Category: Latest

Siesta Time

Ukraine 1-0 Tunisia / Spain 1-0 Saudi Arabia After all the excitement of last night, it was back to the dull and the ordinary this afternoon. Spain decided to field their entire reserve team against the Saudis, but still had enough about them to win, in spite of a surprisingly heroic performance by Zaid in the Saudi Arabian goal. Juanito scored the only goal, but they should have had a hatful. Al Harthi blazed a simple chance over the crossbar from eight yards out towards the end, but it would have been a scantly deserved point for the Saudis, who now haven’t won a World Cup finals match since 1994, despite having qualified for each of the last three finals. Back to the drawing board for them – and a farewell to Sami Al-Haber, who was probably playing in his last World Cup finals. I daresay we’ll see them again in four years time. All the “drama”, for the want of a better word, was at the Ukraine-Tunisia match. The first half was one of the worst forty-five minutes of football I’ve ever seen. I dozed off for about fifteen minutes of it, but woke up in time to hear Simon Brotherton say that there had been one shot on target, so I wasn’t that concerned. The sending off of Jaziri was a talking point – a second yellow...

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Brazil Nuts

Brazil 4-1 Japan / Australia 2-2 Croatia What, exactly, possessed the BBC make Brazil-Japan their featured match? Anyone looking at the schedule after the draw would have been able to tell you that the battle for second place in this group was going to be between Australia and Croatia. Well, not the BBC, who seem to think that we’d prefer to watch Ronaldinho & company in an exhibition match than a genuine piece of footballing drama mixed with tragi-comedy. Now, I’ve got Digital TV, so I could flick over to channel 701, but many people still don’t have that option. They should think these things through a bit harder. Because if you missed Croatia-Australia, you missed a genuine World Cup classic. First of all, though, Brazil. Well, woo hoo. Ronaldo scored twice. You’ll forgive me if I don’t recant my previous comments about his condition, because, frankly, I could have scored against that Japanese defence. I mean, he’s a bit tubby and everything, but they didn’t really need to leave him unmarked on the edge of the penalty every time Brazil attacked. The Japanese opened the scoring, demonstrating a defensive weakness that Argentina haven’t yet shown, but once The New Big Ron (I should copyright that) levelled things up, it was one-way traffic. The freakshow also took the attention away from a magnificent performance by Robinho, but they may...

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When Saturday Comes

Those of you that know me will be aware that we moved to Brighton two months ago. In all of the excitement, I forgot to change the address on my “When Saturday Comes”, meaning that, for the first time in many, many years, I missed an edition. So, I emailed them and updated my details, and, to my delight, I received an email back from them yesterday not only confirming the address change, but also that they had sent me a copy of this month’s edition to my new address. Now, I would have said that it’s the best football magazine ever anyway, but I can also confirm that it’s also the nicest. I urge those of you that don’t subscribe to it to do so now. You won’t regret it. The link is on the right hand...

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Czech Mate

Czech 0-2 Italy / Ghana 2-1 USA You have to respect the Italian fans. They’re the only set of fans in the whole of the World Cup that are even more pessimistic than England’s. They dropped two points against the USA (whose sole tactic appeared to be kick the Italians very hard), and the country was plumetted into depression. There was nothing really to base this on, of course. They had been unfortunate (the sort of own goal they conceded happens to any team once in a decade), and, on balance, it was a match that they deserved to win. All Italy really needed was a point, so why did they decide that this would be the team that would become the first Italian not to reach the group phases since 1974? This is, after all, an Italy team that hasn’t lost a World Cup match in ninety minutes since 1986. Incredible, but true. They needn’t have panicked, of course. The Czechs had put in real Jekyll & Hyde performances against Ghana and the USA respectively. A team that had gone from one being talked about to reach the quarter-finals (or possibly to go further) was suddenly in trouble. Their confidence had been shot to pieces by the Ghana match and, by half-time, they were as good as on their way home. Materazzi’s header from a corner (from which...

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Dutch Courage

Argentina 0-0 Holland / Ivory Coast 3-2 Serbia May I just be the first person to say… WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? As some of you may remember, in Euro 2000, Holland and France had qualified before their final match, against each other. They were amongst the favourites to win the competition, and, released from the worry of whether they’d make it through or not, they played out one of the matches of the tournament (Holland edged it 3-2), and everybody was happy. Skip forward six years, and what do we find? Argentina (suberb, albeit against a Serbia team that would struggle to get into the Premiership at present) and Holland (workmanlike against Serbia, somewhat fortunate against Ivory Coast) play out a turgid 0-0 draw – one of the worst matches of the tournament. It was if neither of them want to miss out on the bonanza of possibly playing England in the quarter-finals. Holland created more or less nothing in the first half, and only a couple of shots that even half tested Abbondanzieri, whilst Argentina weren’t much better – a couple of shots from Riquelme that flashed just wide, and a low shot that was deflected onto the post. As it was, Argentina take on Mexico in the second round (a tricker game than one might imagine, if the Mexicans show up with their “positive sombreros” on,...

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