Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Today, we will complete the list of quarter finalists. I have already previewed the Paraguay v Japan (17.00)game so that leaves us with the Battle of the Iberian Peninsular, Spain v Portugal, kick off 21.30. This is a Derby game(a match between local rivals)so bragging rights are at stake and there is no love lost between these two teams.

The Spanish came into the tournament as one of the favourites, but did not play as well as expected in the first round. The fact that they qualified though now makes them a very dangerous proposition as they are undoubtedly a very talented team.

Portugal spanked N Korea 7-0 and played out two scoreless draws in their other games. Let’s see who can realise the significance of this information. Correct, they have not yet conceded a goal, no mean feat considering who they have played. The key to this game for Portugal is which Christiano Ronaldo turns up. Against Brazil, he tried to shoot every time he touched the ball, he seemed to forget that he is one of a team. If he can remember to pass to his team mates then Spain could be in trouble.

I think that the Spanish would be better off without Fernando Torres as he is obviously not over his injury and is actually doing more harm than good for the Spanish cause at the moment. We have seen some good games in this round, so let’s hope we finish off with a cracker.

The Quarter Finals do not start until Friday, so we will have time to review the tournament to date. Remember to post your comments


Monday, 28 June 2010

Correction for tody's game

In my turmoil over the performance of England, I previewed the wrong game tonight. Brazil is playing Chile, with Paraguay v Japan tomorrow. This should also be another very good game. These 2 teams came in 1st and 2nd in the S American qualifying tournament, and as I have written earlier, the Chileans love to attack. The goals are beginning to flow now, we had 9 scored yesterday and we could see a hatful in this game. The other thing both these teams know how to do well is kick the opponent, so watch out fro a red card.



Sunday, 27 June 2010

A bad day for England and Mexico and a look forward to the 3rd set of games

As much as people will say that the goal that England were not awarded turned the game, the truth has to be told. England did not deserve to win. They were bad from their first game and only showed very rare glimpses of their supposed potential. I can not think of one moment, by an English Player which would make as the Americans like to say the highlight reel. So the long wait for another victory goes on and there will have to be a fundamental shift in attitudes toward the game in England for that wait to be over. This is unlikely to happen as the money driven demands of success, do not let teams take time to nurture talent, in the way that Germans for example have done as they showed us yesterday.
The Germans played with a Blitzkrieg style straight out of Rommel’s manual of how to attack, flanking the opposition at great speed, with Panzers coming up through the middle to kill off the shell shocked remains of a defense. They easily could have scored more than the four they did.
In the 2nd game we saw another awful decision, this time against Mexico, which almost caused a riot when the replay was shown on the big screen. The governing body of football FIFA is going to have to come to the realization, that at least for when it comes to goals, they have to rake advantage of modern technology.
Aside from that the Argies look good coming forward but shaky at the back. The Quarter final between the Sherman’s and the Argies should be a cracker.

So England goes into mourning but the tournament continues, it is difficult to predict what today holds after the heavyweight clashes of yesterday. There is no history, in the games today. The Dutch are up against Slovenia, the conquerors of the Italians and I don’t see them making the same mistakes that the Italians did. The Dutch could have advanced to a very winnable quarter final without having had to go up a gear. In the 2nd game, we have Paraguay v Japan. The Japanese impressed everyone with their defeat of Denmark and scored probably 3 of the best goals we have seen so far. Honda who with his peroxide dyed hair is far from civic has found an accord with his team mates, that has taken all by surprise, but Paraguay are very well organized, so this should be an interesting game.

Please post comments if you have them, it is all nice to get feedback


Once more into the breech and a word about the gallant USA

Before we get to today’s matches, a word about the USA. I hope this tournament will be seen as a watershed for the game in the USA. World football can only benefit from a strong USA team and with the resources at their disposal, this should now become a reality. For the American fans new to the game, the defeat to Ghana will be a salutary lesson. Football is a cruel game, in which one very rarely gets a second chance. The USA had numerous chances in the 2nd half to win the game all of which they failed to convert and boom, one long ball and Ghana are ahead. We look forward to see the USA in Rio in 2014.
So far in this tournament we have already had Au Revoir to the Frogs, Arrivederchi to the ities, the question is will it be so long England or Auf Wiedersehn Pet to the Shermans.

The following statement will be read out at 17.29 tomorrow in the House of Commons.
An ultimatum was passed to the German ambassador, stating that if Germany did not withdraw from (read S Africa for) Poland by 17.30, then hostilities between the two countries would commence. Sadly, we have received no reply from the Germans, so we are now at war.

A bit melodramatic, you may think? Not at all, for most English, beating the Hun is more important than winning the world cup, the feelings are mutual.

