Play by play
FT: Japan 1 – 3 Colombia || I hear you, girl. I feel the same way about James. NOT ONLY THAT, but guess what? I got my dance. I got my dance! I got my salsa! Sure, it wasn’t an entire team engaged in hip-swiveling, but my hero, James, led a little shuffle after his moment of brilliance in the corner. I might go outside of James’ hotel and hold up a boom box playing love songs. Seriously. So, anyway, that leaves Colombia on top-top of the group, with 9 points. That’s perfection. Thus, Colombia will face Uruguay in the next round. In the other game, Greece won a dubious penalty at the end and somehow creeped past Ivory Coast for the final group spot. So those are the two who live to see another day. Goodbye, Japan. It’s been swell, but you don’t really deserve to stick around. You’re not nearly as entertaining as, say, Colombia. HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT COLOMBIA YET?! WOOF. YES? WELL, TOO BAD. Colombia, I can’t wait to watch you again. And you weren’t even full strength today, you tease. Thanks for sticking around, folks. Hope you all had fun. And go back and watch that James goal. Again. And again. Tell your friends about it. They might shed a tear or two.
You don’t see this often where there’s no injury, but we have a goalkeeper substitution. 8,000 YEAR-OLD GOALKEEPER LEGEND FARYD MONDRAGÓN HAS COME ON FOR OSPINA.
This is getting awkward. I’m yelling “DANCE FOR ME, COLOMBIANS!” at the TV and I’m fully aware of how that might come across. But I don’t mean it like that and I certainly don’t run around yelling “DANCE FOR ME, COLOMBIANS!” whenever I interact with Colombians. Anyway, it’s Jackson Martínez again, y’all He gets the ball in the box and a quick touch and change of direction leaves Japanese defenders Atsuto Uchida and Maya Yoshida on their rears. After that, the finish is simple. Shout out to James for the brilliant ball to Jackson. You have to admire that ball. So, anyway, here I am applauding the Colombians, but am I rewarded with a dance? No. I might have to quit you, Colombia. You’ve been given three chances. It’s 3-1.
Adrián Ramos had the ball on the left flank, cruising into the Japanese half. The Japanese defense parted like an early 1990s haircut. All he had to do … I repeat, ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS PLAY A SQUARE BALL TO A RUNNER, ALL ALONE, CHARGING DOWN THE RIGHT. But he can’t make the simple pass. We don’t have many more opportunities to watch Colombians dance, guys. You’ll need to excuse my ALL CAPS. I feel strongly about this.
“I’m bored of you and you soccer obsession, dad. Go by yourself next time. I’m done trying to appease you and win your affection. I’m trying to get my sleep on.” — Regards, Daughter.
As a reminder, Japan need two (2) goals to even start to have a conversation about how they can qualify for the knockout stage. There’s a training game where you split into two teams, and collect points by making a series of passes without losing possession (e.g., 1 point per 10 passes). Japan would be doing quite well in that game but, alas, that’s not what they’re playing. Goals, Japan. You need them.
It’s terrible when you score a goal and aren’t treated like a hero. Here, Japanese goal scorer Shinji Okazaki gets an elbow to the face as if he didn’t score at a World Cup. It’s a shame, really. What do you have to do for respect these days?
REWIND: James starts the party. No dances, though. My heart is broken, Colombia. I might have to write a slow jam about it and try to get it played on the Quiet Storm. That’s how much I’m hurting due to a lack of Colombian dancing.
Ever since James came on, he’s been causing Japan all sorts of problems. Prior to his this latest episode, he swung in an out-swinging free kick from the left channel that was met by the cranium of Carlos Carbonero. The shot flashes just wide. His latest foray into the box drew several Japanese defenders. As they collapsed on him, a little flick witht the outside of his left foot, sets up Jackson Martínez, who slots past Eiji Kawashima for a 2-1 lead for the Colombians. Ruh roh, Japan. You need 2 goals.
The first significant piece of action in the second half involves a shoeless Jackson Martínez. That’s just showing off, though. Put your shoes on, Jackson.
While you wait for the second half-rhythm to kick in, I have a makeshift anthem for Japan that includes Americans. If I need to apologize, OK. Sorry. Anyway, there’s a group out of Los Angeles called Giant Panda. One of the MCs in the group, Chikaramanga, is from Tokyo. You see where I’m going with this. Yes, Tokyo is in Japan. Surprise! Anyway, I love this song. And yes, Chikaramanga rhymes in Japanese. I don’t know what he’s saying, but his flow is nice. Enjoy this later. Not now. AFTER THE GAME.
Time for the second half. Game on.
Hmm. This, however, no.
I have to bring it up again. Initially, I was a little disappointed with Colombia’s celebration after watching James’ goal trigger that Dancing With The Colombians salsa extravaganza. The bar was set high after the team salsa. But the more I see of this one, the more I’m impressed with the choreography. Think about it, these grown men get together and choreograph moves. This latest celebration wasn’t just some haphazard shaking. It was practice and togetherness. I’m all for that. This needs to happen more often; we’ll all be happier.
Hit the dancefloor!
HT: Japan 1 – 1 Colombia || It isn’t like Colombia need to do anything other than hang out. But they’re playing, so a hat tip to them. But the Japanese are also playing, and with that goal right before the half, the Japanese have given themselves life, even though, as it stands, they’re still dead last. SPOILER ALERT: Greece are winning in the other match on a Samaras goal. Yep, a Samaras goal. So, the Greeks are currently poised to go to the knockout stage. But another goal from Japan puts them tied on points with Greece. Then it will be down to goal differential. But if Ivory Coast score, then … blah, blah, blah. So many permutations. All you need to know is that Japan, as it stands, still aren’t advancing. I’ll let you know if or when that changes. Meanwhile, these guys are still excited.
