Category: Latest

The 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup: The Quarter-Finals

So. Farewell, then, a Brazil/Nigeria Under-17 World Cup final. As I predicted here, Mexico had next-to-no chance of beating Brazil. So they did. Just to spite me. And Eurosport’s Wayne Boyce was left almost tearfully lamenting the loss of “the dream final.” Boyce’s commentary colleague Tim Caple had breathlessly recommended to viewers of Sweden’s surprisingly entertaining 2-1 quarter-final win over Honduras that they stick around to watch “this Brazilian team” in action. And whilst there was always a nagging doubt that Caple was tempting fate, few outside Mexico’s fanbase gave their side an earthly. Bizarrely, given that it finished 11-10 after 24 spot-kicks, Mexico thoroughly deserved to win the penalty shoot-out – almost to the point of outclassing the Brazilians. The Selecao scuffed at least three of their successful efforts and found a previously undiscovered hole in Mexican keeper Raul Gudino’s gloves with two others. Mexico’s successful kicks, meanwhile, were either well placed shots or, in the case of Ulises Rivas when the shoot-out was 5-4 and he HAD to score, let Boyce unveil his surely pre-prepared “pop up with a Pannenka” line as Rivas chipped his spot-kick straight down the middle while Brazil keeper Marcos flew to his right. This in turn let Boyce’s co-commentator Stewart Robson bring out his “why don’t the keepers just stand still?” line. But when both keepers appeared too drained to do anything else...

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A Weekend In The Spotlight For Some Of Football’s Afterthoughts

Way back in the past, when social mobility for football clubs was, generally, if not quite absolutely, calcified by the FA’s distinction between amateurs and professionals (a state of affairs which lasted, somewhat extraordinarily, until 1974) or by the Football League’s insistence on re-election rather than meritocracy at the foot of its bottom rung (which clung on as a relic of a closed shop past until 1987), at least the difference between what constituted ‘league’ and ‘non-league’ was somewhat easier to define than it is nowadays. Every year, a bunch of amateurs would find themselves thrust unexpectedly into the limelight and granted the opportunity to bloody the nose of one of their supposed betters in the FA Cup, and every year, it seemed, somebody, somewhere would oblige. These days, however, the lines are somewhat more blurred. Cambridge United, for example, play their football in the Conference National, but as recently as 1991 they were a Second Division club giving Arsenal a hard time in the quarter-finals of this very competition. Another club playing at the same level, Wrexham, got to the same stage of the competition six years later. The line between between the professionals and the semi-professionals has become increasingly blurred over the years, to the extent that even Luton Town, another Conference club, beating Norwich City of the Premier League away from home last season didn’t raise...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Twenty-One: Brighton & Norwich Scrap At The Bottom

As February turned to March in 1981, the battle to avoid relegation to the Second Division was hotting up, with just two points seperating Brghton & Hove Albion, Norwich City and Leicester City at the bottom of the table. The big match of the weekend at the bottom of the table came from Carrow Road, and was between Norwich and Brighton. With ten games of the season to play, winning points was now critical at the bottom of the table. Our second match from the last day of February 1981 is brief highlights from the match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford. The following week, meanwhile, saw the first legs of the quarter-finals of the big European competitions. So, first up out these matches is the match between Liverpool and CSKA Sofia from Anfield, and we follow this up with what looked like an extremely tricky trip for Ipswich Town to France to play Saint Etienne. It turned out to be a good week for the remaining English clubs in Europe. You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by cicking...

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Thirty-Six & A Half Million Holes In The Accounts In Blackburn, Lancashire

At least, the supporters of Blackburn Rovers may choose to console themselves this evening, at least the team won yesterday afternoon. For the first time since the start of last month, Rovers have three points under their belt with a one-nil win against Middlesbrough being enough to lift the team to ninth place in the Football League Championship table. A repeat of last season’s battle to avoid relegation to League One seems highly unlikely to be repeated. If there was success on the pitch for the club yesterday afternoon, however, away from it the results couldn’t have offered a much starker contrast. While the team was playing yesterday afternoon, BBC Lancashire was reporting that Blackburn Rovers Football Club has posted the sort of financial results that send a chill down the spine. Some reasonable level of financial husbandry had been the one saving grace of the otherwise disastrous period of ownership of the Venkys group. In the year to the end of June 2012 the club reported a small operating profit of £4.5m, which we might have hoped would stand as an indication that the club at least had some sort of safety buffer in order to be able to cope with its relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2011/12 season. A combination of being able to trade profitably and plump parachute payments from the...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Twenty – Liverpool Fall Off The Pace

By the latter part of February 1981, it was becoming increasingly apparent that Liverpool were not going to be finishing the season as the champions of England this time around. Too many drawn matches were costing Bob Paisley’s team, and by the time they travelled to the south coast to play struggling Brighton & Hove Albion they were five points behind second placed Aston Villa, with the number of matches left to try and bridge that gap starting to evaporate. Brighton, meanwhile, were seperated from the bottom three on goal difference only and desperately needed points themselves if they were to avoid relegation back to the Second Division. The second match featured this weekend was another relegation battle, this time between Birmingham City and the team who were tied with Brighton at the foot of the table, Norwich City. The home side were comfortably placed in mid-table, but Norwich had been at or near the foot of the table all season. This report, from ITV’s On The Ball, follows the Canaries to St Andrews for a rare Friday night match. Our final match is a match from the battle for UEFA Cup places for the following season, between Southampton and West Bromwich Albion. You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by clicking...

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