The Kaiser Franz (Beckenbauer, probably the best sweeper ever to play the game) has fanned the flames by claiming that the English only play in the style known as kick (preferably the opponent) and rush and that the Premier League is not as good as the Bundesleiga. Mr. Capello, himself an Italian who has no love for the Sherman’s , now does not have to think to hard, how to motivate his team.

The history between these two nations in big tournaments is long and full of unforgettable moments, with Jerry definitely holding the upper hand.

1966 England beat the then W Germany 4-2 in the final after extra time, with the did it, or did it not, cross the line goal, an incident which is still argued about today.

1970 in Mexico, England was 2-0 ahead and cruising with 15 minutes to go. A strange substitution and a terrible mistake by the goalie who let the ball through his body (some things don’t change, do they Mr. Green) and W Germany came from behind to win 3-2.

Italia 90, semi-final England 1- Germany 1. Stuart Pearce (current assistant manager) blasts his penalty over the bar. Germany win

Euro 1996, Penalties again, this time another England defender misses and Germany win again.

Most people reading this will see a pattern developing here and maybe will begin to understand why this is such a big game. So get your tin helmets ready, the dam busters are in the air, the great escape is about to begin. In this game no quarter will be given and none asked for and to paraphrase dear Winnie (not the poo or Mandela)
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight them in Bloemfontein. We shall fight them on the field, we shall fight them with growing confidence, and we shall never surrender.

Awaiting the winner of this clash of the titans, will be either Argentina or Mexico. Everybody has been very impressed by the Argies to date, but they haven’t really been challenged yet and have been able to impose their game on the opposition. Mexico will be a tougher nut to crack.

Enjoy a great day of World Cup football


Friday, 25 June 2010

!st round last day and a look forward to 2nd round

Hi and welcome back. Today should provide very entertaining as we come to the close of the group stages. First up is Brazil, who has begun to look ominously good, versus their old colonial masters from Portugal. The Portuguese scored 7 in their last game, but admittedly that was against N Korea. A number of the Portuguese squad are actually Brazilian born and Portugal are often considered the Brazil of Europe. The result of this game is largely academic as it will only determine who the teams will face in the next round. The runner up, which will probably be Portugal, is slated to face the winner of Spain’s group, which was supposed to be Spain and still could be, but more of that later.
In the second game in this group (kick off 17.00) N Korea are up against the Ivory Coast. As the N Koreans lost their last game 7-0, they will need to put in a good performance to try and avoid a course of re-education when they get home. Ivory Coast is also playing for their pride, and they even have a remote chance of qualifying. They need to score at least 7 and hope that Portugal loses by 2 goals. An unlikely scenario but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.

In the later games tonight. Spain is the latest European team to be in a very tight spot. They basically have to win to go through and they are up against tough opponents in Chile, who have looked very good and who also know that if they lose to Spain they may not go through despite wining their first 2 games. A draw may suffice for Spain in the unlikely event that Switzerland doesn’t beat Honduras, but Honduras has been one of the poorest teams of the tournament so far and the Swiss know that a victory for them would most likely see them through. It will be interesting to see, if the Swiss know how to attack, to date they have basically only played defense. As mentioned above, positioning is important here, as the runner’s up in this group will likely have to face Brazil, a daunting prospect.

Tomorrow sees the beginning of the Knock out stages of the tournament. If the sides are level after 90 minutes, then they play an extra 30 minutes of extra time. There is no golden goal, the full 30 minutes are played even if one side scores. If the deadlock has not been broken after 120 minutes, we go to one of the cruelest forms of torture known to mankind, the Penalty Shootout. Each team has to choose 5 players who will take the spot kicks as they are known. This is not recommended viewing for anyone with a heart condition. If the teams are still level after 5 penalties, it becomes a sudden death affair.
Some teams are good at penalties other are awful. Let’s see if you can guess who is good and who is bad. Ok, that’s enough time. The Sherman’s are excellent and the English and Italians are awful (they lost the final in 1994 when Baggio blasted over the bar). You can be almost certain that if it goes to Penalties, England will lose and grown men will cry. Luckily for the Italians, they are already on their way home.

