Tag: Italy

The 200% World Cup: World Cup Breakfast, Day 3 – The Morning After The Night Before

One of the curiosities of watching the England national team is the fact that, for all the doom and gloom that frequently surrounds the squad, once they are actually at the World Cup finals, they are normally very good at squeezing through its group stages, historically speaking. They haven’t failed to get over that first hurdle since 1958, and that year it required a play-off defeat at the hands of ther USSR to eliminate them. There are two ways to interpret such information. One is to believe that such historical information demonstrates a trend which should give England supporters...

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The 200% World Cup: Italy vs England – Live!

Well, it’s coming up to eleven o’clock on a Saturday night here in England, and this is, of course, the ideal time to schedule the opening match of England’s 2014 World Cup Finals. But shush. There’s a bit of peace and quiet in the air. A combination of lowered expectations and the gradual thinning out of the more unctuous members of the England team have made the last few weeks somewhat less hysterical than they have been in recent years, and most England supporters seem pretty grounded in the reality of the fact that qualifying from a group which...

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The 200% World Cup: So What Can England Expect, Then?

Two of England’s World Cup group opponents were in international “action” this weekend. And Mark Murphy was there for 200%. Well, more “there” than BBC Northern Ireland, anyway… Uruguay 1 Northern Ireland 0 I’d all-but-overlooked this potential humdinger. Northern Ireland are on a two-match South American tour. And before Wednesday’s trip to Chile they were in Montevideo to provide cannon fodder for give “English-style” opposition to Uruguay. If such a far-away trip seemed expensively-grandiose for a normally cash-strapped Irish FA, then the BBC weren’t about to make the same mistake. After co-commentator Chris Morgan let slip that it was “one o’clock in the morning here in Belfast” there was none of the “the conditions are really humid here” claptrap that pervades so much studio-based commentary – such pretences usually exposed by an inability to spot offside flags and off-the-ball incidents. But during his commentary Michael McNamee blamed mistakes on (1) it being the wee small hours; (2) there being no researchers about as he & Morgan “are the only ones in the building at this time of night”; and (3) the picture quality being poor, suggesting that “if you are watching this on a hi-definition telly you’ve probably got a better picture than “here in the studio,” which can’t have pleased his employers. Still, here’s to not wasting the licence-fee. For an hour, Uruguay were as poor as the...

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Euro 2012: The Final – Spain 4-0 Italy

Football writers the world over will be frantically thumbing through their thesaureses this evening, desperately searching for new superlatives for a performance from Spain that we may well one day look back upon as the definitive of our age. Over the last few days a frankly tedious circular debate has been raging on the subject of whether Spain are “boring” or not. It’s an argument that was rendered suddenly and startlingly obsolete this evening by a complete football performance which rendered a previously impressive looking Italian side bloodied and broken. If this match had been a boxing match, it would have been stopped long ago. Had it been a horse race, they’d have shot both the horse and the jockey.  It was so one-sided as to be little more than a exhibition match by the end and, while there was something a little unfortunate about the fact that Thiago Motta did something unpleasant to his hamstring half an hour to play, but in all honesty the game, for Italy was already up. Apart from a short flourish in the opening few minutes of the second half, Italy were seldom in this match, and by its end such was the gulf between these two teams that Sergio Busquets was making an appearance in the Italian six yard area trying to back back heel the ball past the Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi...

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Euro 2012: The Semi-Finals – Germany 1-2 Italy

On the seventeenth of June 1970, Italy and West Germany played out a World Cup semi-final at The Azteca Stadium in Mexico City so epic that earned itself the soubriquet of The Match Of The Century. Perhaps the finest tribute ever paid to an individual football match ever made can be found outside the stadium, a permanent monument to what became known as The Game Of The Century, a 4-3 win for Italy after thirty minutes of extra-time which contained five goals. Pause to consider that – a match so affective that it caused people thousands of miles from the two nations that played it out to mark the fact that it had been played on their home patch. We may never see the likes of it again. This match has set an exceptionally high standards for matches between the two sides, but Italy inflicted a traumatic defeat upon Germany on the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup in Hamburg, and tonight they put in probably the most accomplished performance by any team in this tournament so far in a match which ended with a scoreline that was, if anything, very flattering on a German side that was made to look very ordinary indeed. The headlines tomorrow morning will be written for one man, of course. Mario Balotelli is still two weeks short of his twenty-second birthday, but this...

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