box, and a whole lot of pushing and shoving, but the ball is rolled to Felipe Gutierrez on the edge of the area who blasts well over.

17.21

Over in the Australia v Spain match David Villa slices a volley well wide after being picked out unmarked six yards out. It’s the kind of slice you frequently see in the Sunday pub leagues but not what you expect from a man with 58 international goals.

17.19

Chile come forward again but their lovely attacking build up play comes to nothing as Alexis Sanchez loses his footing. The traders are impressed if nothing else and Chile are now the 13/8 favourites with Holland at 15/8.

17.18

Lee Dixon says the Dutch are showing ‘too much respect’. What they should do is shout mildly racist statements, refuse to ever put the toilet seat down in guest’s houses and never hold the door open for the elderly he didn’t go on to say.

17.14

First attempt on goal but it’s high, wide and about as handsome as Adrian Chiles in a mankini. Eduardo Vargas for Chile with the header that troubles a loyal fan in row G more than the Dutch keeper.

17.12

Holland 4-2 Chile. 12 minutes in and our foul tally is up to six.

17.08

The Dutch are keeping up that cynical tag – they’ve committed three fouls in the opening seven minutes. Jeremain Lens has won the Dutch’s first free-kick however by running into a defender and going down flamboyantly. Robben nods in approval.

17.04

Chile seeing plenty of the ball in the opening couple of minutes. Possession is nine-tenths of the law remember, even Tulisa can tell you that (allegedly).

17.00

And Chile get us underway….

16.57

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Chile’s little ‘A Capella’ bit at the end of their anthem is class. Love it.

16.55

Quick few stats while the anthems are getting blasted out. The Dutch have committed more fouls per game than any other nation in this World Cup – 21.5 per game. While Chile have had just 18 shots in the tournament, only Uruguay and Iran (both on 17) have had less. Cynical and clinical.

16.52

The players are in the tunnel and Arjen Robben appears to be hurling abuse at his own side. What a leader.

16.49

The last time Holland were ‘Vanless’ they beat China 2-0. It’s 13/1 for them to win 2-0 tonight.

16.45

ITV have spent the last 30 minutes talking about England going out of the tournament. They know that happened on Friday, right? They are aware that we’re 15 minutes away from a very tasty tie between Holland and Chile aren’t they?

16.43

That stat has blown my mind. What a stat. BEST WORLD CUP EVER.

16.41

Just in case anyone is confused about Robin van Persie’s omission tonight, he’s suspended. Because he’s missing the game, it’s the first time since 1996 that the Dutch are not fielding a ‘Van’ in an international match. That’s 221 games. Keep that stat for a rainy day, the girls love them.

16.37

Anyone having a session tonight? If so here’s our drinking game that you can print of and use an excuse for getting absolutely trollied (in a completely responsible way of course). If you’re like me and you’re at work, or you’re being a Sensible Simon because it’s a school night you can still play with orange juice, tea or if you’re feeling dangerous, milk. Get stuck in here.

drinking-game_day12

 

16.33

The lads in risk can’t seperate the two sides and you can back either side at 17/10. The draw is 12/5, and for what it’s worth I’m backing a score draw at 16/5 and the 2-2 correct score at 11/1. Please note I have a 100 per cent record in the World Cup so far. It might be a 100 per cent losing record, but it’s still 100 per cent. You can get stuck into the odds here.

16.30

Yeah, I know that was painfully unoriginal but it still makes me giggle.

16.29

Dirk Kuyt spotted warming up…

sloth

16.26

It’s probably worth noting as well that the three men Chile play at the back – Medel, Jara and Silva – play their club football at Cardiff, Nottingham Forest and Osasuna. Two of those guys have been relegated this year and the other one plays for Forest, yet they’re 20/1 to win the World Cup. Suck on that, logic.

16.23

Both Holland and Chile appear to be setting up in the 3-5-2 formation. At the risk of getting very nerdy, that formation has been really effective in Brazil. Chile, Holland, Costa Rica, and Mexico have all utilised the flying wing-backs with great success, and I for one am delighted. It’s a lovely set up.

16.17

Everybody ready? I’m almost ready. Let me just grab a quick brew while you soak up that Dirk Kuyt news.

16.15

It would make sense to start with some team news, so here we go:

Holland: Cillessen; Janmaat, De Vrij, Vlaar, Blind; Wijnaldum, De Jong, Sneijder; Robben, Lens, Kuyt

Chile: Bravo, Isla, Medel, Jara, Mena, Silva, Díaz, Aránguiz, Gutierrez, Alexis, Vargas

Apparently Dirk Kuyt is playing left wing-back, which absolutely confirms that this is, the best World Cup EVER.

18.53

FULL TIME! Belgium win but that won’t erase the memory of this poor, poor game. Harsh on Russia who played well without creating too many clear cut chances.

The Red Devils have booked a place in the second round and it leaves Fabio Capello facing the possibility of World Cup exit more disappointing than England’s four years ago. That’s some achievement.

That’s killed my World Cup buzz. Someone who still has that buzz will be here tomorrow to live blog one of the matches.

18.50

CHANCE! Mirallas with another chance to give my’ Kevin’s can’t be heroes’ theory one in the eye. Eden Hazard plays him in, but from 10 yards out, he hits it at Akinfeev who manages not to throw it into his own net.

18.48

Actually, it’s only three minutes of added time. That’s about all the world can handle.

18.47

SUB! My bad – turns out that last sub wasn’t Russia’s last. This one is. Fabio Capello needs to go for broke and takes off Samedov and gives Kerzhakov about four minutes to shine.

18.46

GOAL!! 1-0 Belgium! Origi scores and that’s probably going to be the winner. It’s a nice break and move from Belgium. Hazard gets to the byline and cuts it back to Origi who thumps it into the roof of the net.

18.43

Belgium have certainly pulled their finger out. Strange as to why it’s taken 85 minutes. Hazard has a shot blocked and it goes out for a corner. The corner comes to nothing.

18.42

WOODWORK! From that free-kick, Mirallas hits it low and hard, but it rattles the Russian post and gets scrambled away. Kevin very nearly the hero.

18.41

SUB! Russia’s final change as Shatov comes off and Dzagoev enters the fray!

18.40

Free kick to Belgium in a dangerous position. Something might happen!!!

18.39

CHANCE! Despite committing nearly no-one forward, Belgium nearly get caught out by a nice move from Russia. Eshchenko makes ground to latch on to a ball and hits a shot that’s low and about a yard wide of Courtois’s right hand post.

18.37

Not Kevin Bacon though – he’s played a much more wider variety of roles, often as the villain.

18.36

Kevin’s are rarely the hero with the obvious exception of Kevin Costner movies. In which case, Kevin is basically always the hero.

18.32

SUB! Belgium make their final change. Dries Martens comes off and Kevin Mirallas comes on. It’s rare enough that someone called Kevin turns out to be the hero, but at this stage we’ll give anything a go.

18.31

YELLOW CARD! Out of sheer boredom, Toby Alderweireld hacks down a Russian for pure amusement. It was one of the more interesting things to have happened in this match, but he gets booked for it.

18.28

Russia having corners. This counts as excitement.

18.27

I don’t like being critical

says Martin Keown, totally f*cking lying.

18.24

AAAAHHHHH! SOOOOOO SHHHHHIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTT

18.22

SUB! Kozlov comes off for Russia. Eshchenko comes on Jonathan Pearce succeeds in making everything slightly more depressing by telling us a knee-slapper of a story about how Eshchenko’s parents died in a fire when he was a kid and he grew up in an orphanage.

Cheers Jonno. That’s cheered us right up.

18.20

An hour gone and we’ve got some live betting. Nothing on me still having the will to live at ten to seven.

The odds are:

Belgium 12/5 | Draw 10/11 | Russia 16/5

BET NOW: DESKTOP | MOBILE

18.16

The Sherminator breaks for Belgium, but the attack comes to nothing more than a bad penalty appeal.

18.15

SUB! Marc Wilmots makes a second change for Belgium. Romelu ‘Invisible Man’ Lukaku comes off and Divock Origi takes his place.

18.14

I really had high hopes for this game, but it’s been terrible. I haven’t been this disappointed by something so ridiculously over-hyped since Avatar.

18.12

YELLOW CARD! Alex Witsel gets booked. I think it’s for ‘not having hair as good as Fellaini’. Or else the very slight foul he just committed.

18.10

Russia aren’t just here to make up the numbers, they came here to PPPAAAAAARRRRRRTTTTAAAAAYYYYYYYY! Or whatever the suitable football terminology is.

My point is, although it’s been tedious, Russia have had the better of the tedium.

18.05

It’s still shit.

18.04

Russia kick off the second half.

18.04

What was that Thierry Henry???????

That’s the most French thing we’ve ever seen someone do with their mouth that’s not oral sex.

