24 min I’m wondering if the mid-season World Cup is improving the quality of the football as, though there are players missing who’d have made a summer edition because they had time to recover form knack, those who are fit aren’t exhausted. I say that because the pace of the games has been unlike international tournaments of the recent past – though it’s also true that the game has probably sped up in recent years.
22 min The corner is half-cleared, and Croatia get back on the ball to start their passing again.
21 min It’s Ziyech, who spanks straight into the wall, then Croatia break with Kramaric who loses the ball, wins it back and, from the right, feeds it inside for Vlasic … but a timely challenge from I’m not sure who sends it behind for a corner.
19 min Hakimi mooches across the face of the D and Modric comes in to challenge, getting a flick on the ball and a whole boot on the metatarsus. Free-kick Morocco, 25 yards out, dead centre. Ziyech fancies this, likewise Hakimi…
18 min Lovely from Morocco, Hakimi and Ziyech exchanging passes following a quick throw before Ziyech ziyechs, curling a gorgeous cross into the middle and En Nesyri is up! But he misses his header, and that is a significant oversight.
1s min “YELLOW CAR SPOTTO!?” bellows a profoundly affronted Matin Cain. “Everyone knows this is called ‘Cheese on Wheels’ – you spot a yellow car & say ‘cheese on wheels’ for the point. Bonus for yellow mini is ‘mini punch, no returns’.
17 min Amallah gives the ball away to Perisic in centrefield, and he advances then unleashes, a swerving, floaty effort that dips not far over the bar, but Bono had it covered.
15 min Perisic is wearing number 4 and playing on the left-wing – I fear not, I’ve informed the Hague – and he finds Modric out wide, who diddles his man with a stepover before drilling low across the face. But that lack of a centre-forward is in evidence, no one gambling to get on the end of it.
13 min Vlasic heads on and Kramaric collects nicely, but it’s him against 17 defenders and he’s quickly unloaded. Morocco then counter, Ziyech nipping inside onto his left foot and shooting … but Lovren blocks at source, then Hakimi rinses down the right and crosses low, but a deflection takes the ball back to Livkovic. there’s a decent tempo to this game, though not, as yet, much quality.
11 min Excellent work from Ziyech, who catches Kovacic in possession and finds Ounahi, but when the ball comes back, Gvardiol is on-hand to make the challenge. On Gvardiol, by the way, I’m told he could be very special but haven’t seen loads of Leipzig; do those who have think that’s the case?
10 min I guess it makes sense for Morocco to try and get at the Croatia back four, because that’s the best way to stop them getting the ball into midfield – their biggest weapon and exactly what they’re trying to do.
9 min Morocco are pressing Croatia high – that’s interesting, and should speed up the game – but Ziyech then leaves one on Gvardiol who is, incidentally, wearing a mask.
7 min “I’d like to mention a fun addition to the game Yellow Car Punch,” emails Kieran McHugh. “Namely Green Car Hair Skruffle. Especially good if the younger participants are too small to skruffle anyone else’s hair. You also appear to have forgotten to mention the ‘No returns’ rule vital to avoid out and out anarchy.”
I wonder what Bakunin and Proudhon would make of it. But in our house, ‘No Returns”’ is just assumed because the rule is that the person who sees the car first administers punishment, not anyone who sees it anytime. Although my daughter has begun hitting me in advance, when she knows there’s one coming up.
7 min Morocco make a business of getting the corner away, even though it’s deflected to Gvardiol on the edge, but they get there in the end.
5 min A poor Morocco throw is intercepted by Kovacic, who prods forward towards Kramaric just inside the box, but Saiss is in sharply to put the ball behind before sharing some sentiments with his teammates.
4 min Morocco get their passing going, Hakimi and Ounahi moving down the right, but Ounahi runs into trouble on halfway and Croatia begin knocking it about once more.
3 min Modric sends Vlasic down the right, but his cross is deflected and Bono collects easily and under no pressure.
2 min Walid Regragui, the Moroccan manager, is already on the touchline enduring stress. I’ve not a clue how people in his position maintain any semblance of calm.
