Sobs is still on holiday in the Scilly Isles, spending his time drinking beer and watching the World Cup…
The powers that be having decided to reward us for getting through the group stage with Football-Free Friday, presumably to reflect on what had been, for the most part, some interesting football, it was a great chance to relax and not think about the beautiful game - it is holidays, after all.
VAR had been at the forefront of things, as new things tend to be, and not least because without it, the offside decision for Korea's first goal would have stood and Germany could (would, undoubtedly) have scored a typical late goal and progressed. We've seen a team eliminated on the fair play rule, loads of decisions we 'd normally be screaming at to be changed, and the usual oafish behaviour from that fat bloke who used to play for Argentina. Presumably he'll be promoting his Colombian sponsors hereafter.
Therefore, we took the chance to live on the edge, went to the pub, and ordered a coke. The barman gave me the usual look, followed by what sounded like the worst impression of Chris Ramsay I've heard in a long time. "co -wack?" he ventured, then his lightbulb moment arrived, and he followed up with "ahh, kewk!" Happy days.
If we thought the Portugal v France game early in the tournament had been a cracker, it was just a warm-up for France v Argentina. It would have been hard to better Di Maria's equaliser, but Pavard did it with the sort of shot that we've all dreamed of hitting - a volley from outside the box, first time, foot through the side of the ball to create that bit swerve - a belter. If there's a better goal in the tournament, we'll have been really privileged. We also saw the real emergence of the fastest thing since David Bellion in Mbappe, who is surely destined for the very top of the world game. If I've any complaints, it's that Greizmann took it upon himself to stop attacking at 4-2, but that's me being greedy, although it nearly did cost them with a near miss after Aguero's late header. Of course, it ended 4-3, and saw the end of Messi, and that's a shame. There are several of his team-mates I'm not sorry to see the back of, but he deserved better than his manager gave him in terms of where he was told to play, and the formation around him. If it doesn't look like a football manager, or act like a football manager, then it probably isn't a football manager. Anything after that game would have been an anti-climax, and it was, despite not being a bad game. Again, some good goals, but a lot of clogging from eventual winners Uruguay and the departure of Ronaldo from the competition - making Mbappe likely to be the man of the tournament.
As England supporters, we have to hope that Kane beats him to that accolade, and while we have to acknowledge that progress will be difficult, there are some beatable teams through to the quarters.
Sunday's forecast said heavy rain and thunder, so I got out early, listened to the thunder out at sea, and just got back to base before the downpour. By half nine, we decided that we weren't sitting indoors all day, bit the bullet, got the boat, and waited for the rest of the rain - which didn't arrive, meaning another day of sunshine, Sunday roast outside (with a cheeky bloody spuggie nicking half of my Yorkshire pud, the little bugger) and more G&T by the sea. We eventually (thanks to clever timing by the boatmen, for which many thanks) made it back to the Bishop and Wolf in time for the latter stages of the home nation's tussle with Spain.
With Russia probably given the least chance of progress of any host since the USA - probably even less than them, to be honest - they have not only got out of their group, but stuck to their game-plan, even after a rugby tackle in their box saw the ball go in off the offender's heel. Rough justice indeed, but Pique's silly handball let them equalise from the spot, and hold out in extra time. Two shootout saves from their keeper (don't expect me to spell his name) were enough to guarantee a riotous night of celebration in Moscow, and add Spain to Germany, Portugal, and Argentina in the list of potential winners on the plane home. A shame for Iniesta, not so for Ramos - and you have to smile a bit that he, the master of the Dark Arts, was denied a penalty when he was wrestled to the ground - karma's a bugger, ain't it, Sergio? Mebbe his team-mates should have got in to the box more, but they didn't, and if you don't try, you don't get. I loved the banner carried by the Russian players, which read " we play for you." Not a great deal of football, but plenty of drama, and it fell to Denmark and Croatia to inject some proper play into the day's events - but it didn't happen.
For all the cracking don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it start, it was 100mph stuff with little quality. Even Eriksen, one of the Prem's top performers last season, was more Jan than Christian for the first hour or so. The rugby tackle that brought the opening goal was another classic example of Karma, as the ball went in off the perpetrator's heel, and saved VAR folks from getting involved. The equaliser was soon after, but then it sort of fizzled out, with plenty of end to end stuff, but no sign of Bendtner and his Paddy Power Pants. There was no token Dane in the Scillonian, but there was Lazslo the Hungarian chef, who counts as Eastern European but wasn't that keen on Croatia. The presence of Braithwaite and Delaney made the Danes sounds a bit Brit, and there was a cracking penalty save by Schmeichel before he did it twice more in the shootout (imagine being Peter Schmeichel and watching that?). It's a shame that a stinking last penner by Denmark was easily stopped for the game's sixth penalty save, and Croatia were through. Quality football? Not really. Great goalkeeping? Oh yes. Interesting tournament so far? You bet. With all those big names out of the tournament, you have to wonder if effort and commitment are going to triumph over stepovers and possession. That's what makes football great, especially in these knockout stages - it's only eleven against eleven at any given moment, isn't it? Remember 1973?
Here's hoping for more good weather on Monday, and more clever boatmanship to get us back to a telly for the games.