Bumper Post England Group Stage Round Up

The post England lethargy certainly slowed down the Johnny Zero World Cup Blog, a late charge up the Prediction League leader board has seen a renewed energy, however. At this rate, I could break into the top 100!

Day 12
Holland 2-0 Chile
With both teams having qualified, this match was something of a dead rubber. Holland’s stats showed that they had less than a third of possession, yet two late goals sealed a second successive 9 point haul from the World Cup group stages. In direct contrast, Arjen Robben spent 74% of the match in mid flight or sat on his arse with his hands in the air.
StattoFacto: Holland played an international match at Huddersfield’s Leeds Road ground in 1946 against England. Holland lost 8-2!

Australia 0-3 Spain
Spain’s dreadful World Cup campaign continued for most of the first half, as the bewildered World Champions staggered around like a drunken farm animal. Eleven drunken farm animals, in fact. Eleven drunken farm animals who had never met before. A goal from Villa gave them back a sense of purpose, before a second half strike from Torres – his first of the tournament on target – bizarrely went in. I can’t imagine what he was actually aiming for! A third from Mata wrapped the match up for the Spaniardos and they celebrated managing not to finish bottom of the group in some style. The poor Aussies were nilled, however, both in goals on the day and points in the group.
StattoFacto: In the formative years of package travel to Spain in the early 70s, imported copies of The Sun would have bikinis crudely drawn on to the page three girls’ assets to promote catholic morality.

Cameroon 1-4 Brazil
Despite allegations of match fixing, Cameroon were happy that Brazil’s relationship with Zurich would not see them at a disadvantage. The stadium in Brasilia was rocking as Neymar somehow managed to scuff a shot beyond the Cameroon keeper. Things looked to be going a little pear shaped for the hosts, however, as Nyom beat Phyllis Pearce lookalike Dani Alves for an unlikely equaliser. Unlikely unless you’re an influential Middle Eastern spread betting expert, that is. Things were going the Zurich way by the end of the match, though. With Brazil running out 4-1 winners. A score line that would have Roger Milla turning in his grave. That’s if he were dead, of course. Which he isn’t, despite being about 54 when he played in Italia ’90.

Dani Alves, yesterday

Dani Alves, yesterday

 

StattoFacto: Brazil’s current capital city, Brasilia, was invented in the 1950s and built on stilts in the jungle entirely from concrete. It succeeded Rio Di Janeiro as capital in 1960

Croatia 1-3 Mexico
Despite their towering performance against Brazil in the opening match of the tournament, Croatia simply weren’t at the races in this match. Mexico won through to face the same host nation that had scraped a lucky draw to save their embarrassment, by virtue of a very dubious penalty decision.
StattoFacto: The original VW Beetle ended its days in Puebla, Mexico in 2003, over sixty years after it’s first inception and after 21.5 million had been produced worldwide.

Day 13
Italy 0-1 Uruguay

Italy could have helped England to limp into the second round, only to be undone by Costa Rica, who had themselves tonked Uruguay in the first group match. It had to happen didn’t it? Uruguay scored a late goal to send the Italians home with England. That, of course, was neither the biggest surprise nor the major talking point.

'E takea da chunk outa me ref!

‘E takea da chunk outa me ref!

The match was destined to be remembered for Suarez chomping on yet another passing opposition player! At first he claimed to have stumbled forwards, his not insubstantial choppers accidentally falling upon the hapless Italian’s shoulder. This is an excuse that would draw the same raised eyebrow as from bemused A&E staff to the unconvincing man with a vacuum cleaner attachment stuck up his bottom, claiming to have slipped whilst hoovering (“I was naked Nurse, yes”).

StattoFacto: After his proposed move to Barcelona looked to be in doubt due to his outright lack of contrition, the ‘South American Eating an Apple Through a Letter Box Champion 2012’, was forced to come clean and admit to his carnivorous tendencies. He was sentenced to serve three series as the short sighted beaver with Rufus Ruffcut in the Buzzwagon on Wacky Races.

Costa Rica 0-0 England
In a gripping spectacle that threatened to rival drying paint, England and Costa Rica strolled out a boring nil-nil, to at least send the England players home with a consolation point. One that would afford them great succour as they crept back into the country under the cover of darkness to count their money. The venue, Bela Horizonte, was ironically where England had suffered a shock defeat to the USA in 1950. In fairness, the USA team had been rounded up off the docks that morning and, as the ref felt sorry for them, they were allowed to pick up the ball and run with it.
StattoFacto: Costa Rica is one of only fifteen countries in the world with no armed forces. They could shortly be joined by Scotland.

