The Warm-Up: Sublime Eriksen destroys Ireland; England put the stale in stalemate
Plus: Eric Dier speaks Portuguese, and an excruciating goalkeeping error.
WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES
Sublime Eriksen demolishes Ireland
For centuries, historians have argued about the importance of individuals. Are events shaped by great men and women? Or are those people mere pawns, with the sweep of time guided by far greater socio-economic forces?
However, Ireland v Denmark last night offered a powerful argument for the traditional bourgeois take of towering (figuratively, at least) men bending history to their will. Forget tactics. Forget coaching. Forget grassroots football, PE in schools, national diet, climate or any other big-picture factor.
When the chips were down, an outstanding player said "enough of this" and won it for his team.
That Ronaldo performance effectively won him the Ballon d'Or - Eriksen isn't even on this year's 30-man shortlist, but last night's display probably spells an end of being curiously omitted from the conversation. Clearly, he is one of the world's elite players, and a cold-eyed killer even if he looks like his boyband was voted out in week 3 of X-Factor 2009.
Sure, Ireland weren't great. In fact, they were bad. But you look a whole lot worse when the opposition's best player punishes your every mistake.
People have wittered on about just how inconceivable they find Italy's failure to qualify. The Warm-Up would far rather conceive of a World Cup without Italy than one without Christian Eriksen.
England draw 0-0 again
Neymar, Harry MaguireGetty Images
Like a theme pub where it is always New Year's Eve, the Warm-Up imagines you could get the tube to Wembley Park at any time of day, and day of the year, amble up Wembley Way and find a two-thirds-full stadium absent-mindedly chucking paper aeroplanes while England play out a goalless draw against a 'prestige' nation.
The Warm-Up watched only 15 minutes at the end of each half (it kicked off slightly later than Ireland-Denmark) but saw enough to get the general vibe. Brazil are obviously better, but England defended properly and their young players acquitted themselves well.
And Eric Dier speaking Portuguese is excellent.
Consecutive nil-nils against Germany and Brazil did little to generate excitement about the World Cup. Gareth Southgate can be satisfied about how an under-strength side coped against high-class opposition, but given the absence of so many key players we probably didn't learn a lot.
Unless 'Jake Livermore is bad' counts as a learning.
Aguero faints/collapses/gets a bit dizzy
Sergio Aguero was taken to hospital after collapsing at half-time during Argentina’s friendly with Nigeria in Russia.
The Argentine FA said Aguero was taken away for routine examinations and added: "The player is well."
IN OTHER NEWS
The Premier League is back with its customary sense of perspective.
Look, we understand you've got a big match to promote, but honestly. Michaelangelo warms up for trip to Florence with brilliant painting of Sistine Chapel ceiling.
And in a big week for Eurosport's pitchside presenters, here's Danish pundit Lars Jacobsen getting rinsed in every sense of the word.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Anthony Martial
For reasons unknown, France-Germany was filmed for TV from both sides of the stadium. The French side is much better for viewing this piece of magic from Anthony Martial.
Zero: US Soccer
Poor Ethan Horvath.