Armchair Pundit

World Cup cheat sheet: Day 27

Alex Chick

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Uruguay 2-3 Netherlands - Cape Town

Giovanni van Bronckhorst blasted Holland into the lead with a sensational long-range effort that travelled 41 yards from his left boot to the top-right corner, although Uruguay would point to a bad foul by Mark van Bommel in the build-up. Diego Forlan equalised late in the first half with a long-range left-foot blast of his own, although goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was badly at fault for failing to tip it over. Holland's second provided yet another refereeing controversy. Robin van Persie was offside when Wesley Sneijder shot and could hardly be deemed inactive as he threw his foot at the ball as it passed him. Nonetheless, Sneijder's fifth goal of the tournament stood - either the linesman deemed Van Persie inactive or he missed the initial offside. No arguments about the third, though. Arjen Robben finished an eight-pass move by heading a Dirk Kuyt in off the base of the post. Maxi Pereira made things interesting with a precise finish in the second minute of stoppage time, but there was no second late miracle for Uruguay.

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Germany v Spain - Durban - 19.30

A repeat of the Euro 2008 final, and a match with the potential for classic status. The team of the World Cup so far against the pre-tournament favourites. While Germany blasted four goals past both England and Argentina, the Spanish eked out 1-0 wins against Portugal and Paraguay, but the European champions are likely to be unchanged. Vicente Del Bosque is expected to keep faith with out-of-form Fernando Torres. Cesc Fabregas has recovered from a shin injury but will have to make do with a place on the bench. Germany star Thomas Mueller has hit four goals so far but misses the semi-final through suspension. Coach Joachim Loew has said he will not make a decision on Mueller's replacement until the morning of the game, but Toni Kroos is expected to get the nod ahead of Cacau and Piotr Trochowski.

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World Cup jargon: On your own

There was more World Cup embarrassment for ITV after HD viewers missed Steven Gerrard's goal against the USA due to an unscheduled ad break, and the sacking of Robbie Earle for selling his personal ticket allocation.

There were a few empty seats at the Uruguay-Netherlands semi-final in Cape Town, and one of them was next to commentator Clive Tyldesley.

Colour man Jim Beglin flaked out after an inner-ear infection left him feeling physically sick - as an Irishman Beglin may not know that this is a common feeling for English fans in the latter stages of the World Cup.

Tyldesley was left to do the whole match by himself (and did a decent job) while ITV's head of sport Niall Sloane said: "Our people are in Johannesburg and the match was in Cape Town. It happened just so late in the day that we couldn't arrange a replacement."

Maybe they should have asked the BBC for a loan - the Corporation's massive operation is based in Cape Town, and surely nobody would have missed Mark Bright?

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Water cooler chat 1: Mad Dog Mark van Bommel

Just how did the Dutch midfielder go 339 minutes in this World Cup without picking up a booking?

The ever-muscular Van Bommel should have been sent off for a dreadful studs-up challenge in the lead-up to the first Dutch goal, and committed about half a dozen more bad fouls, finally finding his way into the referee's notebook in stoppage time.

Former English whistle-blower Graham Poll tweeted during the game that Van Bommel was a "nice guy with (a) great approach to refs."

Well, if calling the referee 'Sir' like they do in rugby allows you to get away with all that, maybe more players should do it.

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Water cooler chat 2: Octopus Paul's prediction

The psychic octopus at an Aquarium in Oberhausen has correctly predicted the result of every Germany game in this World Cup, by taking a mussel out of the box with the appropriate team's flag on it.

Such is Paul's fame, his semi-final pick was broadcast live on German television, but a nation was left in shock as the mollusc delved into the Spanish box.

There is a glimmer of hope - apparently the only match Paul has ever got wrong was the Euro 2008 final, when he picked Germany to beat Spain.

It might seem a bit of fun, but Argentines were so upset after Paul correctly picked Germany to beat them in the quarter-finals, some fans threatened to kill and eat the animal.

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