Euro 2004
Euro 2004

After England's victory at the 2002 World Cup, captain David Beckham and final goalscorers Michael Owen and Paul Scholes would all receive knighthoods, while manager Sven-Goran Eriksson would get an honourary KBE. And, with the squad bolstered by the arrivals of Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard, plus Steven Gerrard's return from injury, the Three Lions were immediately installed as red hot favourites to win Euro 2004 in Portugal.

Of course, they then went and narrowly lost their first game to France, two late Zidane goals cancelling out Scholes' opener. They would recover though with wins over Switzerland and Croatia, which set up a quarter-final against the hosts Portugal. An exciting game followed, with Owen and Scholes putting England 2-0 up at half time, and they looked comfortable until Helder Postiga pulled one back for the hosts with seven minutes to go. Eriksson's team managed to hold on though, despite Sol Campbell's late third being ruled out for no apparent reason.

A pretty comfortable 2-0 win over the Netherlands, Owen and Gerrard the goalscorers, then put them through to a second successive final, where they were expected to face the Czech Republic golden generation in a final for the ages. But the Czechs unluckily lost 1-0 to underdogs Greece via a silver goal, and a last minute one at that, so it would be them who England would face, and were expected to easily defeat, in the final.

However, despite utterly dominating the first half, they, like France and the Czechs before them, were unable to find a way past the very tight Greek defence. And then, in the second half, the unthinkable happened as Angelos Charisteas gave Greece the lead from a header from a corner! England had no response to this; their previous calm and collected attacks became increasingly panicky, and very easy for Greece to deal with. It would end 1-0, Greece were the unlikeliest of unlikely winners, and England's pomp had been spectacularly deflated.

Back home, the aftermath wouldn't be pretty, with Greek restaurants and shops across England sadly being vandalised and attacked in the days after the final. In contrast, those in Scotland and Wales would report record business!

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Quick little extra update before we move on tomorrow! And my tradition of not butterflying away Greece's win where everyone else actively tries to continues! And, no, Scotland and Wales don't qualify again here, though they both come a bit closer than OTL thanks to England's WC success spurring them on (Scotland don't concede six against the Dutch, just three).

So, on to Germany tomorrow hopefully; see you then...
 
Losing to Greece, at the very least with two finals in a row for England a WC in the bag, they at the very least have done far better than OTL for sure, them winning Euro 2004 would have been unbearable for the Scots and Welsh and I wonder how Only an Excuse would react to an England WC win and the Greek tragedy here?
 
2006 Group Stage

2006 Group Stage


Germany’s winning of the bidding war for the 2006 World Cup was controversial, with South Africa losing by a single vote after the Oceania delegate who’d pledged their support to them (which would’ve resulted in a tie that Sepp Blatter would’ve broken in their favour) suddenly abstaining. They would, however, get the 2010 tournament, but that’s another story…

Germany’s hosting couldn’t have come at a tougher time for the national side, who had gone out in the group stage of the past three tournaments, with some German football persons only half joking they might not have even qualified for this tournament had they not qualified automatically as hosts.

Come the first game of the tournament, however, Der Mannschaft would silence any doubters as they trounced newcomers Ukraine 4-0. Wins over Paraguay (1-0) and Saudi Arabia (3-0) would send Jurgen Klinsmann’s team through with a 100% record, while the Ukrainians would bounce back with a 4-0 of their own over the Saudis, before a 1-0 over Paraguay sent them through in second place.

2006 Group A.PNG

For the second tournament in a row, Brazil found themselves drawn in a tough group alongside two European teams, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and Tunisia, who they repeated their victory against in their opening game. The European sides would grind out a disappointing goalless draw in their first game, and it would be the same for the Dutch against Brazil, which left the group finely balanced.

In the end, the Dutch would scramble a scrappy 2-1 win over Tunisia and that, coupled with Brazil’s 2-0 win over the Swiss, was enough to see them squeak through.

2006 Group B.PNG

Spain would kick off Group C with an easy 3-0 win over a USA team that was a sad shadow of that that many felt had been cheated against South Korea four years earlier. It would instead be Australia, appearing at their first WC since the previous German hosted one 32 years earlier, who would take second place thanks to a 1-0 win over Serbia & Montenegro, who Spain would then put four past in their next game and a 1-1 draw with the Americans. Despite losing 2-1 to La Roja in the final game, Serbia’s beating of the USA by the same scoreline put them through.

