Have we learned nothing from our friends over at the Olympics? If Russia suddenly become good at a sport then Russia have been up to something. Normally it involves Russia and drugs, I am afraid to say. And I am wondering what exactly is being “said” at half-time in the Russia changing room for the team to put in those second-half performances.
You think I am being cynical? Russia hadn’t won a game of football for goodness knows how long before Russia 2018 and bam, suddenly they score 8 (eight) in the first two games. That’s more than Spain scored when they won the bloody thing in 2010!
As people far funnier than I have been pointing out on Twitter, all this talk of Ronaldo vs Cheryshev – can we not just enjoy the fact they are playing in the same era? Considering the fact ex-Real Madrid man didn’t even start in the first game he is doing quite well, isn’t he? Imagine not starting him in the side when, frankly, the rest of the team was looking pretty average. Golovin is being linked to every single club in England off the back of two decent performances which means he will end up bombing at West Ham and their big man up front is already having a better tournament than the two best big men up front playing in European football, Gonzalo Higuain and Robert Lewandowski.
If Uruguay beat Saudi Arabia today then Russia will be in the last 16 and Mo Salah will be able to take that poorly shoulder home and rest properly.
The member of Liverpool’s Fantastic Three who is possibly enjoying the tournament so far is Senegal’s captain, Sadio Mane. They surprised Poland with a 2-1 win including an own-goal (though not the best own-goal of the day, eh Fathy Fathy boom boom?) and a hilarious mix-up that reminded the world how good a goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is.
And, of course, it wouldn’t have been a day of World Cup football without a penalty being awarded and we didn’t have to wait long. Colombia made their long-awaited appearance, looking to build on their superb showing in 2014. Three minutes in and that all went out of the window after Carles Sanchez was dismissed for sticking his arm out at the ball as it flew towards the back of the net against Japan. It was the first red of the tournament and put Japan well on the way to being the first ever Asian side to beat a South American side in the World Cup.
All these records, eh? Just made to be broken.
Back in Camp Blighty, Dele Alli is looking unlikely to be fit to play against Panama so game-changer Ruben Loftus-Cheek is being readied to play from the start. Many people are expecting to see Marcus Rashford be picked ahead of Raheem Sterling but Southgate isn’t one for tinkering just for the hell of it – or because Piers Morgan wants him to.
Patrice Evra was apparently ‘shocked’ that his applause for Eni Aluko’s punditry was taken as ‘arrogant, sexist and wrong’. He has agreed to modify his behaviour in future appearances. Maybe sit up straight as well, Patrice?
The World Cup will, of course, speed up the transfer rumour mill and Arsenal have dipped their toes in once more. They’ve seen the success of Germany goalkeepers not quite good enough to be in Russia and fancied getting their very own Loris Karius in Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno.
West Ham United have made what appears to be a good signing. Issa Diop, a centre-back, has moved from Toulouse to the Athletic Stadium for a club-record £22m. The big shock in this is that West Ham’s record spend is only £22m, I was convinced they’d wasted more than that at some point. The record may only last a matter of days as Manuel Pellegrini is very keen to bring in Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for £30m. David Moyes is looking on wishing he’d had some of that money to spend.
With Chelsea looking likely to sort out a deal for Maurizio Sarri and, Blues fans rejoice, Gianfranco Zola, talk of Dries Mertens heading to Stamford Bridge is picking up pace. He’s 31 now and will probably cost a fair bit.
Unai Emery isn’t stopping at just goalkeepers. With Jack Wilshere heading to the Palace, Emery is keen to replace him with two Sevilla stalwarts from his past, Steven Nzonzi and Ever Banega. I do love it when a band reforms.
Speaking of getting a band back together, Jose Mourinho is still insisting that Mr Ed goes and gets him Willian for £60m. Jose is worried that he doesn’t have enough hard working wide players that are willing to play as a double full-back and he trusts the Chelsea Brazilian.
There could be a continued influx of ex-Sporting players into the Premier League following all that malarky over in Portugal and more might join Rui Patricio at FC Mendes of Wolverhampton.
Finally, every World Cup throws up a new player that becomes hot property so we can expect to see Hirving Lozano linked to all and sundry over the coming days.
Anyway, will the real Luis Suarez turn up today or not?