June 19: Matchday 13
Japan 0 – 2 England
Scotland 3 – 3 Argentina
For the other game, I have very little to say. I only caught glimpses, but England looked fine, while Japan looked…also fine. Obviously, England got the goals they needed, so will be much happier with the result. But nothing I saw here suggests that either team is quite ready to step into the top tier. England have a much easier draw now, and should have some time to play themselves into their top form, so I certainly wouldn’t count them out. But I’ll need to see more from them to be a true believer.
– I created a World Cup mix, with all the songs that I’ve been listening to on repeat while riding the trains around France. Give it a listen!
– I took a trip to the Atelier des Lumières this afternoon, and it was fantastic. It’s set in a 19th century smelting plant, and they display literally dozens of huge moving images on basically every surface in the place. The exhibit right now is primarily organized around Vincent Van Gogh and is truly breathtaking. It’s not simply pictures of his paintings; it’s a whole mesmerizing repurposing of his style and approach. I took some pictures, but they capture maybe 10% of the experience. You really just have to go. If you’ve got some time in Paris, I strongly recommend it.
– Back in the NWSL, Sky Blue are busy trading away one of their best players for future draft picks that they probably won’t even be able to use. I’m glad this organization has made some improvements in treatment of players, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is not a viable club. In my ideal world, they fold, or are transferred to a new market, and an additional franchise is brought in, taking the total up to ten teams. But if there aren’t two markets ready to enter, I’d rather stick with nine if that’s what it takes.
– More NWSL news: Taylor Comeau has retired. She should obviously do what’s best for her, but I hope we someday get to the point where highly-useful non-starters are able to regard staying in the league as a good career move.
– Even more NWSL news: the final has finally been announced in North Carolina. I don’t really understand why it isn’t in Utah, and I really don’t understand why it took them so long to announce it. Please do better.
Four games tomorrow, which will close out the group stage. They will fill in a lot of gaps in the bracket, so everyone will be watching closely to see how it plays out.
- Cameroon – New Zealand. Two teams on zero points. Both will need a win, and potentially a big win. So far New Zealand has shown almost literally zero effort to attack, but they have some legitimately good players, so it’s time to see if they can do anything with them. Cameroon has been better in their games, but hardly as explosive as we hoped they would be. Tomorrow could be the day that changes.
- Netherlands – Canada. Both teams are through, but it’s a pretty big difference to win the group. First place gets Japan in the round of 16, while second place gets (probably) Sweden, which isn’t a huge difference. But the quarterfinal matchup is the difference between running into Germany or getting to face Italy, China, or Nigeria. Netherlands hold the tiebreaker, so Canada would need to beat them to secure first.
- Sweden – USA. We all know what’s up here. The US arguably would be better of losing the game – and thus avoiding France until the final. But this US team is not going to take their foot off the gas. Sweden may be able to neutralize them enough to hold on for a low-scoring draw, but I doubt it. And it’s very hard to see them actually beating the Americans.
- Thailand – Chile. See above. Another match between two teams on zero points. Both need a win to have any hope. Chile will know the exact margin of victory they’ll need (3 goals would certainly get it done, but less might be enough depending on what happens in Cameroon-New Zealand). Thailand only have a chance if the day’s previous game ends in a draw, since there’s no chance of them pegging back their goal difference.
As I write this, I’m on the train heading to Le Havre, to kick off a week of some extreme bouncing around. I’ll be back in Paris tomorrow for a day, and then off to England for a conference, before heading back to Le Havre, Paris, and Valenciennes for the quarterfinals.