Day: June 26, 2006


Switzerland 0-0 Ukraine I’m really struggling to come up with the words to describe this shambles. I’ll try again in the...

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The Late Late Show

Italy 1-0 Australia Well, off they go then. Australia, whose appearance in the World Cup finals had brought about much press coverage as Brazil, Argentina or England, didn’t have enough in their engine to out-smart those foxy Italians. They had, to be honest, flattered to deceive in the first round. The hyperbole that surrounded their win against Japan overlooked the fact that they had been behind for much of the match. It also overlooked *that* tackle by Tim Cahill barely a minute after the equalizer which should have been a penalty which would probably given Japan the three points. But Australia is very, very good at self-promotion, and the bandwagon started to roll. Their mixture of self-confidence at optimism had us all sold. Against Croatia, they seemed to hypnotise their opposition into believing it too, and anybody reading their supporters’ views on proceedings would have been sucked into the belief that we were looking at one of the best three or four teams in the tournament, rather than one that had just scraped into the second round of the World Cup. The Italians, meanwhile, had quietly gotten on with the job of just doing enough. Cowed by the match-fixing scandal that is engulfing their domestic game, they were slightly flattered by their opening win against Ghana, almost kicked out the tournament by the USA, and then finished off with...

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Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight!

Portugal 1-0 Holland Go on. Admit it. There’ll be plenty of talk over the next couple of days about the “disgrace” that this match has brought upon this World Cup, but… it was great, wasn’t it? There’s nothing quite like multiple red cards to get the heart racing, and tonight we saw four of them. Four! A new record. Forget The So-Called Battle Of Santiago (the infamous match in 1962 when Italy and Chile quite literally kicked and punched lumps out of each other), this was where it was at. All the better that all of the suspensions being accumulated were having a beneficial effect on England, too. It’s a good job for Portugal that FIFA has an amnesty on yellow cards at the end of the group stage. They’d have been struggling to raise a team for next Saturday otherwise. We also have the advantage that Portugal will now be being watched like hawks. No more diving around and clutching your face like you’ve just gone three rounds with Mike Tyson for you, Mr Figo. And there’s still a chance, considering the near headbutt on a Dutch player in the second half, that he might not be lining up against England next Saturday at all. There’s also a reasonable chance that Cristiano Ronaldo will be out too. He did something to his leg in the first half that...

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