2006 Group C.PNG

Italy and Poland were expected to advance from Group D over South Korea and debutants Angola, only for the two underdogs to hold the two favourites to draws in the first round of games. Italy would then beat the Poles 2-0 which, coupled with another draw in the other game, made things rather interesting going into the final round. In the end, though, a last minute goal from Maciej Zurawski would give Poland a 2-1 win over the Koreans to see them safely through alongside the Azzuri, who saw off a valiant effort from the African first timers by the same scoreline.

2006 Group D.PNG

In what was seen as the most open group, Portugal would become the third of four 100%ers in the group stage. Debutants Ivory Coast would hold Mexico to a goalless draw in their first ever WC game, and then gave the Portuguese a great fight before succumbing 1-0. Mexico would bounce back with a 3-1 win over Japan, another team who would suffer second tournament syndrome after doing so well four years earlier, and, although they too would lose to Ronaldo et al in their final game, they would advance at the Africans’ expense on goals scored.

2006 Group E.PNG

France were expected to easily top a rather easy Group F, only to stumble straight away as Ecuador claimed a deserved draw, and were unlucky not to beat Les Bleus after having a penalty shout waved away for, what was revealed on replay to be, a handball by William Gallas. Both would go through in the end however, Zidane scoring the only goal of Les Bleus’ game against Croatia, before a late Henry goal saw off a plucky effort from debutants Ghana, who had played out a very entertaining 2-all draw with Ecuador. A 2-1 win over the Croatians was enough for the South Americans to progress as runners-up.

2006 Group F.PNG

Argentina would the fourth and final 100%ers of the first round, winning their three games 2-1 over Sweden, 3-0 over Costa Rica and 4-0 over debutants Togo, the last of those games notable for being the WC debut of a certain Barcelona youngster by the name of Lionel Messi. Sweden would win go through in second place thanks to two 2-0 wins in their other matches.

2006 Group G.PNG

Finally, in Group H, England were expected to quickly brush off their disappointment of two years earlier and, with what was widely agreed to be their strongest team in years, easily defend their WC crown. And, while they would top their group in the end, they would make heavy work of it; an early own goal and a late belter from Sir Paul Scholes giving them a 2-0 win over Iran, while two very late goals were needed to beat debutants Trinidad & Tobago by the same scoreline.

Their final group game against the Czech Republic was much anticipated, the two having narrowly missed out on playing each other in the Euros final two years earlier, and they didn’t disappoint with a very entertaining 2-2 draw. Despite Trinidad having held the Czechs to a deserved goalless draw in their first ever WC game, a 2-0 win over Iran and the point against England was enough to see them through too.

2006 Group H.PNG

to be continued…

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So, here we are in Germany then! Nothing especially notable so far; about as meh a tournament as IOTL TBH. You may have noticed that a certain midfielder is still playing for England here; because, having led them to glory four years earlier, Scholes would now surely be immovable from centre midfield, meaning he is never forced out to the left causing him to retire before his time. Lampard, therefore, would probably get the left treatment or be played further forward alongside or behind Rooney and/or Owen.

Anyway, knockout stage coming up next week hopefully, beginning with the following R16 fixtures:

  • Germany vs Netherlands
  • Spain vs Poland
  • Portugal vs Ecuador
  • Argentina vs Czech Republic
  • Brazil vs Ukraine
  • Italy vs Australia
  • France vs Mexico
  • England vs Sweden
See you then to see how it all plays out!
 
Round of 16
Germany 2-0 Netherlands
Spain 3-0 Poland
Portugal 1-0 Ecuador
Argentina 2-0 Czech Republic
Brazil 3-0 Ukraine
Italy 1-0 Australia
France 3-1 Mexico
England (a.e.t.) 3-2 Sweden

Quarter-finals
Germany (p) 1-1 Spain
Portugal (p) 0-0 Argentina
Brazil 0-1 (a.e.t.) Italy
France 1-0 England

Semi-finals
Germany 3-1 Portugal
Italy (p) 1-1 France

Bronze match
Portugal 0-1 France

Final
Germany 0-2 (a.e.t.) Italy
 
  • Germany vs Netherlands
  • Spain vs Poland
  • Portugal vs Ecuador
  • Argentina vs Czech Republic
  • Brazil vs Ukraine
  • Italy vs Australia
  • France vs Mexico
  • England vs Sweden
 
2006 Knockout Stage

2006 Knockout Stage


After a rather disappointing group stage, where pretty much every group had gone as had been expected, everyone was hoping that maybe the knockout stage could inject some much needed excitement into proceedings. A tasty opening tie of hosts Germany vs the Netherlands looked like it might do just that.

