Day: June 25, 2006

Climb Every Mountain

England 1-0 Ecuador Today, England were… okay. Nothing more, nothing less. Apart from one fairly horrific error in the first ten minutes from John Terry, England kept them at bay, Beckham’s free-kick was excellent and Rooney improved as the match went on (leading one to believe that he’s finding his range again – something that their next opponents will presumably have taken on board). One has to bear in mind that England are playing with a make-shift team, in a formation that’s unfamiliar to them, and with one player (at least) playing out of position. We can go over the argument about Theo Walcott and and Jermaine Defoe for the five-hundredth time, but it’s old news. Taking all of this into account, they’ve done pretty well to make the second round. England have no obligation to play beautiful football if they’re grinding out results. I would prefer to see them playing badly and winning that playing well and losing. People are talking about England’s competitors as if they’re inhabiting another footballing planet, but they’re not. Argentina were pushed all the way against Mexico last night. Brazil have had periods that have warranted criticism. Germany were little more than mediocre against Poland, and had to wait until the last minute to score against one of the worst teams in the tournament. Holland only just hung on against an Argentina team...

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Mexicans Wave Goodbye

Argentina 2-1 Mexico Well, they gave it everything. From the first minute until the very last, Mexico pushed Argentina all the way, and were dreadfully unlucky to be sent home, beaten by yet another contender for “Goal Of The Tournament”. I’ve enjoyed the idiosyncratic Mexicans since they outplayed Iran in their opening match. As I said before on here, they have played with a joie de vivre that many teams in this tournament (not least England), and I’ll miss them sorely. They came out of the traps like eleven greyhounds on steroids, and it was no great shock when Marquez shot them into the lead on five minutes. This couldn’t last long, though, and Crespo levelled things up five minutes later. Watching it at home, I kept turning to my girlfriend and saying, “they can’t keep going at this pace forever”, but they did. The turning point of the match came just before half-time, when Gabriel Heinze, trying to atone for a piece of ball control that would have graced Rio Ferdinand, hauled down Fonseca, who was clean through on goal. The referee should be made to answer the question of why he didn’t send Heinze off, and the conspiracy theorist in me is starting to question whether the referees have been ordered to keep the big teams in the tournament. I refer you to the previous match as...

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