17.58

If you do ever want to build you’re own pundit team, you could do worse than follow our DIY guide:

world-cup-pundit-kit-v3

17.52

In fairness, there’s three world class strikers giving a masterclass in why Lukaku was a bit shit in the first half. That’s actually quite interesting. Well done boys – on your colour co-ordination and your analysis.

17.50

HALF TIME! It’s not the worst match I’ve ever seen, but that’s only because I saw every minute of Liverpool’s run to win the UEFA Cup of 2001. Some of that was hideous. Not the final, that was good. But the games before that. Anyhoo, I’m digressing because I want to avoid talking about that first half.

Do you think the pundits talk to each other about what they’re going to wear in studio? Like they’re all wearing black today – that can’t be accident. Or maybe they don’t tell each other, but they have a gopher who co-ordinates things. I reckon they do talk about it, but they’d be too manly to admit it.

17.45

The novelty oversized 4th official’s board tells us there’ll be one minute of injury time at the end of this terrible half.

17.44

Faizulin volleys goalwards as the ball falls to him on the edge of the area …

but stop that shite because …….

GLORIOUS CHANCE Cock Ring … I mean Kokorin should have given Russia the lead!!! What a chance. He’s picked out with a cross unmarked, six yards out and he butchers the header, sending it well wide! Aw, that’s awful.

17.40

The ball falls to Romelu Lukaku inside the Russian box, but his shot is blocked, confirming what a colossal anti-climatic shithouse of a first half this has been.

17.39

YELLOW CARD! Glushakov goes into the book for what initially looks like an physical assault on Mertens, but with the replay looks more like absolutely nothing. Maybe a high foot, but that’s about all.

17.37

Mertens loves a cross-shot so he does! Once again he does well to get into the Russian penalty area and once again he neither has an overly selfish shot or an overly ambitious attempt at picking out a team-mates. Akinfeev slaps the ball away not unlike a Bushwacker from mid 90s WWF.

17.35

Shatov with another shot from outside the area for Russia. It was … well, the present tense of shat and Courtois picks it up easily.

17.33

Oh right – that explains it. The Beeb shows a clip of Vermaelen hyper-extending his knee in the pre-match warm-up. He collapses on to the ground in a heap. Yeah – that looked pretty nasty.

17.32

SUBSTITUTION Belgium forced into a change as Vermaelan comes off with what must be an injury, but doesn’t stop him from walking off. Verthonghen takes his place.

17.31

SAVE! Another Russian shot from distance and another decent save that we probably shouldn’t get too excited by from Courtois. Samedov did the shooting.

17.28

HALF A PENALTY APPEAL FROM RUSSIA But it won’t be enough for Putin to send the troops in. The Russian player goes down under pressure from Alderweireld in the Belgian box. He definitely caught Kokorin, but the fact the Russian also stood on the ball and fell at the same time probably made up the referee’s mind.

17.23

Mertens is seeing more action at the moment than Roy Hodgson’s politely apologetic demeanor. He gets into the box once again but fizzes a cross-shot well wide.

17.21

A nice run and shot from Dries Mertens. He slaloms past a couple of Russian defenders, but from the edge of the area, his attempt is about a yard wide. It was close enough to worry Akinfeev in the Russian goal, but then again, most things worry Akinfeev at the moment.

17.18

Belgium get into a decent area, but the cross sails over everyone, including Marouane Fellaini, who was nowhere near it. Undaunted, Jonathan Pearce still manages to shoehorn in a reference to Fellaini’s crap season with Manchester United.

17.16

Nice run from De Brunye gets Belgium into a good position, but Mertens’ low cross is intercepted.
Good work from De Brunye. Probably his best showing since American Pie 2:

sherminator

17.13

SAVE! Belgium have had the better of things so far, but it’s Russia who force the first save of the match. Courtois gets down low to parry a shot from the edge of the area.

17.11

His name is Kokorin, not ‘Cock Ring’ which is how the BBC commentators are leaning towards pronouncing it.

17.08

Fellaini is playing in a very advanced position for Belgium, which may be a surprise to Russia. He’s also not playing totally shite, which may surprise them even more.

17.02

Early pressure from Belgium, but their attack falls apart like a Belgian government and Russia screw up what was a promising counter-attack.

17.00

Belgium get the game underway in their customary red kit. Russia are wearing white and already thinking about invading the Belgian dressing room.

16.56

Either there’s a lot of Russians in Rio or the Brazilian public REALLY like the Russian national anthem.

The terrible singing of the anthems is over and now the players are going through their heart-felt obligatory hand-shakes.

16.53

The teams are walking out onto the Maracana pitch. From the walking, I would make Belgium the slight favourites. They walked with slightly more confidence.

16.47

You know when you’re going somewhere warm on your holidays, but you always pack something just in case it’s cold one of the days, but then it’s not cold on any of the days and you feel like you have to wear that heavier jumper once just so it doesn’t feel like it’s a waste? It think that day is today for Thierry Henry:

blog_henry-jumper

16.44

Time to talk about betting! Yes – betting is sooooooo good. Yay – go betting!

Belgium are the big favourites for today’s match – partially because they’re the hipsters’ choice and partially because they’re way better than Russia. The odds are as follows:

Belgium 6/5 | Draw 12/5 | Russia 5/2 – BET NOW: DESKTOP | MOBILE

Russia might be a decent price. But I feel it’s only fair to warn you that they are managed by Fabio Capello.

16.38

Day 3 of the England post-mortem dominating that pre-match build-up to a game that doesn’t involve England. This time Frank Lampard is telling Gabby Logan that no-one is to blame – not the players, not the manager, not anybody.

16.33

Right – it’ll be hard to top the excitement of Songs of Praise, but come on Gary Lineker, Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and Clarence Seedorf – let’s be having ya!!

God, their theme song really does sound like a shit Spice Girls b-side. Not even a good Spice Girls b-side. It’s no ‘Take Me Home’.

16.07

Romelu Lukaku has been getting a lot of love for his performances for the last couple of seasons, so this stat is somewhat surprising:

15.58

The Belgium team looks as hipstery as you’d expect. After his goal against Algeria, Marouane Fellaini gets a start.

Belgium
Courtois, Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vermaelen, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Mertens, Hazard, Lukaku

15.56

Right then – let’s get stuck in with some TEAM NEWS – the news so important it deserves capital letters and underlining.

Russia name a team that’s likely to play havoc with my spell-checker. They keep faith with the goalie that gifted South Korea a goal the other night.

Russia
Akinfeev, Kombarov, Berezutskiy, Ignashevich, Glushakov, Kokorin, Shatov, Samedov, Fayzulin, Kozlov, Kanunnikov

21.55

FULL TIME! Kroos chips it into the box and for about the four hundredth time tonight, Jonathon Boye clears it, taking Thomas Muller’s forehead as collateral damage. The ref blows his whistle and that’s it.

Good things come to those who wait – and write snarky live blogs. The first half was woeful, but the second half was about the most entertaining 48 minutes of football you’re ever likely to see. Quality, high tempo, attacking football played by both teams. In the end, it was like a heavyweight title fight with both jaded sides slugging away looking for the knockout blow. Brilliant stuff.

I’ll be back tomorrow for more live blogging.

21.51

YELLOW CARD! Muntari picks up a booking and more importantly, Germany have a free-kick in a dangerous position. Last kick of the game, surely.

21.48

Three minutes of added time.

21.48

GREAT CHANCE! That should have been Germany and Klose’s moment! The striker picks up the ball on the edge of the box. He’s 17 yards out and in a great position, but he drags his shot about a foot wide.

21.47

SHOT! Nice play from Ghana, but a shot from the edge of the box from Gyan is pulled wide of the goal to Neuer’s left.

21.46

SAVE! Jordan Ayew with a low shot from about 22 yards out. Manuel Neuer gets down low to make a save that he doesn’t milk for all its worth, despite being one of the trickier ones he’s had to stop this evening.

21.44

MORE GREAT DEFENDING Slick play from Germany. Mesut Ozil is played in, tries to slide a ball into the six yard box, but Mensah gets on the end of it to put it out for a corner.

21.43

SO KLOSE! And that pun doesn’t even work because it turns out it was Thomas Muller. He gets played in with a through ball and just when it looks like he’s about to pull the trigger, the Ghana defender slides in to the deflect the shot away from goa.l.

21.40

Sulley Muntari’s arse his hanging out of his shorts. Let’s hope that’s not the final memory of this brilliant second half.

21.38

10 minutes to go plus stoppage time. The odds are:

GERMANY 13/8 | DRAW 10/11 | GHANA 15/2

BET NOW: MOBILE | DESKTOP

21.36

SHOT! Schweinsteiger goes close-ish with a free kick after about 12 German players stepover the ball.

SUB! Ghana make their final change as Mohammed Rabiu gets called ashore and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu gets a run out.

