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World Cup, day four

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Another spectacular day in Brazil with all of the ups and downs we have now become accustomed to in this World Cup.

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The Swiss pulled out a last minute 2-1 win against a strong Ecuador team. The South Americans showed why they are so highly regarded and yet ranked the 22nd strongest team of the 32 assembled for the tourney in Brazil. Ecuadorian coach, in the post-game press conference said: “Our emotions betrayed us. We lost our composure on the field even though we knew what the Swiss were capable of doing.”

France played well in a deserved 3-0 win over tough-playing Honduras. But it was Honduras, who France beat, and a 10-man Central American team to boot. Frankly, at times the European team’s defense looked suspect and one wonders how their attack will perform against a top defensive side.

French daily Le Monde trumpeted: “Benzema and the Blues passed their debut test.”

Argentina started slowly and needed a little Lionel Messi magic to pull out a 2-1 win over Bosnia, who proved they will be a contender for the second slot in Group F. The Argentines are so strong they can be forgiven for not bringing their A game to this match, but they better get into gear within the next two games if they are to be hitting on all cylinders when they need it.

Buenos Aires daily, La Nacion, had this headline: “Argentina suffered but beat Bosnia 2-1, with many doubts.” A subhead, which accompanied a picture of Messi celebrating his score in the game, stated: “A yell of fury from the soul, Messi returns to scoring in the World Cup after eight year drought.

Among the day’s headlines was the conclusive use of goal line technology in the France-Honduras game. The ball in question struck the post and then traveled the length of the goal without entering it. The technology correctly showed there was no score. Then a miscue by the goalkeeper pushed the ball into the goal and across the line before he scooped it up and out. The technology correctly showed the ball had crossed the line for the score.

Ironically, the Hondurans, who suffered the score argued the ball had not crossed the line despite the clarity of the display. The headline in Honduran daily La Prensa was “FIFA technology awards second goal to France.”

Meanwhile other international press was insistent on its locally-flavored thematic coverage. The BBC’s website had, as its second headline, after their coverage of the day’s three games: “Is Spain’s six-year domination of international football in tatters after their stunning humiliation by the Netherlands?” The German press, via Spiegel Online, commented on Argentina’s win by stating: “Argentina wins thanks to Messi against Bosnia.” The article spoke of the “brave Bosnian efforts” against the “stumbling giants of South America.”

As the day came to a close we were left with the images of Argentina’s Lionel Messi screaming his goal, Karim Benzema slapping his French Rooster after his second goal, Honduras’ Luis Suarez arguing with France’s Didier Deschamps over the goal line technology (GLT) call, Haris Seferovic celebration over his improbable winner, and those two images of the GLT showing one ball not crossing the goal line and the other clearly doing so.

Tomorrow we have Portugal-Germany, Iran-Nigeria and Ghana-USA on tap.

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