Thoughts so far...
Game 1: Brazil vs. Croatia - Nishimura (Japan)
Curate's egg from Nishimura - good first half in which he gave the game every chance but it all went pear shaped in the 2nd.
Neymar's card for me was borderline; Big Phil (not Scolari, Big Phil Dowd from the Potteries) would have gone red (eventually) but can see an argument both ways
For me the 2 greatest scourges blighting soccer at present are cheating and the amount of pulling, holding, shoving etc which goes on in the penalty area. I throw into the pot (with no axe to grind either way) this thought - are we getting so used to such behaviour being overlooked that we begin to see it as a shock, even wrong, when a decision is given for such an offence? Howard Webb was criticised by a majority at Euro 2008 for giving a penalty for holding in the area, a decision was right in law, brave and refreshing to see. Let's be frank - the defender was holding Fred and technically therefore guilty of an offence which, being in the area, was a penalty. Yes, it was minimal contact compared to most incidents which we see and which are overlooked and, yes, Fred made the most of it (cheated?), but if it had taken place anywhere else on the pitch a foul would have been given and we wouldn't really be batting an eyelid.
They say that the ref for the opener sets out the stall for others to follow. If by any remote chance Nishimura's decision may make other defenders think and possibly cause an excess of penalties for similar holding incidents in the area, perhaps some good may come out of the whole episode.
Was I the only one to sense a look on Nishimura's face of "O hell what have I done" as soon as he gave the penalty? He was quick on the whistle, correct in law but has opened up a bigger can of worms I feel.
Game 2: Mexico vs. Cameroon - Roldan (Colombia)
Very inconsistent in terms of cards. While the yellow card he did give was correct, there have been several challenges by Cameroon players which have all been worthy of a yellow card, yet gone unpunished. I'll be very surprised if he stays beyond the group stage.
If there is an upside to yet another rank poor piece of officiating, it may be that the good folk of England will actually realise that our guys week in week out are very good.
Surely the Referee and AR have used the headsets to check with each other who flicked the ball on at the near post and if the referee made that call or failed to spot the erroneous call by the AR, he has only himself to blame for getting an early flight home?
Game 3: Spain vs. Netherlands - Rizzoli (Italy)
Excellent I thought. Clear penalty correctly awarded, I can't really believe there was any debate about that.
The only possible problem was the Costa incident, but I don't think he saw it. One of those where he knew something had happened but didn't know what, so read the riot act to both players involved (along the lines of I know what happened but can't prove it, and I'm watching you both like a hawk now) .
Excellent referee performance, and an excellent game (unless you are Spanish)
The best part?, he was consistent .. it was perfectly easy to know how he would call most things after about 20 mins.
Game 4: Chile vs. Australia - Doue (Ivory Coast)
Efficiently went about his business and a very good performance from Doue. Could perhaps be easy to say that he had no major calls to make - but neither really did Roldan & his team, and look what happened there! More than deserves a second game.
Game 5: Colombia vs. Greece - Geiger (USA)
I like the way he allowed some physical contact without blowing up every time someone touched someone else and thought he stamped a quiet authority on the game from the outset.
There have been criticisms of players going down easily in the previous games and he tuned in to this and didn't 'buy' cheap fouls.
What also struck me was that he seemed to have a good rapport with the players and they in turn showed a good level of respect towards him.
Could well be a dark horse for possible Final appointment if he nails his second fixture - Spain vs. Chile.
Game 6: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica - Brych (Germany)
Usual "more bad stuff than good stuff" performance from Brych tbh.
Penalty was correctly given for a Twickenham type tackle - although failed to give an obvious red card just before that, when the Costa Rica player clearly left the ground and jumped in with both feet.
Goalkeeper was off his line by at least a metre for the penalty - would have been interesting to see if he would have ordered a retake if the kick had been missed.
He missed at least two challenges that deserved red cards and was exceptionally lenient in the first half with regards to yellow card offences. Foul detection was inconsistent - and any foul he did give was with a very very exaggerated whistle which isn't required at all. He'll need to do a lot lot better than that performance to progress very far
Game 7: England vs. Italy - Kuipers (Netherlands)
Best performance of the whole tournament so far. Excellent performance by the Champions League Final referee. Good empathy for the game and excellent decision making. You could see the players really respected him as there was no hint of dissent whatsoever. Looked in full control throughout and thought he was spot on with the Gerrard penalty appeal.
