The World Cup pivots today to only two start times. There are four games, but matches from the same group are played at the same time. The heart sinks when we remember Saturday Day 3 [wistful sigh], when the four matches were played one after the other. Truly an orgy of sloth.
Yes, the slorgies were great, but the stakes are higher now. These games will eliminate the remaining ballast for the knockout round and a trend should continue: attacking teams getting results. Switzerland took it to Brazil and got a point (1-1), then outwilled Serbia (2-1) by NOT sitting back. México is relentless and got 6/6 points. Belgium and England are HAWT, matching Russia (RUSSIA!) as the top scorers so far: 8 goals in two games each. Colombia seemed increasingly fearless in that 3-0 trouncing against Poland. An attacking mindset has also kept Australia competitive. Los Socceroos got deserved penalties in a loss to heavyweight France (2-1) and in a hard fought 1-1 with Denmark.
Speaking of which, the most penalties awarded in a World Cup was 18 (Japan / South Korea 2002). That’s 18 after 64 games. With 32 games played already, there have been 16 penalties awarded in Russia 2018, with another 32 games left. I hope that inspires teams to get more balls in the area, and not just more flopping chances.
These next four days will determine if we get a knockout round free of overachieving, defensive teams (ohai Iran, Iceland, and Sweden). Must-see TV? No, this is a mandate for truancy, and that’s without counting the titanic clash tomorrow between Nigeria and Los Hindenburgos. The two start times promote half-day hooky; elaborate excuses are OK, but “Skip And Apologize After The Fact” works just as well. Do pick your spots, unless you’re an asskisser. If you are, enjoy your long lunches for the remainder of the tournament, but please: don’t be smug to your peers about the effectiveness of your groveling. Have some dignity, asshole.
GROUP A MATCHES – 9:00 AM CENTRAL
Let’s have a look at the table:
Yep, all that’s at stake is top seeding.
Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – Volgograd
Both teams are attempting to save some face. Russia and Uruguay should each send Sergio Ramos a fruit* basket for injuring Mo Salah in the Champions League final.
Predicción: I will not care.
Balls: I’m thinking there will be an empty stadium for this one. The poor people of Volgograd are probably wondering what they did to deserve this. I mean, it’s not like they failed to meet their grain quotas…
Predicción: Mohamed Salah retires from international football with a 2-0 win that means nothing.
Wakezilla: This game is important because of all the geopolitics involved. A win for Saudi Arabia will bring a certain level of prestige to their kingdom, especially for Muhammad bin Salman. In case you have been living under a rock, Western news has done everything to make sure he looks like an angel,and figuratively sucks his dick.* Even Oprah jumped on the bandwagon to praise this mother fucker that runs a country that conducts DAESH style beheadings.. There’s so much spinning in those articles, you’d think they were Saudi press releases. To save you the trouble of reading all of that, they paint him as a visionary reformer, fighting against the establishment, when he’s a power hungry dictator who arrested dozens of high-ranking relatives, kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon, and conveniently had eight of his political rivals die in a helicopter crash. Here he is portrayed as some sort of women’s champion. The truth is, he’s a piece of shit war criminal. Yet, the same news media outlets are usually mute when six major women’s rights advocates have been detained by Saudi authorities and face the death penalty. But hey, at least they still don’t stone people for being witches, right? Nope. Even slavery is still rampant. It’s estimated that there are over 92,000 slaves in Saudi Arabia and that 40.47/100 people are vulnerable to slavery.
تنبؤ: Egypt wins 2-1 because fuck Muhammad bin Salman
*My favorite is the Washington Post link for the sheer fact that their slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is over a press release for a power-grabbing hereditary crown prince of an absolute monarchy.
Uruguay vs Russia – Samara
There’s been talk, there’s been talk.
Maybe [Roman] Zobnin is a clean athlete. Maybe all the Russian footballers are clean athletes. Maybe they ran 5km further than Egypt because they drink rooster blood. Maybe the right back is superman. Maybe Russia are the best team at closing down since Spain, “we didn’t dope”, won the 2010 World Cup.
That’s from New Zealander Mark Reason, a journalist with 25 years of experience. I’m not saying that the Russians are doping. All I’m saying is what people are saying, people whose job is to say things and have some corroboration before saying them. Wait: Trump would never allude to corroboration. Shit; I thought I had #nailed that bit.
Uruguay defeated the worst two teams in the tournament by 1-0 scores. They did not show much in the Egypt (without Salah) game, and seemed to be playing a friendly against Saudi Arabia, moving the ball around without any clear aim. The young midfielders have been getting minutes (Vecino, Betancur, Nahitán, and Laxalt), and it’s reported that they will be prominent: clogging the wings and creating a funnel, to stop the Russian offense. I think Uruguay is still tinkering in preparation for the knockouts, but pride won’t let the charrúas allow more than a goal.