Sadly, though, the game would prove anything but, as the Germans quickly raced into a 2-0 lead, Podolski scoring both, and it was only wastefulness that meant it finished that way. The match would sadly be remembered for all the wrong reasons, with a large number of yellow cards being issued out, mainly to Dutch players who had resorted to rather aggressive play to try and break back into the game.

The rest of the round progressed pretty much as expected: Spain, Portugal and Italy overcame Poland, Ecuador and Australia, but were made to work hard for their wins, all three games ending 1-0 (and, even then, Italy’s was a penalty for, what was on replay, a blatant dive). Argentina were barely troubled by the disappointing Czech Republic as they won 2-0, Brazil would dispatch a valiant Ukraine 3-0 and France would come from behind to triumph 3-1 over Mexico.

Thankfully, the final tie of the round, England vs Sweden, would finally produce a good game. Joe Cole would give the Three Lions the lead with a superb long range volley that was later voted Goal of the Tournament. Marcus Allback would equalise for the Swedes early in the second half however, and the game looked to be going to extra time. Until, in a spectacular finish, Gerrard looked to have won it for England, only for Henrik Larsson to equalise in the nick of time!

Extra time it would be then, and, once again, it would be Sir Paul Scholes who would be England’s saviour as his goal late in the first period would be enough to secure a 3-2 victory for the defending champions.

In the quarter-finals, Germany vs Spain would be an entertaining contest which would ultimately end in a 2-1 win for the hosts. Brazil vs Italy was a disappointing game that was ultimately settled by a single goal from Ronaldinho deep in the second period of extra time, while Argentina would beat Portugal by the same scoreline, but in normal time, Rodruiguez the goalscorer, in another dour match that has since gone down in history as the first ever meeting between Messrs Messi and Ronaldo!

Once again, England would provide the tie of the round as they met France. In an exciting first half, Les Bleus would take the lead from the penalty spot after just seven minutes after Zidane was tripped by John Terry, but the Chelsea man would atone twelve minutes later with a rare goal for his country to pull the champions level.

Things would sadly peter out after that and the game would, again, go to extra time. In the second period, drama would ensue as Zidane and Terry would have a coming together which would culminate in Zizou headbutting the Chelsea defender in the chest! Zidane was duly sent off, an ignominious end to his playing career as it would mean he would be suspended for the remaining two games should France get through.

The game would go to penalties, and the ensuing shootout would go down as one of the worst in World Cup history, with four misses, Trezeguet for France, Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher for England. Les Bleus were through, and England’s World Cup defence had ended on a wimper.

It was a pyrrhic victory for the French, however, as, with Zidane gone, they were nowhere near their best in the semi-final against Brazil, who deserved better than to only win 1-0 via a single Ronaldo goal.

Germany vs Argentina would be a much better game thankfully; after a disappointing first half, Ayala would give the Argentines the lead early in the second half. But the decision by manager Pekerman to take off Riquelme would prove the turning point, as Miroslav Klose duly equalised for Der Mannschaft which took the game to extra time. Penalties followed, and, as they always do, the Germans would triumph, 4-2, Cambiasso missing the crucial kick.

La Albiceleste would at least claim bronze, Messi and Riquelme the goalscorers as they triumphed 2-0 over the deflated France.

So, the final would be Germany vs Brazil. The Selecao had had a decent run to this point, but hadn’t exactly set the world alight; indeed, many were saying their third place run four years earlier had actually been a lot more impressive. The Germans, in contrast, had visibly grown in confidence all tournament, and went into the match firm favourites on home soil.

On the day, however, Der Mannschaft simply didn’t turn up and were a shadow of the side that had looked solid through the previous rounds. Brazil weren’t looking very sharp either however, and so the match ended goalless and, once again, went to extra time.

Things didn’t go much better there; John Motson called it a worse World Cup final than Brazil vs Italy twelve years earlier. And it very much looked like it would be decided the same way as that game, on penalties.

Until, with less than two minutes remaining, Brazil would get a corner and, after much boinging the ball about inside the box, it would fall to Roberto Carlos, who volleyed home to silence the home crowd! Brazil were in front!

And, as the stunned hosts desperately surged forwards in search of an equaliser, Brazil would break away, and Ronaldo would tap into an empty net to make it 2-0 and rubber stamp the victory! After three agonising near misses, Brazil had finally won a record fifth World Cup!

