Wednesday was a chance to confirm flights home for at least two countries in the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It started off with World Champions, Spain who, after a 5-1 massacre at the hands of the Dutch, followed that with an embarrassing 0-2 drubbing by minnows Chile. This shocker was followed by one of the powerhouses of African football, Cameroon who lost dismally to Croatia. This sets the two countries’s last matches as literally dead rubbers, for them at least. Even from the word go, Spain seemed a pale shadow of the nation that lifted the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010. Their very contact with the ball was half hearted at best. This was quickly picked up by the Chile national team and it bolstered their confidence, having come into the match being and feeling like underdogs.
The most outstanding player on the field by any standards was Diego Costa who tried to make inroads into the Chilean territory even as early as the fifteenth minute when the Chile boys failed to clear the ball decisively, he latched onto the ball and shot at goal but, fortunately for Chile, it ballooned wide off the mark. When the tables turned and Xabi Alonso lost the ball in the middle of the park, the Chile national team did not return the favour. The ball was quickly flighted into the area where it found Aranguiz, who slid it back across the goal where it was mercilessly met and clinically finished off by the in-form Vargas, giving the Spaniards lots of food for thought. After taking time out to think, as it were, the Spanish national team came close to scoring but Diego Costa’s attempt went into the side netting. This see-saw state of affairs continued to happen until the 42nd minute when Alonso tripped Sanchez just a outside the penalty box, a little to the right. From the resultant free-kick, Sanchez released a beautiful curler that Cassillas could only palm away but into the path of forward running Aranguiz who had the easiest of tasks to just push it past the line. From that moment, Spain never really came into the game resulting in a 2-0’win for Chile.
In the other FIFA World Cup match between, Croatia and Cameroon, it appears the Eastern Europeans had more to prove than met the eye. They have not advanced past the group stages since their maiden appearance as a sovereign nation in 1998. So they were literally out to break the jinx and move on and what a job they did. If anything can be said of them, it may be that they do not do things in half measures. Their first goal came as early as the twentieth minute from Ivica Olic. This was his nineteenth for his country and his second in the World Cup finals. It is perhaps the red card that made more news than this and other goals that followed. Alex Song was red carded in the fortieth minute from an off-the-ball incident involving Mandzukic where Song was seen running his elbow over the Croatian player. The Africans managed to hold on to the slight loss until the break. After the break, things fell completely apart for them. There were three other goals from the Croatians making the final score, 4-0 and giving the East Europeans slight hope that they will be able to qualify to move to the next stage. The good thing for them is that the result will rest entirely in their hands as they will be playing the one team that will most likely frustrate their advancing, Mexico. This then makes match in the group the most interesting and most anticipated in the group.