It’s official, England have the best results so far at the World Cup. Plus, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani mails after Uruguay are knocked out of the World Cup and lots more…
Get your views in to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Ghana got the justice they deserved indeed (and I’m not talking about Uruguay being knocked out by South Korea)
Ghana did not suffer any injustice whatsoever in 2010. They blew it. They had 6 penalties to qualify for the semi-final of the world cup vs. Uruguay’s 5 and they blew it. They then spent the following 12 years bleating about how they had been cheated. They weren’t cheated. They blew it. They deserved to go out. Pointing the blame at Suarez is pathetic and clear evidence of a losing mentality.
Will Ford has it entirely backwards in the opening line of his article. Ghana got the justice they deserved in the 2022 match vs Uruguay: they got another chance to take another penalty and try to beat Uruguay again. They blew it. AGAIN. Who’s fault is it this time, Ghana? (Oh right, they’ll blame Darwin Nunez for stamping on the penalty spot…) Getting the penalty at 0-0, missing, and conceding 2 goals in a match which clearly demonstrated Uruguay’s superiority was poetic justice indeed. “Absolute” justice would have been Uruguay again qualifying at Ghana’s expense. We didn’t quite get that. But I’ll be content with the fact that Ghana got nothing from this match other than schadenfreude, which is the exact end result that their bitter finger-pointing deserves.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Cavani is a cheat…
Cavani deliberately stuck his leg out knowing there would be inevitable contact by the Ghana player. That is not a foul and not a penalty. If Cavani had been focused on scoring a goal and had then been hit by an opponent, that’s a foul.
Call it gamesmanship, inviting the challenge, giving the ref a decision to make, even roll out the “I’ve seen them given” chestnut, it’s diving. Not intelligent play, just plain old deception.
Frankly I’m delighted to finally see a referee and VAR stand up against blatant cheating.
Diving, exaggerating injuries and “inviting the challenge” are a symptom of weak officialdom, players safe in the knowledge the referee will probably reward their trickery.
The only way to stop what was once frowned upon but is now encouraged is zero tolerance to what is shameful conduct for grown men.
Eoin (it’ll make the game so much better if they just stopped pretending they were hurt all the time) Ireland
World Cup performance
So, with the end of the group stage, England have the best results so far at the World Cup. Only three teams got seven points, and our goal difference is +7, compared to the Netherlands with +4 and Morocco with +3. The hysterical reaction to a 0-0 draw against a team parking the bus just shows the level of entitlement and toxicity among a major section of England fans. Every international team has games where they’re not quite firing, and it’s certainly not a reason to fire the manager in the middle of a tournament. It’s this exact culture around England’s support that amps up extreme pressure and has caused us to historically underperform, even when we had a team of elite players like Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole. It’s also why managers previously seen as elite, like Fabio Capello or Sven Goran Eriksson, have their reputation trashed by the England job.
The ability to get England players to overcome this pressure and work as a cohesive team is therefore the most important element of the England job, and why we are lucky to have Gareth Southgate in the post. We unfortunately don’t have the luxury of prioritizing an elite tactician because of the poisonous culture created by these fans. Of course, those responsible for jumping to outrage and criticism at the slightest setback are the exact sort of people that never apply similarly high standards to their own behaviour.
John McEvoy, Hertfordshire
90 minutes of sheer hell
A lot of talk about Englands style under. Southgate as ever. Personally (with a healthy dose of hindsight) I think he has played it perfectly up until now, pragmatism works in a league format but when it comes to knock out football it is a dangerous game – especially when you meet the more headline teams. Everyone is raving about Japans style but they had less than 20% of the ball last night, that’s unsustainable in the long term and will come a cropper at some point. Spain looked very one dimensional but that’s what happens when teams sit back in a low block, whether it’s the FA cup, Premier League or the World Cup. England vs Wales was similar but Wales didn’t get a chance (or have the players) to step it up for that 10 minute rush, I have a feeling it was coming but Rashford scored the free kick and it all went out of the window.
I dont have a problem with Englands style, I can’t remember us playing better football in my lifetime. We have rose tinted spectacles about Venables’ team but that’s largely down to the glorious failure of the ‘96 semi. Same with Bobby’s team in 1990. If Southgate has learnt anything from the Croatia semi and Euros final it’s surely that we don’t have the players to sit on a lead. Play for 90 minutes (+ the inevitable 25 added time) and we might just have a chance.
