Wednesday, June 30, 2010

World Cup Sound of Football Podcast - Spain 1 Portugal 0

Join us for another of our, by now, world-famous 'book-end' podcast. This time the chaps thoroughly enjoy Spain's 1-0 victory over Portugal.

If you're unfamiliar with the format of these podcasts, we record a segment before the game, at half time and just after the final whistle.

You can listen to the podcast here or if you right-click on that link, you can download the MP3. Alternatively, you can subscribe via the your reader of choice or via our iTunes feed.

Football Americana Week 13: Columbus and NY race clear in the East

Major League Soccer returned from its World Cup break over the weekend with a full programme and the opening of another purpose-built stadium. PPL Park is the new home of Philadelphia and they opened it in style. Elsewhere, the top teams in the Eastern Conference picked up important wins.

San Jose Earthquakes hosted Real Salt Lake and the teams shared the spoils with a goalless draw. RSL had the better chances, and Fabian Espindola missed a golden opportunity to win the game.

Columbus Crew went back to the top of their conference with a 2-0 win over DC United but it took a blatant handball to overcome another good but toothless DC performance. Guillermo Barros Schelotto clearly handled the ball before smashing in the opening goal, and Eric Brunner sealed the points a couple of minutes from time.

Toronto FC went ahead with their home game against LA Galaxy despite security concerns across the city thanks to the usual G20 protests. The game was horribly limp, ending 0-0 and providing few moments of note. The Galaxy will be looking forward to the return of US internationals Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, but only time will tell how long Donovan will remain in Carson.

Houston Dynamo and Colorado Rapids made up for the lack of goals elsewhere with a 2-2 draw at Robertson Stadium. Danny Cruz took just 16 minutes to score the first, a long distance shot that should have been saved. The Rapids turned the game around, Conor Casey grabbing the equaliser after keeping his composure in the area and Lovel Palmer turning the ball into his own net for 2-1. Cruz hit both posts with a shot shortly afterwards, and Joseph Ngwenya fired in the Dynamo's second from 12 yards.

2010's New York Red Bulls are almost unrecognisable from 2009's, a fact illustrated by their 3-0 away win at Kansas City Wizards. All three goals came in the second half, the first coming from the head of Salou Ibrahim. Juan Pablo Angel made the game safe with two goals in the last ten minutes. On another day, the Wizards would have been 3-0 up before they conceded and would not have made the three errors that led to goals, but matters were made worse by Davy Arnaud's red card in stoppage time for a sickening two-footed tackle.

FC Dallas also banked three points on the road, overcoming Chivas USA 2-1. Ante Jazic's own goal gave FCD the lead just before half time but Osael Romero leveled the game on the hour with a clever glancing header. David Ferreira won it for the Texan team from the penalty spot just a couple of minutes later.

It was a big day for Philadelphia Union, who welcomed Seattle Sounders for the opening game at the beautiful PPL Park. Pat Noonan gave the visitors a half time lead, sliding the ball home after a lucky bounce. After the break it was all Philly, with former Sounders man Sebastien Le Toux finding the very top corner from the spot to draw the Union level and Noonan having his spot kick saved. Fred marked an uncharacteristically prominent performance with a goal, and rookie Danny Mwanga made it 3-1 with yet another late goal as he followed up his own rebound to find the net.

In the final game of the weekend, New England Revolution continued to struggle and fell to a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Chicago Fire. Marco Pappa scored from almost 30 yards to chalk up the only goal of the match and secure three points for the Fire.

The Galaxy and RSL stay nine points apart at the top of the West, with the Rapids three points behind. In the East, the Crew and the Red Bulls are top and second on 24 points, with Toronto six points off the pace. You can see those standings here and watch all the weekend's action here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup TV Preview: 28 - 29 June 2010

Monday 28th June

15:00 Netherlands v Slovakia, FIFA World Cup Last 16, BBC1/BBCHD
Slovakia were mighty impressive in dumping Italy out of the competition so conclusively last Thursday, but that aside, one has to wonder whether they're really that good *all* the time. A 1-1 draw against New Zealand and a 2-0 defeat against the Paraguayans suggests they were a little lucky to finish top, but this Second Round match against a decent Dutch side will be a true test of the Slovakians real quality. And the winner of this match will play...

