All Hail Ze Germans

Thursday, 17 July 2014

So the greatest ever World Cup is over and with a fitting finale to end it all. The Argentina Vs Germany game was not a classic by any means, but thoroughly absorbing nonetheless and with a truly wonderful strike from Goetze settling matters on the biggest stage of them all.

I'm too upset that the tournament has ended that I am not going to write too much, other than to say that last week I found a total of £15 (amazing I know), money which I decided to soundly invest by sticking it alongside a rather larger sum of Ze Germans, who thankfully didn't disappoint.

As one of my friends perhaps dubiously surmised "When are the Germans going to get their karma?  I mean, they have great footballers, great looking women and a thriving economy, what more do they need?".

Thanks to all for staying tuned away, providing that I haven't sorted my life in in 2 years (an extremely distinct possibility), then I will see you all at the Euros



Brazil 1 - Germany 7 (Seven)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

A close friend of mine recently sent me a link of an epic fail on the Crystal Maze, something which was so catastrophic and hilarious that I never thought that I would see it repeated in the near future.  It really is worth a look


Nonetheless, my doubts about seeing another embarrassment were banished almost instantaneously with the completely ridiculous capitulation by the Samba Boys against our European neighbours, those oh so canny Germans

I am sure that everyone has already trudged through the now obligatory post mortem and this apparently is the most tweeted about a sports match in Twitter history.  Numbers of other jokes and comments have also been passed around the internet at an exponential rate so I will intersperse my favourites throughout my musings on the catastrophe in the Estadio Mineirao.

I was watching the game in a local pub with a couple of mates and we were commenting on how fierce and passionate the Brazilian players were had been in each game so far during the national anthem so much so that the players had often been reduced to tears.  Expecting the same again, I looked up at the TV to see the same shenanigans going on, only this time I was astonished to see that Neymar had died!  I thought the poor bastard had just broken his back but when I saw that Luiz and Cesar were holding his shirt aloft I realised that he must have passed away on the same day.  I'm not entirely sure how this did not make bigger news. Either way, the home fans seemed to be in buoyant mood and ready to banish their memories of that World Cup Final defeat in 1950 to Uruguay (boy oh boy they probably wished they hadn't ask for that event to be forgotten).

  • "The most embarrassing semi since I went to to see Brokeback mountain with my Dad"

The game started fairly slow paced with nothing really between the teams until a well worked set piece gave the Germans a lead via the irrepressible Thomas Muller, many people's outside bet for top scorer.  Whatever people think of him, you cannot help but admire his talent. I for one, like the fact he doesn't "look" like a modern day footballer.  He looks a little bit like Steve Claridge, with his unorthodox style and socks often around his ankles and I also find that he does not know how to celebrate either pretty amusing. I think its fair to say you won't be getting any choreographed celebrations from this chap

  • "The clean up to this one is going to take longer than Chernobyl" (this one is mine, sorry for the self love)
However, what was to happen in the next 30 minute was staggering beyond belief. Being a WBA fan, I have seem some capitulations in my time but I have come to expect it. This on the other hand was pretty unforeseeable. A well worked goal allowed Miroslav Klose to double the lead before further calamitous defending from Luiz and Fernandinho allowed Kroos and Khedira to join the party and send the home fans into tears and the Germans into raptures

  • "Even Oscar Pistorius has a better defence than the Brazilians"

At this point, I am pretty sure that no one was entirely sure what was going on although I would imagine that at this point Alan Hansen must have thought that all his Christmases had come at once.  The guy was probably having a fit at half time.  I can just imagine him now saying to Gary Lineker at half time "We've only got 15 minutes? I've got enough coverage here for a week!"

The way the Brazilians folded like a pack of cards was pretty unforgivable if you ask me. It's one thing to get beaten but to lose by just giving up is serving a major injustice to your fans and country alike.  We've all been through a dry spell at various times but I think even the most inept of us could have scored against this set of players. No tracking back, jumping out of tackles, turning your back to the ball and wandering completely out of position are what this Brazlian team are to be known for.

Queue half time then. Never has the phrase "if this was a boxing match, it would have been stopped a long time ago" ever been more appropriate.  

