Chelsea may be stuck in a black of hole of nothingness with nothing actually happening, and certainly not beyond the annual managerial shuffle, but the rest of the football world continues to rumble on, part of it witch actually football, even!
Here’s what’s been happening on the various international stages over the last few days.
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
We’re a little past the halfway point of the group stage, which means that some teams have already qualified for the knockout rounds. They include favorites like France, Germany, and England, and also a surprising Italy side who beat Australia (and superstar Sam Kerr) then made quick work of Jamaica before having to match wits with Brazil (who in the meantime lost to Australia and now might not even make the second round!).
Germany and France have rolled with three one-goal victories in their four combined games (Germany with matching 1-0s over Spain and China), with the home nation squeaking past Norway and their resilient defense led by Chelsea duo Maren Mjelde and Maria Thorisdottir once again, 2-1, to add to their opening day 4-0 hammering of South Korea. The Koreans, featuring Chelsea’s Ji So-yun are basically out, after following that loss with a 2-0 defeat to Nigeria, though if they beat Norway badly enough in the final group game, they could still squeeze in on maths.
And speaking of one-goal victories, England got their second of the tournament on Friday by beating Argentina, 1-0, with Carly Telford keeping the clean sheet and Fran Kirby getting the start. Karen Carney replaced the latter for the final few minutes while Millie Bright had to make do with bench duty. England missed a penalty in the first-half to keep things more interesting than they should’ve been.
Other results not mentioned include China beating South Africa, 1-0, and Erin Cuthbert’s Scotland losing to Japan, 2-1, thus sealing their elimination from the tournament. Cuthbert’s still looking for her first goal of the World Cup; she’ll have to do something special to get it in their last game of the group stage, against Argentina and their miracles-working goalkeeper, Vanina Correa.
South America’s continental championship kicked off last night as the host nation Brazil beat lowly Bolivia, 3-0. Chelsea’s only representative in the tournament, Willian, who was a late call-up to replace the injured Neymar, played the final five minutes, replacing Richarlison.
Brazil couldn't find the breakthrough in the first 45, but Philippe Coutinho’s three-minute brace (one from yet another “new handball” penalty) just a few minutes after the restart was more than enough to get them the victory and silence the half-time boos. With Neymar injured, this tournament could be a great opportunity for the much-maligned Barcelona man to restore some of his lost luster and reputation ahead of what might be a big summer move. Everton added a great golazo towards to end to set the final scoreline.