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October 9, 2019

Costa Rica, all in white and kicking from right to left in the first half, get the game underway Brazil are in their blue away kit. Neymar’s hair is still dyed blond, in case you were wondering I’ll be sure to blame his hair if he has a bad game. I’m still auditioning for a place in the Proper Football Men club 2 min: “Even though I in the great/tiresome debate of our time I prefer Messi over Ronaldo, I can’t help feeling you are being somewhat generous to Messi in your intro there, implying that the Argentina debacle is everyone’s fault but his,” Shaun Wilkinson says “I would certainly rather have Higuain, Dybala, Agüero and Di Maria around me than what Portugal have, yet Ronaldo seems to be doing all right Messi can’t do everything on his own, but seeing as he does seem to pick the squad, the team and decide how they will play, surely he (like Neymar) has to carry the can a bit?” Portugal have a better team than Argentina, who left Higuain, Dybala and Di Maria on the bench last night Messi notoriously like the 3-5-2 system used by Sampaoli last night.7 min: Gamboa belts one miles over from 30 yards 3 min: Fagner crosses from the right and Jesus almost takes it down. He’s tackled before he can shoot But Costa Rica are under pressure here. Bryan Ruiz loses the ball in a dangerous position and Coutinho, who needs no invitation to let fly from long range, rams a shot over from 20 yards 8 min: Brazil are dominating possession. Is that news? Not really. It’s what we expected Costa Rica are sitting back and playing on the break.9 min: Willian finds space on the right and sees his cross cut out Bryan Ruiz tries to dribble away but he loses possession again, Fagner stepping in Willian sets off again, only to be brought down on the right. Costa Rica are annoyed to see Bjorn Kuipers award Brazil a free-kick 12 min: Casemiro has a nosebleed after being hit in the face by the ball. He wanders to the touchline to get it sorted out Brazil are down to 10 men momentarily. It isn’t long before Casemiro, a tissue stuffed up his nose, returns to the pitch 13 min: Brazil have dozed off a bit, Neymar guilty of giving away a free-kick on the right after taking a heavy touch Costa Rica attack and Gamboa tears down the right flank, storming past a surprised Marcelo before cutting the ball back into the area Borges arrives. His eyes light up. This is a wonderful opportunity! But he clips the ball wide of the far post from 12 yards! 15 min: After a decent spell of Costa Rican pressure, Brazil clear their lines, but play’s stopped when Neymar’s clattered by Gonzalez The forward gingerly walks back into position, wincing a bit.17 min: Gonzalez heads Neymar’s free-kick away 18 min: Costa Rica are very physical. They’re roughing up Brazil’s attacking stars Willian’s the first to be bundled over, then it’s Neymar’s turn again. He’d lobbed the ball over his man, but Venegas raced back to haul Neymar down 19 min: Neymar’s free-kick is a waste. He overhits it this time, allowing Navas to make an easy catch 0 min: Coutinho, who’s had a quiet start, tries to release Jesus. The pass is too heavy, though, and it runs through to Navas 23 min: Another Brazil free-kick. Neymar sends it in again and Thiago Silva heads wide 24 min: This is pretty uninspired from Brazil. Gabriel Jesus isn’t in the game. Neymar is strutting Coutinho and Willian are quiet and Marcelo has struggled to bound up the left flank Costa Rica will be delighted with their start.25 min: A cross from Neymar drifts out of play for a goal-kick There are a few derisive whistles from the crowd.26 min: Neymar runs dangerously at Costa Rica on the left When he’s tackled, the ball runs to Marcelo, whose hopeful shot squirms through to Jesus He controls and thwacks a shot high past Navas, but the flag’s up for offside. The goal is disallowed Jesus, who always looks upset, looks especially upset.27 min: This is more like it from Brazil Coutinho looks up and hangs a brilliant pass over the Costa Rica defence, releasing Neymar He’s onside but his first touch is poor, allowing Navas to charge out and block him The ball trundles away to safety. For the first time, though, Costa Rica are panicking at the back

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