It's Monday morning and thankfully, for my liver's sake, the weekend is over at last. It's a slightly overcast day in Dublin but the sun is struggling to come out. I spent yesterday afternoon strolling through the city in the sunshine. Dublin can be a very pleasant place if you get the right weather and with the addition of the World Street Performing Championships, I had a great time.
As a result, I only managed to see the evening game between Brazil and the Ivory Coast, but I don't think I missed too much. The day started with Paraguay beating Slovakia 2-0 and taking control of group F before we were treated to Italy taking on New Zealand. I saw the highlights of the games last night and Paraguay certainly deserved their victory and could have won by more.
I hadn't given New Zealand a chance before their game but they put up a very plucky performance to get a 1-1 draw. After taking an early lead they were pegged back through a penalty to Italy. The Italian player definitely threw himself to the ground but he was having his jersey tugged. I've no problem with the penalty being given, but it's the lack of consistency that annoys me.
Watch Portugal play and see what Carvalho does every time he is marking someone in the box, and yet I cannot remember him ever being penalised by a referee for it.
The worst example so far for me was in the USA game against Slovenia where three or four American players were all being held back as the ball came into the box but the referee gave a free out and disallowed the goal they scored.
Italy must now beat Slovakia to ensure qualification for the last 16, but I wouldn't bet a penny on them achieving that as they look like a very poor team to me. Too many of their players are either past their best or never were any good anyway. My ideal scenario would be for New Zealand to progress but I have a sneaking feeling that Italy will make it out of the group along with Paraguay.
In the evening kick-off, we at least had some action and some controversy to go with it. Brazil beat the Ivory Coast 3-1 and there were plenty of incidents to discuss. The game seemed to be going nowhere as Brazil looked very ordinary, and Kaka in particular was having a stinker until he played Fabiano in and he finished superbly.
After that it seemed that Kaka finally recovered the form that he has being missing for a long time and he looked like he was on the way back to his best.
After half time Drogba had a great chance to equalise but he headed wide and soon after that Ivory Coast paid the penalty. The ball was played to Fabiano and with the help of two handballs he managed to beat both defenders on him before finishing very well. We were then treated to the referee having a laugh with him and asking him about the handball but still allowing the goal.
That seemed to be the catalyst for the the Ivory Coast players to lose their head a little and start kicking anything in a yellow jersey. There were two disgraceful tackles on Brazilian players that could have broken their legs and the referee failed to give a red card for either of them. A scuffle broke out a little later and Kaka gave an Ivory Coast player the slightest push for which he was booked.
A few minutes after that, Kaka raised his arm slightly as Keita ran into him and the elbow caught him slightly in the chest but the player went down holding his face. The reaction of his teammates was ridiculous, and they contrived to get the referee to give him a second yellow card which meant he got a red.
The referee didn't see the incident and didn't speak to any other officials, so we can only assume that he took the word of the Ivory Coast players in sending Kaka off.
At some stage during all of this, Elano scored Brazil's third after being set up by Kaka again and Drogba pulled a goal back for the Ivory Coast near the end. I heard a rumour that Elano may have broken his leg in one of those disgraceful challenges, but I hope it's not true.
It all means Brazil are through to the last 16 with a game in hand and the Ivory Coast will have to hope that Brazil beat Portugal in their final game to have a chance of progressing.
I thought the refereeing in the first round of group games was very good, but since then there has been some truly awful refereeing and FIFA need to look at their method of appointing referees to the World Cup.
Added to all that drama, we have the implosion of the French squad with Anelka sent home, all the players refusing to train, and the captain Evra almost having a fist fight with the fitness coach.
The sane head in all of this seems to be Domenech, and he's madder than the lot of them put together. It's a disgraceful way for professionals to act but it's great to watch, in my opinion.
Not satisfied with the French implosion, John Terry decided to have his say on England and their manager. He questioned the team selections and in my opinion he undermined the manager. If there was a viable alternative, I think he would be dropped, but with King injured and Dawson without a cap to his name I think he will keep his place.
From what I've heard the other players aren't too happy with Terry either, but I don't think he takes anything but his own wants and needs into consideration as he has proved in the past.
So to today's games and I expect Portugal to beat North Korea in the early game as they look to take advantage of Ivory Coast's loss to Brazil and leave themselves in prime position to make the last 16.
After that it's Chile against Switzerland and I'm sure the Swiss would be delighted with a draw as it would mean they are almost assured of a place in the last 16 with Chile playing Spain in their last group game.
However, Chile must feel that a victory will be required and it could be another defensive display from the Swiss as they look to hit Chile on the break. It has a draw written all over it for me.
Tonight we get to see pre-tournament favourites Spain play against Honduras. La Furia Roja need need a win or they can more or less pack their bags. I think they will be far too good for Honduras and if Cesc starts I think they will win and win well. It's a game I'll definitely be watching as I want to see how Spain play having missed most of their previous match.
In Arsenal news, it would seem Silvestre is on his way out of the club at last as he is reported to be close to agreeing terms with Al Jazeera. I thought that was a TV station, but it just shows you what I know. We are apparently still in the hunt for Koscielny of Lorient, if the reports are to be believed, and with our need for replacement centre backs I'm sure we are indeed.
Barcelona are continuing their hunt for Cesc and more stories today are claiming that they know we will eventually give in and we have set a price tag of €60 million. Arsenal told Barcelona that the player is not for sale and that they want no more bids for him but they continue to release statements about our player who is under contract for five more years.
I hold no hope that UEFA will act on their illegal tapping up and attempting to unsettle the player but it is as blatant as it can get. That's it for today.
Here's a look at RVP's brace at Stamford Bridge in a 2-1 Arsenal win a couple of seasons ago.
See you tomorrow.
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