2006 Knockout Stage.PNG

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So, there we are then; not that interesting a tournament really, but then 2006 was a pretty meh tournament IOTL as well, so nothing new there really. This was actually the second drawing of the tournament I did; the first one really was barely interesting at all, so I redid it and ended up with a slightly better draw. Make up your own minds about what Terry said to provoke Zidane!

Anyway, that's out of the way now; on to South Africa next, with the following seeding...


2010 Seedings.PNG

See yous next Wednesday then...
 
Euro 2008
Euro 2008

Euro 2008 Qualifying.PNG

After ten years, Scotland would finally make their return to a major tournament at Euro 2008, as Walter Smith and his successor Alex McLeish led the Tartan Army to finish top of their qualifying group ahead of a stuttering France (though Les Bleus would qualify as well as the highest scoring runners-up). Their first tournament match in a decade would be a battling 2-1 defeat to Germany, before a victory over co-hosts Austria by the same scoreline meant a victory over the already qualified Croatia would secure them a place in the knockouts at Der Mannschaft's expense. Sadly, it wasn't to be, as they could only muster a 1-1 draw, and bowed out graciously after an excellent effort, which bode well for the qualifying for the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa...

Euro 2008 Group B.PNG

For Sven Goran Eriksson and England, their first game of the tournament would be a grudge match against the team that had beaten them in the previous Euros' final, and they would indeed get their own back with a 2-0 victory over Greece. They would then fall to a 2-1 defeat to Spain in their second game however, and looked in trouble after falling behind 2-0 to Russia in their final game. Step forward, who else, but Sir Paul Scholes, whose arrival replacing Frank Lampard changed the game as he provided the assist for Defoe to pull one back before firing in an equaliser which ensured the Three Lions would go through on goal difference by a single goal.

Euro 2008 Group D.PNG

They would then face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. After a goalless first half, Rooney would open the scoring 10 minutes into the second half; a second from Scholes would pretty much wrap up the win with fifteen minutes remaining, and though his former Manchester United teammate van Nistelrooy pulled one back with four minutes to go, England would hold on for the win. They would lose to Spain again in the semi-finals, a second half rampage from Xavi, Guiza and Silva giving La Roja a 3-0 lead before Gerrard scored a late consolation. Despite this, it had been another decent tournament effort for England, though it was, in hindsight, the beginning of the end for the 'Golden Generation', with both Scholes and manager Eriksson subseuqently announcing the World Cup campaign in South Africa would be their last for the Three Lions...

Euro 2008 Knockout Stage.PNG

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Quick little extra bit of fun before tomorrow! Basically, I redrew qualifying for the tournament in the same nine group format as 2012 and continued on from there; in the end, the only differences were Scotland taking Poland's place and England Sweden's. I'll provide some Wiki tables tomorrow to hopefully make everything a bit clearer.

Back tomorrow as we head to South Africa...
 
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2010 Group Stage

2010 Group Stage


Four years later than it should’ve done, the World Cup headed to Africa for the first time. South Africa’s bid easily triumphed over that of Morocco, though, ironically given the circumstances of them missing out on 2006, question marks were later raised over whether their winning the bid was entirely achieved above board…

After their ‘success’ at Euro 2008, hopes were high for Scotland that they could return to the WC after a twelve-year absence; and, after finishing second in their qualifying group behind the Netherlands, they met France in the play-offs hopeful of another famous win over Les Bleus after two in Euros qualifying. After a credible 1-0 loss at Hampden, they pulled it out the bag in the return leg in Saint Denis, winning 1-0 to secure extra time. Controversy then struck when William Gallas scored, what proved to be, the winning goal after Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball twice in the build up.

After this, few shed any tears when, for the second time in three tournaments, France crashed and burned in the group stage; first, they lost 2-0 to Denmark, before humiliating drawing 0-0 with Honduras, during which the team revolted against manger Domenech after Nicholas Anelka was subbed off at half time.

In their final game, they lost 2-1 to hosts South Africa, which confirmed their fate. That result, coupled with a 1-0 win over Honduras in the first game of the tournament via an iconic goal from Siphiwe Tshabalala (“GOAL BAFANA BAFANA!”), sent the hosts through to the knockout stage, though they did lose 1-0 to the Danes, who thus topped the group.

