Louis van Gaal bristles at ‘boring’ tag as Netherlands sink Qatar to reach last 16

“After the Netherlands coasted into the last 16 as Group A winners, Louis van Gaal was in classic defiant form, going toe-to-toe with those claiming that watching his team is akin to ‘grinding teeth’. The victory featured a Cody Gakpo strike which made him the tournament’s joint-top goalscorer with three, alongside Kylian Mbappé and Enner Valencia,plus one for Frenkie de Jong, who endured sleepless nights in the buildup. So while Qatar bow out of their World Cup with a single goal and zero points, the Netherlands can begin to dream a little. …”
Guardian

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There is a World Cup

“Need we say more? Thirty-two teams have converged in the tiny Middle-Eastern nation of Qatar to fight for their national pride, and so far, it is shaping up to be the spectacle that keeps football lovers faithful. But there is no sport without politics, and Qatar’s hosting of the tournament has unleashed a sea of criticism over its dodgy labor practices and poor human rights track record. Should we side with FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, in his accusation that the West is being hypocritical? Or are reactionary elites simply weaponizing woke-ish arguments to deflect warranted scrutiny? …”
Africa Is a Country (Audio)

Brazil 1-0 Switzerland: Coping without Neymar and indispensable Casemiro


Brazil ran out 1-0 victors over Switzerland to ensure their progression through to the World Cup last 16. In a tense encounter with few clear-cut chances, it was Casemiro who broke the deadlock on 83 minutes, powering a strike past Yann Sommer after a rare foray into the opposition’s penalty area. … Some of the stories being dangled before us by this World Cup are slightly pre-ordained: Lionel Messi leading Argentina’s triumph, Cristiano Ronaldo doing the same for Portugal, Brazil giving Neymar his moment in the sun. …”
The Athletic (Video)
BBC – World Cup 2022: Casemiro – ‘Best midfielder in the world’ is Brazil’s unlikely hero (Video)
The Athletic: Casemiro can do everything

South Korea 2 Ghana 3

“Ghana won an exhilarating match packed with twists and turns against South Korea in front of a vibrant crowd at Education City Stadium in Qatar. A 10-minute spell in the first half by the African nation gave them a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu and Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus. However, noisy celebrations by Ghana fans at half time were dampened by a South Korea comeback after the break. Two stunning headers in three minutes from Cho Gue-sung, the top scorer in his domestic league, levelled the game after 61 minutes. …”
BBC

Choupo-Moting thwarts Serbia to cap Cameroon’s wild World Cup comeback


“Chaos. Two teams historically wedded to chaos. A Serbia team in chaos because of injury. A Cameroon team plunged into chaos by the expulsion of the Internazionale goalkeeper André Onana. The result, inevitably, was a match of high chaos. But what chaos! It was chaos that yielded drama, remarkable goals, an implausible fightback, a truly exceptional finish that will be remembered long after the match is forgotten and, in the end, a thrilling draw that didn’t really suit either side. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Infantino is the nowhere man in this bonfire of greed, vanity and despotic power

Today I feel … largely invisible. Today I feel like a boggle-eyed despot-groupie. Today I feel like essence of human avarice distilled through a series of filters, poured into a dark suit and presented on stage looking like a discredited small-town mayor with a secret. Today I feel like I really should, for the sake of world football, start to get a grip on this chaotic Fifa World Cup. It is hard to know whether Gianni Infantino feels any of these things right now. It is nine days since Infantino delivered his opening press conference speech, his Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock moment, his I Have a Really Horrendous And Deluded Dream. …”
Guardian

Portugal qualify, Fernandes upstages Ronaldo, Uruguay face Ghana decider

Portugal progressed to the World Cup last 16 with a 2-0 win over Uruguay, booking their place in the knockout stage with a game to spare. Defeat leaves Uruguay precariously positioned in Group H and they now face the prospect of elimination on Friday at the hands of opponents Ghana, the team they famously and controversially beat in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals. Bruno Fernandes’s free kick appeared to be headed in by Cristiano Ronaldo but replays showed the striker did not touch it. While that will surely annoy Ronaldo, he will have further chances to add to his World Cup tally. To add to Ronaldo’s possible frustration, he had been substituted by the time his side were awarded a controversial late penalty, which Fernandes converted for his second goal of the night. …”
The Athletic (Video)