I didn’t catch much of Chile game last night, but I was impressed with Australia’s resiliency. They will need more of the same if they hope to take a point off the Netherlands or Spain. The Chileans looked pretty dangerous from what I saw, but they may rue only having a plus-two goal differential against the Socceroos.
Before I get to my predictions for today’s matches, I want to say a few words about Bacary Sagna and his now confirmed departure to Manchester City. Maybe it’s that we’ve all known he would be leaving this summer for a long time, with City the likely destination. Or maybe it’s that he was very professional this season with reliable play amid the contract distractions. Maybe it’s that he fulfilled his contract to Arsenal, sticking to his word. Or maybe it’s that he left a winner, not a quitter. For all these reasons, I am not bitter about Sagna’s departure. In fact, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the man.
For years, he has been a steady presence at right back. But he has grown to be more than that in recent years, filling in at center back in times of need (think back to his heroic performance in the Sunderland game two seasons ago), sending in steadily accurate crosses that won’t be fully appreciated until Jenkinson starts misfiring his, and even scoring crucially important goals. At his age, he was never going to get the long term deal he so craved at Arsenal. So he did the best thing for his future by securing his services elsewhere. I don’t blame him for wanting the insurance a longer deal provides after all the injury scares he has had recently.
Bacary Sagna’s recent Instagram post has confirmed all the positive characteristics I had seen in him as an Arsenal player. If you haven’t seen the post, check it out. It is a very simple, yet incredibly classy gesture. Sagna’s head and heart have always been in the right place. He has been professional to the end. It’s a shame he is leaving for Manchester City of all places, but he has served his duty with Arsenal. Goodbye, Bacary. I wish you well.
Now to my predictions. Yesterday’s weren’t so good, so hopefully these go better.
Colombia 1 Greece 1
The first game of the day won’t be the most beautiful. Greece will be Greece, defending with a lot of men behind the ball. And Colombia will try to attack through James Rodriguez, a player many around the world haven’t been able to watch much of at Monaco. I see Greece scoring first, on a corner, with one of the center backs, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, heading it in, if only because it will make all the commentators in the world stumble over his name. The Greeks won’t do much after that, and the steady pressure Colombia will present will lead to a goal from Jackson Martinez. Colombia might romp, but I think Greece will hold firm for a draw.
Uruguay 2 Costa Rica 0
Assuming Luis Suarez sits this one out, Uruguay will face a stiffer test than they want from Costa Rica. Had Alvaro Saborio not gotten injured, the Ticos might have had a chance. But without him, Costa Rica isn’t a huge threat going forward, as young players like Joel Campbell are relatively inexperienced against top opposition. If they score, it will come on an error by Fernando Muslera in goal. Uruguay will be boosted by a brace from Edinson Cavani, who will aptly fill Suarez’s role as the main man. Last World Cup’s Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan will be one to watch at Costa Rica, as most of his skills have declined since 2010. Many will want to see whether the magic he provided in South Africa could be rekindled in Brazil. Ultimately, Uruguay will leave with the necessary three points, but it may not be pretty.
England 2 Italy 2
This highly anticipated game will be a good one. With both teams afraid to lose, it will start slowly. But a surprise goal from Jordan Henderson against the run of play will open things up. Mario Balotelli will strike next, because the world hasn’t seen enough of him in the news lately. He will be out to change that. In-form Daniel Sturridge will then find the net in the second half to give England a 2-1 lead, but that will not be the end of the scoring. Andrea Pirlo will find the net with a free kick to tie the game in spectacular fashion. Both teams will feel like they should have won the game, but they will each leave with a singular point. Look for England to impress on the flanks.
Japan 3 Ivory Coast 2
These will be the game of the day, with chances abound. The battle will be in the midfield, with each team possessing an abundance of talent going forward. Shinji Okazaki, Keisuke Honda, and Shinji Kagawa will be the stars of the show, each scoring a goal apiece. Japan will go ahead 2-0, with Gervinho getting one back before half. Japan will score next, before Didier Drogba makes it 3-2 soon after. Japan will see out the one goal lead, but it won’t be entirely convincing. Yaya Toure will be largely invisible, hampered by a thigh injury that could be the deciding factor in this group. If he is effective, the Ivorians will win, but I don’t believe he will be anywhere near his best. A tie in the Colombia-Greece game could lead to an incredibly open game in the nightcap, as both teams will be looking to take control of the Group C, knowing the parity that exists among the four teams.
I might be back later today with thoughts on a game or two like I did yesterday. Links to new posts will be posted to Twitter (@MrMcGinnis94). Or just check back periodically. Thanks for reading, please comment below, and have a great day.