Category: The Ball
The important thing with covering a World Cup which has been so slow to start as this one is, basically, to at least try and keep yourself entertained. As such, our intrepid crayon-tester and some-time football journalist Dotmund had something of an ‘episode’ and decided to file his report of the Group H match between the reigning European Champions Spain and Switzerland in handwritten form. With sketches. He hopes this novel approach will become the paradigm for all sports reporting in this country. We are just glad that it keeps him off the streets.
In the three years since I last attended the annual conference of the supporters’ trusts umbrella organisation, Supporters Direct (SD), there have been significant changes. Communications manager Kevin Rye’s suits have got sharper. Chief...
In the latest update from the steel cage death match which is the Clack TV World Cup studio, Glasgow Paisley manager Henny Jings lets his international counterparts have it with both barrels. However, Mungo McCrackas is working on a more eloquent solution yet. Could this be just what is needed to blow the dust away and get the 2010 World Cup into a new gear? Who knows, Mungo is particularly resourceful.
If this World Cup has yet to really catch, there were high hopes beforehand that these two teams would provide the first really absorbing contest – both are packed with undoubted talent, and are probably battling for a single qualification sport behind Brazil. But with hindsight, this last factor was the critical one and ought to have made us realise that we’d be in for yet another game defined principally by caution. This game always looked likely to be the crunch one for both teams, and if it had come last it might have been a humdinger. Coming first, neither team was willing to take much in the way of risks, apparently happy to leave it to see who could nick a result off Brazil or else rack up the better goal difference against North Korea.
Half way through the opening set of fixtures then, and we’ve already seen two of the semi-finalists in action. Only Germany have really looked good enough to be worthy of it so far, but the lower half of the draw contains more big guns, with favourites Spain and Brazil, not to mention holders Italy, all to come shortly.
And then there’s Holland. They looked very good through an admittedly weak qualifying group, and even come to the World Cup as Unofficial World Champions, but no one seemed quite sure beforehand whether to put them as a good outside bet or right up there with the favourites. And I’m not sure this performance really helped us much. They won, and comfortably enough in the end although that was by no means a foregone conclusion at half-time, but they didn’t really set the heather alight or show the same sort of class as Germany had against Australia yesterday evening.
Why are all the matches in the tournament that I have to cover for Twhohundredpercent on ITV? It’s not that the BBC coverage appears to be any better – indeed, it appears that yesterday’s Match of the Day highlights package neglected to show any footage from South Korea’s win over Greece, which is fairly appalling – but I am a snob. Actually, it’s frankly preposterous the amount of pre-game build-up and half-time punditry that I’m watching in this tournament, considering the cataclysmic effect it has on my sanity, ITV or otherwise.
I volunteered for this game. On paper it seemed a good idea to do. I’d seen Slovenia play Spain at Euro 2000, and Slovenia are some of the loudests fans I’ve ever come across. They only really have one song: “Kdor ne skače,ni Slovenc, hej, hej, hej”. And when they sing, they jump up and down in unison, and if you’re in the upper tier of a stadium with 10,000 Slovenians ten feet away for them, you get that a great atmosphere, with the slight sense of unease that the stadium is going to collapse.
Okay, let’s get it out the way first up: Robert Green. He had only one save to make in that first half, when Clint Dempsey hit – or in truth barely half-hit – a low shot from maybe 28 yards out after forty minutes in. It was a routine save, Green seemed to get his body behind it, got both hands to it, and yet somehow it squirmed over the line for the USA’s equaliser.
Diego Armando Maradona’s last World Cup game as a player, was in 1994. Against Nigeria. So, it was fitting that his first World Cup game as a manager was against the same opponents. Maradona’s playing career was controversial, but at his peak he was capable of raising above average teams to great heights, both at club level with Napoli (both their Serie A titles came with Diego at the heart) and of course at national level (Burruchaga apart, most of Argentina’s 1986 side was ordinary, or past their best).