I think today’s the day you’ll all be focused on something else, but in case it isn’t, I’ve maintained integrity to my own process and there are three World Cup obituaries below.
Ramble of the Day
The World Cup continues to weed out teams, over the weekend kicking out three teams that were definitely bested by their opponents. On Friday night, hosts France were eliminated after what was a solid tournament. They made a statement on opening night by truly dominating South Korea, but it was definitely the team’s easiest match. For the team’s remaining games, there were shaky moments, though the team managed to do just enough to earn most of their victories, penalty against Nigeria aside. The team’s stars were relatively easy to rely on — Eugénie Le Sommer, Amandine Henry, and Wendie Renard all managed their moments of brilliance, despite an own goal and a penalty miss that was shockingly allowed to be retaken in Renard’s case. However, the team had its weaknesses; the fullbacks were occasionally easy targets, and the midfield not always as dominant. Despite an early exit in the quarterfinals, France still look like a team good enough to go all the way on a different occasion.
The following day saw the tournament darlings, Italy, end its run at the World Cup. Back for the first time in 20 years, they arrived with an unexpected 2-1 win over Australia and continued to earn results that allowed them to top a group that also included Brazil. The Italians reintroduced themselves on the world stage as an entertaining, attacking side with talent all over the pitch. Match after match, the team proved its ability to handle more established sides, even until its quarterfinal defeat to the Netherlands. They were ultimately outplayed, but it was hard not to reflect happily on Italy’s breakout tournament.
Milena Bertolini: ''The girls are all in tears because they had this dream and the dream is over. But this is a starting point and we need to push on from this with a lot more confidence." #ITANED #FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/NHnKBvsFwE— Football 24/7 (@Foetbal247TBG) June 29, 2019
Less optimistic was Germany, the final quarterfinalist eliminated. A team with eyes on the trophy at the end, the team’s struggles were apparent early on. Winning only 1-0 against China in its opening match, Germany had difficulty creating genuine scoring opportunities and continued to do so in some ways. Still, it managed to score enough to seemingly paper over the cracks with a 4-0 win over South Africa to close out the group and a 3-0 victory over Nigeria in the Round of 16. It became extremely apparent against a Sweden side with enough quality to expose those issues, particularly as the Germans were chasing a goal. It never did come, though, and so ends a disappointing tournament for a footballing superpower, ending an up-and-down cycle.
tl;dr: Bye, France, Italy, and Germany.
Links of the Day
Young Boys captain Florijana Ismaili has been declared missing while swimming during a trip to Lake Como.
AC Milan has been banned from next season’s Europa League after breaking Financial Fair Play rules.
Egypt’s Amr Warda has been allowed back to the team’s Africa Cup of Nations squad after teammates advocated for him following his removal for sexual harassment allegations.
Former U.S. internationals Michelle Akers and Brandi Chastain will take part in a CTE-related study on long-term effects of head injuries to footballers.
Transfer news: Manchester United has signed Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace; Heurelho Gomes has postponed his retirement and has re-signed for Watford; Leicester has signed James Justin from Luton Town; Juventus has signed Luca Pellegrini from Roma; Lille has signed Timothy Weah from Paris Saint-Germain; Napoli has signed Kostas Manolas from Roma
Today’s longer read: David Rudin writes a defense of diving for StatsBomb