  • "Last time I saw a Brazilian get f*cked by so many Germans was on Pornhub"
The 2nd half was slightly more respectable but by there were still further goals to follow including an absolutely fabulous strike from Schurrle which really put the icing on the cake.  Oscar finally bagged a late consolation but by this time half the fans had probably already left to join the riots outside the stadium. In fact, the fans probably wished that the stadium had actually collapsed, much like a lot of people were anticipating prior to the World Cup

Now first things first, I would like to comment on some of the rather now spurious and lazy comments from pundits and such like that the Germans were devastatingly "efficient" in their execution.  I'm surprised some people did not just add in that they were "just following orders to devastating effect". The truth is, this wasn't efficiency,  this was world class football of the highest order and due credit should have been given.  Admittedly, they were up against a compete and utter shambles but you can only  admire the way they sliced through the Brazilian defence time after time with some brilliant passing and movement.  If ever there was an archetypal Brazil-type performance then the Germans produced it. A far cry from their match up in the 2002 Final, the tables had well and truly turned last night which is a credit to the way the Germans have revamped their footballing style over the last 10 years or so.  The heat map below confirms their dominance in yesterday's proceedings.

On a lighter note, I actually commented in the pub that they would have to put the word "seven" in brackets as per the old Videprinter days and then low and behold the BBC actually did this exact thing, great scenes! Not sure if they were they were themselves being serious or if they were taking the p*ss.

So what now for the Brazilians? With the memories of the 1950 World Cup final now possibly vanquished forever , this set of fans and players will be scarred for life almost certainly. One way forward could be for the players to change their kit again, and it would be argued that with the way they surrendered they should perhaps switch back to wearing all white although I would imagine its unlikely this will happen. It's likely that they may have sweeping reforms across the game in order to bring back the type of football that they were renowned for.  

Anyway, it looks like the Argentina game is heading for penalties so I am going to focus my attentions on that.  I will leave the final say on the Brazil Vs Germany to Mr Ron Burgundy



Sideshow Bob Scorcher and The Biggest Balls In World Sport

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Unless you are currently another planet, then you will realise that today is the biggest game in the tennis calendar, the Men's Wimbedon Final, with Novak Djokovic taking on the greatest player every, Roger Federer (all those saying it's Nadal can do one!).  To win this title takes everything required of an athlete including monumental bottle. Talking of which, one of my friends used to joke that Pete Sampras had the biggest balls in World Sport.  Whenever the chips were down and the pressure was on, he would deliver. He could be down 0-40 in the final set facing three Championship points, but when it mattered would step up to the plate and slap down five aces in a row.

However, I think that this title must be now be passed to the slightly better looking version of Steve Bruce, a certain Mr Louis Van Gaal.  He's already made some big decisions in this tournament, with a dazzling array of tactical switches and substitutions. However, his decision to bring on a "specialist" keeper for the penalty shoot out (Tim Krul had only saved 2 penalties in his Newcastle career) is one of the most staggering things I have ever seen.  I am sure this has possibly happened many times before but the only time I can remember when Leicester City brought on Zelko Kalac many years ago in a Division One Play off Final for a potential shoot out, only for Steve Claridge to save all the hassle by then shinning in a goal in the 120th minute (or something like that).  Heartbreak for the Costa Ricans who were gallant losers but delight for the Dutch and I am sure that Man United fans are currently massaging themselves at the thought of having a manager who could return them back to the title race next season with such ballsy decisions.

The Germany vs France affair was a fairly dour affair with the Germans doing what they do best in order to secure a much needed victory so I won't comment too much on that. However, the hosts Brazil continue what seems to be a destiny carved route to the final. Again, anyone hoping for the Brazilians to hit top form will be disappointed as they ground at another scrappy win, this time against the Colombians.  Some of the Brazilian tactics have been borderline thuggish and it has been somewhat disappointing that they have not produced the fast free flowing football teams of great teams gone by.  However, one cannot deny the pure emotion that they have been playing with as shown by David Luiz's (aka Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons)  celebration after his bombastic free kick. With his fist pumping and his eyes bulged, it reminded me of a certain Maradona's celebration at USA 94 which proved to everyone without any reasonable doubt that he was in fact taking drugs. Here's a reminder of why there was no need for a urine sample after this one

On a final note for those who have not seen it, here is the picture of the mammoth insect which decided to take a ride after James Rodriguez scored a penalty to reduce the deficit. I am sure I am not the only person who thought 'HOLY SH*T!' when they saw this one.