1 min We’re all agreed that Croatia have the best kits, right? This one has a kind of apron down the front – maybe they’re having lobster afterwards – so it’s not as good as the full check, but it’s still absolutely nails
1 min Off we go!
“I grew up in Devon,” says Sam Ryan “but used to go to London a lot. A three-hour drive each time. We had a game to guess the number of roundabouts on the A303 on the trip, and it was my job to note it down each time we went through one. My Dad won. I think the total was 17. Ah…..childhood. What memories!”
Arf. When we’d go to Manchester to visit my gran, my parents liked to call out “mezuzah” when we drove through the Jewish area in which she lived, a mezuzah being a doorpost-mounted affair which marks out a Jewish house. It was a real thrill, I can tell you.
Morocco’s anthem, by the way, is low-key banger, and the Moroccans in the crowd give it absolutely loads.
Anthem time, flags to the fore and hands on hearts. Politics and football don’t mix, apparently.
And here they come!
Moving from advanced strategy games to today’s, that Croatia midfield is extremely proper. I can’t lie, I spent a while wondering what it was Mateo Kovacic did other than get swapped with Ross Barkley, but he’s grown into a very nice ball-carrier and handy physical presence. I wonder, though, if Morocco can out-run them.
“Daniel, please don’t quote my name (I prefer anonymity)“ says someone we shall refer to as Mr X. “But the definitive Yellow Car player is Arthur Shappey (alter ego of John Finnemore in the excellent Cabin Pressure).
I’m afraid that without the dead arm, I can’t get on board. I think it’s like paintballing which, if it didn’t hurt, would not be fun.
Something I just learnt from Wikipedia: Trent’s maternal grandmother was once in a relationship with Alex Ferguson, before she emigrated to New York. Meantime, Philip Malcolm points out that he has three first names, which makes me think of him as Brazilian, Trentão.
“As a child growing up in the Midlands,” says Richard O’Hagan, “we played a version of Yellow Car/Spotto on family car journeys. It was called ‘My Bridge’ and involved trying to be the first to shout that phrase every time we saw a bridge. It was only years later that I realised that my parents always scored the most bridges because they were sat in the front and the four of us kids were jammed in the back with a greatly restricted view of the road ahead.”
Four in the back, that’s not something you see often. I used to get collected from school by a childminder, and in her Vauxhall Chevette would be one in the front and one in the front footwell, five in the back, one in each footwell and one perched on that middle lump.
“I wish they would show the club teams of the players involved next to their names,” muses Kevin in Chicago, “so we’d have a reasonable idea of the level they are at. That is all.”
You’ve come to the right place!
Harry Kane, incidentally, has an ankle situation. If he doesn’t make USA on Friday, Gareth Southgate will, presumably, pick between Callum Wilson, a proper centre-forward, or Marcus Rashford, a better player with more experience at the top level. I think I’d lean Wilson to try and keep the same system, and get the ball held up as well as possible. But I see both sides.
Elite-level sportsfolk are incredible. We’re watching VT of “Trent” – that’s going to come across as a tired gag, but really I’m trying to avoid typing “Alexander-Arnold” – and he’s been asked about how he thinks he’s defended this season. Amazingly, he said that people talk about the times when you do your job badly, not when you do your job well; I might try that at home next time I smash something. But that’s the self-confidence you need to be as brilliant as he is, and I can’t believe England picking him would ever be any kind of debate. I wouldn’t start him, but if I needed a goal – and especially if had Harry Kane – he’d be one of my first changes every time.
“In Australia,” emails Penelope Cottier, “when there’s a yellow car visible, the first to yell ‘Spotto’ wins. That is the only rule of the game. It’s called Spotto, surprisingly.”
So we’re saying there’s no physical element? Total mental disintegration, I guess.
“This hitting someone on seeing a yellow car has been around for some years,” says Tim Skern. “Ten years ago, my daughters used to drive me potty whacking each other in the back of the car every time they saw a yellow one. I never quite understood the fun of it.”
