After a two week hiatus, the Premier League returns this weekend. And we can now be treated to watching Danny Murphy tell us all what we already know on Match of the Day, while simultaneously yelling expletives for whatever awful opinion he shares.
In Berlin and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal of the match to gain revenge (I use the term loosely) for Brazil over their 2014 World Cup eliminators Germany. The Premier League’s Willian, Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan also featured. From a Manchester City perspective, it was a little bit better for their international stars out in Spain. Their centre hald Nicolas Otamendi grabbed himself a goal past Manchester United David De Gea. However, it didn’t count for much as Spain won 6-1.
Our friend VAR was the word on everyone’s lips on Tuesday night during England’s 1-1 draw at home to Italy. The Italians started the brightest of the two sides, and really should have been 2-3 goals to the good. And the cause of that? ‘The English Beckenbauer, John Stones. He had a nightmare opening 10 minutes, gifting Lazio’s Ciro Immobile two guilt edged chances. Fortunately for Stones, Immobile couldn’t even get a shot on target. It’s worth mentioning that Stones did however later impress by refusing to allow his confidence to be knocked, probably due to Pep’s influence.
Attack minded, quick thinking play from dance merchant Jesse Lingard stopped the ball dead after a foul and played through Jamie Vardy to put England ahead. Jose Mourinho must have been at home thinking “That could be coached out of him”. With little time left in the match, debutant James Tarkowski tangled with Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa (Who really impressed me at the Euro 21 Championship last summer) and brought him down. So the referee decided it warranted having another look through the use of VAR and eventually, rightfully awarded the pen in which Insigne buried home.
You may remember if you read my column last week, I made a tongue in cheek remark toward’s England’s chances at the World Cup. Referring to Wales competing in the China Cup final against Uruguay, I wrote ‘at least one home nation will be bringing home a trophy this year’. Well, Wales were beaten after Luis Suarez beat the offside trap and set up Edinson Cavani for a goal on his 100th cap.
The Welsh defence looked shaky right from the off, and they were dragged all over the pitch due to the all-round movement of the Uruguayans’ front two. Gareth Bale talked up the China Cup final as though it was nearly a World Cup final. Unlike other ‘finals’, he couldn’t deliver on this occasion. Wales actually played pretty well, with their new found respect on the International scene exemplified by Uruguay’s willingness to allow them to see plenty of the on the ball.
Alex McLeish’s experimentation with his Scotland squad has both backfired and succeeded thus far. During the Costa Rica loss, ten of the starting XI were playing outside the SPL. For the 2-0 win in Hungary, six of the starting XI were playing in Scotland. So that equates to the SPL being superior to English football.
It was fortress Windsor Park again as Northern Ireland won again at home, this time South Korea were next to fall in Belfast. A late goal from QPR’s Paul Smyth won the game for the Irish, who were hardly good for the win. Ahead of their impending 1-1 draw with England at the World Cup, Panama were thrashed 6-0 against Switzerland with Granit Xhaka among the scorers. For the record, I do believe England will progress past the group stages, finishing behind the Belgians. No genius insight here but it all depends on whether Gareth Southgate picks the right squad.
And that’s your lot for this week.
Have a great weekend.