Buen Provecho!



Not All Americans Are In Love With Harry

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Before I settled down to watch the Belgium Vs USA game the other night, I had the misfortune of stumbling across a program on E4+8 (or some other nondescript Channel) called "I Wanna Marry Harry.  I have seen some awful shows in my time but the premise was so ridiculous I just had to take a second look.  I was bamboozled as to why 12 American Cheerleader types were all trying to woo a guy who was a simply a lookalike for Prince Harry (think of Average Joe in reverse and you are pretty much there).  I know some people have some weird fetishes but this really took the biscuit.  Then to my utter astonishment it transpires that these girls actually thought that this was the actual Prince Harry!  I nearly fell off my chair. How ludicrous.  Hardly a great advert for the Americans it would seem.....

Even more ridiculous, I then switched over to the Belgium game and this ginger lookalike was again staring me in the face like some evil serial killer. Alas, my fears were quashed when I realised that this was just Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgium midfielder. Phew. And perhaps more importantly, this set of Americans proved that they were not a bunch of big chested buffoons.

Anyway, back to the game and what an absolutely titanic contest.  This match now ranks in my top 3 of all time, behind Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle and Istanbul, two epic games which will live long in the memory.

The game in 90 minutes was perhaps not a classic but what followed in the next 30 minutes was absolutely incredible.  As Belgium put their converted their dominance to goals via Prince Harry and Lukaku it looked like Tim Howard's heroics would be in vain.  Yet, the game was still somehow not over. A wonderful goal from Julian Green put the cat amongst the pigeons and the Americans nearly frantically scrambled an equalizer.  Jurgen Klinsmann's knack of producing teams full of energy again surfaced as his men gained a second win and nearly pulled off an amazing comeback with a brilliant set piece routine.

Ultimately, it was not enough and the Belgians sneaked through but what a wonderful advert for the game.  A game played at breakneck speed almost like a basketball game (you attack, we attack) and some great individual performances (was the American right back on Speed?).

If the USA had equalized then I am pretty sure that they would have had to have made a Hollywood film about it (I am sure Tom Hanks would have been involved somewhere) but instead the team will have to make do a with their role as gallant losers

Roll on the Quarter Finals.....

(P.S For those show who share my love of trash TV shows/documentaries then I would recommend My Granny : The Escort as seen on Channel 4 last night. I would add though that Wayne Rooney does not make a surprise appearance)



Bite Fever Hits World Cup

Monday, 30 June 2014

Apologies all for the lack of blogging recently, I have been fortunate enough to have been in sunnier climbs since last Thursday so haven't been privvy to all the games.  This has culminated in not only gaining a bit of a sun tan (yes, Asians tan as well) and also missing half of the football exciting action over the last few days.  Therefore, this article will be short and sweet.  To be honest, there is so much coverage these days, social media debate etc that I am struggling to cope with this tidal wave of footballing information so if you think you can do better then please help me out!

Luis Suarez

This episode has pretty much been and gone so I won't add to much other than to quote someone I met recently who is a teacher by trade.  When querying the Suarez incident they simply said

"Btw that Suarez should not be allowed to play football anymore, seriously what a joke, I don't care if he's good or brings a lot of money in, what is he teaching the kids!"

Granted that women shouldn't really normally be allowed to comment on football (Do me a favour love!), but I think that quote pretty much hits the nail on the head.

However, I did also manage to locate Luis Suarez's new local bar in Valencia, somewhere I imagine he may be situated for the next few months.


