Hello, Hoddle people!
A couple of more teams are in need of obituaries.
Ramble of the Day
The last two sides from outside of Europe and South America exited the tournament on Monday, the first one being Mexico. The North American side started their run in Russia in the most impressive of fashions, beating the reigning world champions Germany. On that day and against South Korea, they demonstrated a sort of completeness, pairing impressive goalkeeping with an effective attack. Unfortunately, the success left quickly, as they failed to find a rhythm against Sweden and Brazil. It resulted in their seventh consecutive Round of 16 elimination from a tournament that could have gone differently without capitulation.
Following them out the door was Japan, a surprising participant in the Round of 16. Many did not know what to expect out of Japan, but like many underdogs in Russia, the Japanese brought a style that encouraged attacking. Thrilling matches quickly followed, though a change of style may have discouraged the audience from fully embracing Japan. In its final group stage match against Poland, Japan barely touched the ball and played the most passionless type of football, knowing the tiebreakers were in its favor. Regardless, they went back to the more enjoyable style once Belgium came in the Round of 16, admirably giving us all one final surprise as they went up 2-0 early in the second half. Eventually, the opposition’s quality won out, but only marginally, ending what was an unexpectedly delightful run in Russia.
tl;dr: Safe flights home, Mexico and Japan.
Links of the Day
The boys team that went missing in Thailand last week has been found by rescuers.
Javier Mascherano has announced his international retirement after Argentina’s loss to France in the Round of 16.
Transfer roundup: Sokratis Papastathopoulos has joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund; Watford have signed Adam Masina from Bologna; Inter have signed Kwadwo Asamoah from Juventus and Stefan de Vrij from Lazio
Today’s longer read: Fabrizio Romano, Bart Vlietstra, Samuel Ferreiro, and Gary Al-Smith share what watching the World Cup is like in Italy, the Netherlands, Chile, and Ghana, four nations that expected to be in Russia for The Guardian