Day 10 Summary: Germany’s Great Escape & Belgium’s 5 star show
Just when we are all ready to dance on their grave Germany struck back to keep their title defence alive 5 minutes into injury time.
Germany started their match with Sweden knowing only a win would do and started on the front foot, but their early pressure didn’t pay off and yet again their defence looked vulnerable on the counter and Sweden should have had a penalty when the abysmal Jerome Boetang hauled back Marcus Berg. But after 35 minutes the Swedes did breach the German defence through Ola Toivonen’s deft finish.
Germany changed tactics for the second half and it paid an instant dividend when Marco Reus prodded home on 47 minutes. Germany pushed forward but Sweden appeared to have weathered the storm with Boateng sent off 8 minutes from time. Sweden had their chances to finish it but gave away a 95th minute free kick on the corner of their box- up stepped Toni Kroos to curl home an unstoppable strike to keep Germany alive.
Earlier in the day Mexico kept their early momentum going with what was by comparison a routine win over South Korea. Mexico started well and won a first half penalty for handball and Carlos Vela converted for a first half lead. South Korea pushed hard in the second half but were caught out by a flowing Mexican counter attack lead by star man Hirving Lozano who played in Javier Hernandez for his 50th career goal for his country and a 2-0 lead. But South Korea’s pace and movement caused Mexico plenty of problems and late in the game Son Heung-Min gave them hope with a sublime strike from the edge of Mexico’s box, but hung on to claim their second win and now require a point to ensure passage to the last 16 whilst South Korea must beat Germany and hope for the best.
The afternoon game was in Group G with Belgium scoring 5 goals in a demolition of Tunisia. Tunisia had proved a needling cynical side against England and started here in the same vein but got it horribly wrong with a dreadful tackle on Eden Hazard in the box and Belgium’s star man picking himself up to blast home the resulting penalty after just 6 minutes. The early goal forced Tunisia onto the offensive and they were quickly caught out and a fine break saw Romelu Lukaku add a quickfire second. Tunisia made a swift response with Whabbi Khazri whipping in a free kick for Dylan Bronn to covert . Lukaku restored Belgium’s 2 goal cushion with a neat finish on the stroke of half time. Any lingering doubts were settled early in the second half when Hazard broke away for a fine fourth before the sides traded goals in injury time with Mitch Batshuayi & Khazri scoring respectively to give Belgium a thumping 5-1 win.
Day 11 Previews
England vs Panama
Having got a winning start England have momentum something they’ve sorely lacked in recent tournaments. For Panama the achievement was getting here and they looked woefully out of their depth against Belgium. England will be looking to not only win but to make a statement in response to Belgium’s 5 goal display yesterday and I can’t see anything but an easy win.
Prediction: England 3-0 Panama
Japan vs Senegal
Both these teams scored surprise opening day wins and another today almost certainly guarantees passage to the knockout phase. This game represents an interesting clash of style between Senegal’s pace & power and Japan’s neat and tidy passing game. The key player may well be Shinji Kagawa- the Dortmund playmaker is the vital cog in Japan’s attacking play and if he’s allowed to be influential Japan will be tough to stop. At the other end the Sadio Mane coming off an outstanding season with Liverpool impressed against Poland. I think this will be an even contest with both happy to settle for a point and keep themselves in line for qualification.
Prediction: Japan 1-1 Senegal
Poland vs Colombia
By contrast these two fancied sides need to get their campaigns up and running and need the win. Colombia rallied well from going a man down early against Japan but were overwhelmed in the second half. James Rodriguez struggled to get going in that game and Radamel Falcao was starved of service, Rodrgiuez & Juan Cuadrado must do more this time to get their star striker involved. Poland have similar problems- they were too obvious against Senegal and Robert Lewandowski was left a spectator so again better support play is required. This will be a tense game that will get stretched the longer it goes on and I suspect Lewandowski will have the last laugh.
prediction: Poland 2-1 Colombia