Cnoyes says: “Was it just my lying eyes or were Brazil the better team in that opening half? Controlling the tempo of the game beautifully with tough play and careful passing in midfield. Did France end that half without a single meaningful shot on goal? So much for tipping them as favourites.” I am not sure they are controlling it but they are certainly stopping France from getting going.
Half-time reading from Rob Marriott: “Quite apart from whether or not the decisions are right, it’s become increasingly frustrating to see the referee summoned to a screen – after the fully-qualified refs with the dozen monitors have tried to reach a decision – almost every time. I’m sure that VAR wasn’t originally intended to work that way, that involving the on field ref was supposed to be an occasional last resort, and I’m also fairly sure that it was indeed only occasional when the technology first came in.
“I’m not aware of any other sport that takes this approach. Normally, you’d either have the video official make the decision, or you give the on field official immediate access to a screen. But Fifa, for reasons known only to themselves, have created an unnecessary two-stage system which only serves to add an extra two or three minutes to every controversial moment (as well as ending up with a decision being made from only one screen, inside the ground, which completely goes against the principle of having a bank of monitors in a separate quiet location).
“If it was all dealt with more promptly, more logically, I feel there’d
be a fair bit less anger, even with the odd dubious result. Nobody
enjoys the endless waiting.”
Ruth Purdue offers some analysis: “Brazil are fouling like City do. Do it before the brilliant French attack can get any fluency.
“In other new Marta needs to take fewer touches and play quicker. She has runner ahead of her everytime.”
Half-time: France 0-0 Brazil
VAR VAR VAR VAR VAR VAR VAR VAR VAR VAR. Still goalless.
45+4 mins: Majri gets the ball in space on the edge of the area but rushes her shot and smashes it high and wide.
Abhijato Sensarma says: “I hence declare that every goal scored is a ‘Schrödinger’s Goal’ in a football match involving VAR. The goal has been scored and not been scored simultaneously; it remains in this dual state until the referee – the ultimate observer on the field – has made his decision. At this point, the goal enters a singular state of existence – it either existed, or never did, even though it certainly did as well as did not before the observation was made in the reality of all others.
“VAR decisions boggle the mind, boggle the spirit, and transcend logic. Do I dare say these decision make sense yet don’t simultaneously?”
45+2 mins: Tamires is booked for a cynical challenge, wrapping her legs around Asseyi despite already being on the floor.
Matt Cast makes a bold claim: “This is a really cynical performance from Brazil in terms of fouls and making the most of any contact. I think they’ve now committed more fouls than Cameroon did in the first half v England…”
45 mins: Six minutes added on. Cheers VAR.
Scott Bassett has a solution: “That was a 50:50 for me. The keeper definitely did not have control. Maybe the striker’s hand touched the ball as it was bundled in but it’s another case of “unnatural position suspicion,” which leads me to the question, what exactly is the law and what is the current guidance on how to apply it? Answer: who the eff knows anymore? It was extremely harsh to disallow that. The only answer seems to be detachable arms.”
44 mins: Cristiane breaks into the box from the left, shooting from a tight angle, with the shot repelled by the ‘keeper’s feet. Bouhaddi comes to claim the corner but is given a free-kick after the dropping the ball without really being under pressure. Maybe the referee is just soft on goalkeepers.
David Wall emails: “That’s a good point (32 minutes), i think the issue has always been that the officials in particular games weren’t/ aren’t good enough (however high the general standard is). It was Frank Lampard’s no -given goal against Germany in 2010 that convinced Blatter to accept goal-line technology, but how the linesman on the day missed that was the real issue. It was so far over you could probably have seen it clearly in from the very back row at the other end of the stadium. That’s not to criticise goal-line technology, that has been a quick, decisive, and good addition. But other terrible mistake that really should have been spotted by the match officials just falling well below the required standards have led to the call for VAR. Supposedly it’s to correct the clear and obvious error, the howler (like the DRS in cricket was originally meant to do). But that is just making up for officials failing to perform. A better, easier solution is to put more money and resources into training more, better officials.”
42 mins: Fouls all over the shop here. Not much football in between.
More actual reason:
40 mins: Drew Goldie brings reason: “A few years ago a penalty was awarded against a goalkeeper who saved a shot in a one-on-one, but it was deemed a foul because he had followed through and smacked into the centre forward. Even though he’d got his shot away and wasn’t impeded in the slightest.
“This one presumably was chalked off because the French player’s challenge followed through on the goalkeeper, and the goalie fluffing it isn’t relevant.
“It’s the rules that are daft, more than VAR. At least, I think that’s what just happened.”
38 mins: Marta does her best to outfox Torrent but the France defender sticks to her task and puts the ball out for a corner. Marta takes the corner and finds Cristiane whose header loops into the goalkeeper’s hands.
36 mins: Renard goes into the book for a challenge on Devinha. The French centre-back caught her on the knee with studs, which is not great. The Brazil players were asking for a card from the start and got their wish quite quickly.
Toby Rutland is not happy: “Why am I sending this? Why do I care? I have no interest in this game, it’s on in the background. Yet I need to get off my chest how angry I am with Fifa and the plastic officials in their stupid studio, disallowing perfectly good goals (or allowing obviously offside goals) and ruining football.”
