Category: Latest

The 200% World Cup: The Warm-Ups – No Dutch Courage Against Wales

That’s more like it. After far too much entertainment at Craven Cottage last week, this stroll in the Amsterdam twilight was what World Cup warm-up friendlies are all about. Not getting injured and making the post-match fireworks as incongruous as possible. While Ireland’s draw with Italy was put into perspective by the Azzurri’s inability to beat Luxembourg (Luxembourg!!), Wales’ tame defeat to the equally-tame but more talented Dutch put both teams in their rightful place – the Netherlands worried about World Cup group opponents Chile, Wales about September’s Euro 2016 qualifying opponents Andorra. Wales were missing the “spine of their side,” known to his friends as Gareth Bale – although BBC Wales’ commentators Rob Phillips and Kevin Ratcliffe name-checked Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams for credibility’s sake. And Ratcliffe went even further: “But you’ve got Neil Taylor,” he pleaded, although you could almost hear his conviction draining away with every syllable. Studio pundit Barry Horne had no such qualms. “Where should Gareth Bale play?” presenter Jason Mohammed asked. “Wherever he wants,” said Horne, to rapturous applause from a bizarrely-commissioned studio audience. The Netherlands, meanwhile, had Wesley Sneijder alternating with a member of the Dutch public in a Sneijder fright-mask – “Sneijder” interchanging occasional brilliance with lengths of doziness. And after half-time they were missing Robin Van Persie, who grimaced his way through the second quarter before Jeremain Lens replaced...

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The 200% World Cup: England Are Quite Interesting

With a bevvy of exciting youngsters breaking into the first team and an UEFA Under 17 European Championship win under their belt, England have suddenly become interesting. It’s as if the collective youth of the Premier League read the FA commission’s plans for the future of English football and decided to take matters into their own hands. While it is the God given right for all free born English folk to approach a World Cup with uncurbed and unwarrantable optimism the bitter experience of the 2010 World Cup has introduced some much needed curb to pre-tournament enthusiasm. Instead of...

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The 200% World Cup: Dotmund’s Red Card Frenzy, Parts 20 To 25

It’s time for the final instalment of Dotmund’s Red Card Frenzy this morning, and this finale features Spain, Switzerland, the United States of America and Uruguay, as well as a very peculiar concept called “no red cards.” The cards featured in this set are available to buy over the internet. If you’re a fan of stupidity and/or myopia, you can buy them by visiting here. Or, you can follow the artist on Twitter by clicking here. OR, you can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by clicking here....

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The 200% World Cup: The World Cup Finals: A Love Story

It’s a comment that has been more than once over the course of the last few months: what could it possibly say about the current kleptocracy that is FIFA that a significant proportion of the population of Brazil, the most storied nation in the history of the World Cup, have been turned against the tournament being held in their own country? The civil disturbances that marked last summer’s Confederations Cup there may or may not be repeated this time around, but what we can say with a degree of confidence is that there is, even in the event that talk of full blown disorder comes to nothing, a good chance that this summer’s World Cup will be accompanied by a an undercurrent of disquiet, to say the least. What, though, of the rest of us? Watching from afar, we will, in spite of our misgivings concerning those that awarded the tournament to Brazil in the first place, still find ourselves as invested in it all as ever. We’ll swallow a small proportion of our principles and watch it all anyway. For those of us who consider ourselves addicts, the World Cup finals, with sixty-four matches to be played out over the course of four weeks, is our equivalent of freebasing. It’s the cleanest hit that we could ever hope for, and we only have the opportunity to get ourselves...

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The 200% World Cup: No Up Side Down Under, For Australia

The optimism that accompanied Australia to previous World Cup finals has been replaced in 2014 by something of a sense of foreboding, as Paul Caulfield writes. As Brazil 2014 gets going, Australian football fans will be trying to forget the fraught process of actually getting there. Though the Socceroos are safely through to their third successive finals – the tortuous route, through two group stages and 14 matches, was worryingly familiar. Some patchy results – including a defeat to Jordan and a draw with Oman – saw Australia stumble through to Brazil, securing the vital second place in the six team CONMEBOL group with a narrow win over Iraq. Second half substitute Josh Kennedy of Grampus Eight (Jesus to his team-mates, thanks to his ‘biblical’ appearance) scored the vital goal before 80,000 at Sydney’s ANZ stadium, heading in a Mark Bresciano cross with just eight minutes left, though Kennedy failed to make the cut when the final squad was announced. The huge turnout showed the Australian appetite for the big occasion, but Socceroos fans will know that such victories are no basis for success in Brazil. Australia’s opponents in a horrible Group B – the Netherlands, Chile and number one ranked Spain – will be far tougher than a team 46 places below them in the rankings. The Chileans are old foes from 40 years ago, but a repeat...

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