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All Things Footie | Monday, July 3 | Jordan

The World Cup II

Whoops. It’s been a while. Lots going on, not least the World Cup, and I’ve just come back from a holiday in Poland. On to business.

England and Portugal

England, and Wayne Rooney, surprised no one by bouncing out of the World Cup on penalties, again. Only on two occasions since 1990 have England exited a tournament on anything but penalties—which is a remarkable statistic I’m sure you’ll agree. Another remarkable statistic is that Wayne Rooney was sent off for the third time in his short career; for an attacking player (particularly a centre forward) that’s verging on unprecedented. The sight of Rooney tunelling through two Portuguese players at waist height whilst being fouled from both sides, epitomised everything anyone needs to know about Rooney’s battling qualities and his determination to get to the ball. I’m certain that he didn’t delibertably attempt to castrate Carvalho, and I’m equally certain that he didn’t get sent off for it; unfortunately for Rooney and England, his inability to lose his temper let him down, and despite the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo is a vile, cheating little wind-up merchant with the most punchable face in football (which at least all Arsenal fans are already aware of), Rooney still has no excuse for not just walking away or giving Ronaldo some verbals. You can’t raise your hands—I know that, you know that, Rooney knows that.

Despite Rooney’s sending off, England performed admirably; Hargreaves surprised me (and plenty others, I’m sure) with his phenomenally dynamic display, and the defence including Paul Robinson were never seriously troubled by a limp Portuguese attack. The team and the country were however, let down by some terrible decisions:

  1. Substituting Joe Cole: Why Sven? Why? Lose balance, take Gerrard out of position, leave the woeful Frank Lampard on the pitch, make England even less likely to score…. Crouch performed excellently up front (for a giraffe) with some nice holding play, but England were unable to capitalise on his play as there were no runners from midfield—particularly the wide areas.
  2. Leaving Walcott on the bench: Why did you take him Sven? Why? Everyone’s knackered, he’s the fastest player in the squad, Lampard is awful, and playing for penalties is playing to lose if you’re England. If you’re England, a penalty shoot out is as useful as a 4-0 defeat, so why on Earth did the boring, useless Swede not bring on our only attacking option to try and get a winning goal. Which brings me on to:
  3. Bringing on Jamie Carragher: Bringing on a player purely to take a penalty is stupid, full stop. If that player is Jamie Carragher, it’s bordering on lunacy. If that player is Jamie Carragher, and he has to retake his first penalty because he just wanted to get it over with, then misses his second, then a word needs to be invented to convey quite how colossally imbecillic a decision it was. ‘Svenish’.
  4. Not taking the first penalty: Sorry Gary, this one was your call (presumably). We won the toss, yet handed the advantage to Portugal by giving them the first penalty. As if there’s not enough pressure on the players, Neville’s decision to allow Portugal first kick made sure that from Penalty 1 onwards (because—unless it’s Frank Lampard—you have to assume that the first penalty, taken by the strongest penalty taker, will be scored) there is pressure on your team.

So that’s it. England performed well but went out, if someone can tell me how this makes the World any different then let me know.

France and Brazil

I had a funny feeling about France this year. Something told me that they’d be up for it, and surprise those who thought they were a team of individuals, has-beens and bottlers. Given their inauspicious start to the tournament (and near early exit from it), it seemed the nay-sayers had it spot on; but in true champion form, they’ve steadily improved, first outplaying and beating Spain, now tormenting and dancing aroudn Brazil. I didn’t see the game (much to my chargrin) as my holiday companions were eager to eat and find a strip club, but I have seen the highlights, and Henry’s lovely goal, so all I can say is this: If Henry, Zidane, Vieira and Ribery turn up, nobody will stand a chance against them. On form, Zinedine Zidane is untouchable in modern football, and I for one hope he is, and that he once again graces and lights up a World Cup final—I’d take him over Ronaldinho every tiome.

Germany and Argentina

Despite all of their fantastic displays in the tournament so far, I couldn’t help but want Argentina to depart, and I’m also not ashamed to admit that I have a grudging respect for Germany’s attitude and approach. One reads a story like this and hats have to be taken off. Jens Lehmann had every Argentine penalty taker written down on a piece of paper, along with notes on their penalty style. On Esteban Cambiasso:

“Wait, stand tall, left corner.”

Lehmann went on to save his crucial last penalty … to his left. Absolutely phenomenal. While Paul Robinson had a couple of ‘family days’ and a bit of a rest, Lehmann studied. While Paul Robinson sits at home watching the rest of the World Cup, Lehmann waits for the Semi Final.

Italy and Ukraine

Not surprised by Italy’s win in the slightest, the Ukraine had the easiest passage to get where they were (though England’s was close) and never looked like causing any kind of upset. I’m certain Italy will come unstuck against Germany. There’s not really much else to say.

(343) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

  1. Punishment should fit the crime
  2. Ouch
  3. Tevez and Mascherano madness
  4. Predictions
  5. Warming up
  6. The World Cup II
  7. The World Cup
  8. Thought for the day
  9. Ready children? Then let's begin
  10. Don't say I never give you anything