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World Cup, day thirteen

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Another surprise filled day at the Brazilian World Cup came to a close with a four-game slate.

The Costa Ricans held England to a 0-0 draw depriving the Europeans of a single point and keeping them to a single goal in the tournament. We may have seen the last of Wayne Rooney who turns 29 this year.

The Costa Ricans made history on many fronts, beating or drawing with all three World Cup champions they were paired up with in their Group and coming up on top when not a single odds maker even gave them a chance to progress.

Uruguay continued an interesting cup with their second must-win victory in a row against formidable opposition. They may have lost Luis Suarez for the tournament though, if FIFA weighs in over the next day or two on whether the striker bit Giorgio Chiellini in their match today.

Another point of contention today was whether Claudio Marchisio, not known for rough play, actually did what he seemed to have done to earn a direct red card in the Italy-Uruguay match. If one looks at the replays carefully, what may seem a routine tousle for the ball is actually quite a bit more and the referee is but six feet away when it happens. Notice that the confrontation’s climax occurs when the ball is no longer in contention as it is to Marchisio’s right while Egidio Arebalo Rios is on his left. The fact that the Italian’s studs-up foot strikes Rio’s calf, and then the Italian turns away from Rios to dribble the ball away, clearly indicates that the strike was purposeful, and intentional kick.

In the final two matches of the day Colombia outclassed Japan and Greece edged out Ivory Coast to progress from their Group C. Colombia will play Uruguay while Costa Rica will play Greece in the next round.

We are still having issues with referees in this World Cup, as the near-violent nature of clashes at this tournament seems to be on the upswing. Biting aside, the number of “professional” fouls committed in the box during corners, or during the run of play when a give and go ends because the recipient of the pass is on the ground before he can accept the pass, or simply off the ball when two players compete for position or possession, is simply too high. In the first 11 minutes of the Italy-Uruguay game we counted a foul every 82.5 seconds or eight in that short time span.

Water breaks do seem to be taking place now in the hotter matches and we are hearing less about security breaches and traffic jams, but we are not sure if they are on the decline or simply not being reported as news any more. But among the many travelers who have made it to Brazil this summer the theme has been fun, in and out of the stadiums, as the hosts seem to have shared their particular joy of life with all comers.

Tomorrow the tournament brings us Bosnia vs. Iran and Argentina vs. Nigeria in the conclusion of games in Group F and Ecuador vs. France and Honduras vs. Switzerland in the finals games of Group E.

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