Causing minor pain to people I love
was is a central part of my chlidhood life. Same as ruckusing with your friends, ragging them over stuff they did 37 years ago, that kind of thing. Fro what it’s worth, I wrote about this kind of thing here.
ITV are now showing us a collection of the best World Cup volleys. Conspicuous by its absence, though was this belter – and check out the hashtag for more favourites.
Nigel de Jong just suggested that Cristiano Ronaldo go to Sporting, become majority owner, appoint himself player-manager, then become chairman when he’s finished playing. That’d be so en vogue it’s almost imploring us not to waste our time
fighting blind-minded thoughts of despair, but I’m not sure it’s entirely likely.
Football is the greatest, part Infinity:
Time taken by ITV to make its England pivot: seven minutes.
In similar vein: a game I’ve learnt from my nine-year-old daughter, common in 20s London (and presumably elsewhere): Yellow Car. It goes like this: you see a yellow car, you shout “yellow car” and dispense a dead arm to whoever you’re with.
Let me share a massive déja vu I just enjoyed: Joe Cole pronouncing “world” as “weld”, extremely common gear in 80s London. Also of that ilk: “embarrassed” pronounced as “embarrissed”.
Morocco (4-2-3-1): Bounou; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saïss, Mazraoui; Amrabat, Ounahi; Amallah, Boufal, Ziyech; En Nesyri. Subs: Hamdallah, Zaroury, Sabiri, El Kajoui, Chair, Jabrane, Aboukhlal, Ezzalzouli, El Yamiq, Dari, Cheddira, Tagnaouti, El Khannouss, Benoun, Attiat Allah.
Croatia (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvadiol, Sosa; Brozovic, Modric, Kovacic; Vladic, Kramaric, Perisic. Subs: Grbic, Ivusic, Stanisic, Barisic, Erlic, Majer, Livaja, Pasalic, Petkovic, Budimir, Orsic, Vida, Sutalo, Sucic, Jakic.
Referee: Fernando Andrés Rapallini (Argentina)
And it don’t stop! As if yesterday’s antics weren’t enough, here commenceth another quadruple game-day, a tasty tetris of World Cup FootballTM for our delectation. Bing-bing whee sliiiide.
At Mexico 86, Morocco became the first African nation to advance from the group stages, beaten by a late Lothar Matthäus free-kick in the last 16. And though they’ve only qualified three items since then, failing to replicate that achievement on each occasion, they’ve got some serious players this time around so will be quietly confident of doing something here.
The star of Moroccan football is the electric Achraf Hakimi, a one-man right flank. But on the left, Bayern’s Noussair Mazraoui is also excellent while, in between, are Roman Saïss formerly of Wolves and Nayef Aguerd of West Ham; that’s a pretty sound defence. In front of them can be found Sofyan Amrabat of Fiorentina and Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea, whose guile is so crucial that, when he fell out with Vahid Halilhodzic, it was the coach who made way. I do wonder if they’ll struggle for goals – Youssef En-Nesyri, their likely centre-forward, is not exactly prolific – but he can play so, if the attacking midfielders can get around him, his team are in business.
Croatia, meanwhile, are a minor version of Germany’s Turniermannschaft – tournament team – a constant presence in the later stages of proceedings. And looking at their current side, the potential for more success is there. Josip Juranovic – of Celtic – is a dynamic right-back , while in the middle and on the left of the back four, Josko Gvardiol and Bosko Sutalo have elite-level potential.
But it’s in midfield where Croatia’s class consistently tells and though the tremendous Ivan Rakitic has departed, neither Luka Modric nor his genius have done likewise, and next to him, Marcelo Brozovic provides first-class ballast. Like Morocco, though, Croatia lack a reliable scorer, which is to say that even if goals are at a premium, both these sides will fancy themselves to accompany Belgium, the likely group winners, into the last 16, so we can expect another engrossing, uplifting match.
Kick-off: 1pm local, 10am GMT
https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2022/nov/23/morocco-v-croatia-world-cup-2022-live Morocco v Croatia: World Cup 2022 – live | World Cup 2022