Tom, Sunny smallts
World Cup format
I have been enjoying the debate over the next World Cup being expanded and the pro’s and con’s of this. Fully agree with Mike, LFC’s email this morning that some of the African and South American nations that didn’t qualify would most certainly have been worthy of a place at this World Cup and enhanced it. To me it feels like the right time to expand the World Cup without making it a joke competition with many first stage games being complete walkovers. This World Cup has shown that the gap between the traditional big nations and the smaller teams that were cannon fodder in the past is as narrow as it has ever been. Saudi Arabia beating Argentina, Japan beating Spain and Germany, Iran and Costa Rica suffering heavy opening defeats and then regaining pride in some good performances. All these things have made this World Cup group stage more exciting than many I can recall from the past. Throw in teams that didn’t qualify like Egypt and we would increase these upsets. In European qualifiers traditional whipping boys like Luxembourg have suddenly become a decent team and are knocking on the door of qualifying for a tournament. Not sure there’s much hope for San Marino though.
The only problem with the format for a larger World Cup is, as the Football365 article on this mentioned, groups of three doesn’t work. We want the last game drama that we saw in the last few games. Where qualification is unknown whilst games are played at the same time. Not sure why the format can’t be simplified to have 12 groups of 4, top 2 qualify and so do 8 of the best 3rd place teams. Then for the knockout stage of 32, Random draw where the only seeding is the group winners. Not sure if this would work, but the group stage is where the fun has been. Why dilute that.
A bigger World Cup under as close to the current format as possible would be brilliant.
I think everyone will agree that the past few days have seen some fantastic last round group matches. There’s been great football, surprise results, and most of all incredible drama and suspense during the simultaneous group games… a sense of things somewhat being within each team’s control yet utterly dependent on what’s going on in the other match.
I think this is in many ways the most exciting few days of each World Cup, and I can’t wait until the same stage of the 2026 World Cup! All we need now is for FIFA to figure out how to hold two simultaneous matches in each group of three…
CW, Kuala Lumpur
World Cup ratio
In response to Mike /Weldoninhio, I’ve taken a look at the world cup qualification process and worked out, by the size of each confederation vs the percentage of confederation sides, how many teams should be able to qualify if all was even and a truly ‘world cup’.
Asia – 47 sides. Should have 7 teams, only 5 qualified (4+ Qatar as hosts)
Africa – 54 sides. Should have 8 teams, only 5 qualified
CONCACAF – 41 sides. Should have 6 teams, only 4 qualified.
CONMEBOL – 10 sides. Should have 1.5 qualifiers (see, Oceania), yet 4 qualified.
Oceania – 10 sides. Should have 1.5 qualifiers (playoff with CONMEBOL, then), 1 qualified
Europe – 55 sides. Should have 8 qualifiers, yet 13 qualified.
So by confederation, Europe, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF are massively over represented, and it doesn’t allow chances for sides from other confederations to get in. I know there a couple of reasons for that – the standard is better in Europe and South America, ergo TV rights are more valuable as better and more well known players are involved. Does anyone really want to watch Gabon vs Thailand for example (apologies, just two random nations I selected from nowhere). However surely the experience would increase their funding, status, and improve the standards worldwide (is this not what the nations league proposed, placing teams into groups of relatively evenly matched sides to allow teams to taste victory, gain momentum, inspire new generations etc…?)
Looking ahead to WC2026, at a minimum, 60% of South American teams will qualify(!! +2). Europe will have 16 (+3), Africa will have 9 (+4), Asia 8 (+3), CONCACAF (+2)… Yet Oceania will still only have 1.
There’s then a 6 team tournament for the final 2 spots between the smaller confederations in which it could be that 70% of the South American teams would have made it through – that’s actually insane. Just chuck them all in and get rid of their qualifiers, what’s the point.
I think more needs to be done to even this out to make it truly fair, but it never will be, because money talks.
I’m looking forward to the Saudi World Cup in December 2030….
Just wanted to chime back in and say I’m grateful to see I wasn’t the only one who watched Rashford and wondered what was happening afterwards when he got w*nked off by the media and most fans.