The next round opens with 2 intriguing games for out entertainment. Uruguay v S Korea (17.00) in the early game and Ghana v USA in the late game (21.30). The Uruguayans have looked very good and should be too strong for the S Koreans, who will be happy that they have got this far.
The 2nd game is much harder to call. Both sides have done well to make it through. The USA feels that there is a conspiracy against them as they have suffered some rather dodgy refereeing decisions. There is no doubt that they are emotionally fired up and are on a roll. However Ghana is the best team they have faced to date (England will improve but were awful when they played the USA) and I predict this to be a very tight but good game.
On Sunday we shall have a quick review of the 1st round highlights and low points and look forward to the renewing of hostilities between England and Deutschland


Thursday, 24 June 2010

Group D ZE Shermans

In the second set of games today, every team can still go through and the hopes of a continent are resting on the broad shoulders of Ghana. The first world cup ever to be hosted in the Dark Continent has not gone as planned for the African nations. S Africa and Cameroon are already out and barring a miracle the Ivory Coast are almost out. Last night, Nigeria blew their chance, with what will go down as one of the worst misses in World Cup History. Check it out on You Tube. Yakubu miss v S Korea, it has to be seen to be believed.

Ghana only has to avoid defeat to progress, but unfortunately, they have to play against our Friend the Pig Climber and his pack of hunds. I hate to have to say his, but the Germans were unlucky against Serbia last week. The Spanish referee must have lost some of his forebears to bombing by the Condor legion during the Spanish civil war. This is the only possible explanation for one of the most ridiculous and unfair displays by a referee I have ever seen.

This leaves the Germans in a precarious position, a bit like Penelope Pitstop relying on the Ant Hill gang, in the form of Australia to come to rescue her from the hooded claw of Serbia.

The Germans really need to win to make sure of their progress, for if they only draw and Serbia beat Australia, then The Germans will be following France and possibly England back home.

The question is, can Australia manage to finish a game with a full side, so far 2 games, 2 players sent off. They seem to have forgotten that they are playing Association Football and not Aussie Rules, where hard physical contact is an art form. Australia could also still qualify. A win against Serbia coupled with a German loss to Ghana and they go through.

Tonight (kick off 21.30) will be very tense, a lot of beer will be swilled and the Australians will then hope they have a reason to chunder. Come on Ghana and Australia


world cup En Ger Land

The equation is simple, England win and they are through, any other result and they will most probably be on their way home. It is also pretty straightforward for the USA, they just have to match whatever result England achieves and they are through.

This backs to the wall, situation is a not unusual for England to be in, both on and off the field of play.

1879, the Zulus had just defeated the British at the battle of Isandhlwana, and the surviving Troops, defeated the Zulu army at the Battle of Rorke’s drift, an action in which 11 Victoria crosses were awarded (The highest medal for gallantry which can be given) and which was later immortalized in the film, Zulu starring Michael Caine.

Could that be an omen as there are 11 players in a football team?

Twenty years later, the lifting of the siege of Mafeking after 217 days was considered the turning point of the Boer War. There is a definite siege mentality in the current England camp and they need to turn a corner.

Both in 1986 and 1990, England started their world cup campaigns poorly and came into their final group game having to win, which they did on both occasions, In fact in 1990 they reached the semi-finals, losing to Germany on penalties.

That is the history, but why does it always have to be this way. The excuses or reasons are myriad. The usual one is that the pressure on the players from the fans back home is so intense, that they freeze. This is usually dismissed by those who say that anyone who is earning around 500,000 shekels a week (I kid you not) should be able to cope with the pressure.

The next most popular excuse/reason is that the players are simply not good enough, they lack the skill and intelligence of the S Americans or Europeans. There is something to this.

After that, the blame is laid on the English clubs, who don’t let homegrown talent come through but instead rely on foreign imports, in the desire for domestic and European titles. This is definitely a problem, but one that is not restricted to England as the top European teams are all multinational affairs and you don’t hear the Spanish or Italians complaining about this.

No, I believe the reason is that the English Football team suffers from a masochistic Self defeating personality disorder. This can be seen in the following symptoms:

1) Choosing people and situations that lead to disappointment or failure, even when better options are clearly available. E.g. Passing to the wrong player, throwing the ball into your own goal and missing an open goal.

2) Rejects or renders ineffective the attempts of others to help. E.g. what does that Italian twat, Mr. Capello think he can teach me John Terry (ex England captain who lost his job as captain for having an affair with the girlfriend of his team mate.)

3) Incites angry or rejecting responses from others and then feels hurt, defeated, or humiliated when criticized for doing so. E.g. Wayne Rooney attacking the England fans for booing the 0-0 draw with Algeria.

It is therefore not surprising that England fans go through the whole gamut of emotions in the build up to and during the actual game. This is also something which is unavoidable to almost all English born. So today at 17.00 don’t try and reach me or most other English you may know. By 19.00, we will know if England lives to play another day (Saturday night at 21.30)

I will end with two quotes from Shakespeare’s Henry V before the battle of Agincourt.

“That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; his passport shall be made. We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us”.

“The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Wayne, England, and Mr. Capello”

I will be posting a separate piece about group D