Day: August 2, 2012

The 2012 Olympic Games: The Mens Event, Group Stage Round Three

Anything the Team GB women’s team can do, the men can do too, if with a good deal less style. After his side’s 1-0 win over Uruguay yesterday, the Hope Powell of men’s football, Stuart Pearce, declared that they had played some “outstanding football” to clinch a quarter-final place. Pearce’s eyesight must be a good deal better than mine, but however hard it was to watch as a football match, Britain’s win – of both match and group – was worthy and deserved. The two GB teams find themselves in almost identical situations, with winnable quarter-finals, a very likely semi-final against the tournament hot favourites and a medal a very real prospect. Despite the lack of style, the men’s achievement is probably the greater, given the preparation Pearce was afforded and Pearce himself is doing his international management prospects no harm whatsoever. The decision to rest Ryan Giggs was a credible one given the way the first two games panned out, although Giggs’ big game experience isn’t an asset to leave in reserve lightly. And Pearce didn’t let the context – Giggs leading Britain out in front of a Welsh crowd at Wales’ national stadium – deflect from the task In hand. Pearce was helped by Uruguay’s continuing mediocrity. And when La Celeste Olimpica finally decided to put as much effort in as Arevalo Rios and Luis Suarez, Pearce...

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The 200% Pre-Season Previews: Chelsea

It was a penalty shoot-out like no other. In the intensity of the moment, perhaps the longer term significance of Chelseas Champions League victory against Bayern Munich was forgotten, but its ramifications have been felt throughout the Premier League this summer, with the stop-start nature of Chelseas season being swept to one side in those few tumultuous minutes. Had they not ended up winning this shoot-out, let us not forget, last season would have been perhaps the clubs most disappointing for a number of years, with victory in the FA Cup scarcely applying a fig leaf to a disappointing sixth placed finish in the league. As things turned out, however, Didier Drogba kept his cool in the Allianz Arena, Chelsea became Londons first champions of Europe and the whole complexion of this summer in the Premier League tilted on its axis. Chelsea, many believe, are back. Seldom in recent years has such a slender margin between defeat and victory had such potential implications. When the club lost a penalty shoot-out to Manchester United in similar circumstances in Moscow in 2007, failure from twelve yards arguably cost Avram Grant anything more than mere footnote status in the history of the club. For Roberto Di Matteo, however, the coin landed in his favour and there was lite question that he would be handed the job on a more permanent basis. This...

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The 2012 Olympic Games: No-one Expected The Spanish Elimination

Re-write the football coaching manuals, the Olympic football tournament suggests. Power leads to glory…not all that tiki-taka nonsense. The United States womens’ march to Gold, and the Spanish men’s march to…the airport were the key features of a mostly exciting round of Olympic football matches. If the women took the first round plaudits, the men’s took the second. And the medal prospects of both Team GB’s look a lot healthier than they did. If the gymnasts could do it… Women The United States appear to be on a marketing exercise with the kits they have already worn. Their alternative blue kit against France forced Les Bleus to change their shirts. And any Hamilton Academicals fans at Hampden on Saturday might have felt somewhat disorientated by the sight of red and white hoops pouring forward. Opponents Colombia looked overwhelmed early on. And after ten minutes, the odds on this match being the Group G encounter to finish 5-0 would have been short. However, Colombia were more spirited and organised than in their first match, and held on to the slimmest mathematical hope of a quarter-final place by restricting ‘USNWT’ to 3-0. They used a combination of grit, luck and the crossbar which the States’ Abby Wambach thumped in the style of her surname with one long-range effort. Wambach’s powerful all-round game, Megan Rapinoe’s industry and Alex Morgan’s pace did for...

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