Monthly Archive: June 2010
Twelve years ago, at their own World Cup finals, France comfortably beat South Africa in their opening group game, going on to become the sixth nation to win the tournament at home. Today South Africa became the first hosts in the 80-year history of the competition to fall at the first hurdle, but their blushes were somewhat spared with this spirited display against an abject French side in their last game under Raymond Domenech. Twelve years is a long time in football.
My first memories of Uruguay as football team – and quite possibly of their existence as a country at all – came from the World Cup in 1986. They were in Scotland’s group then, and were portrayed as thugs, a bunch of big cheating, spoiling, fouling, cynical bruisers who would – if the ref let them – hack Scotland’s magnificent collection of creative wizards out of the tournament. In the event, of course, Scotland did get some help from the ref; Uruguay played the last 89 minutes with ten men, but a Scotland side who had in any case already lost to Denmark and Germany weren’t good enough to break them down.
Twohundredpercent will be bringing you, each morning this week, your handy guide to the permutations in each of the groups to finish that day. There really shouldn’t be any need for such articles, even...
The part-timers from Honduras took on the mighty European champions Spain with it all at stake: a loss for the Spanish side would see the tournament favourites eliminated at the first hurdle. What could possibly happen? Well, naturally enough, Spain won at a canter. However comfortable the performance, though, the margin of victory could yet cause some furrowed brows and frenzied abacus work come this Friday evening’s Group H deciders.
Well if I’ve only got one pre-tournament prediction right so far, I’ve got it right even more convincingly than I imagined – that the South American teams would all do well. Their combined record for the first two rounds of games reads Played 10, Won 8, Drawn 2. (Compare and contrast with the combined records of Europe’s big five: England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy can boast Played 9, Won 1, Drawn 5, Lost 3 – with Spain still to play this evening.)