It is often a feature of World Cups that host countries do much better in the competition than expected. This could be an effect of having the crowd behind the team, or it could be that results are not left to chance as much as sporting principles should require. Whether match fixing is part of the picture, or not, how long will it be before western media starts alleging something untoward being done by Russia? Any criticism would hold much more attention if the Russian team does well.
Putin would also feel a warm breeze of increased support inside Russia were Russia to exceed expectations in the competition. With all political sides hoping for Russia to do well, it would seem almost inevitable that Russia will indeed surprise. That is if you believe politics to be part of sport. Such thoughts spoil the fun and no one wants to think such things happen in the real world.
Here are the Stats on performance of Host Countries in FIFA World Cups. Are they any more than a random competition would suggest?
West Germany 1974
South Korea 2002
South Africa 2010
Rampant Russia all but through to World Cup knockout stage after 3-1 win over Salah’s sorry Egypt
19 Jun, 2018 19:50
A sparkling second-half performance ensured that Russia are virtually guaranteed to qualify for the knock-out rounds for the first time in their modern history, in the wake of a 3-1 victory over a poor Egypt.
Flying winger Denis Cheryshev, who began the tournament on the bench, took a share of the Golden Boot race with his third World Cup goal, while Russia have eight goals after just two games, having failed to win any of their seven warm-up matches before the home tournament.
A team that have often buckled under expectations, this time have exceeded them, to the incredulity of a nation that merely hoped to avoid embarrassment.
Swapping out dynamic but underperforming striker Fedor Smolov from the starting line-up for towering Artem Dzyuba, from the start the home side looked to exploit Egypt’s vulnerability to crosses, evident in their opening-game defeat against Uruguay. The midfielders diligently looked for the target man from all over the pitch, but deliveries lacked quality, and Dzyuba, who also came on to score in Russia’s rout of Saudi Arabia, was tightly marked.
For Egypt, star man Mohamed Salah, playing his first game after a month out with injury, appeared tentative and unwilling to embark on his devastating runs towards goal, though the Liverpool attacker still looked like The Pharaohs’ most dangerous outlet, with a shot that whistled past the post.
Both teams appeared determined not to sit back waiting for errors, but missed a cutting edge. Yet it was a mistake that broke the deadlock at the start of the second half in what had been an evenly-matched tie, when Egypt central defender Ahmed Fathi tragicomically deflected a bouncing knee-high ball past his outstretched goalkeeper.
Pushed forward by a thumping 64,000-strong crowd at the St. Petersburg Stadium, the reds grew in stature, Cheryshev popped up with a vital effort, converting a Mario Fernandes ball beyond Mohamed El-Shenawy.
The match threatened to escalate into another thrashing when Dzyuba was rewarded for his toil with a well-taken goal on 61 minutes.
Salah got his name on the scoresheet after being fouled on the edge of the area, before VAR adjudged that the infringement had actually occured inside the box and the striker stepped up to power his penalty in the top corner.
But the result was never in doubt, as Russia held on for the final 20 minutes, enjoying several more chances to stretch their lead.
While both teams technically remain in the tournament, the only way Russia could fail to get to the knock-outs would be if Saudi Arabia were to score two big wins in their remaining games, and if Uruguay were to inflict a massive defeat upon the team in their remaining game.
More likely, the European and South American sides will play for the top spot in Group A during the final group game in Samara on Monday. Egypt will look to salvage pride when they seek their first-ever World Cup win against Saudi Arabia.
But Tuesday was all about Russia – a much doubted team apparently short on talent that have produced an historic performance, and in the process set off a thousand street parties from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok.
Kane and Southgate. Interesting facial features for racial analysis. Fact being picked up on by troublemakers in Russia.
Some shit-stirring going on from a planted section of ‘support’
England fans give Nazi salutes, sing Hitler song in World Cup city invaded during WWII (VIDEO)
In the footage, which was reportedly taken after England beat Tunisia 2-1 at Volgograd Arena on Monday, the fans are seen performing Nazi salutes while shouting “Sieg Heil”. They also sang songs which glorify the Third Reich.
While the bar’s employees refused to talk on camera, they confirmed that the group of England fans visited the establishment but say that they missed the moment which was shown in the footage as they were in the process of closing the bar.
The video appears to show the fans signing: “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Hitler’s gonna gas them again, you can’t stop them, the Yids from Tottenham, the yids from White Hart Lane,” while laughing and performing Nazi salutes.
While the song is aimed at fans of Tottenham Hotspur – nicknamed ‘Spurs,’ it is all the more abhorrent given it took place in Volgograd, a city scarred by the Battle of Stalingrad in which nearly 2 million people perished in a defeat of Nazi forces in WWII.
Known as Stalingrad during the war, this year marked 75 years since that battle which was the bloodiest of the entire conflict. The fans could now face criminal proceedings for glorifying Nazis in both Russia and their native United Kingdom.
In Russia under the criminal justice system, actions meant to incite hatred based on race or religion can be punished with up to five years in prison. According to reports in UK media, British police are already working with the Football Association to investigate the video.