Hey! The guy with his face in the middle of the red sun got his point across! Honda plays a cross in from the right flank and Shinji Okazaki gets his head on it in the box, beating an outstretched Ospina. There’s hope for Japan! It’s 1-1.
It’s all getting a little choppy out there, but there’s still a good flow to the game. Japan are parked for long-ish spells in the Colombian half, and then Colombia break with speed and power. This guy has a message for his team. But it seems like he already gave up, doesn’t it?
Somebody needs to watch the watchers, right? Stay vigilant, people in stadiums. We need to keep watching them.
It’s Yoshito Ōkubo again. He meets a cross from the right with a bicycle kick in the middle of the box. It’s always fun to watch someone get up on their bike, but rarely does it end with a spectacular finish. This time is no different. No points for attempted bicycle kicks.
REWIND: Honda’s free kick gives hope to someone who isn’t me. But we’re getting closer.
Keisuke Honda with his 89th free kick outside of the Colombia box. This time, he gets the ball down, driving it just to the right of Ospina post. Much closer, Mr. Honda. BRA-VO. Whatever this guy seems to be doing is helping. Stay focused, man.
This guy needs to go to Instagram video class. But I do appreciate the effort.
Japan still are getting a good chunk of the possession. But whenever they lose it and Colombia break, Cuadrado is the man I’m watching. The Fiorentina man has been exceptional taking people on and finding passes. But if he can find out where Colombia left their salsa celebration, I’ll be more impressed.
It’s Kagawa again. He’s an excellent player when in the mood. It’s just that his club manager, the man formerly known as David Moyes, was never in the mood to play him. But he shows his value as his skips through the Colombia midfield and lets a shot fly that Ospina has to get down to his right to stop. Score a goal, Japan. Make this interesting for the people.
I don’t know.
It’s another free kick for Japan outside of the Colombian box. And once again Honda steps up and whacks the ball into the wall. This time it hits Alexander Mejía in the stomach. There are no points for hitting people, Keisuke.
Fiorentina’ Cuadrado bangs home the penalty and it’s 1-0 Colombia. Japan have a mountain to climb now. Here’s the goal, followed by a Thriller dance. It’s no salsa. I’m not very happy with this.
After all of that nice work from the Japanese for nothing. Adrián Ramos makes a nice diagonal run into the box and, as the ball arrives, he’s hacked down unnecessarily by Yasuyuki Konno. It is a penalty. The cloud of Japanese sadness starts to hover over the stadium.
Japan are getting a foothold in the game, and have been knocking the ball around a bit in the Japanese half. This is promising. But they need goals, not promise. Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa has been doing a lot of the string pulling.
Fredy Guarín takes down Makoto Hasebe from behind, right outside of the Colombian box. Honda’s free kick is disappointing as it richochets off of a Colombian defender and straight up into the air, where it probably kills a bird, before falling into goalkeeper David Ospina’s hands.
It’s always hard to figure out what to say during the first two minutes, because nothing really happens. Unless you’re Clint Dempsey, of course. If there’s anything to say so far, it’s that Colombia have had all the possession.
For the last Colombia game, I hit you with some salsa. The legendary Joe Arroyo’s “La Rebelion” was the anthem, and Colombia not only went out and scored tons of goals, they broke out that group salsa after James Rodríguez scored. I can’t change the genre from salsa, even though Colombia has so much more to offer. I need to see them dance again. So I’m sticking with Joe Arroyo. Here’s “En Barranquilla Me Quedo.” Don’t let me down, Colombia, I need to see that dancing again. Put this in your pocket for later.
Portugal’s Pedro Proenca will be running around with a whistle today. That’s not because he’s a huge fan of electronic dance music—at least not that I know of. It’s because he’s a professional referee. You may recall him from such games as Cameroon v. Croatia. You can learn more about him in the YouTube video below, enhanced by the background sounds of Iberian-sounding rhythms. I know, FIFA sure knows how to make videos. Proenca still has not listed any hobbies.
And to lineups for today:
The Colombians at the stadium are already in party mode. And remember, Colombia, not Columbia. REMEMBER THIS. ALWAYS.
Last Thursday, the Colombians guaranteed their place in the Round of 16 with an emphatic win over Ivory Coast, Group C’s second place team. But their victory wasn’t the most impressive aspect of Colombia’s game that day. After James Rodríguez (aka James) scored a goal, the entire team celebrated by busting out into a choreographed salsa routine. Nothing better has happened all tournament. Crazier things? Sure. But not better. Check it out. And while you’re at it, check out Pablo Armero’s face (#7). It makes me so happy. Hopefully, it makes you happy, too.
Today’s Group C game between Colombia and Japan is coming to you from Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá. Colombia are your group leaders on 6 points, and have already qualified for the Round of 16. Japan, however, must win to have a chance of moving on. If Japan, who are currently on 1 point, manage to come out of today’s contest with maximum points, they’ll still need help from Greece, who are facing the Ivorians in Fortaleza. Get all of that? Good. Basically, all you need to know for this game is that Japan has to win. With all this pressure on the Japanese, I’m impressed that their fans are taking the time to engage the enemy.
Where to watch
Miriti Murungi is a writer/producer for Fusion. He is possibly responsible for the nonsensical ramblings at @NutmegRadio. Also dabbles in yacht rock and used to wear a tie. *tips hat*
Corey Bennett is a writer/producer for Fusion, conjurer of hashtags, barrister in the American sense, and Right Hand of the @churchofsoccer. *straightens tie*