I did manage to catch most of the Brazil vs Chile game.  It wasn't really a classic although it was good to see WBA leaving their imprint on the tournament with ex-Baggie Gonzolo Jara scoring an Own Goal and then missing the decisive penalty.  I did take some personal delight in successfully predicting the direction of each of the penalties, something which I have honed since reading the brilliant book "Twelve Yards", currently available from all good bookshops.  I did offer to help out the England team who are notorious at losing on penalty shoot outs but now they so sh*t that they cannot even get past the group stages, so alas my exceptional Derren Brown like skills will not be required in the near future it seems.

The only other thing interesting about this game was the guy who is called Hulk.  I am sure many of you are thinking that is he simply called that because he is a massive gym freak b*stard?

Rather interestingly (or not) I actually think this is one of those "ironic" nicknames.  The reason I say this, is that the guy falls over like a sack of potatoes on even the slightest of contact. What a big girl's blouse.  Hulk? My arse.  Calling the guy Hulk is akin to calling Dion Dublin "Tiny" due to the size of his manhood.

Mexico Vs Netherlands

As I sat in the departure lounge for my flight back, I heard a group of Dutch fans shout out in sheer delight, a mere two minutes apart whilst a German appeared to shout out "Scheisse".  All of this had me very confused as to what was happening in this game.  Now it all makes sense to me And er...that's it.  Sorry if that's not that very interesting, but if you want a proper match report discussing water breaks and tactical genius Louis van Gaal then you can go and read them elsewhere....

Anyway's this Germany vs Algeria game looks pretty tasty so I am going to stop writing and watch that instead.

Adios amigos!



Dead Rubber Brings England No Joy

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Let's be honest, you didn't click on this blog because you wanted to read about England's latest battle of attrition, you just wanted to look at this picture didn't you, you filthy animal? And if you did then I can't blame you.  Let's be honest, this is probably the most exciting thing you have seen at the World Cup from an English person (I have no idea if the girls are even English if I am honest).

Despite today's game being a dead rubber for England ( I have never understood this term btw, is it something to do with contraception?  It is a reference to an out of date condom? Answers on a postcard please), I made the slightly unfortunate decision to leave work early today to take up a seat at the battle cruiser near work to watch the English team take on the mighty Costa Rica.   A bit like arranging to meet up with an ex-girlfriend, the expectation of something good quickly descends into boredom and within minutes you have realised that you have made a mistake and you are looking for the quickest exit out of there.

Today's game was one of the worst I have ever seen in the tournament so far and left me feeling pretty despondent. Not because England were terminally average, but because they have contributed absolutely ZERO to this World Cup.

Aside from an early match, ( I think it involved Iran but the game escapes met) nearly every game has had moments of madness, excitement, drama, unbelievable skill, a great celebration or a manager going absolutely apoplectic on the touchline. Yes that's right, Miguel Hererra I am looking at you


In fact, even as I watch Greece vs Ivory Coast a last minute penalty has caused absolute bedlam.  Does anyone else get the feeling that England just have not been part of this World Cup?   I mean for God's sake, we didn't even get to see any Wags!  I cannot think of anything worse than being remembered for being a bit ordinary.  Have England provided more than 10 minutes of entertainment in any game?  Even when South Korea were getting humped 3-0 by Algeria the other night at least they came back out second half and gave it a go.

England being not that good you can kind of get used to, but at least be so monumentally shit that you let in fifty goals and provide some entertainment.  In today's game, why not just play two in defence and send everyone up front, at least it would be a bit of fun.  Instead we got another snoozefest from the team, with only a couple of dodgy penalty shouts to look at.  In fact, it's more interesting watching as to why Robbie Savage is coming onto Danny Murphy so strongly by wrapping his arm around him in the BBC Studio (something to share Robbie?).

I'm not sure what has happened in this tournament to England and my heart goes out to poor fans who went to Brazil to watch such a farce.  My only advice to them would be to take a stroll along Ipanema beach and check out some of the football street performers as it's likely they have more skill than the whole of the English football team.  Alternatively try and pick up a local with a dead rubber and play something I like to call "Russian Roulette"


The above joke was taken from someone else and is not a reflection of On The Bench.  As Tim Westwood once profoundly said "Strap It Up Before You Slap It Up"

Anyway, I should end this article with something football related

ENGLAND TILL I DIE (is that what we sing these days?)



