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4 May

Busy, busy, busy!

I have a busy Bank Holiday weekend ahead. Tomorrow we will misguidedly take on the M1 and drive up to see some Russian friends in Leeds. We always get such wonderful food whenever we visit, so it’ll be a light breakfast at chez tyger in the morning.

Supposedly the traffic over the next three days is expected to be horrendous, but I have the new Arctic Monkeys record to give a spin in the CD player, so trusting it doesn’t get the thumbs down from Mrs. tyger, it’ll be getting some serious airtime during the journey. We’ll see, eh?

I’m out Saturday night and I’m working on some projects on Sunday, so I don’t expect to get any time to write anything for the blog before Sunday evening, so catch you then.

The QT

I used to love writing up commentaries for Question Time and Wednesday’s PMQs, but alas, I don’t have the time anymore. Anyway, did you see QT on Thursday? Patricia Hewitt took a real kicking from a handful or so junior doctors and health professionals in the audience, but, regardless of the immense pressure, I think she acquitted herself quite well. She was confident, eloquent, and tried her best to get her arguments across. Much better than when Harriet Harman is on QT, when invariably she comes across as bitter and overly partisan.

Let’s be honest, the problems in the NHS are manifold, and Hewitt has only been in the job a couple of years, so it’s hardly all her fault. However, I don’t see her surviving a Brownite cull, do you? Whoever gets the health brief is in for a rough ride, no matter how capable they are.

Peter Christopher Hitchens on Free Speech

Via: The Pamphleteer

Liverpool vs AC Milan

Liverpool will struggle to beat Milan if the Rossoneri play to their potential. The glorious Kaka was the only Brazilian to emerge from last summer’s World Cup with any credit, and in a Milan side that lacks the grace and creativity of previous incarnations, he again remains the stand-out player.

Rafael Benítez is clearly a master tactician, and will have the nous to change Liverpool’s formation on the fly, something Alex Ferguson was unable to do. But let’s not forget that Milan’s Ancelotti is no mug, and will be seeking revenge for the ’05 final this time around.

Simply the greatest

29 Dec

Don’t mention Pele on this blog. Go Napoli!

Via. GU


RIP Ferenc Puskas 1927 – 2006

17 Nov

Ferenc Puskas

“No regrets”

13 Jul

It was an inexcusable gesture and to them, and the people in education whose job it is to show children what they should and shouldn’t do, I want to apologise.

I can’t regret it because if I do it would be like admitting that he was right to say all that. And above all, it was not right.

We always talk about the reaction, and inevitably it must be punished. But if there is no provocation, there is no reaction.

First of all you have to say there is provocation, and the guilty one is the one who does the provoking. The response is to always punish the reaction, but if I react, something has happened.

Do you imagine that in a World Cup final like that, with just 10 minutes to go to the end of my career, I am going to do something like that because it gives me pleasure?

Zinedine Zidane — Still a hero

[full transcript]

We love Portugal

11 Jul

I spent a beautiful few days in Porto a couple of years ago, and I have several Portuguese friends, so now the World Cup is over it’s time to forget the gamesmanship and move on. Ronaldo, and his teammates, may have baited the English players and tried to deceive the ref, but at the end of the day, it was an Englishman, Wayne Rooney, who fell for it.

It’s time for the English to look at themselves and admit they were terrible, and regardless of Portugal’s conduct, we didn’t score in 120-mins of football. It serves no purpose to blame one man, even if he does wear an earring and is named Christiano.

Time to move on.

Germany 2006 – How was it for you?

10 Jul

World Cup

How will the 2006 World Cup be surmised in the annals of time?

It was a tournament that promised so much in the early stages. The groups were highly entertaining, with Argentina and Spain appearing early favourites. France looked about as good as they did four years ago (i.e. shocking), and the Germans conceded two against plucky Costa Rica. The Czechs, so brilliant in their opening game against the US, suffered a series of injuries to their strike force, rendering FIFA’s No. 2 ranked side, impotent.

