One more batch of World Cup obituaries before I have a ramble about my trip to Paris, but it’s not like you’re reading, anyway.
Ramble of the Day
The Round of 16 came to a close on Tuesday, with World Cup perennial China being eliminated first. A strong defensive team, they held Germany at bay for more than 60 minutes in the opening match, and even managed a few opportunities to score. Next came positive, but hardly statement making, results in a win against South Africa and a 0-0 draw against an unimpressive Spain. Unfortunately, China was due for an exit that saw its more stable defense grow shaky in a more physical match against Italy. The result means China has now had its worst World Cup finish, and a team on the rise has to wait for another World Cup to announce itself.
The final team eliminated in the round was 2011 champions Japan, who opened matters with a shocking 0-0 tie with Argentina. The team kept improving, though, and an offense that was barely producing anything at the start of the tournament was close to a spot in the quarterfinals by the time late Tuesday came around. The team was finally showing potential of a deep run, and was unlucky not to score in the second half of the Round of 16 match against the Netherlands, dominating play the entire time. A rough penalty call sends them out, but not without showcasing a stylish, attacking way of playing that may have few doubting Japan’s ability to do damage next time it comes against a top side.
tl;dr: A farewell to the World Cup’s last Asian teams.
Links of the Day
Real Madrid have a women’s team starting in 2020, with the club absorbing CD Tacon.
Mexican youth international Joao Maleck has been arrested in Guadalajara after he was involved in a car crash that resulted in the death of a married couple.
David Squires touches on the women’s World Cup, VAR, and Newcastle United in his latest cartoon.
Transfer updates: Everton has signed André Gomes from Barcelona; David Silva said next season will be his final one with Manchester City; Norwich has signed Archie Mair from Aberdeen
Today’s longer read: Paul Doyle interviews Steve Mounié on a difficult season with Huddersfield, aiming for Benin’s first Africa Cup of Nations win, and the national team’s squirrel nickname for The Guardian