Category: International

Ireland’s World Cup Car Crash 

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph” is a polite, religious Irish version of a phrase which rhymes with “clucking bell;” the reaction, surely, of many Ireland fans watching their team’s humiliating World Cup exit on Tuesday. And probably a better bet in Ireland’s midfield diamond than the one Denmark ran lanes through at will. When the end came, it was as difficult to watch as much of the football Ireland have played under Martin O’Neill’s management, although some of Denmark’s football was at the opposite end of the quality scale. Christian Eriksen and his manager Aage Hareide had reason to say...

Read More

Italy: The Arrival Of The Apocalypse

There are two sides to most people who watch football on a regular basis. On the one hand, we have to be ruthless pragmatists, in order to preserve our sanity if nothing else. We know that some players are better than others, that some teams are better than others, and that some teams can be either greater than or equal to the sum of their parts. It’s mechanical, in a sense. All footballers – and all football teams – are not created equal. On the other hand, though, we are fabulously flamboyant romantics. We love the idea of David...

Read More

The Under-17 World Cup: The England Kids Are Alright

A mostly great final to sum up a mostly great tournament, with almost precisely the right result. England’s under-17 success in India, on the back of the under-20’s triumph in Korea in June, has had England’s jingoistic media drooling over the senior team’s prospects in Qat…well…in 2022 anyway, although basic arithmetic and probable playing conditions suggest that 2026 is a better prospect (especially with qualification places available to 25% of the world). There is, of course, plenty of opportunity for potholes to emerge on the paths to senior glory. Basic arithmetic and definite playing conditions suggested that Brazil’s youth...

Read More

The Under-17 World Cup: England’s To Lose

The double dream lives. And “only” Spain stand between Steve Cooper’s teenage sensations and World Cup glory. But whatever happens in Saturday’s final, this World Cup has been terrific. There has been none of the tail-off in excitement which usually pock-marks knock-out stages. And for all the joy that underdogs’ successes can bring, there is something satisfying about the best teams contesting the “business end.” Quarter-finals Mali 2 Ghana 1 They’ll not have played many matches in these conditions in Timbuktu or Tumale. The monsoon season had clearly hung around to turn the Guwahati surface into an unplayable mudheap,...

Read More

The Under-17 World Cup: The Second Round

The FIFA Under-17 World Cup has just completed its second round, so here’s Mark Murphy with a round-up of all the shenanigans in India. Colombia 0 Germany 4. A bad evening for South America (part one). I’d filed this match under “too close to call.” Ultimately all that was “too close to call” was whether Colombia were awful or dreadful. German striker Jann-Fiete Arp’s surname may sound like the noise you make if you cough and burp simultaneously. That may accurately summarise his contribution in general play. But, boy, the boy can finish. He didn’t look over-displeased to be...

Read More