Iran started brightly before spluttering out of ideas and going home. The Mexican’s qualified for the Second Round playing edgy, expansive football. Italy started well without turning too many heads. Portugal got the results they needed, as did the equally dour Brazilians, and, the supremely woeful English. If you had to pick a side from the Groups, it would have to have been the Spanish or the Argentineans. However, probably the most heartening memory of the Group Stages was the wonderful attacking football from the African nations: Ghana, Ivory Coast, and to a lesser extent, Toga.

In the second round the wheels came off the Dutch in that horrendous game against the Portuguese, a tie that saw four red cards. The Argentineans made hard work of a busy and attacking Mexico. Ukraine bumbled past Switzerland on penalties (note that the Swiss were the only side not to concede in open play in the tournament), England struggled to despatch Ecuador, and Brazil were slightly more convincing against a weakened Ghana (sans Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien). Italy, again quietly, deleted the name Australia from the quarterfinals, and Spain were surprisingly outsmarted by the French. The hosts, Germany, comfortably eliminated Sweden to set themselves up with a quarterfinal tie against the still-favourites: Argentina.

Of course the Argentineans should have won. José Pekerman played it safe, withdrawing his fulcrum, Juan Roman Riquelme, with 20-or-so-minutes still to play; this left the Argentineans shapeless, and Klose made them pay with an equaliser (1-1) to send the game into extra-time and ultimately penalties, obviously the Germans did what they do best. Ukraine were found out against an improving Italy (0-3), and France exposed a Brazil side which has not faced a decent opponent in the World Cup since, well since France in 1998 to be honest. France took the lead with a brilliant goal from their “big-game-bottler,” Thierry Henry (clearly the Arsenal player isn’t quite the chocker the Brazilians like to think he is).

I should really recall England’s fate against the filthy Portuguese, but the wounds are still very tender, so forgive me if we move straight on to the Semis.

The whole of England was delightfully consumed by Schadenfreude, when the Portuguese were mercilessly beaten by a single Zidane penalty, a goal which put France into the final where they were of course joined by Italy, who beat Germany in probably the game of the tournament (2-0) in Dortmund.

Last night’s final was an interesting fixture: Clearly the Italians were the favourites, bettering France in all but a couple of positions. But the French had a plan, they knew that they would have to attack their much-younger opponents, or be consumed by Italy’s duo of Milan-based midfielders, Pirlo and Gattuso. While the Italians had the better of the first half, the French made the best of the second half and extra-time, that was before their legendary playmaker, Zinedine Zidane, was dismissed for head butting an Italian agitator. The greatest Number 10 since Maradona, left the game in disgrace as the French clung on until penalties. Italy won the World Cup without missing a spot-kick, how very un-Italian?

So was it a great World Cup?

No, not even close. It would be unfair to the Italians to say they didn’t deserve the title (they looked assured throughout), but Argentina played some of the most open and inventive football I have seen. If only they had bet the farm and played Lionel Messi more often (although to be fair, he was returning from an injury), and not lost their rhythm against Germany, we may have seen the best collective since Holland circa-1974.

It was also a competition marred by gamesmanship and questionable referring. Averaging at over 5 yellow cards per-game, dives galore, and registering 28 reds over the tournament, this has been a controversial 4-weeks.

There have been some great goals: Cambiasso finished the instantly famous 24-pass move that sealed Argentina’s reputation as the inheritors of Total Football. Maxi Rodríguez and Joe Cole produced almost identical volleys, and Germany’s Lahm and Frings both scored memorable goals.

The one single great aspect of this tournament has been the hosts. The Germans have put on a great show, one to rival the wonderful Sydney Olympics, which blessed us only a few years ago. A nation always so hesitant to convey any national pride has rediscovered a sense of togetherness and self-worth, which hopefully will help them overcome their collective troubles.

But I wouldn’t call this a great World Cup. Would you?

How typically French

10 Jul

What the hell did Materazzi say?

It was sad to watch the greatest player of the last decade leave the game like that – disappearing down the tunnel. But I have to say, my first response was: “how typically French.”