FMM18 World Cup Day 19

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the final games in Groups G and H.

Last 16 – Germany V Argentina

The final day of games in the Last 16 kicks off with a repeat of the 2014 final. And the 1990 final. And the 1986 final. As well as quarter finals in 2006 and 2010. So they’re familiar foes, albeit not this early in the tournament (excluding the group stage meetings in 1958 and 1966). The motivation for Argentina is avenging their loss four years ago (but can anything make up for losing the World Cup Final?), whilst for Germany it’s becoming the first team to retain the title since Brazil in 1962. Things go Argentina’s way in the first half and they take a 1-0 lead into the dressing rooms courtesy of a Sergio Aguero strike in the 26th minute. The second goal is always the crucial one and Lucas Biglia adds it with 20 minutes to go. Germany lose Tom Zeise to injury in the 73rd minute as they bow out surprisingly early.

Last 16 – Belgium V Uruguay

The final Last 16 match also sees a clash between a European and South American team, with Group G winners Uruguay taking on Group H runners-up Belgium. The Last 16 matches have been close, low-scoring affairs and this one proves no exception. Abel Hernandez is forced off with injury in the 33rd minute for Uruguay, but neither side is able to force a breakthrough before half time. Or full time. It takes 103 minutes for the scoring to be opened – Thomas Meunier being the man to find the back of the net and put Belgium into the lead. The lead lasts for 11 minutes before Diego Godin levels for Uruguay, taking the game all the way to penalty kicks. Belgium are immaculate from the spot and progress, winning the shootout 5-2.

Find out what happens on Day 20.

Advertisements

FMM18 World Cup Day 15

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the previous matches in Group G and Group H.

Group H – Japan V Belgium & Wales V Argentina

Going into the final round of matches, the table looks like:

Despite being second in the group, Belgium are arguably in the strongest position as they are taking on Japan, who are bottom of the group. However, Japan could still qualify with a win and if Argentina lose to Wales. Argentina could qualify with a point from their game against Wales, but need a win to be certain of progressing. A draw would be good enough for Wales to at least qualify from the group, but a loss could see them eliminated. So to sum the group up, it’s all to play for!

Belgium don’t want to leave anything to chance and Romelu Lukaku opens the scoring against Japan in the 10th minute. Three minutes later, Sergio Aguero puts Argentina into the lead against Wales. Back in the Japan V Belgium game, Vincent Kompany leaves the field in the 14th minute due to injury. Argentina, who know a win is the only way they can guarantee they progress, double their lead through Paulo Dybala in the 16th minute. Dybala adds his second (and Argentina’s third), one minute before half time, putting them firmly in control of the game and their destiny in the tournament. Meanwhile, Belgium take a 1-0 lead into the break over Japan. Welsh hopes depend on the Japanese scraping a narrow victory over Belgium, especially when their hopes of getting anything out of their match disappear in the 68th minute when Neil Taylor is sent off. Belgium are reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute when Divock Origi receives a red card, but the Japanese are unable to take advantage.

As would have been expected at the start of the World Cup, Argentina and Belgium progress from the group. However, it was not the easy passage expected and both required wins in their final game. Credit must go to Argentina for recovering well from their opening loss. Wales had given themselves a good chance heading into the final round of matches, but Argentina ultimately proved too strong. Japan’s failure to score made things impossible for them in a tough group.

Group G – Germany V Mexico & Uruguay V Romania

Going into the final round of matches, the group looks like:

With all four teams on three points, knockout football has arrived early for Mexico, Uruguay, Germany and Romania. Mexico and Uruguay are in the strongest positions as if they both draw their games, they will progress. Germany and Romania know they must win if they are to remain in the tournament. If Mexico can hold Germany, the holders will be going out in the group stages for the first time since 2002…

A draw is good enough for Uruguay and Luis Suarez does their chances of achieving at least a draw no harm by putting them into the lead against Romania in only the 2nd minute. Germany, who know they must win, take the lead against Mexico in the 7th minute through an Edmund Risse goal. Jose Giminez doubles Uruguay’s lead in the 22nd minute. Three minutes later, Nahitan Nandez’s red card offers Romania a potential way back against Uruguay. A draw is all that’s required by Mexico and Javier Hernandez is arguably the man most likely to draw them level, which makes his loss due to injury in the 36th minute a significant loss. Romania pull a goal back through Vasile Mogos in the 38th minute to keep their chances of progress alive. As the half time whistles are blown, Germany lead Mexico 1-0 and Uruguay are beating Romania 2-1, but Romania have a man advantage. Romania equalise in the 62nd minute through Florin Andone. It’s not enough to put them through as things stand, but they have 28 minutes to find another goal and also have an extra man. As time is running out, Romania throw more men forwards and they fall victim to the counter attack in the 87th minute when Edinson Cavani puts Uruguay back into the lead.

It was a tough group, but one that Germany would have expected to win; in the end, they narrowly qualified from it. They are joined by Uruguay, who recovered well from an opening loss to Germany. Despite having the best goal difference in the group (thanks to a big win over Romania), Mexico miss out on the Last 16 and a chance to qualify for their first Quarter-Final since 1986. Romania finished bottom of the group, but have provided the shock of the World Cup with their win over Germany.

Find out what happens on Day 16.

FMM18 World Cup Day 10

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s games.

Re-read the opening games in Group F and Group G.

Group F – England V Iran

Following on from a healthy win in their opening game, England take on an Iran side who lost heavily in their opening match. Unsurprisingly, England are heavy favourites and are expected to record a comfortable victory. Marcus Rashford gets England off to a good start when he finds the back of the net in the 14th minute. Harry Kane doubles the lead after 37 minutes and Raheem Sterling completes the scoring in the 69th minute. The more sensible media outlets start to contemplate who England might face in the final, whilst others publish the route the team will be taking when parading the trophy.