Is lack of intelligence the cause of England's woes?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

As England were sent crashing out of the World Cup, I am sure that everyone was queuing up to offer their reasons for England's demise. Unusually, though perhaps there didn't seem to be an obvious reason this time for England's failure to qualify for the Group Stages.  The team played ok but were not brilliant, the coach seemed to have prepared them well and we cannot even blame England's ludicrous record from penalties this time.

The usual excuses seem to have all run their course and since 1966 it seems like England have tried nearly everything without ever really looking like making a major imprint on the world stage.  We have tried English managers, foreign managers, youth, experience, pragmatism and also attacking football. We failed in hot countries, in cold countries, we have taken teams to isolated camps, we have taken teams to integrated areas.  So is there some underlying reason for England's failure that we are all missing out on? Is there a reason that we are just perhaps not very good?

If someone could answer that million pound question then I am sure it would have been done already and England would be World Cup Winners but personally think that one reason for England's failure to perform in big tournaments could be what I would deem to be lack of intelligence.

Footballers need many qualities and abilities for their profession.  Physical strength, skill, speed and perhaps an often ignored attribute...intelligence.  In all forms of life, intelligent people are generally good decision makers, find solutions and more often than not, remain calm under pressure.  As I sit watching the Germans play without a recognised striker and create chance after chance I can only be impressed with their ability and awareness on how to play their football.  Could anyone else imagine England playing tournament football without a recognised striker?

How often have we seen in major tournaments England's perceived lack of game management, naivety and in general, their lack of awareness on how to win games. How often have we bemoaned their lack of ability to maintain possession or to close a game out? Against Italy and Uruguay the team had done well to pull level but then did not seem to know how to get the result required.

I think my intelligence argument has been heightened by looking at some of the punditry on the TV this year. Maybe I am just a sucker for a foreign accent but don't all the foreign footballers just sound more intelligent than England's? A certain Carlton Palmer was blaming Hodgson, saying he hadn't taken sufficient risks, despite the fact he played with 4 attacking players in each game. This sort of crude analysis makes you wonder what on earth he had been watching.

On the other hand,  the likes of Seedorf, Henry, and Vieira all seem to speak with a certain wit, widsom and smartness which embarrasses the likes of Savage, Shearer and such like.  In fact, I would go as so far as to say that even their English is better than the British nationals themselves.

Could anyone else imagine a Rio Ferdinand, a John Terry, a David Beckham or a Wayne Rooney going onto Brazilian TV and getting involved with the banter with Fernanda Lima. I don't think so.   These guys can barely put three words together in their own language, let alone a foreign tongue.

Associated with this is the lack of English players going abroad to other countries. You can probably count on one hand the amount of English players who have gone abroad in the last thirty years. The challenge of integrating into another culture, learning a new language, embracing different styles and opinions is a challenge which has not been befitting of many of the current crop of English players and dare I say requires a certain level of intelligence and know how.

Whilst I know England as a whole struggles with languages, how wonderful is it to see other players from foreign countries quickly assimilating into other cultures and fitting into their lifestyle.  Patrick Vieria, Gus Poyet, and Gianluca Vialli for example,  when the first came to England could not speak a word of English but within a couple of years were speaking extremely fluently.  And what do we get from English footballers in their post match interviews? "At the end of the day it was a tough game....etc etc."  Hardly the most inspiring of words.

So how does this lack of intelligence and awareness possibly translate to the pitch?  I think game management would be the main area, as it appears that English players only appear to know how to play the English way.  Often it is derided.."Why can't we play like Spain, Germany etc?". But this is not something you can just switch on and off, it's something which can only be learnt by playing with these players in different countries, gaining a deeper understanding of what makes them tick, how they play their football.

I'm not suggest that all footballers must be contestants on Countdown every week but perhaps a bit more footballing "education" (that's a nine letter word btw) would not go amiss and may help England arise out of their irritable slumber.



Commentary Capers and Pundit Perfection Making This A World Cup To Remember

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Although we are barely into this Group Stages, I can hand on heart say that this is probably best World Cup I have seen in my lifetime so far. I will stop short of saying it's been the best ever, mainly because I have only seen highlights of all the World Cups prior to the auspicious day of my birth, that cold wintry afternoon in November 1983.