21.33

SUB! Ghana make a change with Atsu making way and Wakaso taking his place.

21.32

CHANCE! Another corner and another good header. This time Schweinsteiger gets on the end of the cross, but his header his slightly high when he should have at least found the goal area.

21.30

That put him level on top of the all time World Cup goalscorer charts with Brazilian Ronaldo. Could he claim the record all for himself this evening?

21.29

GOAL! 2-2! Any Low doesn’t just have the magical touch when it comes to fashion! Miroslav Klose gets on to the scoresheet with pretty much his first touch of the ball, poking home a Hedwwiges header from a corner.

21.28

DOUBLE SUBSTITUTION Joachaim Low uses his two remaining subs. On come Klose and Schweinsteiger and getting the hook are Goetze and Khedira.

21.26

Muntari doesn’t lack any confidence about his shooting from distance. Unluckily for Ghana, what he does lack us accuracy.

21.25

CHANCE! Ghana look like they’ve got Germany on the rack here and a break results in a super chance. Ayew fires at Neuer when playing in a team-mate may have been the better option.

21.22

GOAL! 2-1 GHANA! Well paint me red and call me a letter box! Ghana have taken the lead and they only bloody deserve it!! Asamoah Gyan is played in and he slots it calmly to Neuer’s right and into the net.

21.18

JOACHAIM LOW FASHION UPDATE: His trousers aren’t black as may have previously said earlier, they’re in actual fact a dark, dark grey, which looked like black trousers when I saw them in a silhouette form earlier. Apologies about the inaccuracies of my fashion reporting.

21.16

Andre Ayew – hotshot:

21.13

GOAL! 1-1! Ghana equalise almost immediately and again it’s a header – this time a really good header and not one he smashed into his knee. Andre Ayew jumped highest and flicked a cross on to the left hand side of the goal beyond the dive of Neuer.

21.11

SUB! Both the Boateng siblings are off now. Kevin Prince gets replaced by Jordan Ayew, which restores our sibling count to one.

21.10

GOAL! 1-0 GERMANY We could say it was on the cards, but that would be a filthy lie. Muller crosses to Mario Goetze who skillfully heads the ball with his face onto his knee and it finds its way into the Ghana net from six yards out.

21.03

SUB! Yes, the 4th official wasn’t messing around with the sign for a laugh, it was because Germany have made a change. Mustafi comes on and Boateng goes off, ending all the half-brother battle talk.

Ghana get the 2nd half underway.

21.02

The teams are walking back out onto the pitch and the 4th official is messing with his oversized board.

20.48

HALF-TIME! That wan’t the worst half of football I’ve seen at this World Cup, but that’s only because I watched Nigeria v Iran the other day.

Germany have played some nice football until it came to the final third when they just lack that focal point. Ghana have looked dangerous at times, but reduced mainly to long distance shots that Neuer is making look more dangerous than they really are.

20.46

Toe poke goalwards from Mensah. It goes wide. It wasn’t all that good. Not that much happening.

20.42

CHANCE! Muller plays a ball across the Ghana six yard box. Goetze was standing close to it, but the replay shows he wasn’t actually that close to getting it. Plus he didn’t really try. The move breaks down.

Less exciting than it first appeared, which is also a nice way of summing up this game so far.

20.39

Apologies – Sami Khedira has actually grown a full beard. Well ‘full’ is a generous description, but it’s certainly more than a goatee.

20.38

SHOT! Half volley from Goetze from 19 yards out. Straight at the keeper and despite the standard of goalkeeping at this tournament so far, it doesn’t go in.

20.36

Another interception of a low German cross from Boye earns Germany a corner. All that comes from the corner is some heading practice for the Ghana defence.

20.34

Ghana on top at the moment. Mesut Ozil looks worried.

blog_gizmo

20.34

SAVE! Another long distance attempt from Ghana and another overly melodramatic save from Neuer. Sulley Muntari hits it first time from about 25 yards out and the German goalie punches it away when catching it would have been just as easy.

20.32

Kevin Prince Boateng has switched positions and is now going head to head with his half-brother, Jerome.

Danny Murphy considers what this must be like for the half-siblings and after a few moments of deep thought tells us:

I’d imagine they’ll just get on with it and not think about it

20.30

Germany break into the Ghana penalty area and just as it looks like Goetze is going to pick out Muller, Boye intercepts the pass to snuff out the danger. Again, nothing to sell to the tabloids, but the pickings are of the slim variety.

20.26

Toni Kroos shots from about 25 yards out. It’s about three yards too high and about a yard wide, but there’s not much else happening so everyone gets more excited about it than they probably should.

20.24

Half way through the first chance and this game is lacking just one small thing – entertainment.

The odds look like:

Germany 2/5 | Draw 16/5 | Ghana 15/2BET NOW: MOBILE | DESKTOP

20.21

Danny Murphy tells us:

Just sitting here, I feel really warm. It’ll be even warmer for those players running around in the pitch.

He’s like the real life version of the Boring Jame Milner Twitter account.

20.19

Khedira with a tame shot from 20 yards out. Not his best work. His best work is in fact that tidy goatee of his.

20.18

Until he was picked to join the BBC World Cup team, Danny Murphy’s commentary potential was spotted when he was announcing train delays at Kings Cross station. #truestory

20.13

Here we go! Some entertainment. Atsu shots from distance and Manuel Neuer is forced to make a save that was more spectacular looking than it needed to be.

20.12

Germany are looking threatening, only with the notable problem of not actually threatening. They managed to look slick around the Ghana penalty area, but the shot from Toni Kroos was blocked fairly easily by the Ghanaian defender.

20.07

Six minutes in and we get our first chance and it’s not really even a chance. Gyan got on the end of a low cross from Atsu and hoofed it high into the stand. Not a rip-roaring start it has to be said.

20.02

Oh Joachaim Low – he does own some slick shirts. Tonight, he’s got a dark navy number – with black pants!! Only a style icon can get away with something that rule-breaking.

20.00

Right, they’re off and it’s Germany, in all white, who get us underway.

19.57

You just make yourself comfortable there, young man:

19.55

Time for the bad singing of the national anthems and heart-felt obligatory handshakes.

19.50

“Come on Jeff – we’re heading to the Ghana v Germany match. Are you ready yet?”

“Nearly, just doing one last check. Hang on.

Wallet … check.
Ticket … check.
Weird devil head thing … check.
Cool, let’s go.”

blog_ghana-devil

19.42

Time to talk about the betting. Not because I’m contractually obliged to do so, totally because I enjoy it and I want to entirely of my own volition. Yaaaayyy – betting is great.

Germany are the heavy favourites to win this one. That’ll be because they’re just too damn efficient. The odds in full are:

GERMANY 1/3 | DRAW 4/1 | GHANA 8/1

BET NOW: MOBILE | DESKTOP

19.39

So … from the early evidence of this BBC coverage it looks like the pre-match build-up will be about 28 minutes talking about England’s exit and two minutes talking about the actual Germany v Ghana match.

19.35

Oh – it’s the dream team on the BBC panel tonight – Grumpy, Happy and Handsy.

Or Alan Hansen, Clarence Seedorf and Thierry Henry to give them their more common names.

19.32

It’s over to BBC1 where they’re already comparing Germany to an efficient automobile. It must have taken them literally four milliseconds to come up with that slice of televisual originality.

19.31

Manuel Neuer is looking a bit perplexed at Michael Essien’s omission from the Ghana team:

Charlie_Bucket_1971

19.27

Per Mertesacker earns his 100th cap for Germany tonight. And they gave him a special pair of boots to mark the occasion:

Hmmm … nice. But what’s wrong with cake?

19.23

If you’re not shouting for anyone particular, then why not play our World Cup Drinking Game? Responsibly and only if you are above [INSERT THE LEGAL DRINKING AGE IN YOUR JURISDICTION OR MONASTERY]

19.14

And ITV’s coverage ends with Martin O’Neill kind of heaping praise on Patrick Vieira because Paddy is heading back to Manchester City for pre-season. Is that what happened? I’m not quite sure. Still though – Martin won two European Cups don’t you know? How many do you have Fabio and Patrick? Eh? Eh?

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLV3zpEKZXw

I’m glad that wasn’t cringe-worthy. That could so easily have been cringe-worthy.

19.06

Right, I’ve wiped the drool away and now it’s time for a bit of TEAM NEWS

First up, it’s Ghana and once again, Michael Essien has to make do with a place on the bench. Kevin Prince Boateng starts, giving the commentators the chance to mention his brother plays for Germany as if it’s the first time you’ve ever heard it:

Ghana
Dauda, Gyan (c), Atsu, Boateng, A Ayew, Muntari, Rabiu, Mensah, Asamoah, Boye, Afful

The brother thing is definitely happening because Jerome starts for Germany. Hummels also makes it into the XI after an injury scare.