Group F – France V Ivory Coast

A good win for France in their opening match and a heavy defeat for Ivory Coast means most pundits have written this one off as only one result. The same pundits are looking rather sheepish at half time when the score is still 0-0, although Ivory Coast lost Max Gradel to injury in the eleventh minute. The second half is one minute old when Serge Aurier receives his marching orders. Surely France will record a win now? They do, courtesy of a quickfire double from Antoine Griezmann and Corentin Tolisso in the 60th and 63rd minute respectively.

After the second round of matches, Group F looks like:

Group G – Germany V Romania

Germany are expected to record a victory over Romania as the Germans look to retain the trophy. Romania hold out until half time, but a German victory is still being predicted. Six minutes into the second half, Nicolae Stanciu stuns everyone by putting Romania into the lead. Germany push for an equaliser, but with time running out, Florin Andone secures a shock win for the Romanians by adding a second in the 90th minute.

Find out what happens on Day 11.

FMM18 World Cup Day 5

Recap on the groups.

Recap on yesterday’s matches.

Group G – Uruguay V Germany

The World Cup holders would surely have been hoping for an easier group than the one they find themselves in. They could certainly have an easier opening match than Uruguay. Rodrigo Aguirre’s match comes to an end nine minutes in due to injury. Christian Jung strikes for the defending champions with two minutes to go until half time. The second half sees the physios called in to action again as Germany lose Uwe Stuckmann to injury on the hour, whilst Emiliano Valazquez’s game for Uruguay is curtailed in the 63rd minute. It’s victory at a price for Germany, but Uruguay have lost twice as many players but with no points to show for it.

Group F – Ivory Coast V England

It’s day five of the tournament and England grinds to halt over the course of a Tuesday afternoon as England’s campaign begins in the early evening against Ivory Coast. There are surely easier opening fixtures, but there are also tougher ones as well. It’s certainly a good test for Gareth Southgate and his team. England’s opening goal arrives in the 27th minute. Is it Harry Kane? Marcus Rashford? Raheem Sterling? No; Jordan Henderson. Sterling doesn’t get on the scoresheet, but Rashford (61) and Kane (67 & 72) do as an excellent eleven minutes in the second half ensure England will open their campaign with an emphatic win. A Max Gradel goal four minutes from time for Ivory Coast does little to dampen enthusiasm. Cue the press getting carried away about how well England will do…

The Group F table looks like:

Group G – Romania V Mexico

A game that probably goes unnoticed in England due to celebrations following their opening win. Hector Herrera puts Mexico in the lead in the 31st minute. The lead is soon under threat as Carlos Salcedo gets send off three minutes later. Mexico lose Giovani dos Santos to injury ten minutes after half time. Surely there will be more goals? There are. Herrera doubles Mexico’s lead in the 64th minute and Javier Hernandez finds himself in the right place at the right time in the 67th minute. With eight minutes to go, Herrera completes his hat-trick to record a win for a Mexican side that has strengthened as things got tougher. In what is likely to be a tough group to qualify from, it’s the type of result you can’t help but feel will come back to haunt Romania.

The Group G table looks like:

Find out what happens on Day 6.

Russia 2018 – Group F

Group F is another group that could be described as a ‘Group of Death’. Germany, the defending champions, could certainly have been handed an easier draw than Mexico, South Korea and Sweden. Whilst they could have been given an easier draw, I would still expect them to qualify and as group winners. It seems most likely that Mexico V Sweden, which is the third game for each team, will determine who joins Germany; I think it will be Mexico.

Leave a comment with your prediction for Group F.

Read my predictions for Groups A, B, C, D, E, G, H and the knockout matches.

Fatherland

It’s April 1964, Hitler is still in power and Germany rules Europe. A body is pulled from a lake and Xavier March is the detective assigned to the case. It turns out to be a Nazi official. As March investigates, he discovers more about the past of the man and his involvement in Nazi policy. This results in him making powerful enemies within the Gestapo and put a meeting between Germany and America in jeopardy.

Fatherland is a thriller that increases in tension as it progresses. Each discovery March makes leads to more questions and puts him in more danger. As the tension increases, so does the pace of the novel. It took me some time to get into it, but it’s a good book.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Euro 2016 Semi-Finals

Match 1: Portugal V Wales

The battle of the Galacticos as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal take on Gareth Bale’s Wales. At least, that’s how the game is being billed in the media. However, there is more to both teams than their star players as has been shown. Ronaldo has had an average tournament, missing a penalty in one match and only scoring a couple of goals, both in the same game. Portugal have drawn all their matches over 90 minutes. Bale has had quite a good tournament, but was not involved in any of the three goals when Wales beat Belgium 3-1 in the quarter-final. They kept Belgium’s chances to a minimum and were incisive when attacking. The loss of Aaron Ramsey to suspension is a big one for Wales and I don’t think they will be able to replace his quality in midfield.

Predicted winner: Portugal

Match 2: Germany V France

The world champions take on the hosts in the second semi-final. Both teams have played well at times and looked very dangerous; they have also struggled at times and looked vulnerable when attacked. Germany had a quarter-final victory like this over Italy, looking excellent around the time they got their goal and then struggling when Italy started to control the game towards the end of the 90 minutes. France dominated the first half of their quarter-final against Iceland, but in the second half showed that they remain vulnerable when the ball is crossed into the area. If France get their quick, incisive passing working, they will create plenty of problems, but Germany’s ability to cross well into the box could go a long way to deciding this match.

Predicted winner: France