2010 Group A.PNG

European champions Spain began the tournament among the early favourites, but a 1-0 loss to Switzerland was an unexpected false start to the tournament for La Roja. They would recover however, a 1-0 win over a valiant effort from Ivory Coast and an easy 3-1 stroll over South Korea seeing them top the group.

Perhaps overconfident after that shock win, the Swiss then went and lost 1-0 to the Koreans in their second game. However, a draw with Cote D’Ivoire in their final match plus the Koreans’ loss to Spain meant the two teams finished level on points; under the old tie-breaker rules, South Korea would’ve gone through thanks to their win, but goals difference was now the highest ranking method, which meant it was the Swiss who squeaked through.

2010 Group B.PNG

For Argentina, now managed by their legendary talisman Diego Maradona, it was a case of ‘oh, you again’, as, for the second time in three WCs, they were drawn against Nigeria and Slovenia, as well as Portugal. It was a tough group and, after a disappointing qualifying campaign, many though the Albiceleste might struggle.

In the event, however, Maradona’s team easily topped the group with three wins, though they were made to work for their 1-0 wins over Nigeria and Slovenia; it wasn’t until they brushed the disappointing Portugal aside 3-0 in their final game that they really impressed, and it looked like, once again, they were in for a good long run…

Despite this heavy defeat, and a dour goalless draw with Slovenia, Portugal would sneak through to the knockouts by a single point over the Nigerians, who they beat 2-1 thanks to a hilariously soft penalty, dispatched by Ronaldo, in the 84th minute.

2010 Group C.PNG

Germany were expected to easily top Group D, though who was going to go through with them was anyone’s guess. At first, things went well for Der Mannschaft as they defeated Chile 2-1, only to then slip up and lose 1-0 to Serbia via a Milan Jovanovic goal. This meant, going into the final round of fixtures, that any two of the Germans, the Serbians and Ghana (who had won their first two games 1-0 over Serbia and 2-1 over the Chileans respectively) could go through.

In the end, a 1-0 loss to Germany mattered not for the Black Stars, as Chile defeated Serbia by the same scoreline, and the two teams in white and black went through.

2010 Group D.PNG

Italy were expected to top a rather easy looking Group E comfortably, but manager Marcello Lippi’s loyalty to veterans over younger talents like Mario Balotelli proved their undoing. First, they only scrambled a 1-1 draw with the USA thanks to a rare mistake from States keeper Tim Howard. Then, they drew 0-0 with Algeria, who Japan had beaten 1-0 first time out, which meant their game against the Samurai Blues was winner-take-all.

On the day, however, the Azzuri just didn’t turn up at all. Japan, in contrast, were simply brilliant; goals from Honda and Endo meant they were 2-0 up after just shy of half an hour and, while Di Natale pulled one back late on, a third from Okazaki even later on completed a 3-1 victory that saw them top the group and sent Italy packing. They were at least spared finishing bottom of the group by the US’s last minute winner over Algeria (“DONOVAN HAS SCORED! GO GO USA!”) that put them through in second place.

2010 Group E.PNG

Reigning champions Brazil were expected to make light work of a straight forward looking group, with Paul Le Guen’s Cameroon most people’s favourites to finish second. But, while the Selecao did indeed top the table with three wins, it would actually be debutants Slovakia who exceeded expectations to go through in second place.

A creditable 1-1 draw with Australia in their first game was followed by a 2-1 win over the Indomitable Lions via a last minute Kamil Kopunek goal and, despite a 3-0 hammering from Brazil in their final match, a 2-2 draw in the other game was enough for them to go through.

2010 Group F.PNG

Speaking of Italy flopping in the group stage, North Korea would triumphantly return to the WC 44 years on from that famous day in Middlesbrough. Sadly, this time, their run would be memorable for all the wrong reasons: firstly, they were thrashed 7-0 by the Netherlands, before they lost 3-0 to both Greece and Paraguay, meaning they finished bottom of the table with a -13 goal difference!

The Dutch would top the group after beating Paraguay 2-1 and Greece 2-0, with that goal for Paraguay making all the difference as they snuck through to the knockout stage at the Greek’s expense.

2010 Group G.PNG

And Group H was the Group of Death: England, Mexico and Uruguay, with New Zealand expected to be the whipping boys. Of course, this proved not to be the case.

Firstly, England would stumble against Mexico, taking the lead through Gerrard, only for keeper Rob Green to then let a Giovanni dos Santos shot spill out from under him into the net; the game would end 1-1. New Zealand, meanwhile, stunned Uruguay with an impressive 1-0 win, before holding Mexico to an also impressive 1-all draw (and even then, Mexico’s goal was a soft penalty).

