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Day: August 4, 2011

The First Week Of The World Under-20s Cup

The next edition of an important English dictionary looks set, at this rate, to use an action shot of this year’s Under-20s World Cup to illustrate its definition of ‘curate’s egg.’ The tournament has had its moments so far, and has got noticeably better as I’ve been typing. But for every Colombia/France, there’s been one… well… Colombia/Mali. And although there have been enough spectacular moments to fill TV trailers to infinity and beyond, the company which produces Mogadon would have been in administration if their financial future relied on sales at other games – hello, Portugal/Uruguay. As predicted, South American sides have impressed, with Uruguay considerably improving from first game to second, thanks in the main to the return from suspension of diminutive playmaker Adrian Luna (probably short for ‘lunatic’ to judge by his past disciplinary indiscretions and some unorthodox offences in Uruguay’s fascinating 1-1 draw with New Zealand). Predictable too have been England’s struggles, although their 0-0 draw with Argentina was a Uruguayan-scale improvement on the tournament’s eye-closing opener against Korea DPR. The favourites – the afore-mentioned Colombian hosts, Brazil and Spain – have control of their groups. And mightily impressive Nigeria will actually be disappointed to have only scored ten goals in their opening two games. Brazil have yet to hit any heights, which scarcely mattered against a very ordinary Austria but nearly did against a very...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Previews: League One

For the purpose of our Football League reviews, we will be taking a look at the respective divisions in an overall sense rather than trying to make predictions or inspecting the clubs concerned too closely. If you are here looking for in-depth predictions made by the supporters of each of the seventy-two clubs of the Football League, we would recommend the venerable When Saturday Comes and its annual pre-season preview, which is available now from all good newsagents, or alternatively this collaborative project between two Football League blogs, The Seventy Two and The Two Unfortunates. League One is the junction at which all of English footballs avenues meet. At one end of the spectrum are the likes of Charlton Athletic and the two Sheffield clubs, who have fallen from their once lofty perches and are now trying to figure a way to get back to where they feel that they deserve to be. At the other sit the likes of Stevenage, who joined an increasingly lengthy list of the clubs that have shot their way into the Football League and then found that League Two wasn’t quite as much of a challenge as they might have thought that it would be. The big and the small, the young and the old – Wednesday were formed in 1867, Stevenage in 1976. It can be, as Norwich City have found, a launchpad to...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Preview Predictions: League Two

It’s time for the annual jinx that is the official twohundredpercent pre-season previews. We’ve gone about them slightly differently this season. With the transfer window affecting some managers psychologically to the point that they build their team by the end of the transfer window, rather than the start of the season, predicting how it all ends up before teams have finalised their squads is tricky, especially when you consider that Bury started last season with fifteen players with league experience, only to add five players to their promotion winning squad before the end of August. That’s my excuse for putting them twentieth last season. It also means that I can boast about correctly predicting that Hereford would come fourth from bottom. NOTE: Each group of teams in alphabetical order, rather than the order I think they will finish in. PROMOTION CONTENDERS New Bristol Rovers manager Paul Buckle has gone for a clean sweep as he tries to take the Pirates up. Seventeen players were released, including Carl Regan and Jeff Hughes, and Buckle has made signings all over the side, with the pick being defender Adam Virgo, midfielder and new club captain Matthew Gill, and forwards Matt Harrold and Chris Zebroski. In fact, the biggest problem may be the squad learning to play as a team, but League Two is usually a division where you can afford to lose...

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