19:30 Brazil v Chile, FIFA World Cup Last 16, ITV1/ITVHD
...the winner of this one in the quarter finals next Friday. A thumb through the history books suggests Chile might run out of luck against the Brazilians but they've been playing exciting, attacking football which might just catch Dunga's men out if they're not 100% focused. For the sake of the Seleção, one can only hope they're more motivated than in the tediumfest against Portugal the other day. The less of that kind of thing we see, the better.

Tuesday 29th June

15:00 Paraguay v Japan, FIFA World Cup Last 16, ITV1/ITVHD
On paper, not the most appealing of the Last 16 games but both teams have won the crowd over by playing a brand of football that's rather pleasing on the eye. Japan are transformed from the team that shot itself in the foot against England in a friendly just before the World Cup started while Paraguay are showing why they only finished one point behind Brazil in qualifying.  Should your boss be in a benevolent enough mood to let you go home early on Tuesday afternoon, you'll do much worse than to spend the time watching this.

19:30 Spain v Portugal, FIFA World Cup Last 16, BBC1/BBCHD
There's also the added incentive that whoever wins between Japan and Paraguay will play the winners of this match in the last eight. Portugal have it all to prove and won't have convinced anyone with their 7-0 demolition of the North Koreans. This clash of the Iberian heavyweights will, if nothing else, confirm Spain's credentials as potential tournament winners and Portugal's credentials as talented individuals that are ultimately destined to exit at a relatively early stage of the procedings. Unless Ronaldo can contrive to add to his one goal haul so far, that is...

denotes a match you may wish to leave work early to see.

denotes match to be covered by The Sound of Football Podcast.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Sound of Football Podcast - England 1 Germany 4

The Sound of Football returns for another book-end podcast and what a doozy it is too as we cover England's horrifically spectacular 4-1 defeat to Germany.

Chris, Terry and Graham express mild optimism prior to the game, dismay at the half time score and utter despair at the full time result.

You can listen to our descent into madness here or if you right-click on that link, you can download the MP3. Alternatively, you can subscribe via the your reader of choice or via our iTunes feed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup TV Preview: 26 - 27 June

Saturday 26th June

15:00 Uruguay v South Korea, World Cup Last 16, ITV1/HD
Graham and I were having a conversation in the pub the other night about Diego Forlan. We reckoned that he has timed his career peak perfectly. A fantasic season for Atletico was topped off with a Europa League win. Now he is the focal point of an excellent Uruguay team. To an extent, by making it to the Second Round, the Korean's job is done. They can go home with their heads held high. This will make them dangerous opponents. Reeally looking forward to this one.

19:30 USA v Ghana, World Cup Last 16, ITV1/HD
If Ghana had some decent finishers they'd be playing England tomorrow. As it is, they have to find their way through Watford's Jay Demerit. Now you'd think that would be easy but England couldn't do it. The US is a football nation on the rise and are bound to win a World Cup one day. As for today, I fancy them to overcome the Ghanians but it will be veeery close.

Sunday 27th June

15:00 Germany v England, World Cup Last 16, BBC1/HD
Assuming England build upon their performance they should be able to exploit the spaces left by Germany's perpetual motion attack led by the irrepressible Mesut Özil. I defy any neutral to predict the winner of this game. However, as somone who has watched a lot of Bundesliga and Premier League, I believe that England will win... or possibly Germany.

19:30 Argentina v Mexico, World Cup Last 16, BBC1/HD
The Big One. A replay of that magnificent game in 2006. To be frank, I've only seen Mexico once so am not in a position to judge their prospects, but in Cuauhtémoc Blanco they have a History Man in the making. Mind you, Argentina have Martin Palermo who very much fills that role of unlikely veteran hero. Plus all those other players that are pretty tasty.

denotes match to be covered by The Sound of Football Podcast.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The (World Cup) Friday List of Little or No Consequence #170

The Coach Approacheth...
32 Slogans Displayed On The Coaches Of The Competing Nations Of The 2010 World Cup

