The Rio Report

Facts: 7 truths – Mourinho was right, Blatter has a point and Spain could still emerge with immortality

The Rio Report

Mourinho was right about Casillas

Jose Mourinho was pilloried for having the temerity to drop Iker Casillas when he was Real Madrid boss. Many thought it was retribution following a clash of personalities but, a year on, the now Chelsea manager is looking more and more vindicated after Casillas followed up his howler in the Champions League final with another two against the Dutch.

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For once, Blatter has a point

Whisper it, but Sepp Blatter may have a point. The first couple of days of this World Cup have been littered with some dreadful refereeing decisions. Croatia were denied a good goal against Brazil in the opening match while Mexico were denied two against Cameroon. Blatter’s idea to allow managers two challenges to refereeing decisions per match would be much-welcomed particularly by the Croatians. Whether it will happen is another matter.

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Spain could still emerge with immortality

Makes no bones about it, Spain took an absolute hammering at the hands of the Netherlands. The Dutch were better all over the pitch against a jaded Spanish side devoid of ideas or creativity. However, if Spain come back from this humiliation and claim the World Cup, then there is no argument, they are the greatest international team of all time. It is cliché but true champions rally in times like this – claiming back-to-back World Cups after such a dreadful start would be their greatest ever achievement.

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Australia could prove kingmakers in Group B

It looked for a while that Australia were going to be on the end of quite the drubbing when Jorge Valdivia's strike gave Chile a two-goal lead with only 14 minutes on the clock. However, the Socceroos regrouped, cuts the arrears courtesy of a Tim Cahill header on 35 minutes and then set about unsettling their opponents for much of the rest of the match. While they will not get out of the group, they did enough to suggest that they will be far from pushovers when they meet Netherlands and Spain - so do not be surprised if they get result against one of the European powerhouses, it has already been that kind of World Cup.

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Mexico: A side to be avoided

Despite having had a tumultuous build-up to the tournament that saw them scrape in via the play-offs, Mexico are a very capable side. Granted they appear a little porous at the back but they were clever, incisive and dangerous against Cameroon in their opening game of the tournament. Of course, they have little chance of winning the tournament but they could spring a surprise in the knockout rounds if drawn against one of the favourites – they look a potential banana skin and a team to avoid.

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Cameroon rightly punished for a shocking lack of ambition

Even before a ball was kicked, it looked as though it was a straight shootout between Croatia and Mexico for the second qualifying spot in Group A. And judging by their performance against Mexico, Cameroon were already resigned to that reality. They made little to no forward intent and were flattered by the 1-0 scoreline, especially considering that the Mexicans had two good goals disallowed. It hadn’t needed to be that way though – had they shown even the slightest ambition they may have secured a result. However, as it stands, they have set the tone for what is likely to be a disappointing tournament.

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The best start to a World Cup in living memory

The build-up to this World Cup has been mired in controversy but the opening couple of days have been nothing short of sensational. There have been shocks, poor officiating and some sumptuous football. Continue like this and this World Cup could go down as one of the greatest-ever.

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