Here’s what you need to know about Wednesday’s games and their implications:
1. Robin van Persie will miss the next game and it won’t matter. Due to both a booking and an injury, RVP will be suspended for the final group stage game, but the Dutch are already through and only need a draw against Chile to top the group. Can the Dutch play a defensive game, though?
2. Who would have thought an MLS player would score the goal of the tournament (so far). The career of 34-year-old Tim Cahill may be winding down, but his wicked left-footed volley was the kind of strike that makes hearts race. RVP may have the meme, and Messi the fan boys, but Australia will at least go home with this in their highlight collection.
3. Via con dios, España. For the first time ever, the winners of the previous cup lost their first two games, eliminating them at the earliest possible point. Spain was woeful and looked nothing like the world-beating team that won three cups in a row (two Euros and the World Cup). Spain’s rapid-fire passing was wayward and predictable and their defense nonexistent. They can hope to restore some pride in a totally meaningless game against Australia, but given the fight the Australians have put up, there’s no guarantee that Spain will even win that.
4. Iker Casillas is no longer even remotely close to the best keeper in the world. Following Spain’s victory in Euro 2012, there was a lot of talk about how it was a shame that goalkeepers are never really chosen as the best player in the world. In a fair world, it was argued, Casillas would be ranked alongside Messi, Ronaldo, and van Persie. Well, so much for that. After letting in seven goals in two games, Casillas isn’t even the best goal keeper in Spain, let alone the world.
5. Alex Song is an idiot. As a long-time Arsenal fan, I’ve seen Alex Song do stupid things for years now. His red card for Cameroon illustrates why The Gunners were not too sad to see him leave for Barcelona. Granted, Cameroon was down a goal, but it was still very much in the game before Song decided to blatantly and maliciously elbow Mario Mandzukic in the back. This not only left Cameroon down a man but also without its midfield anchor. From that point on, it was all Croatia.
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