England, meanwhile, looked to be cruising against Uruguay via a double from Sir Paul Scholes, in his World Cup swansong, only for Luis Suarez to score a quick double which meant yet another gutting draw for Sven Goran Eriksson’s team, who now had to beat New Zealand to go through.

A single goal from Jermaine Defoe gave the Three Lions the win they needed to progress as group winners, while Uruguay’s win over Mexico by the same margin, Luis Suarez the goalscorer, allowed them to take advantage of the changed tie-breaker rules and go through at the All Whites’ expense, much to the disappointment of neutrals everywhere.

2010 Group H.PNG

to be continued…

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Here we are in South Africa then, with maybe actually a better group stage than RL, despite similar scenarios a plenty and one almost entirely identical group which, I promise you, was totally random! And don't even get me started on Group H; that took ages for me to decide how it would finish up!

At the end of it all, we have a second round line-up of:

  • Denmark vs Switzerland
  • Argentina vs Ghana
  • Japan vs Slovakia
  • Netherlands vs Uruguay
  • Spain vs South Africa
  • Germany vs Portugal
  • Brazil vs USA
  • England vs Paraguay
You know the drill; post your predictions for how it'll all play out below and we'll see how correct you are next Wednesday!
 
Round of 16
Denmark 0-0 (p) Switzerland
Argentina 3-1 Ghana
Japan 1-1 (p) Slovakia
Netherlands 3-2 Uruguay
Spain 1-0 South Africa
Germany (a.e.t.) 1-0 Portugal
Brazil 3-0 United States
England 0-0 (p) Paraguay

Quarter-finals
Switzerland 0-1 Argentina
Slovakia 1-2 Netherlands
Spain 1-0 Germany
Brazil (a.e.t.) 2-1 Paraguay

Semi-finals
Argentina 2-3 Netherlands
Spain 1-0 Brazil

Bronze match
Argentina 1-3 Brazil

Final
Netherlands 0-1 (a.e.t.) Spain
 
  • Denmark vs Switzerland
  • Argentina vs Ghana
  • Japan vs Slovakia
  • Netherlands vs Uruguay
  • Spain vs South Africa
  • Germany vs Portugal
  • Brazil vs USA
  • England vs Paraguay
 
  • Denmark vs Switzerland
  • Argentina vs Ghana
  • Japan vs Slovakia
  • Netherlands vs Uruguay
  • Spain vs South Africa
  • Germany vs Portugal
  • Brazil vs USA
  • England vs Paraguay
So Scotland ITTL get cheated out by France? Hmm, does this mean that the Tartan Army now see France as a rival and that the auld alliance is now over? :p
 
2010 Knockout Stage

2010 Knockout Stage


The first day of the knockout stage would see two fixtures: one of which was expected to be too close to call, the other an easy victory. But, while Denmark vs Switzerland did indeed go all the way to penalties, with the Danes triumphing after Eren Derdiyok missed his kick, Argentina vs Ghana wouldn’t go according to plan at all.

Diego Maradona’s team were expected to triumph easily; instead, the Black Stars, roared on by the South African home crowd, would stun them with an early goal from Kevin Prince-Boateng. Normal service looked to be restored when Messi equalised from the penalty spot, but, just minutes later, Asamoah Gyan would put Ghana back in front! And that’s how it ended: Ghana had pulled off one of the all-time great World Cup shocks, and Maradona would be dismissed as Argentina manager within days.

The following days, hosts South Africa would give Spain a similarly close fight, with Benni McCarthy cancelling out Iniesta’s opener before David Villa secured La Roja the win. Germany would have no such issues dispatching Portugal 2-0; ditto Brazil with the USA, 3-0 the final score. England would face a sterner test from Paraguay, with a single goal from, who else, Sir Paul Scholes, securing the win.

The Netherlands vs Uruguay would prove the game of the round, with two goals in three minutes from Sneijder and Robben securing the 3-2 win. The Dutch would face Japan, who would reach the QFs for the second time in three years after a 2-1 win over Slovakia.

Their run would end there however, though they would give the Dutch a fine fight, with a single goal from Sneijder sending them through. Spain vs Germany, a hotly anticipated tie, would end with the same scorline, with Carlos Puyol scoring the only goal of the game in the second half to send La Roja through.

