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 – Tuesday 15th June

It’s a country of two halves

The “group of death” played out their first fixtures today. A dangerous Portugal side featuring Ronaldo took on a powerful Ivory Coast with Didier Drogba. Joint Favourites Brazil played the deadly North Koreans. Drama guaranteed?

Results – Tuesday 15th June

  Group F: New Zealand 1 – 1 Slovakia
  Group G: Ivory Coast 0 – 0 Portugal
  Group G: Brazil 2 – 1 North Korea
Post Match Review
The eagerly anticipated match of the round has just finished and it was supposed to be a landslide victory for joint favourites Brazil against the unfashionable and unfancied North Koreans. The plucky minnows ran their socks off and played with such heart that Brazil were mightily relieved to take the lead after half time and then grab a second later on. Nobody could begrudge the Koreans their consolation goal. We are lucky to have North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (or his stand-in if you believe like some that he died in 2003). Kim, you must feel very proud of your boys despite the defeat.
Kim Jong-Il This was a wonderful victory for the homeland. We showed the imperialist west that they are no match for our mighty nation. This 5 goal victory for my country will force the world to take notice of us
Well, it was as you say a spirited performance but Brazil did actually beat North Korea. The score was 2 – 1.
Kim Jong-Il There is no such place as North Korea! Brazil were beaten 6 – 0 by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. We will not accept any interference with our internal affairs and the result stands. If you disagree with me we will invade somewhere.
OK, let’s talk about your team instead. Young striker Jong Tae-Se has been called the Wayne Rooney of Asia. I have to say that I was very impressed with his contribution. Do you think that the comparisons with Rooney are valid?
Kim Jong-Il He is better than Rooney, better than Ronaldo, better than Messi. He is as good as Jimmy Hill in his prime. I personally taught him everything he knows about football. The glorious world cup winning team will devote their 7 – 0 World Cup final victory to me in a special parade in the people’s capital.
Whatever you say Kim.

Fixtures – Wednesday 16th June

  Group H: Honduras vs Chile
  Group H: Spain vs Switzerland
  Group A: South Africa vs Uruguay
Gazza’s Daily Football Factoids
Bambi Chile keeper Rojas faked injury from a firework in an attempt to get a qualifier match with Brazil called off, with his team losing. He received a life ban from the game and Chile were denied entry to the 1994 world cup finals. In an interesting parallel Rob Green faked the ground swallowing him up after last Saturday’s goalkeeping blunder against the US but unfortunately for him it was just in his mind.
Mystic Ron’s World Cup Horoscope
Mystic Ron Cooeee readers! What an exciting day it’s going to be with a lot of fluidity across the zodiac spectrum. And you know what that means? Goals – lots of them! And not just goals. Curiously there will be romantic advances from an unexpected quarter during the Honduras vs Chile game. It will also be a ding dong game with Chile scoring the most. Meanwhile the reign of Spain goals will fall mostly on the Swiss who will be in for a disappointment and also a welcome invitation from a friend. Then we are back into the second round of games with a stalemate for South Africa and Capricorn Uruguay who will at least be in a positive mood with career opportunities just a finger tip away. What a lovely world cup it has been so far. I’m celebrating with mint tea and some garibaldis!

View from the sofa

There haven’t really been any upsets so far but today was perhaps the closest we got. New Zealand are the lowest rated side in South Africa and qualification was a victory in itself. They trailed the competent Slovakians until the last minute when an equaliser sent them into raptures and earned them their first even world cup point. Congratulations to the All Whites!

Today’s big game between Portugal and the Ivory Coast was by contrast a big let down. It finished goalless and was for the most part incident-free. The ultimate mismatch though was reserved for the mighty Brazil versus North Korea – a team almost as secretive as its origins suggest. The Koreans worked tirelessly to close down the Brazilians who loped around the pitch without any urgency except for (surprisingly) Robinho until the half time whistle blew.

Eventually a couple of moments of genius saw Brazil go two up through Maicon and Elano (both in my fantasy team – yeah!) and just when you thought the floodgates might open the North Koreans pulled back a consolation. It wasn’t what many people would have expected but it was enthralling in its own way. This is the beauty of football – you often know what to expect but sometimes it just doesn’t pan out that way.

Off the pitch ITV pundit Robbie Earle was sacked after complimentary tickets issued to him ended up in the hands of the wrong people. I have to say it’s a shame because he’s one of the few pundits who talks any sense and he is also one of the nicest guys around. Speaking of nice guys England defender Matt Upson today visited an orphanage to meet for the first time the boy he has been sponsoring. The boy was found to be wearing an England shirt – bearing the name of Rooney. It obviously takes more than money to persuade a child to have their football top adorned with the name or a third choice reserve defender.