Day four of the World Cup in Qatar saw yet another astonishing upset, more protests and the re-emergence of a footballing powerhouse.
- Germany 1 – 2 Japan
- Morocco 0 – 0 Croatia
- Spain 7 – 0 Costa Rica
- Belgium 1 – 0 Canada.
Here are five talking points.
The dissatisfaction persists
Dissatisfaction with FIFA continued to simmer under the surface of football on day four.
Germany’s mouth covering at photo opportunity before their game against Japan was arguably the strongest team gesture to date.
It was in response to FIFA’s threats of yellow cards or suspensions for any team captain wearing the OneLove bracelet in protest of discrimination in the host country.
They were strongly supported by their federation, which said: “It was not about making a political statement, but human rights are non-negotiable.”
Surely you wonder what anyone does with those team photos that are carefully taken before each match.
Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wore one of the bracelets as she sat in the stands next to FIFA chief honcho Gianni Infantino.
Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib also wore one when she watched her team play against Canada.
She said she met her Qatari counterpart, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and “discussed the issue of human rights, especially the rights of women and the rights of LBGTQIA+” people.
Spain is back, baby
Spain haven’t been a bad side in recent years, but it’s hard not to judge them by their own recent history.
The glorious team of Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué and Busquets won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, with their mesmerizing brand of tiki-taka get-the-ball-pass-the-ball football.
Now a new generation of stars has emerged and threatens to build a new legacy for La Roja.
Pedri, Gavi, Dani Olmo and, well, Busquets, have dazzled the Reds again – and while criticism in the past has centered on the lack of finished product, seven goals against Costa Rica will leave the other top teams with traumatic flashbacks.
Will there be a new red reckoning?
Asian sides continue to rock the boat
After Saudi Arabia’s extraordinary dismay at Argentina on Wednesday, Japan took a leaf out of their book and did the exact same thing to Germany.
Like the Saudis, Japan trailed 1-0 at half-time against a multi-time World Cup-winning team and did not look to cause any major drama for their opponents.
However, the Blue Samurai completed the second smash-and-grab in as many days, scoring through Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano in the final 15 minutes, sending the German Cup hopes into a tailspin.
The results are a boost for Asia, which frankly underperformed in recent tournaments.
Now, if only the Socceroos could just join the party.
This is just in – Japanese people are courteous
In news that should surprise no one, Japanese fans showed what kind of people they are by cleaning up the stadium after their team cleaned up Germany.
Well done Japanese fans.
Costa Rica raised their hands for the worst team in Qatar
I know I’m being a little mean here, but come on. As an Australian fan, it certainly gives you a better feeling that we only lost 4-1 to world champions France.
We reserve judgment on which team is the worst team in the tournament until the end of the group stage, but there are already some strong contenders.
Costa Rica were eviscerated 7-0 overnight by Spain, beat Iran in their 6-2 defeat to England and hosted Qatar’s dismal display in their 2-0 defeat to Ecuador.
All hope is not lost for these weaker parties, sometimes one of the big guns just gets going and turns out to be unstoppable.
Look at Saudi Arabia – who looked like they were going to be overrun by Argentina – after they conceded a goal and were saved three times by offside in the first half, only to turn it around and actually win the game in the second half .
Everyone raise an alcohol-free beer glass for the battlers!