Fantastic Friday proves nobody’s home and dry

At the outset here, an admission – while a very high percentage of the World Cup action has been consumed in this seat, an equally large quantity thereof has been viewed without sound.

Simply as ITV is too damn awkward to find on the Sky box and the RTE commentators – with a few notable exceptions in fairness – would bore more than the employees of Tara Mines in a day.

But then, there’s something about a penalty shootout that lights us Irish up. Thus, whether it was the Croatian goalkeeper’s heroics in the earlier rounds, or again today against Brazil or the mesmeric display of Aston Villa custodian Martinez in assisting Argentina past the defiant Dutch.

Ageless Wonder: Luka Modric

To, as John Giles might suggest, take each game on its merits, that the Brazil-Croatia encounter ended up going to the ultimate elimination tool was no shock. Firstly as the obduracy of the Croatians is part of football folklore but, even more so, because this writer has never such a dull, unimaginative and, frankly, boring Brazil team.

In contrast, it’s just as well for Los Pumas that Martinez was in inspired form, because how exactly the match ended up going to spot kicks in the first place. After all, they were 2-0 up with a quarter of an hour to go.

One man band: Lionel Messi

Before, as the wily old fox has done so many times before, football’s great survivor, Louis Van Gaal, pulled off another master stroke, deploying former Premier League striker, Morten Weghorst netted in the eighth minute of stoppage time in normal time and again with three minutes to go in extra time.

So, as the tournament enters its final few furlongs, pre kick off fancies like Brazil, Spain, Germany and the Danish have faded into the desert sunset. And as the results in recent days have proven, the trophy is far from decided on where it will be going home to yet.

Golden Boot? Mbappe

However, for this corner, whatever about storming the Bastille, les bleus have the best marksman remaining in the trench warfare and would therefore be fancied to storm final day and make off with the loot.

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