Category: Latest

Sangria & Sangria

Spain 4-0 Ukraine Spain. The perennial under-achievers. For years and years, they have flattered to decieve. Often packed with as many start players as the other top nations, they alone have been consistent in their inability to get to grips with the concept of international football tournaments. True enough, they reached the 1984 European Championship final (where a hideous mistake by goalkeeper Luis Arconada helped them to defeat against Spain), but consider this: since then, England, France, Italy, Sweden, Bulgaria, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Turkey & Croatia have all made at least the semi-finals of the World Cup. It throws Spain’s lack of success into sharp focus. In the run-up to the tournament, the big question was this: would Aragones have the cojones to drop Raul? It turns out that he did, and the gamble paid off. The forward pairing of Garcia & Villa ran the Ukrainian defence ragged, and the extra bonus was that when Raul did come on in the second half, he put in his best performance in a Spanish shirt for a long time. Most encouraging of all (and not just because he’s in my Fantasy World Cup team) was an encouraging debut made by Puyol. The defender became more courageous as the game went on, coming forward and eventually laying on the pass for the fourth goal. It’s not difficult to feel sorry for Ukraine....

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Cruyff-side

Okay – I’m pissing around with Youtube at the moment, because I thought of this and decided that you can never really see it too many times. Johann Cruyff, against Sweden in 1974. More to...

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A Few Things Before I Go To Bed:

First of all, here’s a picture of Ronaldo binge-eating Bratwurst in a futile attempt to come to terms with the fact that he is now officially rubbish at football. It was made for me by my friend Gaz. I’ll ask him to make some more, but whether he will or not is open to debate. I hope he does, because they’re really rather splendid. Also, it has been drawn to my attention that FIFA appear to have sanctioned the use of some sort of “Gay Anthems” CD. At half-time during South Korea-Togo, the teams came back out while “Go West” was playing over the tannoy system. Then tonight, during Brazil-Croatia, it was “I Will Survive”. I look forward to David Beckham lifting the trophy of July 9th to the strains of “Jolene”. Finally, I (and a couple of others) are semi-demi-considering expanding this theme and doing a full-on blog-cum-site after all of this World Cup nonsense is over. My email address is in my profile, should you be interested in helping out in any way. The same goes for suggestions and so on, obviously. Ah – there was one other thing. There’s a little map in the footer of this page now, which is a hit counter that shows how many people are looking at this place, and where they come from. It’s very clever, even if I say...

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Brazilian Bland

Brazil 1-0 Croatia God. Before the match, the BBC took a good half an hour that could have been used up with public information films eulogising Brazil. This was, if you believed Gary Lineker, the greatest team ever to play football. It wasn’t a question of whether they would win the World Cup, it was a matter of how easy it would be for them. Alan Hansen, Leonardo & Ian Wright dutifully lined up to pay tribute to them, and then we were off to the stadium. Any hopes that it would improve lasted about 15 seconds. You could almost hear the bubble of drool forming in the corner of Mark Lawrenson’s mouth. Try not to dwell on that mental image for too long. Meanwhile, John Motson was running out of superlatives. It was a sickly-sweet Brazil fest. They could do nothing wrong. And then… …Nothing. No inspiration whatsoever. Ronaldinho looked utterly isolated on the left. Ronaldo… christ. More on him later. They had no shape, were playing the match practically at walking pace, and treating it more like another exhibition match (although this is perhaps unsurprising, given that the only matches they’ve played in the last three or four months or so have been against amateur club sides and New Zealand). Fortunately for them, Croatia seemed largely unconcerned by this. Their tactic seemed to be pass the ball...

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Diabolique!

France 0-0 Switzerland Okay. Forget what I said about “Old Europe” down there. Just forget it. At least, forget it about it so far as France are concerned. They were wretched this evening, as bad as they were four years ago, and this time they didn’t even have the excuse of having travelled half-way across the world. They just couldn’t be bothered. Zidane doesn’t look capable of playing more than an hour at this level any more, Henry doesn’t appear to have been told what the tactical plan is (if, indeed, there is one), Wiltord was playing as if it was a Sunday morning kick-about, and as for Ribery… well, they’d have been better off starting with Platini. In fact, De Gaulle’s corpse would have shown a better first touch. The Swiss looked as if they were taken by surprise by it all. The match crawled along at a snail’s pace, with Switzerland full of graft but lacking in quality, and France lacking in… well… anything, really. Switzerland had the best chance of the first half – a free-kick lifted into the penalty area while the French defence was apparently looking at a particularly pretty butterfly that had flown across the pitch drifted through to hit the post, Frei opted to volley when it would have been easier to head, and the ball, predictably enough, ended up sailing harmlessly...

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