His main talent is that he actually makes refereeing look so simple.
Should Holland fail to progress, although doubtful, Kuipers will play a major part in the final stages of the competition.
Game 8: Ivory Coast vs. Japan - Osses (Chile)
Thought he did very well. He was in full control throughout, correctly turned down 2 penalty appeals from Cote D'Ivoire, and all 4 yellow cards were spot on IMO.
My only criticism would be that in the first half, he got in the way a couple of times, and was hit by the ball once. However, that's only a minor thing in what was a fine performance from Osses and his team.
Could go quite far in the later stages.
Game 9: Switzerland vs. Ecuador - Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
Unfortunately the good run of refereeing performances ground to a massive halt here - Irmatov was abject.
Allowing Ecuador to take free kicks from the wrong place on more than one occasion (spray now highlights this nicely) - one of which lead directly to an Ecuador goal.
Incorrectly disallowed Swiss goal for offside. He's positioned around 10 yards or less away looking straight at the area where the step over from the Swiss player occurs - he's in full possession as to if the Swiss player makes contact. No excuses for getting it wrong.
Swiss winner also looks to be offside as well - so the sum total is that it's two goals incorrectly allowed and one incorrectly disallowed...
Shouldn't be given another game this tournament tbh.
Game 10: France vs. Honduras - Ricci (Brazil)
Thought he handled the Pogba incident well. Kept his head, remained calm, and gave himself plenty of time before making his decision. Think a yellow a piece was about right too.
Penalty and sending off were spot on - as were all of the other cautions handed out.
I thought Ricci was really rather impressive. It's certainly a different sort of style to the "man management" approach but I think it was an astute appointment putting him on this match because it's nature demanded more of a 'by the book' approach and a certain method of engaged detachment. This was a game which could easily have got out of hand and Ricci did very well to keep the lid on it even if he was a tad lenient in the last few minutes.
Considering, at international level, one of the lesser experienced referees at this tournament, he has been excellent all round so far. Very impressed.
Game 11: Argentina vs. Bosnia - Aguilar (El Salvador)
I must admit he is a very unpredictable referee but did well today. A very solid, and impressive 'low profile' performance in what proved to be a comfortable and entertaining match. Aguilar, at his second World Cup Finals competition, is one to keep an eye on for progression within the forthcoming rounds of this WC.
Game 12: Germany vs. Portugal - Mazic (Serbia)
- 100% penalty, but missing red card for DOGSO (crucial mistake)
- lack of red card for elbow as a weapon (Moutinho, 41', crucial mistake)
- lack of penalty for Portugal (crucial mistake)
- Mazic hit by the ball twice, including at the start of the move where it should've been a penalty for Portugal (point for improvement)
- lack of yellow card for Ronaldo's protests
It's 7.2/7.3 in the UEFA Marking scale and normally he should be at home. A pity, because I like this ref a lot.
His positioning was all over the place. Twice he got in the way of German moves and got hit with the ball, with the second one leading directly to an attack for Portugal that should have resulted in a penalty. Whether it was turned down due to Mazic's involvement only he will know, but no referee wants an assist to his name. The another time he gave a free kick to Germany where he was stood no more than 2 yards from the challenge, and that is just too close to play - only needed the ball to pop out in his direction and would have no way of moving out of the way.
Finally, and probably the worst of the lot, he did nothing about the Portugal reaction after the penalty decision. One player even had hold of him, and others were trying to lay hands on him, and he really didn't manage it well. Likewise when Portugal were denied the penalty Ronaldo chased him for some distance waving his arms around and screaming in his face. This really just should not be going unchecked.
Game 13: Iran vs. Nigeria - Vera (Ecuador)
I should think Vera was in imminent danger of expiring through boredom. Fancy having having worked your way up the refereeing ladder to being selected for the greatest football event on earth and then being presented with having to referee that old rubbish. Feel a bit sorry for him to be honest; he deserves another game from FIFA as an apology for having to referee that rubbish!!!