1. Star and crescent with one goal: Victory! (Algeria)
2. Last stop: Glory (Argentina)
3. Dare to Dream, Advance Australia (Australia)
4. The whole of Brazil is in here! (Brazil)
5. The Indomitable Lions are back (Cameroon)
6. Red is the blood of my heart, Chile will be Champion (Chile)
7. Elephants, let's fight for victory! (Côte d'Ivoire)
8. All you need is a Danish team and a dream (Denmark)
9. Playing with Pride and Glory (England)
10. All together for a new dream in blue (France)
11. On the road to get the Cup! (Germany)
12. The hope of Africa (Ghana)
13. Greece is everywhere! (Greece)
14. One Country, One passion, 5 Stars in the heart (Honduras)
15. Italian Azzurro on African sky (Italy)
16. The Samurai spirit never dies! Victory for Japan! (Japan)
17. 1966 again! Victory for DPR of Korea! (Korea DPR)
18. The Shouts of Reds, United Republic of Korea (Korea Republic)
19. It is time for a new champion! (Mexico)
20. Don't fear the big five, fear the Orange eleven (Netherlands)
21. Kickin’ it Kiwi style (New Zealand)
22. Super Eagles super fan united we stand (Nigeria)
23. The Guarani lion roars in South Africa! (Paraguay)
24. One dream, one purpose… Portugal victorious! (Portugal)
25. Play with the heart, lead with a smile! (Serbia)
26. Shake the green field: Go Slovakia! (Slovakia)
27. With eleven brave hearts to the end (Slovenia)
28. One nation, proudly united under one rainbow (South Africa)
29. Hope is my road, victory my destiny (Spain)
30. C'mon Switzerland! (Switzerland)
31. The sun shines upon us. Go Uruguay! (Uruguay)
32. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Victory! (USA)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup TV Preview: 24 - 25 June

Thursday 24 June

15.00 Paraguay v New Zealand, Group F, ITV4
Do the All Whites have anything left in the tank for this final group game? Irrespective of the result, New Zealand can leave this tournament with their heads high after battling performances against Slovakia and the holders Italy. A point is enough for Paraguay; three points for underdogs would provide one of the greatest World Cup fairy tales ever. Pop quiz: One of only two all-southern hemisphere ties in the group stage. Can you name the other?

15.00 Slovakia v Italy, Group F, ITV1/ITVHD
Both sides need the win. A draw favours Italy but sees them vulnerable if New Zealand get anything out of their game with Paraguay. Abacuses at the ready folks - this group could come down to drawing lots.

19.30 Cameroon v Netherlands, Group E, BBC1/BBCHD
"I know, let's put the dead rubber on HD, and consign the important game to BBC3." Thank you, Public Service Broadcaster. Gah!

19.30 Denmark v Japan, Group E, BBC3
World player of the Year 2013 Nicklas Bendter is a doubt in this winner takes all encounter with a groin strain. Probably been watching too many repeats of his goal against Cameroon. A draw and it's Japan that goes through. I'm still waiting for Keisuke Honda to live up to his family name and give someone a hundred hand slap (press any punch repeatedly).

Friday 25 June

15.00 North Korea v Ivory Coast, Group G, BBC Interactive
With every goal Portugal scored against North Korea on Monday, Ivory Coast's chances of staying in the tournament diminished. The only scenario that sees them through is a win here and a win for Brazil against Portugal with a combined goal margin of 10 (DIX). That's not going to happen but could see some incredible attacking play if the Portugese go a couple of goals down in Durban.

15.00 Portugal v Brazil, Group G, BBC1/BBCHD
This plum tie (on paper at least) sadly looks like seeing this group out with a whimper rather than a bang as all Portugal really need to do is avoid a big defeat. With Brazil already through though, it's unlikely that Dunga's pragmatic side will bust a gut for the win.

19.30 Chile v Spain, Group H, ITV1/ITVHD
Simple equation for Spain: win and they're through which will be harsh on the Chileans who have provided some great entertainment in this tournament and could fail to qualify despite winning both their openers. Tournament football can be a cruel mistress.

19.30 Switzerland v Honduras, Group H, ITV4
Any win will do (mostly speaking) for the Swiss. There's still a tiny hope for Honduras, but it requires Spain to lose to Chile. Try not to worry who's going through and who isn't during the game - it'll only confuse you.

denotes a match you may wish to leave work early to see.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

32 For 2010: Mexico

For a country so obsessed with football and having played it so long, it’s a mystery that Mexico is yet to make a bigger impact on the World Cup. The current team boast many a technically gifted player and are led by a much respected coach, but expectations thus far have been no higher than for previous campaigns.

Quarter-finalists in 1970 and 1986 (both times on home soil), Mexico really ought to have done better by now. The fact that they have the chance to do so in 2010 is not only a boon but also rather miraculous.

