Good morning from sunny Dublin yet again. I decided to have a few beers last night just to celebrate the good weather and the fact that it was a Monday which means that even though the sky is very clear my head is not.
Yesterday's games got off to a very good start for anybody with Portugese players in their fantasy team as they beat North Korea 7-0. At half time it was only 1-0 and it didn't look like anything special was about to happen but once the second goal went in Portugal stepped up a gear and the slaughter began. It was as if the shackles had been taken off Portugal and they could play with freedom as the victory was assured. A draw in their final game with Brazil will ensure qualification for the last 16 although even if they lose the Ivory Coast will have to make up nine goals on them.
In the afternoon game Chile beat Switzerland 1-0 with a goal 15 minutes from the end of a drab affair that wasn't helped by the first half sending off of Behrami. It's possible that his arm to the face of the Chilean player was accidental but having seen him play for West Ham against Arsenal this past season I severely doubt it. He's the type of player that tries to make that sort of incident look accidental but means it and will do anything himself to get an opponent sent off and maybe what comes around goes around.
The evening game saw pre tournament favourites Spain take on Honduras in a game that they had to win or their World Cup would have been over. The rumour before the game was that Cesc would start but it was Torres who started as Spain looked to win by more than one goal and set themselves up for a final group game with Chile. In the end two goals from Villa were enough to get them a 2-0 win and he missed a penalty as well. Cesc did get on for the last 25 minutes but I thought even though Spain won they still didn't play with the intensity or pace needed to win the competition. They will have to beat Chile in their last game to make the last 16 and it won't be easy for them as Chile have two wins without conceding a goal so far.
Tomorrow sees the start of the third round of games and with it the last chance for some teams to make an impression on the tournament. In the afternoon we will see Mexico play Uruguay at the same time that hosts South Africa play France. If the Mexico against Uruguay game is a draw both teams will qualify for the last 16 but Mexico will probably have to play Argentina. If I was in charge of the Mexican team I would encourage them to go for the win as I don't think either team will beat Argentina in the next round.
However if there is a winner in that game it opens the door for the other two teams to make the knockout stages. Either team would need to win by a few goals as they are well behind on goal difference but it's a tall order for them. South Africa just aren't good enough in my opinion and France are in such a state of disarray that it's possible the players will refuse to play the game. It's a shame that the French players are acting in such a manner as they are good enough to make a real impression on the tournament but I expect them to be going home with their collective tails between their legs tonight.
In the evening games Argentina will play Greece at the same time that South Korea play Nigeria. I expect Argentina to win and I think South Korea can take a point off Nigeria and follow them in second place in the group. It's still possible that any two of the teams can qualify at the expense of the other teams but I will be shocked if Argentina fail to make the last 16.
In Arsenal news it appears that Laurent Koscielny of Lorient is getting closer to a move to us as we want him and he wants to join us too. It would seem that Coquelin will be joining Lorient on loan in a move that has no connection whatsoever to the transfer of Koscielny according to the clubs anyway but I don't believe it myself.
Another player linked with us today is 26 year old left back Renat Yanbaev of Lokomotiv Moscow and Russia. The reports are that we are worried about losing Clichy and that if that does happen he will be the replacement. Personally I can't see Arsenal selling Clichy but stranger things have happened. There is also a report that young Luke Freeman will be going on loan to Yeovil Town.
Finally for today outgoing Barcelona president Laporta says that Arsenal will eventually give up their bid to hold on to Cesc as they yet again continue their unwanted approaches for a player under contract to us. At this stage there's no point in asking when UEFA will do anything about it as they have no interest in in pursuing Barcelona no matter how they act. A lot of people are pointing out that the current situation with the Spanish team should show Cesc that he won't get a game at Barcelona but I'm not so sure. I think if he was based in Spain that he would get a lot more games for his country and that is possibly one of the reasons why he may want to leave us.
Here's the highlights of a good 4-0 victory over FC Twente a couple of seasons ago.
See You Tomorrow.