Now we’ve seen all the teams. Also, it was goalkeepers’ day!
Belgium 2 Algeria 1 · Well, except for this first match. I confess to drifting away from it about halftime. The Algerians were ineffectual (even on that penalty, it was far from clear that Feghouli was going to score), the Belgians were boring, and the keepers were surplus to requirements.
I eventually started watching again and was paying attention for Mertens’ go-ahead goal, the result of a thunderous high-velocity attacking run. So why didn’t they do any of that stuff during the first 80 minutes? Often football strategies escape me.
What’s a little saddening here is that Group H is really soft, so either of these yawners could end up being mincemeat for a good team in the round of 16.
Brazil 0 Mexico 0 · I had a lunch date with friends but it was at 12:30 so I found a nearby bar and watched the first half-hour sitting with friendly Brazilian strangers. Which was fun, even though I’m sentimentally inclined to support Mexico. Over lunch, nobody minded that my tablet was on the table showing the game, but the good company distracted me from much of it.
The parts I did see were very superior football. Obviously, Brazil was ahead in time and space and chances, but I thought the day’s real story was their defense, which (unlike in the Croatia match) looked like a World Cup winner’s. Having said that, nobody’s going to actually beat Mexico until they figure out how to get past Ochoa.
Russia 1 Korea 1 · I had high hopes for this game, because I’d read that the Korean side was lightning-fast and loved to attack. But instead they seemed to be conducting a short-passing drill, sitting at the back of the offensive zone, oblivious to that “goal” thingie down at the end. Bo-o-o-o-oring. Meanwhile, the Russian squad was dozing, until they got woken up by the combination of the their fumblefingered keeper and second-half substitute.
Whatever; based on today’s evidence, it’s irrelevant who makes it out of Group H.