Another round-up of World Cup news from the first weekend of action with the machines ruling the roost in the game between France and Australia, and Lionel Messi having a boo-boo in his side’s surprise draw with Iceland.
I was emptying my smoothie this morning, flicking through Instagram, when I came across a video from David Beckham talking about what it means to be a parent.
“The thing that you’re never prepared for,” said Beckham, “is the constant, never-ending worry you have as a parent.”
Man, what a good looking specimen.
I get his point.
You can’t sleep when they’re born, always poking and prodding them to make sure they’re still breathing. Sex arrives, and you worry about becoming a granddad. They get their first car, and you think they’re going to crash.
And then there comes a time when they have to leave school and get a job.
Part ego, part worry, you want your kids to find a job that pays well and provides the meaning and purpose that eludes so many people on this planet.
My only piece of advice?
Don’t get a job that a robot can do, like a football referee.
France 2 v 1 Australia
Soon, football referees will go the way of the Dodo, and the opening win for France against the Socceroos was a good testbed for that future reality.
It took 58-minutes for the French to break through the stubborn yellow shield that surrounded Matt Ryan’s goal, and with it came a spot of World Cup history.
With Antoine Griezmann bearing down on goal, Australian defender, Josh Risdon, looked to have made a goal-saving challenge, coming from behind to clip the ball away from the Atlético Madrid forward at the last moment.
The referee, who wasn’t so sure, wisely checked in with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), and after doing so pointed to the spot. Griezmann brushed the dry dirt from his blue top and slammed the ball into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, and Australia was the benefit of the same tech when Samuel Umtiti lived up to his mammary gland sounding surname when he inexplicably handled the ball in the penalty area to give Bert van Marwijk’s side a penalty. Up stepped Aston Villa’s Mile Jedinak, and he avoided tripping over his beard long enough to equalise.
But the machines weren’t done.
With ten minutes to go, the man of the match, Paul Pogba, slinked and sleeked into the Australia penalty area, got a toe to the ball, and it ricocheted off an Australian limb to loop over Ryan’s head, hit the crossbar, and thump on or around the goal line.
Goal line technology – it said yes!
France had won all three points.
In the group’s other game, Denmark beat Peru by a goal to nil. As you would expect, Christian Eriksen was involved in the only goal of the game setting up Yussuf Poulsen to score the winner in the 59th minute. The man is a genius, and it’s little wonder that Barcelona is sizing up a £79 million bid for the man.
1. France – 3pts
2. Denmark – 3
3. Australia – 0
4. Peru – 0
Argentina 1 v 1 Iceland
Icelanders are cool as fuck.
I visited the gaff once, hoping to see the Northern Lights. I thought all you had to do was turn up, wait for nightfall and boom. It was a surprise to learn about light pollution making it seemingly impossible to experience this life-changing moment in Reykjavik, and so I nearly collapsed when on the last night, after failing to experience our bucket list moment for four days, I looked into the sky and saw the most awe-inspiring sight of my life.
“Look at that! Look!” I said to a passing couple.
They looked and returned to their conversation about growing tomatoes without as much as a passing interest.
As I said, these people are cool as fuck.
It wasn’t a surprise that Iceland qualified for the World Cup. They may be the smallest nation ever to do so (334,252 cool fuckers), but they showed two-years ago, by whipping England at the Euros, that they are as soundly organised as the Icelandic Thunderclap.
But a draw against one of the pre-tournament favourites, Argentina?
You’re more likely to see the Northern Lights on a cloudy night in Reykjavik.
But it happened.
Poor Lionel Messi. The man forever coupled to the success or failure of Cristiano Ronaldo, came into this game knowing that his nemesis had scored a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw with Spain.
When Messi’s moment came, he goofed it up, missing from the penalty spot in what would have likely have been the winning goal for the South Americans.
That penalty miss came after Sergio Aguero had given Argentina the lead with his first international goal in two years. What? I know. And then the Icelandic nation rocked the place so wildly their population went up by a few thousand after the wonderfully named Alfred Finnbogason equalised with his country’s first-ever World Cup goal.
Lionel Messi cut a frustrated figure at the end of the match, not only because of his penalty miss but because he knows this group is going to be as tight as a python’s grip on a poor itty-bitty mouse.
In the group’s other game Croatia beat Nigeria by two goals to nil thanks to an own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and a penalty from the elfin looking Luka Modric.
1. Croatia – 3 pts
2. Argentina – 1
3. Iceland – 1
4. Nigeria – 0
What Are The Odds?
Group C Winners
Group D Winners
World Cup Winners