I have had to file the Argentina obituary for later, but worry not, I have some others.
Ramble of the Day
Peru’s headline making victory allowed them to leave Russia on a high, but it came at the expense of Australia, who will also head home. The Socceroos came to Russia with a lot of uncertainty around them, having only hired Bert van Marwijk five months before the start of the tournament. Eventually, they arrived at the World Cup with not the most exciting of teams, but certainly a competent one. They leave Russia with impressive defensive displays against France and Denmark. The Australians were clearly well-structured, but they, like Costa Rica and South Korea before them, were unmemorable.
Group D provided the chaos it set up for on its final day, with Nigeria and Iceland getting booted out. With Nigeria, the tournament loses its most stylish team, though they were more than just that. They were dynamic in attack and better defensively than results might let on, deserving a bit more than they got. The enthusiasm they brought will be hard to forget, if only for Ahmed Musa’s stellar brace against Iceland (though surely there will be more to remember.)
Finally, Iceland followed up its Euro 2016 fairy tale with an elimination in the group stage in Russia. It seemed as if the allure had worn off for some; they were no longer just the tiny island nation that could, but the tiny island nation that could not play attractive football. To be fair, Iceland had never pretended it was anything other than that, and it was an effective strategy against Argentina. Iceland’s luck, though, had finally run out as they recorded losses to Nigeria and Croatia. they may leave Russia with a new legacy, as they may no longer be football’s most romantic example of plucky newcomers while crashing down to Earth.
tl;dr: Goodbye Australia, Nigeria, and Iceland. It’s been (somewhat) nice.
Links of the Day
Ajax has admitted that their medical treatment was “inadequate” after Abdelhak Nouri’s on-field cardiac arrest last year.
Diego Maradona received medical treatment at Krestovsky Stadium following Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Nigeria on Tuesday.
UEFA will allow fans to drink alcohol at Champions League and Europa League matches starting next season.
David Squires is back with another World Cup cartoon, this one about Germany, Brazil, and VAR.
Transfer roundup: Radja Nainggolan has joined Inter Milan from Roma; Javier Pastore has made the move from Paris Saint-Germain to Roma; Southampton have signed midfielder Stuart Armstrong from Celtic; Borussia Dortmund have confirmed the signing of Abdou Diallo from Mainz
Today’s longer read: Jonathan Liew on Christian Eriksen’s journey from a small town in Denmark to becoming a national hope for The Independent