Tag: Poland

World Cup Tales: Eleven Goals In Strasbourg, 1938

As the entrants lined up for the 1938 World Cup finals in France, storm clouds were building up the horizon, and the tournament itself wasn’t exempt from such global concerns. Three months prior to the start of it, German tanks had marched into Austria, annexing the country through the Anschl├╝ss agreement. Within a couple of months, the Austrian national football team, which had got to the semi-finals of the previous tournament in Italy and was one of the favourites for this one, was no more. On the 28th of March 1938, just sixteen days after the Anschl├╝ss was signed, FIFA was notified that the Austrian Football Association, the OFB, had been abolished and that Germany would be representing both nations. Sweden, the team that they had been due to play, received a bye to the second round of the tournament. The decision to award the 1938 World Cup finals to France had caused considerable outrage in itself. It had been announced at FIFA’s 1936 congress, which was held in Berlin, and it had been expected at the time that the finals of the competition would be alternated between Europe and South America. Argentina and Uruguay withdrew from the competition, leaving Brazil and Cuba as the only representatives from the Americas. The decision provoked a riot outside the headquarters of the Argentinian Football Association. The only South American preresentatives, however,...

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Germany 2-0 Poland

So, four matches, four wins for the favourites, and none of the underdogs have managed a goal yet. Euro 2008 is still waiting to come to life. In one respect at least, this is no bad thing. There had been fears of serious crowd trouble in the small town of Klagenfurt – the smallest town ever to host a European Championship finals match, and a peculiar choice for a potentially tense match between two rivals such as Germany and Poland. As things have turned out, though, there has been no major trouble there apart from a scuffle last night that ended up in seven arrests. However, it is more of a concern on the pitch, where four matches have carefully and assiduously followed the script. The Swiss and the Austrians gave it a good go and Turkey showed some resilience against Portugal, but this Polish side didn’t show too much to indicate that they are going to be anything other than cannon fodder for the Croatians. On the pitch, then, tonight’s match was proof (as if we needed such a thing) that Germany have lifted themselves out of the torpor that has characterised their recent performances in the finals of the European Championships. Prior to this evening they hadn’t won a finals match since the final match of Euro 96 twelve years ago, but the result was seldom in...

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Euro 2008 – Group B

Otherwise known as “The Group Of Internecine Rivalries” (by me at least), Group B is the group that probably offers the greatest chance of a host nation getting thrashed out of sight that you’ll ever see at the European Championships and, as if that wasn’t enough, the tournament favourites. Anyway, here’s the low-down on The Group Of Schnitzel (I just thought that up, in case you were wondering). Austria – What Are Expectations Like? Not high and, as with co-hosts Switzerland, there was a noisy campaign for them to resign their place before the the competition started. Indeed, this Austrian team might just be the worst ever to play in the finals of the European Championships. The thirty-one man training squad released last month by coach Josef Hickersberger had scored just 46 goals between them, and with just 8 goals scored by the six selected strikers. The best that they can realistically hope for is to not get thrashed out of sight in all three group matches. How Did Their Qualifying Campaign Go? They qualified automatically as hosts, and it’s a good job. They’re currently in 101st place in the FIFA rankings, sandwiched neatly between Algeria and Tanzania, and considerably below fellow Europeans such as Latvia, Iceland and Cyprus. What’s The Coach Like? Hickersberger was the coach of the Austrian team between 1987 and 1990, and qualified them for...

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Deutschland Uber Alles?

Germany 3-0 Ecuador / Poland 2-1 Costa Rica So, now we know what England have got to do, or not do, to get through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Or, rather, we don’t. Because Ecuador put out half of their reserves this afternoon, we haven’t learnt too much about either of them. So… what little have we learnt about them? Well, let’s start with Germany. For one thing, they’re growing in confidence. Today was their best performance so far. Ballack was excellent – getting forward considerably more than he did against Poland, and Klose took his chances well. Having said that… Podolski, supposedly still the golden boy of German football, still needs approximately seven chances to put one away – his confidence will have grown as a result of his performance today, but is that enough? The key to stopping Germany from playing effectively would appear to be to stop Ballack getting forward, but… how to do that? A stopping midfielder like Hargreaves? It’s a tough call. I still think that England could beat Germany. They haven’t had anything like a defensive test in two matches now, and the sight of Wayne Rooney (if he can achieve anything like his full pelt) would be a fairly fearsome sight for them. We’ll have more of an idea of whether that’s likely after tonight – but then we’ll know...

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Poles Apart

Germany 1-0 Poland I suppose it was hardly surprising that it took Gary Lineker barely three minutes to describe “a Polish invasion of Dortmund tonight”, but it didn’t make it any less tiresome. Commentator Steve Wilson managed to top even that, mentioning both not mentioning the war and Basil Fawlty in his opening sentence. In recent weeks, I have watched the whole of the 1966 World Cup final, and “Goal!”, the official film of that tournament. The most notable thing about it is the complete absence of any mention of the war at all, all the more surprising because, at the time, it was in the living memory of considerably more people than it is now. Why it’s so difficult for the media to do it now is, frankly, beyond me. But anyway – there was a football match going on tonight, rather than a World War II re-enactment. Considering they’d lost their opening match to an average, if efficient, Ecuador team, Poland displayed a startling lack of ambition this evening. They played as if they would be more than happy with a point tonight – a stay of execution rather than any significant progress. For much of the first half, they made a pretty good job of it. Germany were tighter defensively, but lacked imagination going forward. Michael Ballack’s return was welcome, but even he was below-par, sending...

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