Home / Volley / Global Football / Sputnik 2018: Iceland expose Messi’s kryptonite, France’s cock crows and not-so-great Danes penalise Peru

Sputnik 2018: Iceland expose Messi’s kryptonite, France’s cock crows and not-so-great Danes penalise Peru

If Cristiano Ronaldo’s brilliant hattrick for Portugal yesterday was supposed to serve as a handover to Argentina wizard Lionel Messi, then it was the worst baton exchange since T&T’s disastrous 4×100 relay showing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Messi, as most Argentine and Barcelona football fans are aware, can do pretty much everything shy of walking on water. And, apparently, score from 12 yards with a dead ball and only the opposing goalkeeper to beat.

Photo: The world’s greatest footballer can’t take penalties?
Next you will tell me that Superman can’t make a cup of tea!
(Copyright FIFA)

Seriously?! Messi’s kryptonite is penalties?! It’s like finding out that former heavyweight champion, “Iron” Mike Tyson, is petrified of spiders.

Argentina’s 1-1 draw with World Cup debutantes, Iceland, capped a tetchy day of action at the Russia World Cup with just one of four matches decided by more than a solitary goal margin.

France, one of the tournament favourites, needed assistance from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to see off a typically dogged Australia outfit—after a controversial penalty, won and converted by Antoine Griezmann in the 58th minute.

What’s with the VAR officials wearing full refereeing kit inside the air conditioned studio anyway? Does the KFC shift manager wear an apron at his desk?

Australia did get a penalty of their own, four minutes later, after France defender Samuel Umtiti inexplicably decided to show off his volleyball skills in his own 18 yard box. And the Aussies’ impressively bearded midfield enforcer Mile Jedinak—a man who looks like he could be harbouring a couple missing people in his trunk—made no mistake from the spot.

No matter. The Fresh Prince of Manchester United, Paul Pogba, came to the rescue, nine minutes from the end, with a fortuitous item off the underside of the bar to ensure that the French cockerel was crowing loudly at the end of the early morning affair.

Photo: France forward Antoine Griezmann (left) drives towards goal during Russia World Cup on 16 June.
Griezmann scored once in a 2-1 win over Australia.
(Copyright FIFA)

The less said about Argentina’s cock, the better.

“La Albiceleste” had 26 attempts at goal—nine more than any other nation at the 2018 World Cup so far—but only striker Sergio Aguero managed to beat Icelandic goalkeeper Hannes Thór Halldórsson. And Argentina euphoria lasted all of four minutes before Alfred Finnbogason equalised to make Iceland not only the smallest nation to compete in the World Cup—a record they pinched from the 2006 Soca Warriors—but also immediate goal scorers.

To be fair, Stern John and Dwight Yorke could probably have hit the back of the net too if they faced a goalkeeper of Wilfredo Caballero’s skill-set. Effectively, Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli put gloves on a cone and hoped nobody noticed. He would want to adjust that strategy for the rest of the tournament.

There were problems at the other end too, as the curiously misfiring Messi neatly summarised Argentina’s woes with a weak penalty attempt in the 64th minute.

It was the fourth miss from Messi’s last seven penalty kicks for club and country. To put that into context, former Lakers basketball star Shaquille O’Neal had a 53 percent free throw career average and opposing coaches would literally invent ways to put him on the shooting line.

At this rate, goalkeepers would be asking for Messi by name when Argentina win penalties.

Photo: By the power of Thor!
Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Thór Halldórsson (centre) dives to his right to keep out a Lionel Messi penalty during 2018 World Cup action on 16 June.
(Copyright FIFA)

Messi wasn’t the only player to find himself in a spot of bother today, as Peru playmaker Cristian Cueva almost blasted his own penalty into Sarah Palin’s back yard as the feisty South Americans were edged 1-0 by a Christian Erickson-Inspired Denmark.

And, in the closing affair, Nigeria defender Oghenekaro Etebo opened the scoring but it was Croatia who celebrated, as the African inadvertently deflected a Mario Mandzukic header into his own net. Mandzukic was involved in the second item as well, as Nigeria defender William Ekong held on to the forward like his long lost love and the disapproving referee pointed to the spot for the fifth penalty awarded today.

Croatia playmaker Luka Modric cooly converted his effort, as did his Real Madrid teammate, Ronaldo, yesterday to seal a 2-0 win.

Tomorrow, defending champions Germany and tournament favourites, Brazil, enter the fray. Fortunately—at least for those who remember their last meeting, four years ago—they will play in different venues at differing times.

Germany face Mexico in Group F action from 11am in Moscow while Brazil take on Switzerland in Group E from 2pm in Rostov.

So far, the Barcelona boys have struggled in Russia with Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Ousmane Dembele, Umtiti and Messi all offering below par performances. For once, Brazil fans must be thanking their lucky stars that Neymar is now a PSG employee.

Photo: For the good times…
Former Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi (right), Neymar (centre) and Luis Suarez celebrate at the Camp Nou.
(Copyright Lluis Gene/AFP 2015)

2018 World Cup

Today’s results

(Saturday 16 June)

France 2 (Antoine Griezmann 58 pen, Paul Pogba 81), Australia 1 (Mile Jedinak 62 pen), Group C, Kazan;

Argentina 1 (Sergio Aguero 19), Iceland 1 (Alfred Finnbogason 23), Group D, Moscow;

*—Lionel Messi 64 penalty miss;

Peru 0, Denmark 1 (Yussuf Yurary Poulsen 59), 12pm, Group C, Saransk;

*—Cristian Cueva 45 penalty miss;

Croatia 2 (Oghenekaro Etebo OG 32, Luka Modric 71 pen), Nigeria 0, Group D, Kalinigrad.

Photo: Australia captain Mile Jedinak holds his nerve to score from the spot in 2018 World Cup action against France on 16 June.
Australia lost 2-1.
(Copyright FIFA)

Tomorrow’s fixtures

(Sunday 17 June)

Costa Rica v Serbia, 8am, Group E, Samara;

Germany v Mexico, 11am, Group F, Moscow;

Brazil v Switzerland, 2pm, Group E, Rostov-On-Don.

About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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One comment

  1. He has some time to go. Ronaldo missed 45 freekicks.