Germany
Neuer, Howedes, Hummels, Boateng, Mertesacker, Lahm, Khedira, Ozil, Kroos, Gotze, Muller

18.55

I’m waiting for some team news, but watching Lionel Messi’s late winner for Argentina against Iran is a more than adequate way of passing the time:

18.03

I don’t know what you’re doing here. The match is nearly two hours away. It’s not as if I’m actually in Brazil and I can bring you all the colour and atmosphere in the local bars and brothels.

Come back around 7pm where I should be able to slag off what the pundits are saying.

21.57

France look serious contenders after that win. Some may point to how poor the opponents were but you can only beat the side in front of you. They’re the most impressive side of the tournament so far with eight goals in their first two games.

21.53

FULL-TIME: It finishes 5-2. It almost finished 6-2 with Benzema putting the ball in the net literally seconds after the ref blew up for full-time. Harsh. Those of you who backed the Frenchman for top goalscorer may be left to rue the official’s sticklerness.

21.48

Just three minutes of injury-time. That’ll make the comeback tricky.

21.47

Switzerland are pushing for a third goal. It’s too late now surely….

21.46

Cabaye picks up a silly yellow for a pointless kick at Dzemaili on the half-way line.

21.46

A great ball over the top, Xhaka takes it on the volley over his shoulder and smashes it past Lloris.

21.45

GOAL: Switzerland get a second goal through Granit Xhaka.

21.44

Shaqiri has a decent shot from distance, LLoris makes a solid save down to his right.

21.43

Switzerland are going looking for a second. Goal difference could be crucial come the final shake-up.

21.40

A free-kick from about 40-yards out, Dzemali’s daisy-cutter goes right through the wall and finds a spot in Lloris’ bottom left corner. The keeper must have been unsighted there. A soft goal of no consequence to France.

21.39

GOAL: Switzerland get one back through substitute Dzemaili.

21.38

Ten minutes to go.

21.36

In the midst of those two goals Switzerland made their final change. The frankly terrible Seferovic was replaced by Josip Drimic.

21.35

France go close twice in quick succession from Cissokho and Valbuena.

21.34

Frustration from Switzerland as Dzemali hacks down Sissoko. A sympathetic ref lets his away without a booking.

21.32

Five goals, five different scorers for France. And they want more.

21.31

More good play from France. Benzema plays in Sissoko down the left of the box, he shoots across Benaglio and in to the far bottom corner. The keeper should have done better. Bit late now mind.

21.30

GOAL: Sissoko makes it 5-0 to France.

21.30

Almost a fifth. France are clearly enjoying this. Cabaye feeds a clever ball in to Evra’s path but the off-balance fullback chips over.

21.29

Switzerland win a corner. Rodriguez wins the header but puts his effort wide.

21.27

I doubted Benzema’s ability to lead this French team. On tonight’s evidence I was wrong.

21.26

Paul Pogba plays a lovely ball in to the box with the outside of his foot. Senderos does what Senderos does and misses it completely, Benzema sneaks in behind him and slots the ball between Benaglio’s legs.

21.25

GOAL: Benzema finally gets his goal to put France 4-0 up.

21.24

Mamadou Sakho goes off injured with Arsenal Laurent Koscielny taking his place in the France backline.

21.23

Inler puts in a decent ball which France fail to deal with. The chance falls to Mehmedi but he fails to keep his effort down.

21.20

Didier Deschamps makes his first change in the 33rd minute. Paul Pogba comes on for goal-scorer Oliver Giroud.

21.19

Switzerland give the ball away at the back. Debuchy challenges for the ball in the box and goes down looking for a penalty. No chance.

21.18

France go close again. Evra leads a counter-attack, Benzema and Valbuena are involved. Benzema finally gets a shot off which clips a defender a loops over for a corner.

21.16

The Swiss move the ball around in the French third. Substitute Dzemali tries his luck from 25 yards out but the ball sails well over the bar.

21.14

Senderos gives the ball away to Benzema, he passes to Giroud who tries his luck from distance. A well struck shot but wide right.

21.12

Switzerland are trying and are currently edging possession but they lack a focal point in attack and have given the ball away cheaply throughout the game. Shaqiri has a desperate shot from 30 yards. Lloris’ quiet evening continues.

21.09

Haris Seferovic has the ball on the dgde of the box, with better options available he drags a poor shot wide.

21.06

Switzerland made a second change at half-time with Blerim Dzemaili replacing Valon Behrami, who gave the ball away far too easily too often.

21.05

Mehmedi is almost put through but a cracking sliding tackle from Sakho in the French box denies him.

21.04

KICK-OFF: Switzerland get the second half started.

20.49

HALF-TIME: France lead 3-0 and they look more likely to extend that scoreline than Switzerland are to get back in to this game. The men in red could get murdered on the counter-attack in the second half.

20.48

Some sloppy play at the back allows Benzema to get another shot away. Benaglio saves.

20.45

Haris Seferovic may have scored the winner against Ecuador but too many promising attacks have died at his feet in this first 45 minutes.

20.43

CLOSE: Benzema sets up Valbuena whose half-volley is punched to safety by Benaglio. France are looking very confident indeed.

20.42

From Switzerland’s corner Olivier Giroud is quickly released down the right flank, he plays a fantastic ball across the box for Mathieu Valbuena to smash high into the net at the back post. It’s hard to see a way back for the Swiss now.

20.40

GOAL: Valbuena puts France 3-0.

20.40

Mehmedi plays a dangerous pass to Shaqiri in the box but too many touches allow the defenders to close him down. The ball goes out for a corner which comes to nothing.

20.37

Switzerland have regained their composure as they start to retain possession a little better. A goal before halftime would be handy.

20.34

Switzerland get off the hook there. I predicted a Senderos moment, it just happened that Djourou is the one who had it. It wasn’t a great penalty but that was a shocking miss from Cabaye.

20.33

MISS: Benzema’s penalty is saved and then Cabaye hits the crossbar with an open goal at his mercy.

20.31

PENALTY: Benzema carries the ball into the box. Johann Djourou looks to have him contained and then inexplicably and unnecessarily trips the Frenchman. Uh oh.

20.30

CLOSE: Mehmedi powers forward and has a decent shot which Lloris punches into the path of Shaqiri, his shot flashes across the goal but fails to find the net. Less than convincing from the French stopper.

20.29

Giroud tries his luck with a half-volley from 25+ yards out. He cuts across it and sends it over.

20.28

Switzerland have the ball in the net but Xhaka was a couple of yards offside. A poor effort to keep it out from Lloris though.

20.26

Benzema looks to get one for himself. He picks the ball up just inside the Swiss half, sprints to the edge of the box and gets a shot off. It lacks a bit of pace and Benaglio saves comfortably.

20.22

The Swiss players naturally look a little deflated now as France boss the game. Two goals in two minutes will do that to you.

20.20

Disaster for Switzerland. Behrami plays a poor pass stright to Benzema in midfield. The Real Madrid man hares towards the Swiss goal, putting Matuidi in down the right of the box and the PSG midfielder smashes one in at the near post. Allez les Bleus!

20.18

GOAL: Matuidi makes it 2-0 to France.

20.18

It was Giroud’s cross which Johann Djourou headed behind for a corner. Mathieu whips in a cracking cross and Giroud powers a header over Rodriguez into the top right corner.

20.16

GOAL: Giroud puts France in the lead.

20.13

Neither side really doing an awful lot so far. Yohan Cabaye balloons a poor shot over to prove my point.

20.10

Will we see a classic Senderos gaffe now? I’m guessing he’ll be the culprit for a few dodgy moments for Switzerland before this game is out.

20.09

Steve von Bergen is going off with a nasty looking eye injury, a result of that challenge from Giroud. We get our first substitution of the game as Phillipe Senderos replaces him.

20.07

Giroud goes in a little late on Steve von Bergn and catches him with a boot to the head. Lucky to get away without a yellow card there the Arsenal man. von Bergen remains down.

20.06

Benzema looks like he’s going to be France’s main attacking threat tonight. He creates some space on the edge of the Swiss box but his curling effort is a yard outside the top right corner.

20.04

Benzema drops back into the playmaker roll and plays a dangerous looking ball over the top to Debuchy but the Newcastle man is unable to bring the ball down.

20.03

France are already being made to work harder as Switzerland hurry and harass from the off.

20.00

KICK-OFF: Switzerland get things underway.

19.58

The pitch looks pretty cut up but the entire playing surface is in the shade. Swings and roundabouts people.

19.57

France sporting some rather fashionable training tops as the teams touch flesh.

19.55

The teams are out, the anthems have begun. In the office gloomy England fans search for someone to blame.

19.40

Xerdan Shaqiri has been linked with a move to Liverpool. It may just be a ploy to force Southampton’s hand regarding Adam Lallana but he certainly looked lively in Switzerland’s opener.

