Month: June 2006

Tor! Tor! Tor!

Germany 1-1 Argentina (4-2 on penalties) Well, I’d be ripping up my betting slip right now, if I’d been stupid enough to bet on my own feelings before the tournament began. However, Argentina had struggled in three out of their four previous matches (regardless of the gushing that came from the commentary galleries of both the BBC and ITV), so whether we should be particularly surprised about this result or not is open to debate. The first half was pretty even. Ballack continued his marauding presence in the middle third of the pitch (surely there can be no playerthat deserves a goal more in these finals than Robo-Ballack), but a match high on tension and high on technique wasn’t providing the excitement of many clear chances for either team. It was like a chess match – not particularly thrilling to watch, but intriguing nevertheless. After Argentina took the lead nine minutes into the second half, things opened up a bit. Maxi Rodriguez should have put things beyond any reasonable doubt after sloppy German defensive play allowed him in on goal, but he shot into the side-netting. This was against the general grain of the match though, as the Germans were starting to get on top. Congratulations, at this point, to David Pleat for accusing Abbadonzieri of time-wasting when he went down injured with twenty minutes to play. Three or...

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Prediction Time Revisited!

Well, we’re down to the last eight, so it’s prediction time. For those of you that care about such things, I’m posting this tonight because I have to go to my parents’ house tomorrow and try to fix their computer (again). My intention is to be back here in time for the Germany match, but I’m not altogether certain that this will be a speedy process. But enough of the drab minutae of my personal life. Quarter-final time is upon us, so it’s time to have a look forward and gaze into my crystal ball again. Looking back at my second round selections, I only called four of them correctly, though I did refuse to be drawn on England, and I said that Australia-Italy could go either way. So, I’m counting that as a successful round. At least FIFA got what they wanted in the last round. Unlike four years ago, when the “big” were mostly uncourteous enough to get themselves knocked out early on, this time all the big guns are present and correct (minus Holland and Spain, who were knocked out by, well, guns even bigger than theirs). There’s still a first-timer left, so FIFA can claim that the “romance” of the tournament is still alive, too. Personally, I’m not bothered about a large number of big countries still being left in. As we found four years...

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England’s Dreaming?

That St George has fot a lot to answer for. As one or two of you may already be aware, I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to fight the corner for those amongst us that would like to win the World Cup, and won’t apologise to the rest of the world because we apparently spoil some people’s view for a couple of hours every few days or so in doing so. It has been an illuminating discussion, and has been to biggest single reason for the lack of posts on here this week (for which I apologise). The debate has been between three groups of people: 1. People that think that the way that England have played thus far has been an affront to those that have other wise enjoyed this carnival of football and will hopefully be eliminated as soon as possible. 2. People that think that England supporters should fall in behind England and support their team. These people couldn’t care less what happens, so long as it ends up with David Beckham lifting the trophy on July 9th. 3. People who are concerned that England have not played very well yet, but believe that they have the capability to improve. These people are aware of England’s shortcomings, but believe that these are of a secondary importance if they can raise their game. As you...

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The Old Masters

France 3-1 Spain You can’t keep a good team down. France have, finally arrived at this tournament and, curiously enough, in exorcising still more of their own demons, they also showed up the limitations of Spain which were overlooked in the hyperbole following their opening win against Ukraine. Last night, they called on all their reserves of experience to overwhelm the Spanish. The scoreline was flattering on the French. For eighty minutes, the two teams were inseparable – slugging it out like two prize heavyweight fighters. But then Henry went down, and it all changed. Now, I like Thierry Henry. He’s a brilliant footballer. One of the best in Europe. I’ve always felt that (regardless of the fact that he signed for Arsenal) he is an intelligent player, and one capable of always doing the “right thing”. Of course, he’s no such thing. Going down clutching his face after getting a bit of a whack across the chest is pretty reprehensible behaviour, no matter what way you look at it. His half-arsed justification of it only compounds it. For God’s sake. If you’re going to claim that a fellow professional whacked you across the face, at least have the good grace and courtesy to apologise for it afterwards. France’s defensive experience dulled Spain’s attacking edge. A team that had scored eight goals in it’s previous three matches barely had...

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A Helping Hand?

Brazil 3-0 Ghana So, you’re the coach of Ghana. Your team is great going forward, but possibly slightly vulnerable defensively. You’re playing Brazil. What would your team talk be? Would you say, “Right lads, we’ve heard all about these four fantastic players that they’ve got. What shall we do about it? Well, I’ve been thinking about it, and I think they’re all over-rated. Ronaldo. Look at him. Weighs about forty stone. Don’t worry about him. Kaka? What sort of a name is that? Must be rubbish. Ronaldinho? Far too ugly to be a proper footballer. That David Beckham. He’s good looking. That’s what a real footballer looks like. Adriano? Well, lads, I’ll put it like this – have you ever heard of a footballer called Adrian? Well, obviously there’s Adrian Mutu, but he was stuffed full of the old Bolivian marching powder all the time. See, they’re all over-rated. It’s all a big advertising campaign for Nike. So, what I was thinking was this… we’ll defend on the half-way line. They’ll keep running off-side. They can’t help it! It’s all those “Samba Skills”! They get the music stuck in their heads and they can’t actually control their legs. It’s all programmed into them before they go abroad. I can’t believe no-one thought of this before! It’s so simple it’s brilliant! One more thing. Strikers – if you get into...

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