Marouane Fellaini

A First Time Footballer

So, the World Cup has come to an end in Brazil. After one thrilling semi-final and a second, far less thrilling one, it was Germany and Argentina that met in the final of this worldwide spectacle. From what I’ve seen of the Germans, they thoroughly deserved to win the competition and it probably helped ease the pain of the Brazilian population – the team that, quite frankly, destroyed them, came out victorious.

I have to say, I was a little bit nervous about the reaction to the Brazil vs. Germany semi-final. It’s safe to say that nothing like it has ever happened before and the final score (Germany 7 – 1 Brazil) means that it will be going down in history as one of the most shocking games of all time. I am sure that we are all aware that Brazil has it’s fair share of problems and the amount of money thrown into creating this year’s World Cup was very controversial. It all seemed to be going swimmingly and, as long as Brazil remained in the competition, the population appeared to push aside the aforementioned issues and enjoy the event. After the humiliating semi-final, I felt like the world was holding it’s breath to see the fallout. However, the Brazilians were remarkably gracious and the Germans knew that they ought to celebrate respectfully. In fact, the majority of Brazil went on to support Germany in the final!! I think the nation of Brazil accepted the defeat knowing that it was one that will forever be remembered and they can be safe in the knowledge that their World Cup was one of the most exciting and surprising ever.

But now what…?

As I have mentioned before, the World Cup is infinitely easier for a football newbie to understand and follow – people playing for their own country just makes sense. If you have a little look at the blog’s most recent posts, you will see that we are preparing our followers for the upcoming Premier League season. With detailed previews of all the teams, @0riginalfooty are brimming with knowledge for you all. I have read all the posts so far and, to be perfectly honest, I still feel woefully clueless… I suppose we’ll just have to see how I get on!

If you have any questions that you need answering or if you need any of the football jargon translated get in touch @0riginalfooty and we’ll try our best to help out!

FINALLY – After pointing out the impracticality of Belgian Fellaini’s mass of hair, he went a shaved it off! Coincidence? I think not…

Fellaini old hair

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Quarter-finals Preview: Part 2

After a set of tense fixtures in the second round, every side that won their group in the first round has reached the quarter-finals. Some tasty matches have been served up and in this article we analyse each contest and offer our predictions for the outcome of Saturday’s matches.

Argentina vs Belgium: Saturday 5pm

Argentina were once again heavily reliant on the individual brilliance of Messi and Di Maria to see off Switzerland and claim their place in the last 8, although they needed extra time to do so. Belgium also needed extra time to qualify for this stage and they will not fear the Argentines heading into the match. For all of Messi’s brilliance throughout the tournament, the rest of his side, in general, have let him and themselves down. Belgium, meanwhile, have ground out every result so far and are proving tricky customers to break down whilst still offering a threat coming forward. Marc Wilmots will have to decide whether to keep faith with Divock Origi or allow Romelu Lukaku to return to the side after his impressive cameo in extra time against the USA. Another question that Wilmots will have to address is whether Fellaini really merits a place in his first eleven at the moment and possibly consider replacing him with Moussa Dembele who would certainly add more industry to the centre of the park that will be required against the tireless Javier Mascherano.

Will Divock Origi keep his place against Argentina?

Will Divock Origi keep his place against Argentina?

Both sides have the ability to really raise their game and this match will, ultimately, come down to who performs best on the day. I will back the Argentines to produce at this crucial stage in the competition as they have Lionel Messi, who has the undeniable gift of being able to turn any match on its head, and he should guide them through.
Prediction: Argentina 2-1 Belgium

Netherlands vs Costa Rica: Saturday 9pm

They were 5 minutes away from going home against Mexico but the Netherlands showed their resilience to force a late comeback and reach the last 8. They will be delighted with how the draw has panned out for them and will be very confident of reaching the semi-finals. Despite the Netherland’s confidence, the Costa-Ricans will be no pushovers. They managed to survive the last round despite being down to 10 men against Greece for the best part of an hour and they thoroughly deserve their place in the quarter-finals. That being said, they are, in my opinion, the weakest team left in the competition and the Netherlands are a huge step up from the Greeks. This should, nonetheless, be viewed as a fantastic performance from Costa Rica in this World Cup and the Costa Rican public will fondly remember them for years to come.

