World Cup Thoughts: Day Five
Switzerland vs Cameroon, Uruguay vs South Korea, Portugal vs Ghana and Brazil vs Serbia
Sorry this one is a little late. I had to watch the Brazil-Serbia game on a delay because I was busy while that game was live, but we got there in the end.
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Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon
Being the huge sap that I am, I think Breel Embolo’s non-celebration against Cameroon might be my favourite moment of the World Cup so far.
Embolo, born in Cameroon, has plenty of teammates who can empathise. Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka are both children of Kosovar Albanian immigrants, Manuel Akanji is the son of a Nigerian father, Djibril Sow is part-Senegalese, Ruben Vargas is Dominican on his dad’s side, and Ricardo Rodriguez’ parents are from Spain and Chile. This is a diverse collection of people with ties around the world coming together for Switzerland.
The Swiss stepped up pretty well after being flat in the first half. The goal was probably their best worked sequence, in which Shaqiri found space out on the right and put in a low cross for Embolo. I think they deserved the win, but Cameroon ran them pretty close, making excellent use of André-Frank Zambo Anguissa in midfield. I think Anguissa has been terrific for some time now, and I wish they could’ve found a way to turn his good work into more shots. I don’t know if I was disappointed, but I would’ve hoped they could’ve turned Anguissa combining with Bryan Mbeumo and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting into more than eight shots. This wasn’t a great game.
Uruguay 0-0 South Korea
Óscar Tabárez might have left, but Uruguay haven’t changed too much. I’m not sure anyone can blame new manager Diego Alonso. With 35 year old Martín Cáceres and 36 year old Diego Godín at the back, they were never going to press high. South Korea were no different. I don’t think this was actually a terrible thing for the game. Both sides just retreated into a block without the ball.
Uruguay’s biggest problem is their weird age distribution. Take their front three. Luis Suárez is one of the most intelligent and experienced players in the world, but can’t run anymore. Darwin Núñez can run all day with great quality, but totally lacks in maturity. And in an ideal world, this would probably be a tournament too soon for Facundo Pellistri. Suárez was a non-entity in this game, getting rightly subbed off for Edinson Cavani, while Núñez had one of those games, attempting a lot of things with few of them coming off.
Korea had a similar approach that might have paid off differently had Son Heung-min been at 100%, which we will hopefully see in subsequent games (an eye injury presumably shouldn’t be disastrous to his body). Uruguay were the better team here, but I think I like the outlook for Korea a little more. I can see how they could get into a higher gear, whereas it seems like this just is the Uruguay team.
Portugal 3-2 Ghana
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