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Day: July 17, 2011

The 2011 Womens World Cup Final: USA 2-2 Japan (Japan Win On Penalties)

It started slowly, before rising to a beautiful tumult and ended with a penalty shoot-out which ended in a victory for the team of the aesthetes. And then, on top of that, the crowd had the good sense to roundly boo Sepp Blatter. To that extent, this evening’s Women’s World Cup final was, in other words, a series of small victories for football and the end of a tournament that has been a credit to its host nation, Germany, and to the womens game in a more general sense. This was a tournament that could have fallen flat after the surprise exit of the hosts at the quarter-final stage, but instead it picked a different momentum with Japan, playing sometimes beautiful and occasionally vulnerable football and containing a team featuring some players with back-stories that would break the stoniest of hearts, giving it a new narrative which sustained it through two thrilling semi-finals as well as this evening’s high drama. All of this is to perform a disservice to an American team that played a full part in this evening’s match to the extent that each Japanese goal came as a bolt from the blue. Ultimately, however, the United States of America were too one-dimensional and over-reliant on their greater strength and other physical attirbutes. They were, ultimately, unable to work their way through a Japanese game-plan that seemed...

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Match Of The Week: Chester 2-1 FC United Of Manchester

July, some say, is a little too early for the football season to start. The new season lumbers to life each year in the manner of a bear awakening from hibernation. We don’t merely leap to life, ready to jump into another year of those twin false gods of hope and despair, though. We have to be spoonfed our addiction, as if on a drip and we have to be cajoled back into action. This afternoon was the sporting equivalent of hearing the alarm sound and realising that, yes, it’s time to rise from the slumbersome pleasures of the close season. No more Saturday afternoon barbecues or the pretence of having a plethora of different interests for you, dear football supporter! It’s that time of year again. This afternoon at The Deva Stadium, however, we were shaken to life with rather more of a jolt than we may have been anticipating. The Supporters Direct Cup may be a match borne from an organisation fostering togetherness and sense of solidarity amongst those of different persuasions, but no-one seemed to have passed this particular version of the script to the players of Chester FC and FC United of Manchester. Indeed, in a more competitive environment this match would likely have produced a rash of cards from the referee, including more than one of the scarlet variety. This was a feisty match,...

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When Squared Sausage Meets Currywurst: Scottish & German Clubs Collide

With the speed of a cheetah after it identifies its prey, the Scottish Premier League season approaches. As players in other top flight leagues wake from their midsummer’s naps and beginning stretching for their pre-season action, SPL players are back on their training grounds, preparing for matches that mean more than just a bit of fitness. Most Premier League clubs stayed close to home, having scheduled friendlies with sides dotted around the Home Nations, while a select few bigger sides traveled further abroad. Celtic jetted down under to Australia, while Hearts, Aberdeen, and Rangers all played in Germany. This trio of Scottish clubs partaking in a bit of bratwurst with their pre-season football recalled days of yesteryear, when top Scottish clubs were a surprising force in European football much as certain English Premiership clubs are today. In those times, Scottish clubs other than the Old Firm were progressing and qualifying for European silverware, and often their opposition hailed from the western half of a Cold War-divided Germany. Further, when the Saltire was being flashed in a West German stadium, it was not always in Munich, but at the parks of clubs which have since been overshadowed by Bayern much as SPL clubs have been slid into the shadows by Old Firm dominance. The Lisbon Lions of 1967 ┬áretain now legendary status as the first European champions from Britain and...

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