Author: Edward

The Confederations Cup: Spain 1-0 Iraq

It took Spain 40 years to rebuild their national team into a championship-winning force, so 55 minutes was never going to be too long to wait.  Still, that’s how long they were kept at bay by Bora Milutinovic’s limited but very well-organised Asian champions. With ten men behind the ball throughout, Iraq stifled the Spanish attack to such a degree that, had it been an incarnation of the same side from a few years ago, one might have wondered an upset was on the cards.  However, the European Champions are very difficult to bargain with at the moment, and that they would eventually get the result was never much in doubt. Still, Vincente del Bosque’s side will be mindful of their need to address their sluggish start.  For all of Iraq’s well-drilled defending, the Asian side’s key weapon was their opponents’ composure in front of goal.  Several very good opportunities went begging before Spain even registered their first shot on target, a tame header by Joan Capdevilla from Xavi’s free kick with 40 minutes played. Iraq will perhaps be disappointed with their defending of set pieces overall, in fact: for such a disciplined side, the majority of their best work stemmed Spain’s ambitions from open play.  When the dead ball routines were brought to bear, however, Iraq always looked a step behind the European Champions.  David Villa, who had...

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The Confederations Cup: Brazil 4-3 Egypt

There is a reason why matches like this one are rare.  More, perhaps, is the pity.  But it is not just bull-headed, brass-necked conservative imperialism which sees 50 percent of the ten South American teams qualifying for the World Cup Finals, whilst just six of CAF’s 55 members will represent Africa next summer.  The relative quality and development of football is such that, for the most part, a significant gulf still exists in the relative standards of play and according expectations.  It is, in other words, statistical probability as much as geography which keeps Brazil and Egypt apart on football fields. Herein lies the real joy of a Confederations or World Cup, of course.  Nevertheless, it is perhaps only natural that one nation will dominate the build-up chatter, with every prediction or assumption seeing them as comfortable winners.  For better or worse, Brazil loomed so large over this tie that on paper, it was tempting to forget about Egypt entirely.  It’s fair to say that such a luxury will not now be afforded to Italy, their next opponents, in the build up to their match on Thursday. Focusing on Brazil was not such a bad idea, though, as their relationship with the Confederations Cup is a complex and textured one.  Two tournaments ago, in 2001, a struggling Seleção arrived in the Far East facing perhaps their first ever failure...

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Down With The Champions League!

He puts in a heroic performance every week on this site, drawing “Shit Shot Mungo”, but Twohundredpercent’s artist in residence, Ted “The Neck” Carter, has worked himself up into an impotent fury over what he sees as the desecration of the European Cup. There is plenty more Ted The Neck here. Today’s YouTube match, by the way, features Watford beating Arsenal 4-2 in November 1982. When writing something for someone else’s blog, it’s usually best to keep things factual, balanced and objective. Otherwise, there’s a danger that your personal feelings or opinions will be absorbed into the prevailing orthodoxy, which risks confusing or alienating your host’s regular readership.  So at this stage, I should like to point out that this is very much my opinion and does not necessarily represent the normal editorial line of twohundredpercent.net. However, it has to be said that the UEFA Champions’ League is stupid and useless and needs to be spayed. This season’s semi-final match between Manchester United and Arsenal will be the ninth time in the 53-year history of the European Cup competition that a last-four game has been contested between two clubs from the same league as each other. The initial two – in 1959 and 1960 – saw the defending champions Real Madrid facing off against Atletico Madrid (runners-up to Real in 1957/58) and then FC Barcelona, champions in 1958/59.  Tellingly, however, the...

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Review: The Damned United

I have been a little unwell over the last twenty-four hours so, in lieu of being able to write anything myself, I wrapped our usual cartoonist Ted Carter in mittens, a warm scarf and his favourite duffle coat, and sent him to the cinema to watch the film version of “David Peace’s novel, The Damned United”. He came back with this report and a drawing at the same time. With a bit of luck, normal service will resume tomorrow. David Peace described his 2006 book The Damned Utd “another fiction, based on another fact”.  Tom Hooper’s film The Damned United, out on general release last Friday, is probably best described as based on another fiction, based on another fact.  The 93 minute film is altogether brighter and breezier than the book, dealing much less with the psychological darkness or the beginnings of Clough’s slide into alcoholism and focusing instead on the Brian Clough of legend. In fact, it is most unhelpful to try and think of the film in terms of comparison to the book.  The film could not possibly hope to match the breadth or texture of Peace’s extraordinary text.  Rather than Raging Bull, then, this film is better described as Moby Dick – the story of Brian Clough’s all-encompassing, damaging, obsession with beating Don Revie and beating Leeds United.  To that end, it touches on certain aspects...

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