World Cup – Saturday 26th June

Africa Dreams On

I’m back after taking a small breather for more public house duties. On Friday Spain squeaked through along with mightily impressive Chile to complete the group stage escapees. Today saw the first two teams qualify for the quarter finals. It’s starting to get serious…

Results – Saturday 26th June

  Round 2 Uruguay 2 – 1 South Korea
    USA 1 – 2 Ghana
Post Match Review
 Today brought forth our first two quarter finalists. Uruguay confirmed their pedigree with a win over toothless South Korea. It was a closely fought game for the most part but unlike the Koreans the South Americans had quality up front, and that is why they won out in the end.

The evening fixture saw Ghana knock out USA. From a neutrals perspective it has to be good news to see the sole remaining African side progress. They have some talented players including the impressive Gyan up front and they could potentially get to the semi-finals, but I don’t feel they are good enough to get to the final.

There was a good performance too from John Pantsil who plays for my old club Fulham. Of course there were no Africans back in my day – just local boys from the west end. Sometimes we would warm up in the park next to Craven Cottage using jumpers for goalposts. Then we had time for quick pint with the fans before kick off. Happy days!

Fixtures – Sunday 27th June

  Round 2 England vs Germany
    Argentina vs Mexico
Gazza’s Daily Football Factoids
 Germans have a reputation for having no sense of humour but scientists at the Max Plank institute have proved this to be incorrect. Professor Heinz Wolf and his research team discovered that David Hasslehoff has carved out a successful pop career in Germany proving beyond all doubt that Fritz is up for fun after all.
Mystic Ron’s World Cup Horoscope
Mystic Ron Hello again footy friends! I don’t know about you but I love the tennis and today I’ve been glued to Wimbledon as well as the world cup. There’s just too much to watch and I barely have time to walk my incontinent fat poodle!
On the plus side there’s only 2 games each day now requiring my psychic attentions, so let’s start with THE BIG ONE!

England and Germany – hmmm. How do we decide? It’s a toss up isn’t it. Well let’s have a toss then! Heads England, tails Germany… and it’s HEADS – England to win! What’s more the coin tells me that the winning goal will come from a header scored by The Queen.

It’s those Falkland thieving Argentinians later against Mexico. What does my psychic coin have to say about that one! Blast – the Argies to win that one.

What an exciting day we have ahead. Is there any other way to prepare than with a few Fox’s Party Rings?

Pre Match Comment
There is a general concensus that six teams have a statistically reasonable chance of winning: Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Holland, England or Germany. England’s match tomorrow is the first big clash involving two of these teams. All of the talk going into the game seems to be about previous encounters but that really does count for nothing.

Nobody can predict the outcome with confidence because it is too close to call. I would go as far as saying that England have more experience and more potential match winners while Germany have more youth and innate confidence. In a game of small margins it could come down to a moment of brilliance or a mistake. If both teams play to their potential I would give England the edge but when does that happen?

View from the sofa

Now that we are into the knock-out stages here is a quick review of the group stages. There were 48 games of which 34 resulted in a win and 14 were drawn. A total of 101 goals were scored at an average of 2 goals per game.

Here are my top 10 headlines from the group stages:

  • 1998 cup holders France knocked out
  • Reigning 2006 champions Italy finish bottom of their group
  • Portugal hit North Korea for 7
  • New Zealand depart undefeated
  • Rob Green’s blunder gifts USA a point
  • Yakubu is guilty of the miss of the tournament
  • Maradona reassures the world he is not gay in a press conference
  • Ghana are the sole African qualifier
  • Vuvuzelas would be a talking point if you could hear yourself talk
  • Sven Goran-Eriksson paid £2M to manage Ivory Coast for three games

Finally, here’s a quick look at the 16 qualifying teams in terms of their FIFA world rankings and country populations. There’s a few interesting statistics here.

