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Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup Diary - Day Two

The phrase “The referee’s a wanker!” springs to mind from the first of today’s games. Quite how Mr Rodriguez was allowed to take charge of a game in this tournament if that’s his usual standard I don’t know. If it was a one off, he was clearly on a power trip judging by some of his decisions.

First, if its thirty degrees let the players have a quick drink if there is a break in play. Perhaps he wanted someone to collapse through dehydration. And poor Peter Crouch, he gets his shirt pulled and then a free kick is given against him. It was no surprise to here the ironic cheers towards the end of the game when he gave a free kick England’s way.

Elsewhere, Togo’s manager has quit. He only took the job a few months ago and has already had enough. It doesn’t bode well for their chances (not that they really had one in the first place).

England 1 – 0 Paraguay
A real game of two halves. The first England dominated and had they taken some of their chances could have gone in more than one up at half time. They controlled the game and looked like they are capable of going far.

The second half was a totally different story. Paraguay came out looking stronger, and maintained that supremacy for the whole half, while England struggled in the head. Sven’s substitutions did little to help.

Quite why Owen was replaced by a midfielder is beyond me. It left crouch totally isolated up front and meant any time we did create a half chance going forward it ended quickly as options quickly ran out. Perhaps it’s because he had no forward to bring on in Owens place with Rooney injured. Maybe Walcott is has already proved to be a bad gamble as far as Sven in concerned and is not up to the job, only time will tell.

On the positive side we won, which is a big plus in the first game. Beckham’s crossing was spot on, the defence looked solid (though Ashley Cole did have a few bad moments) and Joe Cole looked superb on the ball.

Sweden 0 – 0 Trinidad & Tobago
They had ten men for half the game but no doubt they took a well deserved point from Sweden whose finishing let them down. At the same time, Trinidad’s defence stood their ground and Shaka Hislop stood tall after being a last minute replacement following an injury sustained by the first choice keeper in the tunnel after warm up. Hopefully this was a one off for the big occasion from Trinidad while Sweden will be equally poor against England. If England don’t beat Trinidad this Thursday they don’t deserve to win the cup. No disrespect to them but the team is full of players from teams such as Port Vale, Gillingham, Wrexham, Falkirk and St Johnstone and as such should be no real competition to the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham etc who have won Premiership and European championship silverware with various clubs.

Argentina 2 – 1 Ivory Coast
Best game of the tournament so far. Argentina certainly laid out their cards on the table as pretenders to the thrown while Ivory Coast showed what many expected, that they won’t be a push over and still have every chance of progressing. Players who impressed me were Dindane, Yaya Toure, Saviola and Riquelme though it would be hard to pick out a bad player.

Argentina’s defence was strong and held the Ivory Coast at bay for most of the game despite plenty of pressure while going forward they looked very dangerous, particularly Saviola’s runs and Riquelme’s passing. I am starting to wonder if I should have put my money here.

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