The Costa Ricans have had a brilliant tournament

The Costa Ricans have had a brilliant tournament

This would be one of the greatest shocks in the history of the World Cup if the Costa Ricans do mange to find their way through, but I just can’t see it. Their race is run and it is the Netherlands who will go on to fight for football’s most coveted prize.
Prediction: Netherlands 3-0 Costa Rica

Belgium 2 – 1 Algeria : Match Report

 

Super subs rescue Belgium as the Red Devils get off to a winning start.

 

Belgium’s opening game in this world cup campaign was against the side with the highest FIFA ranking in Africa – Algeria. Whilst many people were expecting this game to be a walkover for Belgium, the North African side provided a very tough test for the team billed as this tournaments dark horse.

A fairly uneventful opening to the game saw Belgium have the lions share of possession without creating any clear cut chances, as Algeria displayed defensive solidity and discipline to keep Marc Wilmots’ team at bay.

However, it was Algeria that drew first blood. Completely against the run of play, Ghoulam’s teasing cross from the left was heading towards Sofiane Feghouli at the back post before Jan Vertonghen, struggling to get back goal-side, lazily bundled him over for a 24th minute penalty.

Feghouli, arguably his team’s stand out performer, was quickly on his feet and coolly converted the penalty to send the Algeria fans inside the Mineirao stadium into delirium.

That goal was a wake up call for the Belgians, and they quickly started to find their stride, zipping the ball around nicely in midfield. However,they never really troubled the Algerian back line in the first half with lone striker Romelu Lukaku cutting a frustrated figure as he lacked support of any real quality up top.

Jan Vertonghen tried to make amends for his earlier mistake late on in the half, but his driven free-kick that flew over the crossbar will probably be still rising long after the tournament has finished.

The half time interval saw Marc Wilmots make his first tactical change of the tournament, bringing on Napoli’s Dries Mertens for the ineffectual Nacer Chadli, in an attempt to add some more pace and penetration to the toothless attack we saw in the first half. However the second half began in the same vein, with Belgium controlling possession without causing Algeria any real problems, and the African outfit showcasing their disciplined defensive structure, gradually dispelling any notions that they will be the groups whipping boys.

By the 65th minute, Marc Wilmots had played all his cards, bringing on Manchester United’s bog-brush Doppelgänger Marouane Fellaini for Moussa Dembele and Origini for Lukaku. The final change to bring on Fellaini paid dividends immediately, with the big Belgian thundering a backwards header in off the underside of the crossbar following a delightful cross in from Kevin De Bruyne. With one whip of that Belgian Barnet the sides were back level, and the relief within Belgium’s ranks was palpable.

After the goal, the momentum was with Belgium, and they started to probe much further into Algeria’s half – Credit Wilmots for making the changes as Belgium immediately looked like more of a threat with Fellaini playing in the number 10 role and Mertens offering much more than his compatriot Chadli.

Belgium completed the comeback in the 79th minute, when another of Wilmot’s substitutes, Dries Mertens, fired in the second. The move started from a fantastic slide tackle deep in his own half by Kevin De Bruyne, and the crowd were treated to their first glimpse of the lightning fast counter attack Belgium hold in their repertoire. Hazard burst away from the Algerian midfield before sliding a lovely ball across to the unmarked Mertens in a 3v2 attacking situation, and the Napoli man fired an unerring finish past the oncoming goalkeeper.

Fellaini nearly added a 3rd minutes later with another towering header, but the Algeria keeper showed fabulous reactions to tip it over the bar.

Belgium held on for the final few minutes to seal their first win of the tournament, and go top of Group H. Ultimately it was an impressive start after a small hiccup in the first half, and the game highlighted Wilmots tactical guile as well as the character present in the Belgium team.