Order (million)
Brazil 1 2 184
Spain 2 8 40
Portugal 3 13 11
Holland 4 11 16
Germany 5 5 83
Argentina 6 9 39
England 7 6 51
USA 14 1 293
Uruguay 16 16 3
Mexico 17 4 104
Chile 18 12 16
Paraguay 31 14 6
Ghana 32 10 21
Solvakia 34 15 21
Japan 45 3 127
South Korea 47 4 49

Interesting that the United States and Uruguay have similar world rankings yet the US have 100 times the population. Furthermore Uruguay are through to the quarter finals and USA went out tonight. Statistics – what do they mean?

World Cup – Saturday 12th June

Red, White, Blue and Green

If you are reading this I know what you were doing this evening. Here’s a full rundown of events today…

Results – Saturday 12th June

  Group B: South Korea 2 – 0 Greece
  Group B: Argentina 1 – 0 Nigeria
  Group C: England 1 – 1 USA
Post Match Review
Stuart Hall The plans of mice and men. Months of preparation, the team held close to Capellos Milanese chest until the first peep of the whistle. The dice cast into the red, white and blue cauldron of Rustenburg. Doubts? What doubts? Heskey to Gerrard, one-nil with four minutes on the clock. Joy unbridled for the captain fantastic and the door to the group stages ajar. There’s a first half swagger we can’t quite remember, and yet, for all the squeaks and shaves the presidents men refuse to lie down. And then from the African nights steals a chancer in stripes as Dempsey’s apologetic shot hops oh so innocently out of the keepers hands and rolls into the net. Green – fingered. So much talk of keepers all for naught.
A change of ends and one hopes luck. Heskey, Lampard, Rooney – remember him – all test the door but it will not budge. A scrap of redemption for Green as he claws a shot onto the upright. King Ledley is forced to retire. Crouch enters the fray. England expects but today is not to be the day of fulfilment. Capello is left to start all over again. Snake eyes.

Fixtures – Sunday 13th June

  Group C: Algeria vs Slovenia
  Group D: Serbia vs Ghana
  Group D: Germany vs Australia
Gazza’s Daily Football Factoids
Bambi Slovenia played their first national match in 1992. Previously their players turned out for Yugoslavia or the Republic Of Ireland.
Mystic Ron’s World Cup Horoscope
Mystic Ron I had real trouble choosing between Algeria and Slovenia in Sundays first kick-off. You see an intersection of midfield biorhythms this weekend means there will be a conclusive result but which way is less clear. I’m going to give it to Serbia by a tea leafs width. Both Serbia and Ghana have cancerian defences and as you know this means that goals will be hard to come by so I predict a draw. Sundays glamour tie sees Germany take on Australia. Injured Michael Ballack is a Water Carrier and would have proven a match winner but in his absence the third quarter quintile leanings of Scorpio manager Joachim Lowe will lead his team to victory over the plucky Aussies this time around.

View from the sofa

We finally found out what Fabio had in mind. It was 4-4-2 with Green in goal, Heskey partnering Rooney and Milner on the left. You know what happened, Gerrard scored early on and Green’s howler gifted the yanks a point. The net result was a point, a recurrence of Ledley King’s knee injury, Milner substituted after 30 minutes and just a point to show for our opening encounter.

It’s more or less what I expected and I’m not torn up about what happened, although three points would have been nice. What we have learned is that we played the toughest opponent in our group, they played their best and had a great stroke of luck and we just played well in patches. We had much the better chances and another day we would have taken some. The awkward first game is out of the way, the team have finally got some African mud on their strips and we can now set out our stall and win the next two matches to finish top of the group. Anyone that thinks that any team strolls their way through all the fixtures on the way to a tournament victory is deluded but I’m sure the media will be pitching in to criticise the team. Rob Greens howler? He was a good keeper this morning and he is a good keeper now. But don’t do it again…

In case you forgot, there were other matches today. Greece looked woeful – not just useless but without any passion – as they were given the run around by a spirited South Korean side. Argentina were superb going forward yet somehow contrived to win by just a single goal. Nigeria actually looked quite decent and their keeper was superb. After the first round of Group B matches you have to back Nigeria to finish second to Argentina.

The final word, to the captain…

Aharh! Twas a rum night indeed. Good skipper Gerrard put the old girl on a fine course but then shipmate Green dropped the cannonball on his foot. Will he be made to walk the plank?

Sick-as-a-parrot-ometer 12 June