34 mins: Tamires sends a pass through but Bouhaddi is quickly off her line and clears the immediate danger before Brazil are penalised for an offside.
I think it was a 50:50 and the forward won it. But who knows anymore? Others think the issue was a handball so it certainly isn’t clear.
32 mins: Is the issue that officials just aren’t good enough? Have they not been trained sufficiently?
Barbara now being booed by the home fans, one assumes that she invented VAR.
Lourens van Krimpen says: “VAR is the end of the enjoyment of the game. If this goes on like this lots of people will turn their back. I for one am on the verge.”
30 mins: I still do not know what the goal was disallowed for. This is just silly now. Still scrappy on the pitch.
David Wall emails: “Everyone seems to be anticipating a France – USA quarter final after their respective last 16 games and it’s true that would be a super match up, but isn’t that an extreme case of premature chicken counting? Both Brazil and Spain are pretty decent sides, well capable of upsetting the odds, so you could very plausibly see one or both of the favourites miss out. As i write this France have just scored but there is still a way to go.”
26 mins: The goal goes to VAR. The claim is Gauvin took the ball out of Barbara’s hands but the goalkeeper certainly did not have control of the ball when it hit the France player. If this is overturned we should end it all. Oh, it is disallowed. This is silly.
NO GOAL! France)
The ball ends up in the back of the net after a cross from Diani on the right bounces off the Gauvin’s and into the back of the net. Barbara came to get it but did not claim it. Both ‘keeper and scorer end up on the floor in pain but that is the opening goal as the celebrating France players prove. Oh but it is not.
22 mins: A little bit scrappy at the moment in Le Havre. Plenty of intent but just lacking a touch of quality.
20 mins: There is a good tempo to this game but still waiting for any real moments of quality.
18 mins: Mary Waltz on kits: “The answer to the question on France’s bizarre kit design. The designer is obviously an anti-vaxer sending out a message to their fellow travellers.”
16 mins: Debinha cuts in from the left and drills a shot from 20 yards but it’s diverted wide by a defender in white. Marta swings in the cross but the goalkeeper does well to cling on when under pressure in the box.
Hubert’s been in touch: “I know this puts me in the minority but for the life of me I can’t reason why. Brazil, to my eye, are vastly superior to France save for the dubious edge of home field. I’m not a gambling man (hence the roof over my head) but I’d take Brazil minus 1.5 goals without a slightest shiver of doubt.”
14 mins: Henry aims a cross into the box but it’s deflected straight to Barbara in the Brazil.
12 mins: A free-kick 30 yards fro goal is laid off to Henry who thwacks well over the bar.
Charles Antaki asks: “The football looks good already but in the early stages, trivia worries come to the fore: if Brazil are in first choice strip, why not the blue shorts and white socks? And why are France in shirts that, in close-up, look like a 12-year old’s pyjamas?”
Sell more kits?
10 mins: Marta gains control of the ball 25 yards from goal, wriggles through a couple of defenders to earn enough space to fire a shot off but she drags it wide from the edge of the box.
8 mins: Brazil dive into a few last-ditch tackles to stop France making it into the box and then clear the pressure. France looking the more confident side early on.
6 mins: Henry does well to dispossess the full-back in the corner and wins another set-piece when her latest cross is turned behind. Barbara fists it to the edge of her own box. She is looking to dominate the box tonight.
4 mins: Henry earns a corner for France after he cross on the turn is deflected out. Barbara comes to claim the corner and gathers the ball at the second time of acting.
2 mins: Plenty of clapping in the stands from the home fans but not much happening on the pitch.
The anthems are done and dusted and we’re pretty much ready to go.
Abhijato Sensarma asks:
(1) Who is the favourite today according to you and/or most pundits?
(2) Is VAR winning the Golden Boot this year?
(3) Have your fingers not suffered enough?
Hope Solo on pressure …
This game is live on BBC Four which means it’s a high brow, cultural experience.
If this game is anything about England v Cameroon then I might not survive the night. Let’s hope for a nice 2-0 win.
Mary Waltz emails: “France has the depth of quality that should overwhelm Brazil. Can Marta discover the fountain of youth and pretend that it’s 20010 and upset mighty Le Bleu? Should be fun.”
I just did the MBM on this madness, too …
A bit on the France coach …
Lineups: France v Brazil
France: Bouhaddi, Renard, Torrent, Henry, Le Sommer, Majri, Diani, Gauvin, Bussaglia, Asseyi, Mbock Bathy Nka
Brazil: Barbara, Thaisa, Tamires, Formiga, Debinha, Marta, Cristiane, L Santos, Kathellen, Ludmila, Monica
The hosts are looking to take one step closer to achieving the dream of winning their own tournament. They picked up maximum points in the group, with a little helping hand from VAR but they will be rightly confident heading into this game.
Brazil won two out of three in their group, losing a dramatic game to Australia in between. Their results saw them finish only third, which they will not have enjoyed considering the opposition. They possess Marta, who is back fit and makes a huge difference to the Brazil side.
Will France fall to the Brazilians? It will be fascinating to find out.