Predicción: Uruguay 2 : 1 Russia.
Balls: Don T is spot on in his assessment of Uruguay. They are just waiting to see whether they get matched up with Spain or Portugal. This game, therefore, does not matter as that will get decided three hours after this one ends.
As far as the doping allegations, it wouldn’t surprise me if anyone on Russia’s team tested positive. However, no one on ANY team has tested positive for anything so far, so take that as you will. In any case, running longer doesn’t automatically make a team put the ball in the net, so I don’t really care if they ARE doping.
Predicción: Russia will keep rolling along and scoring goals since Uruguay will go through the motions and save themselves for the next game. Call it a 2-1 win to make Putin happy.
Wakezilla: As Balls already mentioned, there has been speculation about the Russian team and PEDs. Truth be told, there are a handful of teams that I question if they’re doping. Japan’s best and oldest players were flying around in the 90th minute and looked like they could play another game. Same goes for the Swiss, who were running circles around the Serbs in their match three days ago. For fuck sake Shaqiri was glowing green when he took off his shirt!
Predicción: PEDs or not, Russia isn’t going to beat a determined Uruguay squad. Uruguay will beat Russia 1-0 and take on the runner up in Group B.
GROUP B MATCHES – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
In sum, all have a chance except Morocco.
Spain vs Morocco – Kaliningrad
Spain has gotten four points after that dynamite 3-3 against Portugal and a 1-0 against A Bus Named Iran:
I think Spain does not seem affected by having their manager fired two days before their debut. Morocco is playing out the string, with only national pride at stake—which means something in this match.
Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish cities that are located here,
Let’s say around Morocco, ’cause both are enclaves under the Spanish crown (O the prestige). Are Moroccans mad about it? You bet! In 2002 several Moroccan officers occupied the Island of Parsley near Melilla, and Spain sent about 28 troops, retaking the bland herb reserves. I’m betting Moroccans will fight for payback, as being spoiler in a Big Deal International Tournament is a great outlet for colonial resentment.
Predicción: España 1 : 1 Marruecos
Balls: The Moroccan-Spanish Mutual Hatred society is alive and strong. The Spanish don’t like the Moops any more than the Moops like them. Something about Crusades and occupation and stuff like that. Yes, that’s on both sides.
This will be a tough and hotly-contested game in which the higher level of skill and genius will win out. We may get about five yellow cards in this one. As we all know, there is one team here better than the other.
Predicción: España 2 Marruecos 1
Wakezilla: Fuck Sergio Ramos. I’ll be rooting for Morocco against Spain like:
Predicción: As much as I’d love to see Morocco draw or beat Spain, they have been snake bitten. What’s worse, Spain will want to win the group to (likely) play Russia in the Round of 16. So this game will end up like this:
Spain 3, Morocco 0.
Iran vs Portugal – Saransk
Can you imagine if Portugal loses and is left out of the knockout stage, and Iran gets in?
Ronaldo has that world-beater look. Any Group A opponent would have a difficult game against Portugal in the kncokouts. Then there’s Iran, an usually overmatched eyesore. Their 1-0 win against Morocco came on an injury time own goal. It’s maybe the most twbs of all: Morocco was more aggressive but lost. (Deserve’s got nothing to do with it smgdh.) But Iran got a Karma Beatch! moment when it lost to Spain 1-0, the “goal” coming on a ricochet off Diego Costa. Since Iran has not scored ANY goals, it loses all tiebreakers with Spain or Portugal–unless Iran were to score 4 on Portugal. No way.
Predicción: Portugal 2 : 0 Iran.
Balls: Cristiano Ronaldo has been sitting at training camp watching these games thinking, “Fuck, these assholes are getting a lot of goals!” If there is one thing Ronaldo wants outside of winning this tourney is to be top scorer. Luckily for him, he plays Iran and their lack of offense.
Prediction: Ronaldo scores one and sets up another in a 2-0 win.
Wakezilla: Ronaldo has been extra measty his first two games by scoring 4 goals. Seeing how he’s three goals away from scoring the most in a single tournament, I’d like to see him do it. With Messi likely not making it out of group stage, lets have at least one of the greatest players of all time have success this tournament. I’ll be rooting for Portugal to go far so we can (hopefully) see Ronaldo straight up shatter the record for most goals in the tournament. Forget 7, lets see him score 10 goals!
Carlos Queiroz has done a hell of a job managing Iran. They won a match and took it to Spain in a 1-0 loss. When asked how he could stop Ronaldo, he said “Well, I could suggest to the Portugal coach, Fernando Santos, he should rest Ronaldo for this game.” Iran is being realistic about their chances, which might actually help them be more loose.
Predição: Ronaldo will not be stopped and will score in the 69th minute, giving Portugal the 1-0 win. Despite suffering sanctions from teams and sponsors, Iran took it to all three teams in Group B. They have earned the respect of the lesser footy world.