Now, for Pete’s sake (!) I wanted to explain the bet re. Henderson because I didn’t end that story. But the bet was that Hendo would pass forwards more often than he would pass backwards. We decided to ignore sideways passing. But my friend was convinced all Hendo did was pass backwards and I argued he couldn’t BE more wrong.
And I won. Hendo passed forwards a fuck of a lot more than he passed backwards. It was a resounding victory. We didn’t count any other stats, but I remember my friend admitting he was impressed with tackles won and interceptions too.
And I guess I was hoping to see more stats for Rashford like this – what his pass completion rate was, and his expected goals vs actual goals, and his dribble completion rate. Because, yeah, I just couldn’t see what he offered (other than the amazing free kick and a flukey goal that a decent goalkeeper would laugh at him for).
Nick P. Burnley FC (I think Utd would’ve sold Rashford years ago if he wasn’t born in Manchester)
Rashford and Mount seem to be having opposite world cups. Rashford seeming had a bad game but scored two goals. Mount has apparently being having good games (and if you say otherwise then you don’t know anything about football) but without producing anything of note or making anybody around him play better.
Hopefully Rashford continues these poor performances.
Also, Bellingham is still a child and is going to run hot and cold. I’m sure Henderson shouting him at him is keeping his standards up. Maybe if Kane could bother to move for crosses, Hendo would have had an assist against Wales too.
Alex, South London
Leave off Graeme!
I’m struggling to understand all the Graeme Souness bashing. Dave, Brum, goes completely over the top.
All he was asking for was that the picture that persuaded the VAR to advise the on field official to reverse his decision, be made available. He failed to understand why more than an hour had passed and yet it had still not been seen, by anyone, anywhere in the world! He didn’t advocate that Germany “as a big football nation”, receive any preferential treatment, he didn’t ask for the laws of the game not be applied, he just wanted the matter cleared up as at that point, no conclusive evidence of where the ball was, was available but appeared to exist!
Just to clarify, the referee disallowed the goal as in his opinion, the ball had gone out of play, technology has subsequently shown this to be inaccurate and the goal stood, the question is, why did it take until the following day for this image to be made available? The “offside” in the opening game was, albeit taking a little longer than usual (hmmmm), made available with the game still in progress, as has EVERY other decision so far – BAR ONE!
His “lack of intelligence” was not catching, he simply wanted what should have been available, to be available. Too much to ask for?
Howard (bet Dave uses “because I said so” why asked why?) Jones
Man Utd pundits
Sorry Sparky, LFC but Paul Scholes. Scholes is such a black hole of misery that every other Utd pundit gets tainted by association. You’re listening to Rio Ferdinand but you’re thinking about Paul Scholes like a still raw childhood trauma, your thousand yard stare broken only by a distant Michael Owen threatening that things are about to get much worse. Save me Ally, tell me something’s brilliant again! Everythings going to be OK isn’t it Wrighty? Keep the bad men away Big Meeks, keep me safe in your big strong arms.
SC, Belfast (sorry, I went somewhere dark there for a second)
So I almost fell out of my chair laughing at Sparky’s speculation at who produces the best pundits. It’s a bit like asking which is the best clown at the circus. While Neville and Carragher occasionally have an interesting perspective on the game, they mostly just say what we are all thinking. Most (Ferdinand) just parrot opinions which rabid fanbases hand to them on a social media platter and if anyone can find one of “Rio’s” opinions which turned out to be accurate I’ll eat my laptop. I specifically cannot read anything with him mentioned because I know it’ll be absolute rubbish with no validity and the truth of the matter will be heading in completely the opposite direction to “his” speculations. Because of this I take all punidits with a large spoon of table salt, they are like lazy reporters who don’t need anything to back up their opinions so lets not go putting them on pedestals.
Also Sparky have you considered that there’s more Man U pundits out there because they have a bigger fanbase? I’m pretty sure Sky and BT considered it when offering them jobs, there’s a big chance that the number of club pundits simply results from marketing numbers and we’re not seeing other great personalities just because Sky wants to appeal to the largest numbers possible.
EPL vs WC
December is here. World Cup knock out football is here. The John Lewis ad is here… Only 22 more sleeps… until the premier league is back, baby!
Simon, Norf London Gooner