Forget air-conditioned stadiums, semi-automated offside and a spectral mascot who “belongs to a parallel mascot-verse that is indescribable,” the real innovation at this World Cup is its drastic time-saving. While injury time may have expanded to far-out double-figured places, those additions are more than offset when, with the odd notable exception, there is little point in watching first halves.
Louis van Gaal has told Dutch reporters to go home if they are bored by his football as he hit back at accusations that watching the Netherlands at this World Cup is like “grinding teeth”.
Roberto Martinez has accused Belgian's media of doubling down on a dirty tricks campaign started by their French counterparts designed to divide his squad. Thibaut Courtois was also vowing to root out and banish the “mole” spreading stories about bust-ups in the Belgian camp.