There, they would face Brazil, who would beat England in yet another disappointing 1-0 match, Robinho’s goal after just ten minutes proving the difference, though England could feel rightly aggrieved that a goal from Lampard that would’ve levelled the tie was wrongly chalked off. Nonetheless, England’s run was over for another WC, as were the England careers of two legends of the 2002 winning side: Sir Paul Scholes, and manager Erikkson, who stepped down after the match to be replaced by Roy Hodgson.

Thankfully, there was one QF match that didn’t end 1-0, that between Denmark and Ghana. The Ghanaians, with their confidence at an all-time high following the win over Argentina, strolled into a 2-0 lead via Gyan and Muntari, and though Tomasson, in what would prove his final game for his country, would pull one back late on, it was too late: Ghana were only the second ever African WC semi-finalists!

There, they would face the Netherlands, and, despite another excellent performance, and a fantastic noise generated by the home crowd (and the rest of the continent willing them on), the Dutch would prove too much for the Black Stars, with a Robin van Persie double ending their historic run. Spain vs Brazil, meanwhile, would be decided by a single goal, scored late on by Villa, as La Roja proceeded to their first ever WC final. The fallen champions would nonetheless beat a deflated Ghana 2-0 in the play-off to secure a fifth successive podium finish.

And so the final was the Netherlands vs Spain, meaning we were guaranteed a first time winner. Sadly, the game would be another disappointing contest, despite both teams’ best efforts; the Dutch in particular seemed a bit overwhelmed, their previous good form turning to rather rough play, with Nigel de Jong lucky not to get sent off for a studs up kick into Xabi Alonso’s chest. Ending goalless after normal time elapsed, it would be a second successive final to go to extra time.

All the drama would come in the second period. Firstly, Johnny Heitinga would become the fourth player to be sent off in a WC final. Then, with just under five minutes to go, Iniesta would finally get the breakthrough and score the biggest goal in Spanish football history! The Dutch couldn’t respond, and it seemed rather fitting that a knockout stage of not that many goals had ended with a 1-0 final victory.

Not that Spain cared; they’d finally won the World Cup!

2010 Knockout Stage.PNG

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So, that's 2010 over and done with. Apart from Ghana's run, partly inspired by WIF's video about Landon Donovan missing vs Algeria, nothing especially exciting or interesting to report. A bit like the 2010 knockout stage IOTL TBH, though I do think this tournament is kinda underrated and many people's opinion of it is clouded by those infernal vuvuzelas!

Anyway, onto 2014 next, a much better tournament all round, with the following seedings:


2014 Seedings.PNG

And one particular group which is giving me an utter nightmare trying to figure out how it'd go; even worse than Group H in this one. Tune back in next week to see how it, and the rest of the groups, go...
 
Always good to see Ghana do well in 2010 in any TL. Always seem that Spain always wins 2010 too and those dreadful plastic trumpets of hell have always to be part of it!

Anyway, looking forward for the next update!
 
Great TL. Keep it up.

Although, one of my all-time most unpopular football opinions is that Ghana got quite lucky to even reach the quarter-finals in 2010 (despite being blatantly robbed against Uruguay). Only advancing to the knockout stage because of two penalty kicks. Definitely correctly awarded, but they certainly had the margins on their side, followed by an extra time win in the last 16. Once again, a good achievement, but certainly with the margins on their side (again).

I would actually argue Ghana was even better in 2014, it was just that their group was extremely competitive.

Wow, went on a tangent there from out of nowhere. Anyways, to quote QTXAdsy, "looking forward to the next update!"
 
2014 Group Stage

2014 Group Stage


After 40 years, the World Cup finally returned to South America as Brazil played host to the 20th edition of the iconic tournament for a second time. They would kick off the tournament against Greece, only for a Marcelo own goal to give their opponents the lead. A Neymar double and a late third from Oscar recovered the game, and a win over Australia and a draw with Ghana was enough to secure them top place in their group.

Greece would bounce back and ultimately progress to the knockout stages for the first time, albeit they needed a rather contentious late penalty to defeat Ghana 2-1. The Ghanaians were unlucky to go out, having been easily the better team against Ange Postecoglou’s Australia, both of whose goals in a 2-2 draw came against the run of play. A 1-all draw with the hosts ensured there’d be no repeat of their heroics of four years earlier.

2014 Group A.PNG

Having finally re-established themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the international stage, Germany went into the tournament among the favourites to secure a first major trophy in 18 years. And they would indeed top a pretty straight forward group easily, scoring six goals in wins over Ecuador and debutants Bosnia & Herzegovina, while a second string team could be forgiven for a 1-all draw with Cameroon in the final game.

