Cyprus Mail
World Cup

Argentina coach Sampaoli appears to be well beyond hopeless

Jorge Sampaoli has come under heavy criticism

“A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing”. Bill Shankly

Staring ‘Germexit’ in the face ten man Germany hit Sweden with a ‘Kroos missile’ in the 95th minute to secure an unlikely win but the selective non-use of VAR did count unfairly against Sweden. It looks as if a win for Germany over South Korea in the final group game will set-up the delicious rematch that we have all been waiting for against Brazil. Well Gary Lineker did always tell us what to expect …..Germany usually win!

Russia, Belgium and England hit eight goals each on their way to the top of the goal-scoring charts to qualify for the next stage after two games and Harry Kane leads the race for the Golden Boot with five goals, although a deflection off his heel that he knew nothing about is stretching things a bit.

The Three Lions scored a record six goals against Panama before conceding a soft late consolation. So far they haven’t yet played for more than the first half in a game but the competition proper starts for England in the next match against Belgium who have looked more like potential World Cup champions with each game and Romelu Lukaku is doing his best to impersonate Jonah Lomu as he steamrollers his way through the defences.

However overlooking the fact that England rarely lose to teams wearing tartan, a quandary exists as it looks as if finishing second in Group G may offer up a much more attractive opponents for the knock-out stages. As England and Belgium have identical goal difference and goals for totals a draw may not be a clear cut result. Is it better to lose and finish second in Group G or to win and finish first?

Barcelona and Real Madrid have combined to serve up one of the tastiest midfields at the World Cup, in Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric whose talent and strength completely stupefied Argentina.

Croatia have the quality but do they have the depth of squad to cope with injuries or suspensions as they progress to the latter stages of the competition? They are like Bill Shankly’s piano!

Questions? Can Argentina immediately sack manager Jorge Sampaoli who appears to be well beyond hopeless and better suited to being a nightclub bouncer?

Can Spain’s fragile senior citizens stick the pace for 90 minutes at a time? Can France turn the clock back four years and sharpen up their passing and movement?

Can Neymar Jr and Co give up on their attempts at performing like Anna Pavlova in the ‘The Dying Swan’ ASAP or they could be on for another pasting by Germany?

Can someone find the third piece of Gareth Southgate’s ‘Three piece suit’ …..he looks half dressed.

On a sour note to finish, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka have managed to bring the game into disrepute at the World Cup by way of inappropriate political gestures made at the end of the game against Serbia. If there is any decency, they should be on the next plane home but as they play for FIFA’s own team we will have to wait and see.

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