raheem sterling
tomorrow's matches

today's matches

Brazil-Costa Rica. A triumph, I suppose, of parking the bus, as Costa Rica held the Brazilians until the 91st minute. For me, their best player, today and always, is keeper Keylor Navas ... the defense-first strategy worked largely because of Navas, who was my Man of the Match. Brazil had 72% of possession and took 22 shots to Costa Rica's 3. They had 9 shots on target, Costa Rica had none. Navas saved the first 7 of those 9, but it wasn't enough.

Serbia-Switzerland. An entertaining match. Serbia controlled the first half, Switzerland came back in the second. The winning goal came in the 90th minute. There was extra emotion from the Swiss scorers, as told by Matthew Henry:

Shaqiri and Xhaka celebrated their goals wildly - strikes made even more emotional as both are of Kosovan descent.

After the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia responded to separatist pressure from Kosovo by launching a brutal crackdown on the territory's Albanian population, which ended with Nato military intervention in 1999 - while the country became independent from Serbia in 2008.

Xhaka's father spent three and a half years as a political prisoner in Yugoslavia while Shaqiri was born in Yugoslavia before emigrating to Switzerland as a child.

Both appeared to make an eagle gesture with their hands as they celebrated, a symbol of the two-headed eagle on the Albanian flag.

Shaqiri also sported a Kosovan flag, stitched onto his boots, and was booed by the Serbia fans when his name was read out before kick-off.

Here's Shaqiri's goal (hey, I predicted he'd get the winner), with Sammy Sadovnik on the call, a lucky move for an entertaining match, since Sammy is arguably the most entertaining of their play-by-play men. (I am aware that many/most of these videos don't play on this site, but you can follow the subsequent link.)

Group E, like Group B, will make for some exciting third matches. Both groups feature two teams with four points and one team with three points.

Nigeria-Iceland. Beloved Iceland is in big trouble now, which can happen when you only score one goal in two games. This one was close for a half, and then it was the Ahmed Musa Show (Musa is now Nigeria's all-time leading goal scorer at World Cups). Amazingly, with this result, Argentina still has a chance to advance to the knockout rounds (they have to beat Nigeria and hope Iceland doesn't win against Croatia).

 

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