The Rio Report

Seven Truths: Belgian brilliance, Pele in a jam, Neville abuse confusion

The Rio Report

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Belgium kids are good

All eyes were on Belgium early Tuesday evening. Outside of the nations you expect to do well every four years, the Belgians attracted a great deal of hype as their current crop of gifted players came together as a very formidable ‘new kid on the block’ who could possibly even shock many and go all the way. Did their scrappy late 2-1 win over Algeria change that idea? Well, no. In fact, that they managed to emerge from a nervy and disappointing performance with three points could well be the mark of champions. It’s probably the best result for them, as they learned valuable lessons about the big stage whilst not dropping any points in the process.

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Don’t be called Phil Neville when the other Phil Neville is performing so badly

A 60-year-old radiator salesman from Suffolk by the same name happens to own the immediate Twitter handle for their collective title - @philneville – and has been paying the price for sharing his name with a man many BBC viewers found ‘dull’ and ‘boring'. The former referee, who was a fourth official during some Premier League games in the 1990s, said he was used to insults from football fans, but could not believe the content of some of the messages. "Some were very abusive. One person said 'I hope you die',” he told the BBC website. "Working in the sales industry, my name has been a benefit - people do remember me. With Twitter there are some real positives, but there are downsides - particularly if you're famous."

[Fans abuse wrong Phil Neville after commentary debut]

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The Mexico goalkeeper is very good

The star of Brazil v Mexico, Guillermo Ochoa, has spent a 10-year professional career at native club America and Ligue 1 side Ajaccio. Far from a high-profile career for someone who many diehard world football fans will tell you has been a high-class keeper for much of that time. Making his career even tougher to fathom is the fact Ajaccio released him in May. Yes, that keeper who just outshone the multi-talented host nation is currently unemployed. We don’t think that will last. While he surely won’t be celebrating his birthday on July 13 by playing in the World Cup final, you can bet his agent will have had over a dozen phone calls by the time ‘the Mexican Gordon Banks’ turns 29.

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But man between the sticks for Russia is not

You can't accuse Igor Akinfeev of not trying to inject a bit of excitement into this World Cup. With 68 minutes gone, the Russia goalkeeper decided to throw the ball over his head and into the net from the Lee Keun-ho effort. Dreadful doesn't even start to begin to describe the error. Lee Keun-ho celebrated like his numbers had come up in the national lottery. It wasn't the winner, but South Korea would have happily settled for the 1-1 draw which they got.

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Aleksandr Kerzhakov proves experience is invaluable

You can’t buy a poacher to bail you out of a tight corner. With Russia staring defeat in the face against South Korea, Aleksandr Kerzhakov joined Vladimir Beschastnykh as joint-top goalscorer for the country with 26 goals. He earned his country a 1-1 draw after coming off the bench. He had been on the field for three minutes and 16 seconds when he scored Russia’s equaliser and looks to be a lot sharper than when he struggled at Euro 2012.

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The chronic traffic in Sao Paolo has no respect for Brazil’s greatest player

Pele was one of many who missed the first half of Brazil's World Cup match against Mexico after being caught in traffic as fans rushed to get home before kick-off. "For the first time I had to listen to the first half of a Brazil game inside a car, we were stuck in traffic," the Brazilian soccer great told Globo TV. Widely regarded as the greatest ever player, Pele at least missed no goals with the tournament favourites being held to a 0-0 draw in Fortaleza.

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Moment of truth for Spain is likely to prompt changes

The word on the street is that Xavi, Gerard Pique, David Silva and Diego Costa are all likely to be chopped for Spain’s World Cup clash with Chile this evening at the Maracana, and replaced by Koke, Javi Martinez, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas. Having been thumped 5-1 by the Netherlands, Spain know a defeat will see them exit the tournament at the first stage. The heat is on in Rio, as if the temperature needing ramping up any further.

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