This World Cup has had everything that you would wish for (aside from an England win).  Riots, beaches, goals, controversy, red cards, last minute winners and upsets.  However, one of the main highlights for me has been some of the hilarious commentary and analysis which has taken place in the respective studios on BBC1 and ITV.

My personal pick has been Thierry Henry, who at times, despite the fact he is so relaxed that he looks like he has woken from a coma, has provided some superb wit and dare I say "va va voom" with his expert analysis.

I am sure many of you have seen the Twitter picture doing the rounds (as above) as a poor Robbie Savage has been somewhat put in his place on numerous occasions.  Whilst Robbie will compare a match with his memories from a cold night at Filbert Street, Mr Henry will instead draw on his considerable experience, name dropping on such a regular basis it's almost an embarrassment.  In every game, he seems to have played alongside or against the player on show. "I remember, playing with Marquez...and Yaya...and Alves" or "I remember playing in the World Cup Final...I remember needing to score winning the League."  If it was anyone else I would say he was an arrogant pr*ck, but he pulls it off with such panache it's hard not to just hope he does it on a more regular basis.

If he hasn't played with the guys then he has often just socialised with them.  "I was talking with Clarence the other night at the beach..and told him that Robbie's hair looks ridiculous" was probably my personal favourite(!)

A special mention also to the BBC for placing Neil Lennon next to a certain Mr Shearer. Unfortunately, the two seemed to get along a little bit too nicely.  For those unsure of the significance of this, take a look at this little clip


The commentary has been a slightly mixed bag with the dull tones of Monsieur Philip Neville and Andy "He's gotta do better there Clive" Townsend heaping misery upon millions of viewers throughout the nation.

However, I don't think there will be many of you who would disagree that Jonathan Pearce's antics during the France Vs Honduras game were the pick of the tournament.  Good old Jonno thought that he had managed to discover a flaw in the Goaline Technology System only for a rather embarrassed Martin Keown to step in. For those who missed it, a quick summary is here


It kind of made reminded me of if he was trying to get into a nightclub one night

Jonno : "You said that if I wore a shirt and shoes, you would let me in!!"

Doorman : "Sorry, we cannot let you in dressed like that"

Jonno : "What, this is a disgrace!".  You said to dress smart and I have, this is totally unfair! You are breaking the club's door policy!"

Keown : "You aren't wearing any pants or trousers Jonno"

Jonno ; "Ah ok......"

On a completely separate note, has anyone noticed the uncanny resemblance (give me some leeway here) between the Mexican manager Miguel Herrera and the BNP leader Nick Griffin?  Ok, actually, on second thoughts, it looks like there is none.  On that note, I better do a Robbie Savage and get my coat...



How Do You Solve A Problem Like Rooney?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A somewhat disappointing result for England in their opening game against the Italians in Manaus which based on a decent all round performance, was perhaps undeserved.  A vast improvement on their atrocious display against the same opposition two years ago, the result still offers considerable hope that they will win their next two games in order to reach the knockout stages.

Much of the post match analysis has revolved around the role of the much maligned Rooney (who I had the misfortune of receiving in the sweepstake at work).  I think that first of all any criticism of the player in this particular match is pretty much unwarranted and unjustified. Any individual who is played out of position to play his part for the team deserves every single bit of credit.  Rooney is not a left sided player and never will be (despite his sumptuous assist for Sturridge) and any influence his game has is always going to be restricted in such a wide position.  Defensively, he left Baines exposed on numerous occasions, but this is to be expected when a player is instructed to try and curtail his natural instincts to drift inside and support the striker.

Some of the criticism from Shearer on the BBC I thought was incredibly harsh. Granted, Rooney had a good chance to at least hit the target. However, having been starved of the ball all game and then popping up in his favoured central position it' a bit much to suggest he should have scored.  If he played in the central striking role all game then he probably would have had more chances and he may have put it away.

Interestingly, a lot of people think that the easy answer to the problem is to shift Rooney inside into his natural position, playing in behind the striker.  However, I think this is slightly misguided for a few reasons.