Japan 1-4 Columbia
Columbia set up a Suarez-free tie with Uruguay, while Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni obviously had other things on his mind.

Get a load of them, missus

Get a load of them, missus

 

StattoFacto: The iconic Sony TR55 ‘pocket’ transistor radio of 1955 wasn’t actually small enough to fit into a pocket, so Sony’s sales force were equipped with specially made shirts complete with oversized breast pockets!

Greece 2-1 Ivory Coast
Greece had looked poor all tournament and started the match bottom of the group. After a first half Greek lead was pegged back late in the second half, it looked to heading for a draw and elimination. Only for a 93rd minute penalty to gift the Greeks a place in the Round of 16.
StattoFacto: The Elgin Marbles (or Parthenon Marbles if you’re Greek) is not an early playground game from the cradle of civilisation, but a carved frieze purchased by Lord Elgin from the Turkish occupation force to save it being crushed and used for road stone. Learned Greek scholars claim this version of events to be, “Bollocks”.

Day 14
Nigeria 2-3 Argentina

Both teams qualified, despite Nigeria’s narrow defeat. Every time Argentina took the lead, Nigeria equalised, until Rojo’s deciding goal in the 50th minute saw the South Americans top the group for a Round of 16 tie with Switzerland.
StattoFacto: Nigeria’s most prodigious export, apart from letters imploring you to accept a large bank transfer in exchange for a small sum of cash, is oil.

Bosnia Herzegovina 3-1 Iran
Who knows? It would appear that Bosnia won.
StattoFacto: Until very recently, the Hillman Hunter was just about the only car to be found in Iran; it was made there – as the Peykan – from kits sent out from Coventry.

Honduras 0-3 Switzerland
Shaqiri of Bayern Munich scored a hat trick to send Switzerland through to a tie with Argentina in the Round of 16.
StattoFacto: Switzerland, famously not the world’s only square-flagged nation, supplies the Pope’s Swiss Guards in Vatican City, with whom it shares an equilateral flag shape.

Ecuador 0-0 France
A win for Ecuador could have seen them progress to the next stage. Scoring no goals certainly hampered their efforts and, instead, France topped the group with Switzerland in second
StattoFacto: Ecuador – equator in Spanish – also includes the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin’s studies helped to form his Theory of Evolution. Though this is not widely acknowledged in some states of the USA.

Day 15
Portugal 2-1 Ghana

Despite a win over Ghana, the seismic goal shift required to see Portugal progress never materialised. Both teams headed home.
StattoFacto: Portugal is not only England’s oldest ally, but this is the oldest alliance in the world that is still in force and dates back to 1373.

USA 0-1 Germany
The USA are one of the surprises of the tournament. From a nation who didn’t know that balls could be round, to a very useful side in a few short years. Though they have a world class keeper in Tim Howard and some exciting playmakers, they perhaps lack a world class striker to convert chances. It will probably come though and we could certainly see a USA side competing at the top of world football. they are certainly the most successful English speaking side at the this World Cup Finals (I use the term ‘English speaking’ loosely, of course). At this moment in time, however, the most exciting team in the world are Germany and not even the USA could see them off. A defeat, by a solitary goal, to the best team in the world is not bad going though. Both sides qualify.
StattoFacto: The USA purchased Alaska from Russia in the 19th century for 2 cents an acre. It became the 49th state in 1959. the Russians were later rather peeved to find that it was swimming in oil

Korea 0-1 Belgium
Though, on paper, this should have been an easy tie for Belgium – a team many people were tipping to go far – they made heavy weather of it against stubborn resistance and it took a late strike to seal a one goal victory. The win sees them progress to face the USA in the next stage.
StattoFacto: Belgium is the home of Stella Artois, brewed in the university town of Leuven. Unfortunately, the version we get over here comes from South Wales.

Algeria 1-1 Russia
If Russia could have held on to their lead, they could have progressed. Unfortunately for them, and former England Manager Fabio Capello and His assistant, Gnasher, Algeria equalised to book their place in the last sixteen. Capello subsequently blamed a laser fired from the crowd that ‘blinded’ the Russian keeper. Sure it wasn’t polonium 210, Fabio?
StattoFacto: Fabio Capello can often be seen sporting a red and white hooped jumper and shorts ensemble. The catapult hanging out of his back pocket can often be used to good effect when taunting Walter the Softy or the English FA.

Coming Next: The Round (Up) of 16

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