International Match-day roundup: Goals Galore and a Few Shocks

As the major leagues of the world come to a screeching halt for a “much-loved” international break, TKTG takes a look at some of the results as well as the hot topics from a weekend of WC 2014 qualifiers and international friendlies.

The Friendlies

With most major teams involved in battles to qualify for WC ’14, the most significant teams playing friendlies over the weekend were two former world champions, Brazil and France.

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Brazil sent out a squad filled with household names from Europe’s elite clubs in their game against Iraq. They did not disappoint. Chelsea’s Oscar starred with 2 goals, while Hulk, Lucas, Neymar and a returning Kaka all got on the score sheet for a 6-0 Brazilian victory. Read Soccernet’s match report here and get a flavour of each player’s performance with Goal.com’s player ratings.

France chose to prepare for Tuesday’s crunch WCQ against Spain with a friendly against Japan in Paris. Things did not go to plan however as the hosts went down 1-0 to an 88th minute conter-attack in which ManU’s Kagawa played an important role. So not the best warmup for Les Bleus before they meet the reigning World and European champions. Check out the game’s match report and players’ ratings.

The Road to Brazil – Europe

The European WCQs passed by with most major teams recording comfortable wins. Russia caused one of the few upsets by putting on a sterling defensive display to shut-out Portugal and earn an invaluable 1-0 victory. The Russian keeper Akinfeev in particular was in fine form, pulling off some crucial saves to keep Portugal at bay and cement Russia’s place on top of Group F with a 100% record.

Italy pulled off a routine 3-1 victory away to Armenia, although conceding an equalising goal having gone 1-up is sure to have annoyed the Azzuri. Both Pirlo and De Rossi got on the score sheet for the Italians.

The Republic of Ireland were handed a footballing lesson at home by WC runners-up Germany. Reus and Kroos each grabbed a brace as the Germans put 6 past Westwood in the Irish goal.

v.D. Vaart and Huntelaar were also amongst the goals as the Dutch eased part Andorra 3-0. Like the Germans, the Dutch also head their group with a 100% record.

England put 5 past a hapless San Marino with Rooney and Welbeck bagging two goals each. England head Group H but can be caught by either of Poland or Montenegro who both have a game in hand.

IKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/GettyImages

Belarus were at the receiving end of some sumptuous finishing by Pedro as Spain recorded a 4-0 away victory. The World and European Champions will now face France on Tuesday in a top-of-the-table clash with both teams currently on 6 points from 2 games.

Read Soccernet’s review of Europe’s WCQ match day here, and go through the standings in each table on FIFA’s official website.

The Road to Brazil – South America

With matters far from decided and things still tight at the top, the South American WC qualifiers continue to provide immense drama as well as bags of entertainment for fans and neutrals alike. With all teams bar Venezuela playing, a lot was at stake.
The tie of the round took place in Mendoza with Argentina playing hosts to a strong Uruguayan team. What was expected to be a close match turned out to be quite one-sided with the Argentinian attacking trio of Messi (2 goals), Aguero (1 goal) and Di Maria (2 assists) proving too hot to handle. Each of the goals was well taken and a joy to behold. Check out Goal.com’s player ratings for this encounter.

Gabriel Rossi/LatinContent/Getty Images

Elsewhere Colombia and Ecuador also pulled off two goal victories to remain within 2 points of Argentina at the top. You can find the complete South American WCQ standings here.

Views, Reviews and Whispers

A Pedro hat-trick for Spain and a majestic showing by the Argentinian front line; read Goal.com’s take on what we learned from Friday’s WC qualifiers.

Paul Wilson over at the Guardian writes about five talking points from England’s win over San Marino.

Germany have what it takes to supplant Spain as football’s dominant team after their showing against Ireland, according to Kevin Palmer.

And finally, James Appell believes Capello’s brilliant start as manager of Russia has a touch of deja vu about it.

What did you find most fascinating about this international match day? Did any performance catch your eye? Do you feel the next round of matches will have some shock results? Leave your comments here, or share your thoughts on our twitter and facebook pages.

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2 Comments on “International Match-day roundup: Goals Galore and a Few Shocks”

  1. thesoccerplanet October 14, 2012 at 3:24 am #

    I was fairly surprised that Russia pulled of that 1-0 victory. Ronaldo was obviously not at his best, and the Russian goalkeeper did a good job keeping the ball from the net. Nevertheless, they deserved it, and now they are at the top of their group. I doubt that the Portuguese will let this happen next time they face off. I’m eager to watch Spain take on France and Italy take on Denmark on the 16th, of which I predict wins from the Spanish and the Danes.

  2. Humaid October 14, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    Yeah, it’s unlikely that the Russians will be able to shut out the Portuguese at home. However, Capello is a wily coach – expect a hard-fought game in June with the Russians sitting deep and counter-attacking at speed (a tactic that could expose Alves’s and Pepe’s positional weaknesses).
    With respect to the Spain-France game, it may end up being a cagey, stop-start affair with Spain sneaking it by the odd goal in three. Should be a fun match day.

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