1st Round Matches at Brazil 2014.
Tuesday, 17th June
Group Match - Surprised to be Not Surprised
Belgium vs Algeria in Belo Horizonte.
Belgium and Algeria have never met at a World Cup Finals but they have played two international friendly matches; in Brussels (2002) and Annaba (2003).
There were no goals in the Brussels encounter but Belgium did win (3:1) in Annaba, the following year. That was eleven years ago.
The referee, Marco Rodriguez of Mexico, has some red card form in previous World Cup Finals.
Fingers crossed then.
Algeria took the lead in the 24th minute, after a dozy Jan Vertonghen tugged at Sofiane Feghouli. Feghouli made no mistake from the spot. With the history of the referee, Vertonghen can think himself lucky that he didn't see red.
Lukaku started to show his frustration; his team mates needed to wake up and get up towards him quicker.
Passing the ball around is one thing, but it helps if you pass and move; to give others the option to make better passes as a result.
So Belgium became the surprise team of the tournamnet as most people thought they would be; surprised at themselves though, for trailing Algeria at the end of the first half of their opening game.
Half-time: Belgium 0 - Algeria 1
Not surprising that Algeria started to take their time in the second-half either.
Marouane Fellaini might not have had the best of seasons in Manchester, but his introduction in the second half - for Mousa Dembele - brought Belgium back into the game; as he headed in Kevin De Bruyne's cross, after only six minutes on the pitch.
You can only sit back and defend a penalty lead for so long, especially against a team that could be the surprise package of the tournament, spiced with inspired second-half substitutions of the Ottmar Hitzfeld calibre; Dries Mertens, the scorer.
Algeria might feel disappointed after being in front for so long but in all honesty, they can't be surprised they lost.
Final Score: Belgium 2 - Algeria 1
0:1 - Sofiane Feghouli (24 mins, penalty)
1:1 - Marouane Fellaini (70 mins)
2:1 - Dries Mertens (80 mins)
1-Thibaut Courtois; 2-Toby Alderweireld, 4-Vincent Kompany, 15-Daniel Van Buyten, 5-Jan Vertonghen; 6-Axel Witsel, 19-Mousa Dembele, 22-Nacer Chadli, 7-Kevin De Bruyne; 10-Eden Hazard, 9-Romelu Lukaku.
23-Rais M'Bolhi; 5-Rafik Halliche, 2-Madjid Bougherra, 12-Carl Medjani, 3-Faouzi Ghoulam; 14-Nabil Bentaleb, 22-Mehdi Mostefa, 19-Saphir Taider; 21-Riyad Mahrez, 15-Hilal Soudani, 10-Sofiane Feghouli.
2 yellow cards:
23 mins - Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)
32 mins - Nabil Bentaleb (Algeria)
The Road to Rio
Thursday, 12th June
Brazil vs Croatia
World Cup Finals
Uruguay trailed Argentina at half-time (1:2) but replied with three goals in the second half; to win the first ever World Cup Final (4-2) on July 30th, 1930.
Italy were one of the countries who missed out on the vote to host the first World Cup but managed to win the prestigious golden trophy for the home fans.
The third World Cup was held in Europe for a second time, although Germany had annexed Austria, and Spain was in civil turmoil.
Although no cup-final as such, Uruguay and Brazil went into their final game with the winner guaranteed to be champions; a draw would be enough for Brazil.
The fifth World Cup tournament produced a record number of goals, including a 7:5 encounter between Austria and Switzerland in Lausanne.
Brazil presented a 17 year-old Pele to the world; who went on to claim a hat-trick in Brazil's 5:2 semi-final win over France and bag another two in the final.
Czechoslovakia overcame Hungary in the quarter-finals and Yugoslavia in the semis, while Brazil took care of England and the host nation, Chile.
Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick, in the final against West Germany, as England triumphed in a thrilling game watched by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
1970 belonged to Pelé, who earned his third World Cup winners' medal when Brazil got their hands on the Jules Rimet Cup.... for keeps.
W. Germany 1974:
Johan Cruyff was the player of the tournament as total football became the buzzword of the day, even though Holland lost to West Germany in the 1974 final.
Holland contested the 1978 World Cup Final, in Argentina, for the second time in a row. As in West Germany, they again finished runners-up; to the hosts.
The Spain 82 World Cup finals increased to 24 teams and the format was changed to have two group stages, with four second-round groups of three.
In 1986, Mexico became the first nation to stage the World Cup Finals for a second time; having only staged the competition sixteen years previously.
In 1990, Italy became the World Cup of stalemates. Both semi-finals were drawn out through penalty kicks. In the final itself, the only goal came from the spot.
Once Team US had played a few games most of the nation began to understand they were hosting the greatest show on earth and how the game was played.
France became the sixth nation to win the World Cup on home soil. Thirty-two teams competed in the 16th World Cup; better known as France 98.
The 17th World Cup, held in Korea and Japan, was the first World Cup finals to be shared by two hosts and the first to be held in Asia.
The 2006 World Cup Finals ran from 9th June to 9th July; the opening match in Munich and the final in Berlin. Munich and Dortmund hosted the semi-finals.
South Africa 2010:
Eighty years after the First World Cup Finals in Uruguay, the world's most prestigious football competition was finally hosted on the African continent.
Five times World Cup Champions, Brazil, get a second chance to hold the prestigious World Cup Finals; 64 years after they last hosted the tournament.
VAR made its World Cup debut and set out to change the course of a game with some crucial rule infringement watching and vital on the spot decisions.
When FIFA executives met in Zurich to decide on who would host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Finals, Qatar was probably the biggest surprise to many.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup Finals will be jointly hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States. The United Bid won the hosting rights ahead of Morocco.
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