19.35

Two changes for Switzerland as well as Mehmedi and Seferovic come in for Stocker and Drmic. A reward for their goal-scoring efforts off the bench against Ecuador perhaps.

19.17

Giroud and Cissokho come in to the French team in place of replace Pogba and Griezmann as Didier Deschamps gives his side a gentle shake after a somewhat stale effort in their opening win over Honduras.

19.10

Thanks to Bryan Ruiz’ first half header in today’s early game, which gave Costa Rica a surprise 1-0 win, England’s fate is sealed. Now Italy’s World Cup future is looking less certain. They need at least a draw in their final game against a Luis Suarez inspired Uruguay. A shame for England fans but the group is set up for an exciting finish.

19.03

France:
01 Lloris
02 Debuchy
03 Evra
06 Cabaye
04 Varane
05 Sakho
18 Sissoko
14 Matuidi
09 Giroud
08 Valbuena
10 Benzema

Switzerland:
01 Benaglio
02 Lichtsteiner
13 Rodriguez
08 Inler
20 Djourou
05 Von Bergen
23 Shaqiri
11 Behrami
09 Seferovic
10 Xhaka
18 Mehmedi

22.10

And that’s me for tonight. Two entertaining games, lots of positives but no points for England. At least Wayne Rooney has himself a World Cup goal. Who will the media blame now? Cue photoshopped images of Roy Hodgson in the papers with a turnip head or as a very incompetent owl. A sliver of hope remains but no more than that.

22.01

Steven Gerrard won’t feeling to chipper right now. Two high-profile errors have ruined what was looking to be a marquee season for him. He now relies upon the Italians to save England. If Italy beat Costa Rica tomorrow and Uruguay in the final game, an England win over Costa Rica will see them nick through. This is Italy we’re talking about and strategic draws are what they do best. A win over Costa Rica will mean the Azzuri only need a draw to top the group.

21.55

Yet another good attacking effort from England undermined by sloppy defensive play. Would John Terry have made a difference? Hindsight makes experts of us all.

21.52

FULL-TIME: Uruguay win 2-1 thanks to two goals from Luis Suarez.

21.51

Rooney gets the ball on the edge of the box. His shot is deflected for a corner. Joe Hart makes the journey up the pitch but it comes to nothing. Goal-kick.

21.50

Suarez was replaced by Liverpool team-mate and towering centre-half Sebastien Coates.

21.49

England have to score. They have three minutes to do it.

21.48

A defeat technically doesn’t knock England out but they’ll be relying on the remaining three games in the group going their way. It’ll be a long shot.

21.46

After his slip against Chelsea proved to be so crucial in Liverpool’s failed title challenge how must Steven Gerrard be feeling now? Shitty probably about covers it. FIVE MINUTES OF INJURY-TIME.

21.44

Suarez is down with a touch of time wasting cramp. He has put in a great shift considering he had knee surgery a month ago. England have a free-kick just outside the Uruguay box.

21.42

And there’s the defensive lapse. A simple ball isn’t dealt with, Gerrard gets a flick on the ball and sends Suarez through on goal. His team-mate makes no mistake and Uruguay lead 2-1.

21.41

GOAL: Suarez scores to give Uruguay the lead.

21.40

A simple ball over the top to Suarez has England looking shaky in defense. It comes to nothing. They just need to keep their calm and they can still win this game.

21.36

Substitution: Jorge Fucile replaces Alvaro Gonzalez.

21.36

With ten minutes to go England are dominating, piling forward at every opportunity. There are still moments of sloppiness at the back though.

21.34

It’s all England now. Baines finds Sturridge in the box. He controls the ball, spins and gets a shot away. Decent effort.

21.32

Great skill from Sturridge out right. After beating a couple of players he plays Johnson in and the right-back powers in to the box. He plays a great ball across the box to Rooney who finishes at the far post.

21.31

GOAL: Rooney equalises. England 1 – 1 Uruguay

21.30

Godin must have his manager sweating as he gives away yet another free-kick. The ball is fed to Sturridge who makes some space on the edge of the box but there isn’t enough power on his shot and Muslera saves with ease.

21.28

Roy Hodgson is certainly being positive with his subsitutions. Some signs of frustration from Rooney as he barges into the back of Rios and gives away a free-kick.

21.27

Substituion: Adam Llanna replaces Danny Wellbeck.

21.26

With 20 minutes to go England are pouring forward looking for a goal but that final ball just hasn’t been quite good enough so far.

21.24

Steven Gerrard goes in the book for a rambunctious tackle on Rodriguez.

21.23

Substitution: Nicolas Lodeiro makes way for Christian Stuani.

21.21

Sturridge fires in a cross from out left, Rooney goes sliding in but the ball is too close to the goal keeper.

21.20

Substitution: Raheem Sterling makes way for Ross Barkley.

21.19

Pereira proves he has recovered by smashing into a tackle with Johnson.

21.18

The game is stopped as Alvaro Pereira is laid on the grass. The replays show he took a knee to the head from Sterling as he slid in to challenge the Liverpool winger. Pereira is on his feet and wants to return but he was out cold there. Should probably be replaced.

21.17

Suarez chases a ball over the top but Cahill tracks him well and the striker stumbles on the ball and England have a goal-kick. Did he look a little tired there?

21.16

As Ross Barkley warms up Jordan Henderson attempts to avoid being replaced with a shot from 25-yards out. It may have been a cross as Muslera collects with ease.

21.13

England are really going for this. Baines is having more joy down the left and he whips in another good ball. Wellbeck stretches for it but Muslera gathers. The tow make contact and the keeper milks it for a few minutes. Frustrating but clever play from the Uruguayan. England are threatening to build up a real head of steam.

21.10

CLOSE: The ball drops to Rooney in the box after some good work from Baines. Rooney blasts the ball but it’s too close to Muslera, who palms the ball away.

21.08

Uruguay looking dangerous. England lose the ball and Lodeiro puts Cavani in on goal. He opens up his body and looks for the far corner but side-foots wide. England looking very shaky.

21.06

CLOSE: Suarez whips in another dangerous ball to the near post. It takes a nick of Wellbeck and again Hart has to scramble back to push the ball wide.

21.02

KICK-OFF: England get things underway. Their World Cup future looking precarious right now.

21.01

Rooney and Gerrard have certainly upped their performances from the Italy game but so has the entire Uruguay team. As the sides come back out onto the pitch for the second half who will be the difference maker?

20.48

HALF-TIME: England 0 – Uruguay. Not a bad performance from England but once again it’s an individual defensive lapse which has cost them. They’re certainly not out of this game but they can’t afford to let Suarez go unmarked in the box.

20.45

One minute of injury time as England probe for that equaliser.

20.43

England are pushing for an equaliser before half-time. They’ve had a series of corners but Uruguay have held firm.

20.41

CLOSE: Rooney plays in Sturridge, he makes some space and has a good strike on goal. The keeper saves at his near post. They almost hit back right away.

20.40

Lodeiro passes to Cavani out wide left, he dinks in a wonderful ball. Jageilka fails to track Suarez and the Liverpool man nods the ball back across the goal and into the net.

20.38

GOAL: Suarez puts Uruguay 1-0 up in the 39th minute.

20.36

Sturridge tries a shot from a full 40 yards out. Probably wishing he hadn’t as it balloons miles over the bar.

20.33

Gerrard gives away a free-kick by getting kicked on the back of the leg. Suarez whips it in but Wellbeck heads it clear.

20.32

CLOSE: Wellbeck gets on to a Sturridge pass and is fouled near the corner flag. Gerrard puts a great ball and Rooney almost scores. His header comes back off the cross-bar. Unlucky.

20.29

Godin puts an arm up and blocks Sturridge from getting on the end of a pass from Rooney. England get a free and the already booked Godin is skating on thin ice.

20.28

Sturridge plays Wellbeck in behind the Uruguayan defence on the left. Wellbeck threatens to make it to the byline but the ball bobbles and goes out for a goal-kick. It may have hit a defender last.

20.27

Lodeiro almost finds Cavani in the box but Cahill comes storming in and clears the ball for a corner. Suarez hits the corner low. This time Cavani beats Cahill to the ball but his well hit effort flies over the bar.

20.26

Sterling gives away a free-kick which Suarez whips in for Hart to gather comfortably. An even game in need of a goal…or a red card.

20.24

Apparently Luis Suarez only has one gear, top gear. Is that a dig at the racism allegations from the guys on ITV? Suarez is no Jeremy Clarkson.

20.22

Lodeiro dink a ball over the England backline but it’s far in front of Suarez and goes out for and England goal-kick.

20.18

Gerrard’s corner fails to beat the first man.

20.17

England move the ball about well, the ball finally comes to Sturridge whose shot is deflected over for a corner.

