Lovers of Latin football should be in for a real treat, when Brazil take on Mexico. Which team does John Newsome see coming out on top?
BRAZIL v MEXICO
Brazil take on Mexico in a repeat of the 2012 Olympic Games final at Wembley. Mexico surprisingly beat Brazil that day 2-1. A few players are in the team for this last 16 game, notably Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Neymar for Brazil and Hector Herrera, Javier Aquino, Marco Fabian, Raul Jimenez and double goalscorer that day Oribe Peralta. Brazil started the campaign with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, before 2 very late goals against Costa Rica and a 2-0 win against Serbia. The surprise in that Serbia win were the goalscorer’s, ex-Tottenham star Paulinho and Thiago Silva getting the all-important goals to ease The Samba Boys into the last 16.
Mexico surprised everyone with a win against Germany in their opener, before beating South Korea in the 2nd game. Despite losing the finale to Sweden, the 2 wins were enough to set up this mouthwatering tie against favourites Brazil. The Yellow and Green should be too strong for the Sombreros and can reverse the 2012 Olympic Games result.
Brazil Win 2-1
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BELGIUM v JAPAN
Belgium are the 3rd if the 3 teams to win all 3 group games. They won the final game against England with a superb Adnan Januzai goal. Adnan is a former youth product of Manchester United and burst onto the scene as a 17 year old left sided player. After initially impressing, his career has somewhat tailed off and he now plies his trade in Spain for Real Sociedad. Januzai has impressed Roberto Martinez and made the World Cup squad for Russia. Although his goal gave Belgium the win against England, both teams had made several changes and neither will worry too much about the result. There’s supposedly an easy path and a hard path to the final, with Belgium supposedly getting the hard path. Let’s wait and see, Football isn’t about easy and hard paths, it’s about each individual performing to his maximum potential on the day. Then hoping there’s a bit of luck thrown in for good measure.
Japan have exceeded all expectations in Russia, They have beat Columbia, drew with Senegal and lost to Poland. The Poland loss was slightly misrepresented as Japan knew they had qualified if they only lost 1-0. Once it went 1-0 Poland were unable to progress and were happy with the win and Japan, knowing Columbia were beating Senegal, o just stopped. The Land of the Rising Sun went through to the last 16 on, wait for it, less Yellow Cards then Senegal. Whether that’s right or wrong is for others to argue, Japan won’t care one bit. Belgium haven’t lost to anyone for 2 years and will relish this game against Japan and with Hazard and Big Rom rested, should be too strong for the valiant Japanese.
Belgium Win 3-0
SWEDEN v SWITZERLAND
Sweden have mixed results in their qualifying campaign. They won the opener against South Korea with an Andreas Granqvist penalty, they were leading Germany in their 2nd game until a late, late Tony Kroos winner gave them the loss to Germany. In their final group game they hammered Mexico 3-0, Andreas scored again in that game. The Swedes are quietly progressing without anyone taking notice and without Zlatan, could still go further.
Switzerland haven’t lost yet and progressed to the last 16 via a draw against favourites Brazil, a superb win against Serbia and another draw against Costa Rica. Without getting into politics, as that’s just a minefield in itself, the Swiss have a lot of ex Yugoslavian refugees. Goalscorer’s against Sweden were Blerim Dzemaili and Josip Drmic both of Yugoslavia dissident parents. The superb Xherdan Shaqiri is from Albania, new Arsenal star Stephan Lichtsteiner has parents from Albania, as well as current Arsenal star Granit Xhaka.
A lot has been made of the Double Eagle salute that the Swiss players have made, FIFA doesn’t want politics involved in football, which is quite right. However, the persecution of innocent individuals in the great country of Yugoslavia is not politics. It is genocide, absolute respect to Xherdan and his pals for never giving up on their homeland. This will be a tight affair which again could go to penalties.
COLUMBIA v ENGLAND
Columbia made the last 16 by way of a goal from giant defender and the Columbian John Stones, Yerry Mina, his 2nd of the tournament. They beat Senegal and Poland but then surprisingly lost to Japan. Ex-Manchester United and Chelsea star Falcao has got his goal as well as another ex-Chelsea star Juan Cuadrado. Juan Quintero is the other goalscorer for the Columbians along with Big Yerry. Pundits say England were better off losing to Belgium and finishing 2nd in the group. What’s strange about the so-called pundits is it as always got to be Black or White. “Well if he did this, then that will happen and if they do that, this will happen “. No! Against Belgium, both teams made changes to allow the other members of the squad to get a game. Both had qualified, which in England’s case is not a formality coming into the final group game. Analyse the game. Adnan Januzai scored a great individual goal turning Danny Rose inside out. Jordan Pickford could have done better with the shot and his position was all wrong. However, it happens. The much-maligned Ashley Young who everyone says is not a natural left back because he’s all right footed would have naturally shown Adnan out to the byline because of his right foot. Danny Rose, who is predominately left-footed, went left allowing Adnan to cut in and shoot. With Young in that position, it would not have happened. Marcus Rashford was put clean through to score and 9 times out of 10 would have slotted home. He missed, it happens. All of a sudden he’s had his chance and failed. Automatically Raheem Sterling comes back into the starting X1. No!!. Marcus did not fail. A superb goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois saved Marcus’s shot. Would Thibaut had saved Adnan Januzai shot, maybe. The England players were superb and matched Belgium. Pundits need to look at things in different colours not just Black or White. Harry Maguire, Kieran Trippier, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and of course Harry Kane will come back into the team against Columbia. The replacements didn’t fail, it was just one of them games. No one is injured yet, Thankfully, but if an injury occurs to a key player, the replacements will step up to the plate and won’t let England down. Jamie Vardy will be back on the bench against Columbia but rest assured Jamie will be on standby if anything happens to Captain Kane. Marcus will be ready to start if called upon and even though the so-called pundits think Raheem will come back in for Rashers, it’s not certain. That said, if Marcus does replace Raheem. Sterling will still give 100% support to Rashers and will be ready when called upon. It’s a 23 man squad and like the Musketeers, “All For One and One For All” It’s not Black and White.
Believe in England!
England Win 3-0
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