Firstly, this would mean shifting Sterling back out wide, probably England's most penetrative player which I don't think would be a good idea. Secondly, I think that by bringing him inside, England would effectively be playing a 4-4-2 as Rooney is not and never will be an attacking midfielder.  He no longer has that ability to drift past players, deliver those really intricate passes in the final third.  Yes he may drop off, but his tendency will then just to be to fire a 40 yard pass out wide and make his way into the box. Very few teams play with such a partnership these days, and more often than not, the support striker is a player who can provide some energy and excitement to the play i.e Sterling.

In my view, this leaves only one option and that is to leave Wayne on the bench (assuming Sturridge is fit). I would bring Lallana in on the left hand side. Whilst this may seem slightly negative, I think this would give the side better balance.  I think Welbeck on the other flank is perhaps another liability, but with limited options (no thank you Milner) I think he will probably retain his place.  For the Uruguay game, Barkley and Rooney should be brought on as impact players.

Now that the boring stuff is out the way, let's look at some other interesting points from some of the footage so far.

Thierry Henry has provided some much entertainment on the BBC and one of my friends interestingly thinks that he was perhaps smoking something either before or during the coverage, and I wouldn't disagree with that. His comment that Pirlo deliberately hit the crossbar with his free kick was my personal highlight.

The uglier of the Neville brothers has come in for a fair amount of deserved stick of this punditry during the match and it's fair to say that he was probably the worst person to have commentating on such a late kick off. For those who had nearly fallen asleep anyway, his dull, expressionless tones probably sent half the country into a coma long before the match had ended.  Who needs hypnosis to send people to sleep when you have commentary like that?  Pitchside expert Danny Murphy was much more worthy of taking a spot in the commentary box with his incisive and clever analysis.  Although perhaps their roles were not reversed as Monsieur Neville has a better face for commentary.....

.....and finally it's fair to say that all of the games have been pretty entertaining so far.  But even the most boring of matches will be lit up by the rather hilarious confirmation of all goals using the Goal-line technology. When the ball has been smashed into the back of the next it's good that we see those 50 different angles to show that the ball has indeed crossed the line...what on earth are these guys up to?



Nifty Neymar gives Brazil home comforts

Thursday, 12 June 2014

A somewhat fortuitous win for the hosts ensured that the World Cup went off with a bang tonight.  A scuffed daisy cutter, a very dubious penalty and a toepunt that I would have been proud off finally saw off a dogged Croatian side in the first game of the tournament and put Brazil firmly in the driving seat to qualify for the next round.

I am sure most of you have seen the game so I won't write out a boring match report but instead highlight some general thoughts around the opening of the greatest competition in World Sport.

I decided to make the executive decision to leave work early today to come home and make sure I saw the opening ceremony.  Probably one of the worst decisions I have made since I took what I thought was a girl home "that night in Thailand" a few years ago.  I admit opening ceremonies are generally boring but where was the samba based dance fest that everyone was hoping for and expecting?  The gyrating women?  The flavour of carnival?  Instead we got that complete and utter b*llend Pitbull, a ropey looking J-Lo and what I can only assume was her body double (I genuinely have no idea who the other woman was). A massive disappointment and one that won't linger long in the memory....

...and talking of things that don't last long (wait there a minute)..what an amazing thing that vanishing spray is.  I am sure that I was not the only person who was thinking of all the amazing uses for this stuff.  Most of them won't be publishable I would imagine but this really could be the invention of the decade.  It's a shame I suppose that the whole of the opening ceremony was not sprayed in the stuff..

Kudos to Croatia for trying every trick in the book to try and win tonight, including hiring Keanu Reeves as manager. A thoroughly ballsy decision I have to say...also shows that he has more in his locker than being a sh*t actor.  He hasn't minced his words either with his post match quotes

" "If that's how we start the World Cup, we'd better give it up now and go home.
"We talk about respect, that wasn't respect, Croatia didn't get any.
"If that's a penalty, we don't need to play football anymore. Let's play basketball instead, it's a shame."
More of the same please Keanu!