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Saturday, June 21, 2014

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Halftime and Postgame Thread For 6/21/14: Day 10 Recap

Day 10 Best XI: 



Intriguing day it was at the World Cup, here was Day 10's team of the day: 

Vincent Enyeama is the clear choice in goal, as he contends with Guillermo Ochoa and Keylor Navas for goalkeeping performance of the tournament. His late denial of Dzeko adds to his great reputation. 

Enyeama's presence was aided by his prodigious centerback, 20-year-old Kenneth Omeruo. A star making performance by the Chelsea property. Although his team's heroic effort received no points, Amir Hossein Sadeghi was a firm member of Carlos Queiroz's great backline.   

Harrison Afful may have provided a great cross for Andre Ayew's second tally of the tournament, but his defending was what caught the eye for me on the day. Only one arguable mistake he made on the defensive end, and that was him having to recover for Jonathan Mensah out of positive on Mario Gotze's goal to start a wild second half. 

The second member of a courageous Iranian backline was Mehrdad Pooladi, who helped in forgettable days for Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero. 

Andranik Teymourian almost completed in a forgettable day for Lionel Messi, but despite the Argentine legend's epic match winner Teymourian was constantly on him throughout the 90 and superbly cogging the middle. 

Sulley Muntari didn't sully his reputation with an energetic display against Germany. He highlighted his always synonymous two way ability, intercepting Kroos' poor pass in the middle and setting up Asamoah Gyan's fine counter attack goal. Gyan and his energy so good, it kept both Miro Klose and Mario Gotze off the list despite scoring the German tallies. 

Despite the tough Bosnian defeat, Miralem Pjanic exhibited why he is one of football's great midfield talents with smart runs and outstanding passes for another match. 

And to round it off, Emmanuel Emenike was simply a terror towards the Bosnian backline all night with his constant movement and energy towards the outsides of the pitch. 

Your Day 10 team of the day, with Day 11 coverage forthcoming. 


FT: Nigeria 1-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina 

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The best eliminated team in the tournament so far isn't Spain or England, but Bosnia & Herzegovina. Unfortunately, despite that honor considering the other teams, it is a recognition that Safet Susic and his men didn't want. 

Vincent Enyeama and the officials were the biggest reasons why this positive and capable Bosnian side are going home after next Thursday. The team move of the tournament was wrongly called offside by assistant referee Mark Rule, while Emmanuel Emenike's move on Emir Spahic that wasn't called for a foul lead to Peter Odemwingie's decider.     

Though Misimovic couldn't produce the quality ball he offered to Dzeko on that goal that wasn't a goal, Pjanic was a threat throughout. However, Susic probably should have left Hajrovic and Medunjanin on a bit longer as they weren't fading. His nephew, Tino-Sven, failed to provide anything of significance while Muhamed Besic's tremendous stamina almost cost him with a rough challenge on Emenike that should have been a yellow in my mind. 

Emenike displayed all of his strengths tonight thanks to having much more space to run on the wings compared to a "park the bus" Iranian defense. His energy was terrific and showcased why he is the #1 Nigerian striker despite the attacking talent in their system. He was also aided by Odemwingie being in the lineup, making Keshi's decision to have him start on the bench vs Iran quite foolish. 

Emenike serves as the true playmaker on this team, as Onazi still tries to find a balance at 21 on being a consistent two way midfielder while John Obi Mikel just always lacks that burst to make deep threatening runs into the box.  

Overshadowed by the referee mistakes and Enyeama's brilliance was the accelerated growth of Kenneth Omeruo. The 20-year-old centerback had a star making performance tonight for Nigeria. Dzeko was getting the better of him and Joseph Yobo at the beginning of the match, but Omeruo showed why he is such a valued commodity in Chelsea circles by keeping solid positioning and alert reading of the City star's movement.

The result puts Nigeria in pole position for second place in the group despite facing Argentina in the final match. Iran has to come out of character to get a win against a talented Bosnia side who don't want to end their first World Cup Finals without a point.  

And though Keshi won't say it publicly, he definitely owes a hat tip to Peter O'Leary and his crew. 

(Team of the Day forthcoming)....

Full time: Germany 2-2 Ghana 

Photos From FIFA.com

What an enthralling second half that was in this contest, made more by Joachim Low replacing Boateng for Mustafi at rightback. And it backfired. 

The Sampdoria man's poor marking gave up Ayew's equalizer and he was constantly stretched and out of key spots throughout the half. In fairness to him, the rest of the German defense was also struggling. 

Lahm and Kroos just didn't have their best days and questions will center once more on moving the German captain back to his original rightback place. The right wide defensive spot was a clear weakness only when Mustafi came on as Boateng was decent there again. Still, Lahm was never a dominant presence at holding midfield with Bayern Munich this season and Low may realize that move must be made. 

The legend Miro Klose made the difference by setting records with his key equalizer. But it was two other World Cup veterans in Muntari and Gyan who were sensational in the second half, combing on what could have been the match winner. 

Thankfully neither side lost this one, as it would have been the second cruelest blow of the tournament following Ecuador's late conceding goal at the hands of Haris Seferovic of Switzerland. 

Harrison Afful produced his best game ever and will certainly be the rightback in the final match against Portugal. A starter's role likely won't be given however to Kevin Boateng, who just didn't provide anything of significance for Kweshi Appiah to have him on the field at match's beginning.  

This difficult group is living up so far to its "Group of Death" mantle. 

Halftime: Ghana 0, Germany 0

Photo from FIFA.com

One of the keys of the first half was how Toni Kroos's dangerous ability to make telling passes was limited by good shape not only by the likes of Rabiu and Muntari, both also a much maligned backline. There has been no mental mistakes from Harrison Afful in his debut start at this World Cup, while John Boye has made up for his listless beginning against the United States to stay alert on Ozil, Gotze, and Muller's constant movement.

This is a bit where the loss of Marco Reus, coupled with maybe Ilkay Gundogan, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Mario Gomez also not in this lineup, have been felt for the first time for Germany. Low is having to see his side have Khedira stretch out to the right for any width play as Jerome Boateng and Howedes have barely gone forward. Both are fully aware of Ghana's dangerous pace on the flanks and just haven't risked that.

If things don't change for Low, bringing in Schurrle or Podolski for extra left footed pace on the flanks for either Ozil or Gotze will be key. Also, he may want to bring Schweinsteiger on for Boateng and move Lahm back to rightback.

For  Ghana, Appiah will be content for now, although Andrew Ayew and Boateng will have to show more on the offensive end in the second half. And Gyan has to do better on the chances he gets. 
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