World Cup Round-Up: Saudi Arabia win, Giroud equals Henry’s record


Yesterday I saw four football matches. Let’s do this normally then.

Saudi Arabia beat Argentina

What a result! It’s been presented as ‘Messi is beaten’ all over the place, and I can understand that, but first and foremost it’s a victory for Saudi Arabia. Argentina took the lead through a penalty from Messi, the award of which was a bit soft, but if that is the precedent, expect many more penalties in this tournament. However, I don’t quite understand how the Harry Maguire wasn’t the day before, so maybe it’s a new FIFA directive or the ref just doesn’t like Harry Maguire.

The ball was in the net often, but the offside flag was raised just as much. Yesterday I tweeted this:

It drew a lot of angry responses on Twitter from a lot of people telling me that I was definitely off my game. Which was not my point. I didn’t say it wasn’t, I said it shouldn’t be. Despite all the other people who insisted that since you can score with the shoulder it should be offside, I just think that in scenarios like this the advantage should go to the attacking player based on their foot position. .

And look, I get it: offside is a tough discussion. We live in an era where VAR allows for near complete accuracy to show someone’s toe or ear or ‘jersey line’ (another concept people seem strangely protective of since only week was reversed). past or something) is ‘off’. It’s kind of black and white. But the offside rule was made long before anyone considered something like VAR. I know we are not abiding by the spirit of the law, but it seems to me that the whole thing needs a significant rethink.

Anyway, 1-0 Argentina at half time, and what a second half we had. Saleh Al-shehri equalized, making a Sp*rs defender look very Mustafi as he bounced past Aston Villa’s Emi Martinez. Then, a few minutes later, we got one of the goals of the tournament so far when Salem Al-Dawsari made Saudi pressure count as he netted one past the former Arsenal keeper. That was the 53rd minute.

The final whistle blew on 114 minutes, and what we achieved between Saudi Arabia’s second goal and the end was, at times, extraordinary. I don’t think Argentina was particularly good, but the Saudis would defend themselves as Newcastle fans if someone criticized their new owners on Twitter. There was an incredible save, tackles, blocks, the kind of compromised defense you sometimes see in circumstances like this. Where the team that is the nominal underdogs can feel like something special is on the cards. Reactions become quicker, and what might otherwise be considered a desperate defense becomes something closer to inspiration.

The lengthy stoppage after another brutal collision added to all of the stoppage time and frankly it was embarrassing that the referee didn’t stop play immediately after it happened. That’s twice in this tournament so far, and if referees are going to be told to give what might be considered light penalties, they should also be told to err on the side of caution when it comes to head injuries. . This was one was sickening and watching the game continue with the player getting hit on the field was horrible.

Afterward, as the Saudis celebrated, it looked like Messi couldn’t believe what had happened, but the truth is that his team was second best and the players around him were sub-par during that second half. Angel di Maria, phew. That was an all-time stinker.

And this is the thing about the World Cup: any reservations you have about it, any concerns, the reason it gets co-opted and corrupted is because of what football can do to you when you watch it. It grabs you, there’s a reason it’s called the beautiful game, and for the 90 minutes (we may have to change the name based on how long the games have been so far), you focus on the pitch and not much else. . I guess that’s the point of it all, but it’s hard to resist when you’re watching something like that.

two 0-0

Both games were reasonably entertaining, but there were shades of Denmark v Tunisia’s ‘Europa League Group Stage’, at least for neutrals. After that, seeing Robert Lewandowski’s penalty saved by veteran Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was a fun moment (unless you’re from Poland). Wojciech Szczesny had a great reaction at the other end, and there were times when I thought we might see the first red card of the tournament. I think Bereszynski was lucky to get away with two ugly spike-up fouls in quick succession.

Maybe we’ll get that red today…

Olivier Giroud equals Thierry Henry’s record

Despite Australia taking an early lead, France’s quality showed as they won 4-1. To be fair, it was very close to 2-0 before it was 1-1, but the story of the game is that Olivier Giroud’s double means he has equaled Thierry Henry’s record for goals for France (51).

He will most likely make the record his own before the end of the World Cup, and that is quite an achievement for a player who turned 36 in September. He wishes he hadn’t had that spell at Chelsea, and while we can all be Captain Hindsight, it’s fair to say our transfer decision-making at the time wasn’t what it should have been. Of course, we should have tried to improve in the striker position (like everywhere else on the pitch), but it turned out that Alexandre Lacazette was a downgrade all things considered.

The other thing to say is that if Giroud beats Henry’s record, it doesn’t mean he’s a better player than Thierry, it’s just something he did for his own quality and longevity, and for playing fair with him. The handsome bastard.

Well, that’s all for this morning. Today, Arsenal’s interest comes in Germany’s match against Japan, where Takehiro Tomiyasu is likely to start.

Have a good.

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