The Daily Poll.

July 1, 2014

Argentina vs Switzerland. If the Swiss pick Ponderous and Djourou as their central defenders this could get very nasty. Given the outstanding attacking talent of Argentina they should stroll this game but I thought that of Germany! The Argies haven’t hit their straps as yet but they have such a superb side they surely must at some stage in the competition.

The Swiss rarely beat Argentina but with Drmic and Shaqiri they have a glimmer of a chance. This is likely to be Ottmar Hitzfeld’s last game – fine manager, good haircut.

Argentina win

Belgium vs USA:  I think this is a very interesting game. Belgium have individual skill in abundance but have yet to display real teamwork whereas USA,USA,USA are the opposite – no-one stands out but they work for each other like billy-ho (bet you haven’t seen that expression for sometime!).

Dempsey’s face is getting re-arranged as the tournament progresses, black eyes, wobbly nose, staring eyes. USA have a hippy in midfield which I like – it is easy to imagine having a toke at half-time instead of an orange slice. The USA fans have been great with Klinsmann finally finding a way to introduce football (not effing soccer) to the Yanks, even Obama is watching!

On paper this should be a Belgium win. The introduction of Fellaini has given them a focus and Hazard is improving. It was horrible to see Vermælen hobbling out – what an awful season he has suffered – and  with Kompany struggling for fitness there could be defensive problems.

Goalscoring has been a problem for both teams, could be tight.

A USA win (just for RA)

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In Praise of the World Cup

July 11, 2010

Has the WC really been that bad? Germany have been a revelation. A young side playing skilful, organised football and scoring lots of goals along the way.

Argentina burned brightly and, like a supernova, collapsed in on themselves.

The tiny nation of Uruguay (population half of London) got to their first semi final in 50 years through a mixture of skill and cheating.

Others have done well. The finalists of course have risen to the occasion once in a while, though hopefully will do better tomorrow. New Zealand, bizarrely but heroically, managed to leave underrated and above Italy. Ghana flew the flag for Africa, though the others from the host continent were disappointing.

Even the failures have contributed to the drama, coming as they did from the over proud ranks of traditionally strong nations: Italy of course, England having to face the realities of their limitations and most spectacularly and absurdly, France. Never has a tournament shown the value of team play, of the collective over the individual. To me, that’s a good thing.

There have been refereeing errors but fewer than usual. The Lampard “goal” was even good as a means to show once and for all that change is needed.

As for the hosts, I’ve loved the vuvuzelas – South Africans love football, and they’ve shown their passion even after their side (the poorest South African side for years, unfortunately) was eliminated. From the outside, it’s very easy to think sport there is about rugby and cricket, but football is the true passion of the masses. There’s not much I agree with Sepp Blatter on, but the vuvuzela is a distinctly local feature, and I’m pleased of it.

The WC 2010 hasn’t been as good as some (1998, 1986, 2006 etc) but it’s been better than others (1994, 2002). But it is fair to say it’s not been great for Arsenal – those there haven’t performed especially well, several others weren’t even there. And then there’s been the farce of tapping up Cesc.

But overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the WC.

Written by 26may1989