Day: June 25, 2010

World Cup 2010: Chile 1-2 Spain

“Not a word sung by the Spanish players, they know they have to win,” proclaims Clive Tyldesley, as the Spanish national anthem finishes. The fans must know they have to win too, because they aren’t singing any words either. It’s almost as if there ARE NO WORDS TO THE SPANISH NATIONAL ANTHEM. I missed ITV’s pre-amble to that point, but I still saw way too much. Co-commentator Chris Coleman seems a tad over-fond of the phrase “A fit Torres would have got that,” using it regardless of whether Torres “got it” or not. Coleman has the good grace to apologise for “going on about it.” There are nine minutes gone. Chile are frighteningly good in the early stages, slicing open the Spanish defence more than once and unlucky that Mark Gonzalez slips as he tries to finish off the best move, although large parts of Liverpool might suggest he’d have found the corner flag one way or another. Tyldesley makes the astonishing admission that South American football is “all a bit of a mystery to us,” bemoaning the lack of domestic TV access to “the Copa Libertadores and all that.” I suppose you’d have to be a full-time professional football commentator working for a major broadcasting network to… ah. Inexplicably, Tyldesley says “Ascuncion” like an English tourist trying to make foreigners understand him, but it is not to be...

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World Cup 2010: Switzerland 0-0 Honduras

The majority of eyes will be on the other match this evening between Spain and Chile, but this evening’s match between Switzerland and Honduras is, in its own way just as important. Chile and Switzerland could quite easily edge the pre-tournament favourites out before the knock-out stages of the competition even start, and no-one seems to care. There are swathes of empty seats at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontain this evening. The vuvuselas, are out in force. It seems as if, obviously if you think about it, they are easier to play in some sort of formation if there are fewer being blown at the same time. When there is a massive crowd, they merge together into one, long, monotonous drone. There are fewer here this evening, though, and a couple of minutes into the game there is a brief, “parp, parp, parp parp parrrrrp”. It almost sounds like a football chant, and it might even be intentional. This final group, by the way, is one of those in which there are as many permutations for who could qualify as there are combinations of results that could occur between the two teams. Switzerland need to play for the win, but a draw could be enough if Spain were to lose to Chile in the other match. Even Honduras, were they to suddenly transmogrify into a world beating team, could...

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World Cup 2010: Portugal 0-0 Brazil

Whether or not Group G was this World Cup’s Group of Death, it appears to have taken place in 1966, at Goodison Park, with Eusebio scoring every goal. The game Lineker and co. are expecting is taking place in some fantasy world far from the realities of the group table. No-one is saying Brazil v Portugal is destined to be as bad as it turns out. But there are clues. Brazil are through. Portugal need a point, or at least to lose by not many. Both sides have changed nearly half their teams. Brazil’s strengths are supposedly their two holding midfielders, the best goalkeeper in the world and a boring manager who’s built the team in his own image. And Portugal have kept a thousand clean sheets in their last thousand and three games. Yet virtually all of this is overlooked in favour of more clips of Eusebio (didn’t he run funny!!) and the usual Pele bits from 1970 – believe me, you know the ones. “You can’t tire of seeing that sort of stuff,” insists Shearer, incorrectly. There’s friction between Clarence Seedorf and Hansen over the relative merits of Cristiano Bloody Ronaldo (CBR). Seedorf claims CBR can’t “carry a struggling team on his shoulders.” Hansen counter-claims that CBR did it at Old Trafford for three years. It will be news to Man Yoo fans that their team were...

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World Cup 2010: North Korea 0-3 Ivory Coast

I wonder if I’m the only one in the UK, without a vested interest in either side, who is watching this. To access this on the red button you have to bypass Portugal v Brazil. But this game promises goals. Not just because North Korea capitulated after they made their own substitutions, but because in winning, Ivory Coast need a nine goal swing, as well as a Portugal defeat in the other game. The Ivory Coast have one option, and one tactic. Go for it. 1. Brazil 2. Portugal 3 Ivory Coast 4. North Korea They come out of the blocks immediately, hoping to catch the North Koreans cold. Yaya Toure threads Kader Keita who bursts into the box. He doesn’t connect with it well, but stays on his feet at the keeper blocks then punches the ball to safety. Romaric tries a 40 yard free kick, which is accurate, and also relatively easy for the keeper to Ri Myong-Guk to gather. Gervinho tries a ball across the face of the goal, but he’s got no support and Ri Kwang-Chon clears for a corner. Gervinho is the best player in the build up. His cross to Didier Drogba is converted, but he’s spent the entire build up offside, and the Assistant correctly rules it out. Gervinho tries another speculative shot that Ri Myong-Guk saves, but a goal has been...

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World Cup 2010: Japan 3-1 Denmark

Japan v Denmark has to wait until the boys on the Beeb can get Italy’s exit out of their system. But this is probably fair enough. Earlier group results have switched the focus from Netherlands v Cameroon, which means we’ve got Martin Keown summarising. The BBC had Manish Bhasin on the stadium gantry in Cape Town. But Cameroon’s incompetence has spared us. This may have spared Bhasin too. He nods so vigorously in his interview-ette with Clarence Seedorf that you sense his head may have dropped off if he’d had to do another piece at half-time. Japan and Cameroon finally take centre stage in front of rows of seats which are either unoccupied and covered with blue tarpaulin or are Japanese fans in even weirder costumes than usual. Two of them are dressed as sperm. But it’s before the watershed, so commentator Steve Wilson can’t say so. Nicklas Bendtner colours in his socks early on, or at least the white tape around his ankles. This allows Wilson a stab at a “red tape” joke, which isn’t bad. Denmark’s left-back Simon Poulsen is caught offside twice in the opening minutes. Wilson suggests it is “nice to see” him that “high up the park”, and give the way he’s defended in this tournament, most Danish fans would concur. As he shoots wide, we are told Jon-Dahl Tomasson is in a “goalscoring drought...

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