20.16

A poor attempt at a clearance from Jagielka sees the ball fall to Gonzalez out left but he blasts his shot just over Hart’s bar.

20.10

CLOSE: Wayne Rooney curls the ball over the wall and a foot wide of the left hand upright. The keeper was left standing. England looking the more dangerous of the two at thispoint.

20.09

Wellbeckplays the ball in the Sturridge. He turns to go at the defence on the edge of the box. He attempts to chip it through and Godin handles. A free-kick on the edge of the box and a yellow card for Godin.

20.07

After more positive England play a jinking Sterling is brought down on the edge of the Uruguay box by Lodeiro. The free-kick is easily nodded away.

20.05

Suarez’s corner threatens to sneak straight in at the near post, Hart scrambles and punches it off Cahill and out for another corner. This one comes to night.

20.04

Suarez’ first involvement sees him play a one-two with Lodeiro in the England box, his cross is deflected for a corner.

20.03

Baines plays in Sturridge who rolls Jimenez. The ball should be comfortably gathered by Muslera but he almost spills the ball to Sturridge. England look positive.

20.00

KICK-OFF: Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani get the game under-way.

19.57

The teams are out, the anthems have begun. England’s World Cup hopes could burst in to life or die on the vine this evening.

19.43

You might make it out of your group but can your team still win the World Cup? Aidan took at look at some of the stats here.

canmyteam-1

19.36

Attacking intent and suspect defensives has been the over-riding theme of this World Cup so far. I’m expecting more of the same in this game. Less than half an hour to kick-off.

19.27

Andros Townsend is impressively relaxed and engaging on the sidelines for ITV. Are you watching Rio Ferdinand?

19.24

“We’re not going to put any of our weapons down. Any weapon we’ve got we are going to try to use.” Roy Hodgson

Some rousing, violent rhetoric from the England manager.

19.18

So that’s six Liverpool players starting this game. A very positive reflection of the turnaround under Brendan Rodgers.

19.04

It seems Sterling is starting out right with the industrious Danny Wellbeck being given the job of providing defensive support to left-back Leighton Baines.

19.00

No surprise to Luis Suarez in the line-up but is the Liverpool man fully fit? Uruguay struggled to get their attacking going against Costa Rica and there’s a lot of expectation that Suarez will fix everything. As honest Liverpool fans will know, Suarez is amazing nine times out of 10 but he can have his fifty-pence piece boots on sometimes, especially when he’s a little rusty following an injury lay-off.

Uruguay: Muslera, Godin (c), Pereira, Rodriguez, Suarez, Gimenez, Lodeiro, Arevalo, Gonzalez, Cavani, Caceres

18.55

The England team is in an it’s as you were, at least as far as the personnel being used. Surely there’ll be a reshuffling of positions with Rooney moving move centrally and Raheem Sterling shifting out wide being the most likely change.

England: Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines, Wellbeck Gerrard (c), Henderson, Sterling, Rooney, Sturridge

21.57

Full-time: Spain are out! Chile win 2-0 and they are good for their victory. Day seven of the World Cup and, after just two games, the defending Champions have crashed out. The fifth defending Champions in World Cup history to go out at this stage, and most remarkably they’re out before England. Unfortunately for our friends down under, this also means Australia crash out as well. Let the tika-taka inquest begin…

Calamity-Spain-Full-2

21.53

Danny Murphy says, with three minutes to go, that if he was a betting man he fancies Chile to hold on. A groundbreaking statement if ever there was one…

21.51

And as I say that Sergio Ramos has a tired swing at a loose ball and it’s well blocked. From the corner Jordi Alba has a shot that ends up in the car park. Goodnight Vienna.

21.50

Six minutes of added time, but to be honest you could give Spain 60 minutes and they still don’t look like scoring.

21.44

FINE SAVE: Iniesta sends one dipping and curling towards the top corner from 20 yards, but Bravo flies to his left to pull off a good save. Before the corner is taken, one of the goalscorers, Eduardo Vargas gets a huge ovation as he makes way for Jorge Valdivia. Spain waste the corner.

21.40

Cazorla has a pop from outside the area and Bravo pulls off a decent, but comfortable save. From the corner the keeper comes and collects with great confidence. Chile are looking like very good winners here.

21.38

Since that 10 minutes immediately after half time when Spain had a couple of chances they have produced hardly anything. They appear to be going out of the World Cup with hardly a wimper. A shocking display from one of the pre-tournament fancies.

21.36

Pedro makes way for Santi Cazorla. Can the Arsenal man haul Spain back into this? He pulled Arsenal back from 2-0 down in the FA Cup final. But in that instance he had more than 15 minutes on the clock. And they were playing Hull. Slight difference here.

21.34

Oh that’s a bit naughty from Ramos. He clears the ball but keeps his studs up and gives Vargas something to think about. Lucky to get away with nothing the Spanish defender.

21.33

In a purely selfish context I need Spain to score for my ‘Chile and both teams to score’ bet to click. Sadly I’m having to put all my faith in Fernando Torres. How did it get to this?

21.32

Chile are dark horses apparently? Has anyone mentioned that yet?

21.30

Gary Medal is having a stormer here. that’s the same Medal who was relegated this season with Cardiff City…

21.28

CHANCE! For Chile. Vargas drags a shot across goal and Mena slides in but can only put the ball over the bar. Chile nicked possession by pushing hard, flew forward and almost made it 3-0. Just watching this team is energy sapping.

21.24

Torres is on for Diego Costa, and, as Danny Murphy correctly predicted, Aranguiz makes way for Felipe Gutierrez. Cheers Danny.

21.23

Chile are 11/5 in-running to score exactly three goals in this game, and they look very good on the break. That’s a tasty price with more than 25 minutes on the clock remaining.

21.21

Here comes Fernando Torres, which means Spain have probably thrown in the towel.

21.20

Spain are half an hour away from going out here – before England! Mena picks up a yellow card for Chile for a naughty little tackle in the middle of the park.

21.18

Aranguiz, after getting stretchered off, has actually run back on. Danny Murphy says he has no chance of finishing this game which was made to sound very ominous.

21.16

Trouble here for Aranguiz who scored the second goal. He’s down in a lot of pain and that could be his game over.

21.13

That’s why Busquets has played 68 games for Spain and scored zilch.

21.13

Another chance for Spain! Free-kick just outside the area, which means the ref can use his magic spray. Ramos whips it in and the keeper can only punch it. Diego Costa attempts the overhead kick and it bobbles towards Sergio Busquets four yards out who skews his first-time effort wide. 10 minutes into the second half and it could have been 2-2.

21.08

MASSIVE CHANCE: Diego Costa has missed an opportunity that was crying out to be buried. A lovely ball from Iniesta into Spain’s main striker, but Costa gets the ball stuck under his feet and by the time he gets a shot away the keeper is on top of him and makes the save. It’s a good start to the second half from Spain but those are the chances you have to take.

21.04

Teams are back out after the break – and Spain are under more pressure than Wayne Rooney’s waistband. Looks like ALonso is making way for Koke which is unsurprising. Not the best half for the man with amazing facial hair.

20.48

Half-time: Chile 2-0 up and Spain are 45 minutes away from going out of the World Cup on day seven. Soak that one up folks, I’m off to get a brew.

20.48

The free-kick comes in and is confidently caught by Claudio Bravo. That’s how you do it Casillas. Looks easy doesn’t it?

20.47

Massive swing in odds – Chile are now 2/7 to win with Spain out to 8/1. Half-time is a minute of added time away, and Spain have a free-kick in a dangerous area.

20.45

Alexis Sanchez whips in a free-kick and Casillas makes yet another mistake. He punches it straight to the feet of Aranguiz who manages to poke it home. Danny Murphy goes whole hog on Casillas proclaiming that even he would have caught it. A truly crushing statement. Spain now need at least three goals to stay in the World Cup.

20.44

GOAL! Chile make it two just before half-time. Huge trouble for the Spanish.

20.41

BOOKING: First of the game for Xabi Alonso who isn’t having his best 45 minutes out there. He loses control of the ball and goes flying in to Isla. It’s a bad tackle and the yellow is fully justified. It is a tackle out of frustration but it was very wild from the Real Madrid man.

20.37

Not a whole lot happening here. A few niggly tackles here and there from Pedro and Iniesta but nothing too major. Chile now 11/8 to win this game as we edge towards the oranges.

20.32

Half an hour in and Spain have their third free-kick in a dangerous area. This time David Silva whips it in but, yet again, the delivery is as disappointing as pretty much everything Kasabian did after 2006.

20.29

CHANCE! Costa hits the side netting after a flick on into the area. It’s a poor finish in all honesty from a striker who, Danny Murphey on commentary, suspects isn’t fully fit. The good news if you’ve backed Spain is that they’ve upped the tempo and are playing with more urgency now.