It would be the first timers who joined them in the knockouts, as they bounced back to beat both opponents and ensured their first ever tournament would also be their first ever knockout stage…

2014 Group B.PNG

In what was seen by many as the toughest group to predict, Uruguay and Croatia were most peoples’ faves to go through ahead of Algeria and the USA. But that all changed after the first round of matches, as Uruguay were lucky to salvage a 1-all draw with Algeria, while the Americans stunned Croatia 2-1 with a late goal from John Brooks. A 1-0 win over Croatia kept Uruguay’s hope alive, while Algeria all but secured their place in the knockouts with a 3-1 win over the US.

A 2-1 win over Croatia then secured top place in the group for the Africans, leaving Uruguay and the USA to fight for second place. A Clint Dempsey double proved decisive as the Americans triumphed 2-1, but the game will be mainly remembered for the incident late on when a frustrated Luis Suarez bit DaMarcus Beasley on the arm, which resulted in a four match and nine international game ban for the soon-to-be Barcelona forward.

2014 Group C.PNG

Having topped their triumph of four years earlier by retaining the Euros, Spain were expected by many to once again stroll into the later stages, and they would take the lead in their opening game, a rematch against the Netherlands, from the penalty spot. But an iconic diving header from Robin van Persie just before half time changed everything, as the Dutch ran rampant in the second half, and would triumph 5-1.

La Roja were expected to bounce back against Costa Rica, and again took the lead through David Villa, but a Joel Campbell equaliser and a late Marco Urena winner once again stunned them, and that, coupled with the Dutch’s victory over Iran, who Los Ticos had already beaten, sealed Spain’s fate as the first defending champs to be knocked out with a game in hand. They did at least beat the Iranians in that final game, but it was no consolation; a goalless draw in the other game saw the Dutch top the group on goal difference.

2014 Group D.PNG

With Eriksson and Scholes gone, and many other ‘Golden Generation’ veterans having either moved on or playing their final tournament, England were very much in transition at this World Cup, but were still expected to progress through a favourable group of Switzerland, Cote D’Ivoire and Honduras. They did indeed, neither their 2-0 win over the Hondurans, nor their 1-1 draws in the other two games were convincing. The Swiss would take top spot after victories in their other two matches.

2014 Group E.PNG

For the third time in four tournaments, Argentina found themselves drawn against Nigeria, and, for the second tournament in a row, Portugal; Mexico would make up the Group of Death, and opened the group with an entertaining 1-1 all draw with the Albiceleste. A 2-0 win over Portugal and a very entertaining 3-2 win over Nigeria secured the group for Messi et al, while the Nigerians would atone for the ‘injustice’ of four years earlier by going through in second place on goal difference thanks to a 2-1 win over the Mexicans.

2014 Group F.PNG

Colombia, back after a sixteen year absence, began Group G as favourites against a France team who had been rather lucky to qualify via the play-offs over Ukraine, and an Italy team who, despite having reached the Euros final two years earlier, were also very much in transition. A 3-0 win over South Korea seemed to suggest this to be the case, while a Benzema double ensured France beat Italy. The Azzuri would beat the Koreans in their second game, but a 1-0 loss to Colombia via a single James Rodriguez goal sealed a second successive group stage exit. France would go through in second, their game against the group winners ending 2-all.

2014 Group G.PNG

Finally, in Group H, Belgium, also back after sixteen years, also made up for lost time with the only 100% group stage, kicking off with an entertaining 2-1 win over Chile, before a 1-0 win over Russia and 2-0 over Japan secured the nine points. Chile would bounce back and also defeat both opponents to join them.

2014 Group H.PNG

to be continued…

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So, here we are in Brazil, a great World Cup IOTL, and hopefully this one will live up to that high standard! Once again, a few similar scenarios, and we head into the following second round draw:
  • Brazil vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Algeria vs Costa Rica
  • Switzerland vs Nigeria
  • Colombia vs Chile
  • Germany vs Greece
  • Netherlands vs USA
  • Argentina vs England
  • Belgium vs France
You know what to do; post your predictions below and we'll see if they match with what I've already written next week!
 
Brazil vs Bosnia & Herzegovina

Algeria vs Costa Rica

Switzerland vs Nigeria

Colombia
vs Chile

Germany vs Greece

Netherlands vs USA

Argentina vs England

Belgium vs France
 
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