Aleksandar Kolarov’s stunning free kick steers Serbia to win over Costa Rica

June 17, 2018

“In a World Cup that had already been illuminated by exquisite free-kicks, Aleksandar Kolarov provided a masterpiece of his own. This was not a performance to dispel doubts over Serbia’s ability to fully harness their array of talent but the deciding goal should be taken for what it was: a strike worthy of winning any match on this exalted stage and one that, given the taker’s identity, came as no huge surprise.” Guardian

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The unbearable hope — and inevitable pain — of supporting England at a World Cup

June 17, 2018

“… Yes, it’s time for another England World Cup campaign, and it doesn’t matter that the senior member of the squad is Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, or that he happened to be talking about the Brexit negotiations, now into what seems like their ninetieth year, and with no end in sight. An English World Cup campaign will almost certainly include a meltdown, and there will be panic, and introspection, and calls for something, anything, to be done to — or by, or for — somebody. But it’s going to be all right in the end. It’s just that as with Brexit, nobody knows when the end will be or whether any of you old enough to be reading this will live long enough to see it.” ESPN – Nick Hornby


Lionel Messi penalty saved by Halldórsson as Iceland hold Argentina

June 16, 2018


“With 64 minutes gone Argentina seemed to have found the decisive break on a tight, bruising afternoon that saw their revered attack struggle to find its gears against an excellent Iceland team. The score was 1-1, as it would finish. Iceland were holding steady. With a long pass from the left Sergio Agüero was suddenly in space in the area, sent tumbling by a collision with Hördur Björgvin Magnússon. The penalty was given. Half of the stadium leapt up, phones raised as Lionel Messi stepped up to take it, breath drawn to yowl and cheer as the ball hit the net. Or perhaps not. Messi’s kick was terrible, too close to Hannes Thór Halldórsson, who guessed the right way and palmed the ball far enough from goal.” Guardian


Peru 0 – 1 Denmark

June 16, 2018

“Denmark began their World Cup campaign with a hard-fought victory against a Peru side that had earlier missed a penalty. The South Americans were awarded a spot-kick after consultation with the video assistant referee but Christian Cueva, the man fouled, shot over the crossbar. That miss proved crucial as the Danes hit Peru on the counter-attack in the second half with Christian Eriksen releasing Yussuf Poulsen, who had conceded the penalty, and he fired past Pedro Gallese.” BBC


VAR makes history as France awarded controversial penalty against Australia – but was it right decision?

June 16, 2018

“Arow erupted over the first use of video technology at the World Cup on Saturday night following a string of penalty incidents at the tournament. History was made in France’s Group B victory over Australia after it became the first competitive fixture to see a refereeing decision overturned since Video Assistant Referees became part of the Laws of the Game. Having waved play on after Antoine Griezmann went down in the penalty area, referee Andres Cunha awarded a spot-kick after viewing a replay of Josh Risdon’s challenge on the striker. The use of VAR divided opinion on social media, with Risdon getting a touch on the ball while sliding in on Griezmann before tripping his opponent with his trailing leg after the France player had regained possession.” Telegraph


Portugal vs Spain: Cristiano Ronaldo shows new side to his game in classic clash of World Cup styles

June 16, 2018

“Formulate a checklist for the ideal World Cup encounter, and Portugal 3-3 Spain would tick every box: a historic rivalry, an early goal, a high tempo throughout, tremendous technical quality, both sides leading at various stages, a couple of stunning strikes, and a late twist. It was an aesthetically remarkable game, a consistently entertaining game, and also a strategically fascinating game, not because of formations or substitutions, but because Spain and Portugal attacked in entirely different ways.” Independent (Video)


How to really watch the World Cup

June 16, 2018

“Every soccer game is a story that opens up onto an infinite number of other stories. The World Cup is the ultimate concatenation of these stories, the greatest work of literature the sport has to offer. World Cup teams are perhaps the most visible embodiment of nations — collectives whose actions on the pitch can seem, in the moment, to determine the fate of a country. The biographies of particular players intermingle with that of the team, channeling and condensing our most vexed histories, those of nations and their unending quest to define themselves.” Vox – Laurent Dubois