20.23

Spain 13/8 to win, with Chile at 8/5 in-running. For me that is a great price on Chile. The Spanish have to go forward and get something out of the game to stay in the competition and the pace of Chile on the break is very dangerous. You can place a punt here.

20.21

The ball is pinched off Xabi Alonso and Aranguiz does really well, as he breaks into the box, to square the ball to Vargas. He himself also shows plenty of composure to beat Casillas and slot the ball into the corner. Huge goal. If the score stays like this, Spain are heading home.

20.20

GOAL! The bus is rocking now because Chile are 1-0 up. Eduardo Vargas with the goal!

20.18

Chile currently look like those hooded youths playing music out loud on the back of the bus. They appear threatening, but thus far haven’t done too much damage. That being said, we’re only 18 minutes into this metaphorical bus journey.

20.16

CHANCE! Costa makes a driving run into Chile’s box and then tries to square it rather than shoot. It’s behind everyone but the move is rescued, and the keeper makes a good block from close range after the ball broke to David Silva.

20.14

Foul on Silva by Vidal who floors the little City play-maker around 25-ish yards out. Alonso swings it in but it is massively over hit and drifts out of play. Part of me kind of feels responsible after my previous comments, but I’ll get over it.

20.10

Just read my previous comment back, ‘If Xabi Alonso finds his range’. Course he will, he’s Xabi Alonso! His long-ball accuracy is almost on par with his incredible facial hair. Don’t know what I was thinking.

20.09

Free-kick for Spain and Sergio Ramos is beaten in the air by Claudio Bravo. Tim Cahill scored a trademark header in the opening game against Chile and Spain could have some joy from set pieces if Xabi Alonso finds his range.

20.08

With that in mind it’s 13/8 for there to be two or more goals before the half-time whistle. I’ve seen worse bets at that kind of price this evening, although most of them have four legs and are at Swindon’s greyhound track.

20.06

Chile are lightening quick going forward and Arturo Vidal is so high up the field he is almost making it three up front for the Chileans alongside Vargas and Alexis Sanchez. Spain don’t look entirely convincing at the back that’s for sure.

20.03

CHANCE! Fast start from Chile. Firstly some good movement forward almost results in a Spanish own goal, and from the corner Gary Medel heads wide. A positive start from the South Americans that is for sure.

20.01

And we’re off and underway. For anyone who is too fussed, Spain are wearing red and shooting left to right, Chile are in white and are going the other way. Game on.

19.59

Just a reminder if you missed the team news, Xavi and Pique are dropped for Spain. Pique is probably quite sad, but then on the other hand…

2611615_shakira

19.58

Based on the anthems Chile have the upper hand. I’m no Pop Idol judge but those lads have absolutely belted that out. Their keeper had his eyes closed and everything. It even went a cappella at the end. Cracking stuff.

19.54

Rio Ferdinand is backing Spain to win 2-1 and Seedorf is going Spain 3-1. Henry has decided to perfect BBC punditry by sitting on the fence and saying he isn’t going to make a prediction. Expect the boss to be on to him with a promotion in a jiffy. That’s the kind of non-informative analysis the Match of the Day sofa loves.

19.53

10 minutes before kick-off and I’m off to make a brew. If you’re on a slightly stronger beverage why not try out our ‘beerly legal’ drinking game. Click on the image to get stuck in. Just drink responsibly. Or if you’re going to do it irresponsibly, send it to me on Snapchat or Youtube so I can have a cheeky giggle. Cheers.

drinkinggameday7

19.47

Diego Costa is unsurprisingly the most first goal scorer in Paddy’s book at 9/2 and the correct score with the most cash on is, interestingly 3-1 to the Spanish. 66 punters have backed Spain to beat Chile 7-0 at 500/1 but I have a feeling they might be slightly mental. I’m sticking with my Chile win and both teams to score at 8/1. If it does end 7-0 to the Spanish expect this comment to be swiftly deleted. Ah, the joys of online journalism..

19.43

Was it just a bad day at the office for Spain, or is this really an end of the era? Graham Ruthven says football fans should rejoice at the death of tika-taka and you can find out exactly why he thinks that by going this way…

19.40

Enough fashion advice from me, I’m currently sat in the office in just my pants. The benefits of being in Power Tower alone… Anyway, Spain are the red-hot favs at 8/13, Chile look quite appealing at 9/2 and the draw is 16/5. If you want to get stuck in and have a cheeky punt, then head this way.

19.35

Wooohooo no Robbie Savage in the BBC studio. Instead we’re treated to Rio Ferdinand, Clarence Seedorf and Thierry Henry. All four men are wearing a slightly different shade of blue which is interesting. Rio has gone for the top button done up while Henry is dangerously close to wearing double denim.

Britney-Spears-Justin-Timberlake-Red-Carpet

19.31

Just had a little dip into Paddy’s book, and a whopping 89 per cent of punters cash is on Spain in the win-draw-win market. A huge amount of fans still have plenty of faith in the reigning champs, despite Chile’s status as dark horses.

19.25

That piece by Aidan is jam-packed with stats by the way, and if you fancy building up the belief that Spain – or even England – could still lift the trophy have a look over here.

19.20

Blog man Aidan Elder has dug up some stats on World Cup winners in the group stage and it’s bad news for Spain (and Portugal!). Luckily it’s not as bad as the situation Ian Beale has got himself into on Eastenders. The little rascal is getting blackmailed by a hooker! Whatever next!

canmyteam-1

19.12

Right, Mr Hunter is a top bloke and he’s written a seriously good piece on who needs to step it up for Spain against Chile and why it might be a spicy affair. I recommend you get stuck into it here…

 

750x356_gh_spain

19.08

Eastenders is on while we wait for Linekar, his team of well-dressed pundits and Robbie Savage. Sharon is in hospital after taking a beating and apparently Phil Mitchell sent the thugs to do it. What a mental bast***. Anyway if you’re not interested in the latest happenings in Walford, I’ll be bringing you La Liga expert Graham Hunter’s thoughts on tonight’s game very shortly…

19.04

If you missed the 5.00pm game due to work or a nightmare commute, Holland won a cracker 3-2 against Australia. If this game is even half as good as that one we’re in for a real treat.

19.02

That twirl is going to my head and I’m backing Chile to win and both teams to score at 8/1. That might not sound completely mental, however in their ten previous meetings with Chile, Spain have won eight and drawn two, so the trends are bleaker than Jedward’s contribution to music. 

18.52

Great news. Both teams are ruthlessly efficient and have banged their starting XI’s in very early. That means I can deliver them to you and then pop off for a brew and a twix. The talking points form the Spanish team are that Pique and Xavi are sitting this one out, replaced by Martinez and Pedro.

Spain: Casillas; Azpilicueta, Javi Martínez, Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta; Pedro, Diego Costa, Silva.

Chile: Bravo; Jara, Silva, Medel; Mena, Aránguiz, Díaz, Isla, Vidal; Vargas, Alexis Sánchez

21.56

FULL TIME: For just the second game in the tournament  (Iran v Nigeria) we’ve got a 0-0 draw.  Brazil didn’t look convincing against Croatia and got no soft decisions here. Mexico have goalkeeper Ochoa to thank for keeping them in it so no dead rubbers in the last game of Group A.

21.50

Willian breaks forward but Mexico have parked the bus.

21.48

Three minutes of stoppage time as Mexico push forward looking for the winner.

21.46

PENALTY SHOUT: Marcelo looks for a penalty for arms around the neck. They got it against Croatia but no joy here. Justice? One minute left.

21.45

SUB: Willian replaces his Chelsea team-mate Oscar

21.43

GREAT SAVE: Ochoa gets a hand to Silva’s header from six yards. Brilliant reflexes.

21.42

SUB: Mexico are feeling the pinch now for all their efforts as Jimenez replaces dos Santos

21.41

Inside the final 10 mins. Be a brave (wo)man to call it but BET NOW: DESKTOP | MOBILE 

21.38

Straight into the wall and Brazil break upfield but Jo can’t latch onto the through ball.

21.37

Danger here – a Mexico free just outside the D.

21.37

YELLOW CARD: Thiago Silva dives in and gets booked for going through the back of Hernandez.

21.35

SUB: Mexico bring on Fabian for Herrera.

21.34

CHANCE: Brazil break quickly but Jo pulls his shot across goal.

21.32

Hernandez gets to get a shot away inside the box but Luiz clears the relatively little danger.

21.31

SUB: Mexico bring on Manchester United’s Hernandez for Peralta.

21.29

Although if you’ve had a bet a 0-0 mightn’t be the worse result with this Paddy Power Money Back Special on any 0-0 draw in the group stages.

21.27

CHANCE: Neymar fires in a shot that Ochoa parries away. Nearly the first goal of the night and the 48th goal of the World Cup. Brazil have upped the tempo again.

21.26

SUBSTITUTION: Jo replaces the ineffective Fred for Brazil leading to a ‘warm up you’re coming off gag’ from Lawro.

