World Cup – Thursday 24th June

Back Home To Rome

Almost the end of the group stage and Italy join France on the trip home as the giant killings continue. Details below…

Also, don’t forget to enter the fabulous World Cup Golden Mullet competition if you haven’t yet done so. Even if you hate the football you have to love the hair!

Results – Thursday 24th June

  Group E: Denmark 1 – 3 Japan
  Group E: Holland 2 – 1 Cameroon
  Group F: Slovakia 3 – 2 Italy
  Group F: Paraguay 0 – 0 New Zealand
Post Match Review
Ron Atkinson “Silvio Berlusconi, Luciano Pavarotti, Julius Caesar, Leonardo Da Vinci, Giorgio Armani, Gino D’Acampo, Joe Dolce, Dale Winton can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of a beating!”

Fixtures – Friday 25th June

  Group G: North Korea vs Ivory Coast
  Group G: Portugal vs Brazil
  Group H: Switzerland vs Honduras
  Group H: Chile vs Spain
Gazza’s Daily Football Factoids
 Following Ronaldo’s world record £80m transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 some 80,000 fans attended a welcome ceremony at the stadium. This beats Emile Heskeys transfer to Aston Villa when nobody turned up. Not even the press.
Mystic Ron’s World Cup Horoscope
Mystic Ron Prepare for passion footy fans as Latin comes to town on Friday! Portugal and Brazil is going to be HOT HOT HOT! Brazil will come out on top but it won’t be easy and I expect a sending off for the fiesty Portuguese. Ivory Coast have too many dance moves for North Korea and will win that one.

In the evening Switzerland won’t have it all their way against the Hondurans with their slick hips and hot blood. That one will end honours even. Finally it’s going to be a love-in when Spain meet Chile as two beautiful footballing sides meet. But there’s a lovers tiff – a sting in the tail! Magnificent Spain will LOSE to Chile. Yes – you heard it hear first – the holiday romance will come to a crashing end!

Oh, and in case you are wondering what I’m dunking in my tea today I have chosen Macaroons to mark Cameroon’s last match before they travel home. TTFN biscuit lovers!

England Update

Injury Report
Bones As you know Wayne Rooney left the field early with an ankle problem. My tricorder reading showed it to be what we call a “niggle” and he is beaming up to sick bay on The Enterprise twice a day for an ice pack.
Tabloid Roundup
Scum Reporter It was a proud performance from our lads in red and white. Our headline today was “Hail Defoe! Now The Foe”. We are going to be building up to Sunday’s game with Germany with all sorts of racist incendiary rhetoric. On Sunday we will lead with “Let’s bash the boche” and on Monday it will be “You’re Goring home” if we win or “Down and Kraut” if we lose. Of course a win will probably put us up against the Argies so I have lots more jingoistic abuse for the front and back pages. We are just hoping we don’t come up against Brazil because it’s tough coming up with bigotted headlines for them.
Interview From Number 10
 We can all breathe a sigh of relief now that England are through to the second round. It seemed that the entire country came to a stand-still yesterday as everybody stopped to watch the match against Slovenia. Prime Minister David Cameron, did you manage to sneak away from affairs of office to watch the match?
 I managed to watch some of the game while I was attending to my in-tray. I would just like to say “Congratulations” to the entire England team for their performance.
 How were you nerves during the game? Were you always confident we would win?

 I never doubted we would win. I always back our soccer team to win over 60 minutes. I thought we were unlucky to lose our first two matches but it all worked out in the end.
 Erm, we actually drew the first two matches Prime Minister. So was there any player who stood out for you?

 The win was very much a team effort but I thought Michael Owen did well and David Beckham always tries his best. Also Dave Rooney was unlucky not to score later on.
 I see. Tell me Prime Minister do you normally watch much football?

 As much as I can yes. I’m a keen supporter of the Tottenham but unfortunately I never have time to go and see The Reds play. I try to follow their results and it’s good when they score the goals.
 Finally, how far do you think England can go in this competition? Do you think they could win it?

 I would like to think so! Of course it’s not going to be easy but we are a great footballing nation and it might just be our year. One thing’s for sure if we do lift the cup I will join the squad for an open top bus ride around London. And if we lose I will be sending Nick Clegg to the airport. Speaking of which, where have our coffees got to?

View from the sofa

There were incredible scenes as Slovakia beat world Champs Italy 3-2 to send them home early. It must spell the end of Lippi’s managerial reign although he will bemoan the lack of a cutting edge in his ageing squad. Also in Group E Paraguay earned the point they needed to go through but spare a thought for New Zealand who can go home with immense pride having draw all three games against all odds.

Group F was not without drama as a dynamic Japan beat Denmark thanks to two fine free kicks and a shaky performance from keeper Sorenson. I’m so pleased Japan have qualified as they are my “second team”. They play with such enthusiasm and happiness, there is no diving or play acting and there are no stars – just a great team ethic.

Speaking of Japan I actually thought for an instant that they had sponsorship on their shirts with name like Honda and Matsui on display. It would be fun if they could find a few more names like Nissan, Toyota or a guy called Rav to give the number 4 shirt to.

