Serbia ousts Costa Rica (BavarianFootballWorks.com)
Finding themselves in a group with Brazil and Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica may have had their entire World Cup campaign on the line this morning. Although Costa Rica controlled the game for stretches, they were unable to translate possession into effective attacks.
Serbia played more decisively, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was particularly impressive from the 10 spot. But the showstopper was Serbian captain and left-back Aleksandar Kolarov’s game-winning free kick, which curled neatly over the wall and into the top corner of the net—at shot even Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas could do nothing to stop.
—John N. Dillon
After Germany fell to Mexico, this game felt like yet another upset. No team was perhaps as heavily favored to win this World Cup than Brazil in the hours between the end of Germany’s game and kickoff of their own.
Brazil collectively underperformed their individual potential after taking a 1-0 lead off of a spectacular, yet improbable long-distance shot by Philippe Coutinho:
Brazil’s offense stalled and Switzerland struck back early in the second half off a set piece. Steven Zuber headed in the equalizer off a corner kick by former Bayern Munich man Xherdan Shaqiri. Neymar was largely negated by the industrious Valon Behrami. Serbia thus improbably leads Group E for now.
—John N. Dillon
Some would say Neymar gets more physical treatment than anyone; others know exactly how that situation should be handled
Chelsea may be cooling on bringing in the Polish striker as his rumored £200m price tag is a bit steep.
Chelsea face a struggle to convince Bayern Munich to sell Robert Lewandowski, despite holding a long-term interest in the want away forward. Both Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi are attracting strong interest from other clubs, while Poland international Lewandowski has been a target for over a year at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea could raise funds for Lewandowski, but Bayern Munich hold great leverage in the situation which may deter the Blues for another summer, as the Bavarians are unlikely to talk to clubs for less than £200m.
Lewandowski will suit up tomorrow at 11:00AM EST for Poland as it takes on Senegal. The Polish squad will be interesting to watch progress in the Group stage. The squad has talent, but perhaps not enough depth to be a sure thing to advance.
I’m 100% convinced my grandma was the reason Mexico won pic.twitter.com/9jBRF5wFPE— paola (@paolaa_janet) June 17, 2018
Three crosses for Ochoa! This lady knows who to bless.
—John N. Dillon
Apparent Joachim Löw told Marco Reus in training camp that he would not be in the initial starting XI.
Reus revealed after the 0-1 (0: 1) to the World Cup airing that Löw had already told him in the training camp in Eppan / South Tyrol, that he would not start from the outset, “because we anticipate that the tournament will be very long, and then in the important games I would...” — and then Reus broke off.
“Of course, the Mexico game was also important,” Reus added. “We have a broad squad, everyone is needed, so it was agreed upon,” he added. “Of course I’m disappointed that I did not play from the start. Whoever isn’t disappointed would be wrong.”
Hmmm. Maybe a little early to make that call, Jogi?
The World Cup just started and there is already locker room drama for Croatia as striker Nikola Kalinic has allegedly been sent home for refusing to enter the game against Nigeria as a substitute.
National boss Zlatko Dalic ordered the striker to get ready to come on late in the 2-0 victory over the African nation. However, Croatian media outlet 24sata claim the AC Milan star declined to enter the fray. And that has led to Dalic axing the 30-year-old and sending him home this morning. The shocking incident was referred to by the manager after the game when he told reporters the team had finished without injuries but “with a problem”. The Croatian FA has not confirmed the forward’s expulsion. Dalic is set to speak to the media later this afternoon.
The news comes amid apparent transfer talks between Milan and Sevilla for Kalinic. The La Liga side want to bring the experienced ace in on a season-long loan but the Serie A giants are looking for a permanent £17.5million deal.
Croatia’s methodical victory over Nigeria displayed how the Vatreni are capable of controlling the pace of a game and capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes. Kalinic surely would have had a big role to play for Croatia during the tournament, but one, weak moment of selfish behavior caused by hurt feelings could now have a long lasting effect on the squad.
Taeguk Warriors coach Shin Tae-yong told the press yesterday that he had his players exchange jerseys after a member of Sweden’s team was caught spying on a closed practice session in Austria. Shin said,
We switched them around because we didn’t want to show our opponents everything and to try and confuse them. They might know a few of our players but it is very difficult for Westerners to distinguish between Asians.
The spy allegedly first tried to gain access to the South Korean camp by posing as a tourist. After he was turned away, he viewed their practices from a mountainside cottage with a high-powered telescope and video camera. Sweden apologized, and Shin himself seemed unfazed.
—John N. Dillon