21.20

BOOKING: Mexico’s Vazquez gets a yellow card. Brazil awarded a free that Neymar sends wide.

21.19

Another shot from Mexico goes wide. Brazil into 10/11 now, Mexico 13/2 and the draw 6/4.

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21.16

Scolari is NOT a happy man on the sidelines. Mighn’t be the best time to ask him about his tax affairs.

21.15

Mexico have obviously seen Cesar in action for QPR and are peppering Brazil’s goal now with long range shots. The hosts need to get a grip on the game.

21.13

Shot by dos Santos is deflected tamely into Cesar’s hands.

21.12

Paulinho hoofs it clear.

21.10

Mexico pile forward looking to break the deadlock and win a corner.

21.06

Brazil corner after Dani Alves puts a great ball into the box which Neymar just can’t get on the end of.

21.02

The sides are making their way back onto the pitch – surely someone will score? Mexico get the second half underway.

20.57

Big Phil Scolari may have other things on his mind but his side are now 8/13 to win the match with Mexico 13/2 and the draw 11/5.

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20.48

HALF TIME: And the referee blows for the oranges. A lot of huff and puff but very little quality at the end of it. Brazil may regret not taking at least one of their chances.

20.46

YELLOW CARD: Ramirez for a foul on Aguilar. Free to Mexico in a dangerous area floats un-dangerously wide.

20.44

CHANCE: A duffed free kick still sees three Brazilians through on goal but Ochoa manages to scramble it away.

20.42

CLOSE: Curling shot by Mexico’s Jose Vasquez just turns around the post. Under 5 minutes left to break the deadlock before half time.

20.38

Apparently, Fortaleza is 258 miles from the Equator according to the beeb. Yes, it’s still 0-0.

20.35

Brazil get their first corner on 34 minutes. And immediately get their second on 34 mins 3 seconds. Neither amount to much.

20.32

dos Santos gives David Luiz the slip but Thiago Silva finds Row Z in a very un-Brazilian like clearance.

20.30

Oscar tries for a repeat of his Croatian toe poke. Ochoa saves comfortably. And the goal line technology needlessly confirms it.

20.27

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20.26

POST: Great header from Neymar hits the post. Best chance so far.

20.24

Brazil keeper Cesar flips one over the bar but no corner given.

20.24

A rare surge forward by Mexico sees Peralta cause problems. Could have had a penalty but stayed on his feet.

20.19

Teasing cross from Marcelo but Fred’s offside.

20.18

Rodriguez puts an end to Neymar’s jinking and posing with a lunge 30 yards out. Free kick cleared.

20.15

Mexico are taking no prisoners as Oscar is put over the sideline by a mis-timed ‘tackle’.

20.11

Fred looks to have missed a great chance but the flag was up for offside.

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20.09

Brazil are playing at a high tempo and keeping possession well in the opening 10 minutes.

20.08

Poor free kick from David Luiz. You will have heard that statement before.

20.07

A wall of noise in Forteza as both sides look to make an early breakthrough. Free to Brazil after Neymar is hauled down about 30 yards out.

20.03

Dangerous cross into the box that Silva heads out for a Mexican corner.

20.02

Neymar shed a few tears at the anthems as Brazil look for their 23rd win against Mexico in 38 games. Their opponents have won six. And 10 have been draws.

20.00

And Brazil kick off.

19.56

On the pitch for the anthems. Brazil do look up for this.

19.48

Alan Shearer is talking but I’ve stopped listening. Again.

19.47

Thierry Henry is predicting a “really intriguing tactical battle” – which could be preparing the ground for a 0-0 borefest. Let’s hope he’s as accurate as most pundits.

19.36

Belgium got out of jail earlier against Algeria with two late goals. Here’s how backing the winner and both teams to score can give you the edge at Brazil 2014.

19.24

Here the team news:

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Gustavo, Ramires, Oscar, Neymar, Fred. Subs: Jefferson, Fernandinho, Hulk, Dante, Maxwell, Henrique, Hernanes, Willian, Bernard, Jo, Maicon, Victor.

Mexico: Ochoa, Aguilar, Rodriguez, Marquez, Moreno, Layun, Herrera, Vazquez, Guardado, Giovani, Peralta. Subs: Corona, Salcido, Reyes, Fabian, Jimenez, Pulido, Hernandez, Ponce, Brizuela, Aquino, Pena, Talavera.

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

19.07

Right, that’s it for today’s live commentary. Hopefully you’re safely back at home, in the pub or monastery to enjoy the other two matches of the evening. First up it’s Iran v Nigeria, but stick it out because then it’s Ghana v USA which should be good.

We’ll talk to you again tomorrow.

19.05

We couldn’t agree more with you Patrick. We don’t want anybody to do that on the field.

18.54

FULL TIME! It’s been a cakewalk for Germany and pretty much the worst possible outcome from Portgual – a thumping defeat, injuries, Pepe’s suspension. Getting out of the group will be tough enough, let alone thinking of anything beyond that.

Germany looked good, but it’s hard to tell how good considering they were playing against 10 men and 10 men that were beaten when it went 2-0. Despite Muller’s hat-trick, it was a good team effort and they’re be not writing off of the Germans from us – not now or ever.

18.51

Another free-kick to Ronaldo. Another chance to distance himself from the crap he’s been surrounded by.

And for a change, it was a good hit!! He forced Neuer into a save that looked more spectacular than it appeared on the replays.

18.50

Two minutes of added time and we’re put out of our misery.

18.48

It’s been a bad day at the office for Cristiano Ronaldo, but he does a lot of pointless stepovers in midfield, on the touchline, far from the German goal, that don’t fool any defenders just to prove he’s still brilliant.

18.44

Another free kick to Ronaldo … another one scuffed into the wall.

18.41

SUBSTITUTE! With the job well and truly done and his snazzy shirt picked out for the next match, Joachaim Low sends Lucas Podoloski on with Thomas Muller getting the hook and a standing ovation.

18.39

GOAL! 4-0 GERMANY and a Thomas Muller hat-trick. Portugal are a shambles. Rui Patricio scuffs another clearance straight to a German. They work in back into the penalty area and the Portuguese keeper deflects the low cross into Muller’s path. He doesn’t look the gift horse in the mouth and Portugal’s wounds are very salty now.

18.36

SHOT AND PENALTY APPEAL! With Germany already thinking about what they’ll have for dinner, Nani shoots from about 22 yards out. It’s pretty much straight at Neuer, but as not much has happened lately, the crowd get very excited.

Eder goes for the rebound and is brought down by a German defender. Andy Townsend thinks it should have been a penalty, but that’s probably just because he wants something to talk about for the next 15 minutes.

18.33

SUB! Another injury. This time Mats Hummels is carried off with a knee injury. Shkodran Mustafi of Sampdoria comes on.

18.30

Germany counter attack and Goetze is played in. His shot is deflected and loops over the crossbar for a corner that Germany skillfully work back into midfield before almost opening up Portugal again.

18.28

Portugal’s latest attempt to butcher a promising opening goes well with Nani having a shot blocked and the subsequent corner amounting to about the same as Francis Jeffers’ career after he moved to Arsenal.

18.25

Ronaldo will be a great player when someone teaches him it’s not illegal to pass to a team-mate.

18.24

SUB! Coentrao is stretchered off and Andre Almeida replaces him.

18.23

It’s going from bad to worse for Portugal and our variety of hairstyles and facial hair. Fabio Coentrao has gone down clutching his groin, not in the Michael Jackson ‘Bille Jean’ sort of a way.

18.22

SUBSTITUTION! Mesut Ozil is strolling off the pitch and in his place, Andre Schurrle takes his place for around 30 minutes of shooting fish in a barrel.

18.21

There’s around half an hour to go and Portugal are 15/8 to score one or more goals in this match. The ‘or more’ part is looking unlikely, but you never know, they might grab one.

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18.19

Hits the wall.

18.19

Free-kick to Ronaldo … I mean Portugal. It’s about 30 yards out and the Immaculately Preened One is standing over it.

18.15

The referee intercepts a German pass that would surely have put them in for goal number four. Sadly for Portugal, that’s the best bit of defending the Germans have come up against so far this afternoon.

18.12

GREAT CHANCE! Ozil is played in but with just the keeper to beat, he hits it at Rui Patricio and Muller can’t turn the rebound in. Portugal have left the building with around 40 minutes to go.

18.10

Portugal get the second half of their hiding under way. They have brought on Ricardo Costa in place of Veloso as they desperately try to limit the damage.

18.04

Raul Meirelles – great hair, suspect hand gestures:

17.50

To no-one’s surprise Tony Pulis didn’t think Pepe deserved a red card. Classic ‘it’s not a foul unless someone breaks a bone’ stuff from the Palace manager.

17.49