Posted: 6/26/2018


        Switching from channel to channel is a risky business. How not to miss the dramatic bits from two different stadiums. The third group matches always kick off at the same time since 1986 anfter the West Germany 1 v Austria 0 that I witnessed at THE SHAME OF GIJON in 1982 in Spain.

         Possibly a harsh pk against Portugal in Saransk by underdogs Iran who might even have changed a1-1 tie to a 2-1 victory very late on and advanced to the Round of Sixteen at the expense of the European champions. There was a tense few minutes for CR7 when the Paraguayan referee spend time looking at the video screen before issuing a yellow and not a red card to the World Cup poster boy. His missed penalty prevented him from joining Harry Kane on 5 goals and top of the Golden Boot table. 

      Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, a Portuguese citizen, was furious and threw off his coat after the referee Enrique Cacares went to award Portugal a penalty which Betrandvand dived the right way and saved. Again a VAR check very, very late and Karim Ansarifard did better than CR7 to gain a point .More dramatics in Kaliningrad where Spain tied Morocco and top Group B. They will play Russia in the Luznicki while Portugal travel to meet much favoured Uruguay in Sochi.  Queiroz coached Portugal's youth teams to two successive FIFA u20 titles in 1989 and 1991. He has coached three national teams at the World Cup, South Africa , Portugal and Iran, plus Sporting Lisbon, NY/NY Metrostars, Nagoya Grampus Eight, Real Madrid, United Arab Emirates and Man Utd assistant, twice. He is the front runner for the USA National team job.

         Saudi Arabia won their first match at the World Cup finals since 1994 when they came from behind to a Mo Salah 22nd minute strike and scored twice, a pk deep into first half added time and a very late winner 4 minutes into 2nd half added time. They will go home and maybe their wives or girl friends will pick them up at Riyadh Airport now that females can drive in the Kingdom of Saud, the last country to allow women to drive in this feudal kingdom. It is the only country named after a family.

        Later this week 2 young protesters will be taken from their prison cell and beheaded for dissent. Then their headless bodies will be crusified and nailed up in public. I am not sure what channel will by showing it.....maybe Blood TV!.

        Roberto Martinez, the Belgian coach, has indicated that he may rest as many as 10 players for the Group G decider with England in Kaliningrad on Thursday evening.  Three players are on a yellow card and if they played they would risk suspension from the round of sixteen. Vertonghen, Meuinier and De Broyne. Romelu Lukaka is injured, as is Vincent Kompany who has yet to play,  and Dries Mertens and Eden Hazard may be rested.

      Gareth Southgate wants to win and top the group, even though the winners will go to Rostov on Don and the runners up play at Spartak Stadium in Moscow