Football’s Coming Home
My last blog was titled “El Mundial empieza ahora” (World Cup starts now). That Works for some teams, for others “El Mundial ha terminado” (World Cup has finished).
In Alberto´s blog, he explained very well that Spain was not playing their best football. We also had some events previous to the tournament that affected the national team mood, such as our manager signed by Real Madrid. But we never expected to get knocked out so easily and without being disrespectful, against teams that were not as strong as us.
The last 16 round started with a wonderful Saturday to stay in front of a TV:
- Argentina- France: the first match was an amazing one. Two of the main favourites playing against each other and they didn’t let us down. Well maybe if you are Argentinian you think differently, but for neutral spectators it was a very exciting game. Everybody saw a duel against current football star, Messi, against two contenders Mbappe and Griezman. And without any doubt Mbappe shined above the rest. He is only 19 years old and he scored two goals and created a penalty. 4-3 for France and end of the story. France always looked in control of the match despite being down 2-1 at the beginning of the second half, just before Mbappe scored his goals.
- Uruguay- Portugal: Probably one of the most equal matches in the last 16 round. Uruguay had shown until that moment that they were very good at defending, especially supported by Giménez and Godin as centre-half. But not only are Uruguay good at defending they also had two brilliant attacking players, Suárez and Cavani. And knock outs are perfect occasions for those players to perform well, so they did. Suárez gave to assists and Cavani scored two goals. Portugal never showed team spirit and Ronaldo didn’t show his skills at any moment. In the end 2-1 for Uruguay.
- Spain- Russia: Despite Russia being the host and Spain not playing their best football, in my opinion this was the most unequal match of the round. Everybody in Spain was expecting our team to start perform well and they started the match by scoring a goal in the first 15 minutes. I personally thought that after that goal the Russian team would open their lines and defend less and Spain on the other hand would attack more, but nothing happened. It was a boring match where Spanish players were just passing the ball from one side to another without attacking and Russia were only defending and waiting for a miracle to happen. And when you work hard miracles sometimes happen and in one corner Piqué committed a handball and Russia scored the penalty. After 120 minutes playing, penalties!! And you know the end….. Spain out.
Just one line to say that it was the last match in the national team for our legend, Andrés Iniesta who scored the goal that made us World Champions in 2010. Gracias por todo Iniesta!
- Croatia- Denmark: Everybody in Spain was thinking, let’s watch this match and see who would be our next rival, but in the end Russians did. Croatia arrived to this match winning all their three previous matches and everybody expected them to win as they have a golden generation with brilliant players from Real Madrid (Kovacic and Modric), Juventus (Mandzukic) and Barcelona (Rakitic). The match started brilliantly with one goal for Denmark in the first minute and an equaliser for Croatia in the 4th minute but later the match was really boring (the same happened in 4 minutes as in the rest 110´). The match went to extra-time and 3 minutes before the end, penalty for Croatia. Their best player, Modric, went for it but Schmeichel saved it. Again penalty shootout. Penalties are exciting except when your team is involved and both goalkeepers shined by saving both of them 2 penalties but in the last shootout Croatian keeper saved his 3rd penalty (record in a World Cup) and Rakitic scored the last penalty. Croatia qualified.
- Brasil- Mexico: Another great football match. When you see a fixture México against Brazil, you think easy for Brazil but that time wasn´t like that. Mexico played really well on the group stage and so they did against Brazil. You can see that Mexico had a plan and they made Brazil suffered a lot, especially by pressing very high on the pitch, but when you press so high you risk to get tired sooner and unfortunately that is what happened to Mexico in the second half. This Brazil side is different from the previous ones, they have great talents, Neymar, Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus but they are very consistent and very good at defending, in fact they only concede 5 goals in their last 24 fixtures. At the end, they didn’t concede any goal and Neymar appeared to give one assist and score the other goal, 2-0 at the end and to quarterfinals.
- Belgium-Japan: Another exciting football game with two teams playing to win the match and not speculate with the result. Belgium by far was the favourite to win. Again another national team with a golden generation, with the likes of Lukaku, De Bruyne, Hazard and with a good chance to win the trophy. But suddenly Japan played a very attacking football and put a 2-0 in the match. The last team that overtake that result in a knock-out stage was Germany in the 70´s but Belgium coach did two substitutions and the two players that came from bench scored two goals to equalize the match and to score a last minute goal to qualify them. Now they will face Brazil in an amazing football match.
- Sweden-Switzerland: probably the less exciting match to watch except if you are Swedish or Swiss… and at the end the match wasn´t very exciting. Two teams defending and waiting for their rival mistake until that mistake came from Switzerland. 1-0 and now England will face Sweden. In football there is always that topic sentence where there is no small team but in my opinion good chance to get to a semi-final.
- Colombia- England: And finally the England match arrived. I don’t about you, but watching all the other teams playing and knowing that they are out or qualified just increases my nerves. I have to say that before the match I could see everybody that I spoke with very confident with England. Not many were talking about that match against Colombia, in fact they were already planning where to watch semi-final and even the final and in the pubs I heard many supporters singing “football is coming home” as they were champions already. Usually when you are too confident and start making plans, losing is a possibility, but this time was England’s time. It was 1-0 for England in 93rd minute and Colombia scored 1-1 and again to a penalty shootout. It seemed as the never ending story because England has never won a penalty shootout, but as I believe this could be England’s World cup because for the first time they won it. Now two more steps for the final.
So Spain is not in but life and World Cup continues. Next fixtures will be:
- Uruguay- France on Friday 6th
- Brasil- Belgium on Friday 6th
- Russia- Croatia on Saturday 7th
- England- Sweden on Saturday 7th
Hola! I am Enric Sancho from Barcelona. I've always loved to study different languages and learn about other cultures, so 3 years ago I decided to make teaching Spanish my profession and I love it. I qualified as a teacher at International House London where I learnt about the communicative approach and a few months ago I also qualified as a DELE A1/A2 examiner at Instituto Cervantes in London. I always aim to make my lessons interesting and enjoyable with cultural tips, so my students travelling to South America and Spain can communicate with native Spanish speakers.
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