Holland meanwhile went about their business calmly to record their third group win without the need for any fireworks.

By the end of tomorrow we will know the full second round line-up. There have been a few very exciting games so far but with Brazil vs Portugal and Spain vs Chile to come Friday could become THE day of the tournament so far.

World Cup – Monday 14th June

I think I’m turning Japanese

On paper todays games had great potential. The “total football” of Holland against 1992 European Champions & fierce neighbours Denmark. Japan – the rising power in Asian football versus “The Indomitable Lions” of Cameroon, and reigning World Champions Italy against South American minnows Paraguay (population 6 million) who beat Brazil in qualification. Unfortunately these games were played on grass…

Results – Monday 14th June

  Group E: Holland 2 – 0 Denmark
  Group E: Japan 1 – 0 Cameroon
  Group F: Italy 1 – 1 Paraguay
Post Match Review
Big Ron We finally got sight of the reigning World Cup holders Italy and on todays form they won’t be here on July 11th. It’s as we expected – many of the squad are passed their prime. Sure, they held the ball well for 90 minutes but there was little thrust and they had to rely on a goalkeeping error to earn a draw off a mediocre Paraguayan side. Will they qualify? Probably, but on this showing they won’t cause the better defences too many problems. They would kill for some of my old players like Dalian Atkinson, Steve Frogatt or Mickey Gynn
For me Italy remain one of the favourites, despite their ageing squad. Creep creep, smarm, boyish grin, uncontrovertial comments with a few cliches thrown in, etc, etc

Fixtures – Tuesday 15th June

  Group F: New Zealand vs Slovakia
  Group G: Ivory Coast vs Portugal
  Group G: Brazil vs North Korea
Gazza’s Daily Football Factoids
Bambi FIFA has confirmed North Korea will only be able to play striker Kim Myong-Won as a goalkeeper at this summer’s World Cup. The forward was named as a provisional keeper but under FIFA rules each team must have three keepers which means he may now only be played as a keeper and cannot play up front.
Mystic Ron’s World Cup Horoscope
Mystic Ron I’m all aquiver at the thought of lovely Ronaldo playing up front for Portugal tomorrow against the Ivory Coast! He’s so dashing, don’t you think? He reminds me of a young Charlton Heston, all bronzed and purposeful. Oooh, I’ve just dropped my digestive in my tea thinking about it – what a nana I am! I suppose you want some predictions then. Slovakia to squeeze past New Zealand, Brazil to make light work of North Korea and – I can’t bring myself to say it. Ronaldo’s star is on the rise once again but his team will face adversity and may argue with a loved one, so I’m going to nudge towards the Africans.
Pre Match Comment
Motty This is the day we expect matches of great contrast in the “group of death”. Lowly North Korea have a daunting task as they take on the might of Brazil and the best they can hope for is that the South Americans are in forgiving mood and only win by a small margin. The tie of the day though sees Portugal take on the Ivory Coast. It is Ronaldo against Drogba. It is a European team rebuilding after the retirement of greats like Figo against an African team brimming with talented Premiership players reaching their peak.

Will we see Drogba play with his broken arm? Is there more to Portugal than Ronaldo? Mrs Motson is a big Ronaldo fan so I know who she will be rooting for. I also have it on good authority that Ronaldo is a great admirer of our very own Mystic Ron. Would you believe it!

View from the sofa

For the first time my view hasn’t been entirely from the sofa. I saw the first half of the Holland match at Walkabout over an enjoyable lunch with the lads from work. The screen was HUGE – I mean it would just about fit on the side of my house, and the quality was superb considering. Of course I would have to sit in next doors back garden to get a decent view and that’s going to be hard to explain to them. Oh, the game? The teams mostly cancelled each other out but the Dutch had a bit more about them and I suspect there is a lot more to come from them. More intruigingly, should we call them Holland, Netherlands or the Dutch?

The Japan vs Cameroon game passed me by – something to do with being at work – although I caught the highlights. Apparently this was Japans first world cup win on foreign soil. I have a sneaky fondness for Japan and I will be rooting for them although the flirtation is doomed to failure before very long. I just like them – they are just so enthusiastic and uncynical. As for Cameroon they have some well known quality names such as Eto, Geremi, Bassong and Assou-Ekotto yet it appears that combined they were less than the sum of their parts. So much for some of the hype that has billed them as contenders for a long run in the cup.

The evening was supposed to remind us why Italy are World Champions but instead it just reminded us why they won’t be in 3 weeks time. They can pass it around all day but there was no cutting edge and almost no change in pace. They will qualify and may progress to the quarter finals but on this showing the fat lady is going through her warm up routine.

Finally, you probably have a nagging feeling that something is missing from this world cup. Yes, that’s right, there hasn’t been an England World Cup song to dominate the airwaves – not even the ritualistic churning out of Three Lions. Perhaps the line “Three Lions on a shirt” was deemed too risky in case a news story broke about drunken fans running amok on a game reserve and getting mauled by a big cat.

In fact there are a few new football songs knocking about and for me this track by Dave Henson beats the competition hands down. It’s almost as funny as the John Barnes rap. Almost.