Rewind a year or more and you’ll have found El Tri floundering in fifth place in the ‘hexagonal’ final round of CONCACAF’s qualifying competition. Sven Goran Eriksson had been drafted in as a coach with much international experience, but his lack of appreciation for the Mexican footballing way quickly showed its limitations.

Eriksson made way for former player Javier Aguirre and with the clock ticking, he turned the fortunes of his charges around to the point where they finished second in the six-team group. Mexico had booked their ticket for South Africa, but only just.

And at time of publication, they’ve managed to replicate their old trick of reaching the first knockout round too. They’ve got this far at the last four World Cups, but sadly no further. This, for the Mexicans, is the first priority, but in this World Cup the prospects are stacked considerably in their favour. If they’re to reach the quarter finals in 2010, they’ll have to beat Argentina in Round 2. It’s possible Javier Aguirre’s men could produce an upset (and heaven knows we’ve already had a few of those), but few would actually bet on such an outcome.

The reason an upset can’t be completely written off is largely down to their appealing brand of possession football. The players are obviously very comfortable on the ball and are patient in piecing together each attack, yet they can work the flanks with speed and have a defence that’s difficult to breach too.

Many of the principles adopted by the current team have been brought through from the Mexican side that won the World Under-17 World Cup in 2005. Among that squad were some of the players – familiar names now – that make up Aguirre’s 23 in South Africa, including Efrain Juarez, Hector Moreno (of Dutch side AZ) and Arsenal’s Carlos Vela.

But there’s more quality at hand than that. Manchester United’s new signing from Guadalajara, Javier Hernandez, has already shown the sort of form that could make him a fan’s favourite. His goal was the first of two for Mexico in their group game against France and it may not be his last in this contest.

Elsewhere, Gerardo Torrado provides reliability in midfield, captain Rafael Marquez marshals the defence – a quality that’s made him a regular for Barcelona – and as any Tottenham fan will tell you, Giovani Dos Santos is a nippy winger who, can prize opening the opposition on the break.

Javier Aguirre is more than well aware that his squad is largely polarised between the two age extremes and if anything the Mexicans could do with some decent players that fall somewhere between the two. That, coupled with the fact that Mexico don’t get the chance to test themselves often enough against top opposition, could be a sign of weakness, but the spirit is strong and the support will be even stronger.

Mexico will be tested to the very limit if they’re to do well in South Africa, but they’ve already beaten France, so why not Argentina? This Sunday’s second round tie will tell us if it’s really possible.

Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup TV Preview: 21 - 23 June

Monday 21st June

12:30 Portugal v North Korea, FIFA World Cup Group G, BBC1/BBC HD
44 years on and the acheivements of Pak Doo-Ik rightly remain undiminished. The question is, can they do it again? A repeat of their performance against the Brazilians suggests they can, even if it means they have to park the battleship again. Sorry - 'bus'.

15:00 Chile v Switzerland, FIFA World Cup Group H, BBC1/BBC HD
Well who'd have thought this would be a key fixture in the group? Both teams won their opening matches, the Swiss doing so by getting their first ever win over Spain last week while Chile played some good football in beating Honduras. Should be a fascinating contrast in football styles.

19:30 Spain v Honduras, FIFA World Cup Group H, ITV1/ITV HD
Meanwhile at the bottom of the group (WTF?) Del Bosque's men will be looking to bounce back by handing out a sound thrashing to the minnows from CONCACAF. Then again, the way this World Cup's panning out for the big European nations, we wouldn't bet on it.

Tuesday 22nd June

15:00 France v South Africa, FIFA World Cup Group A, ITV1/ITV HD
We know the French are always going on strike, but this is ridiculous... A lack of admiration for the coach is one thing, but surely Ribery & Co. have to do their best for the sake of their country and fans? What do the hosts care - this could be a great chance for them to grab three points and potentially go through...

15:00 Mexico v Uruguay, FIFA World Cup Group A, ITV4
...although a draw here will stop any such ambitions on the part of the South Africans. It'll be a shame for the competition if it is, but sadly these two have just shaded it in terms of quality football where Group A's concerned.

19:30 Greece v Argentina, FIFA World Cup Group B, BBC1/BBC HD
Full credit to Greece. Everyone thought they were reverting to type after going 1-0 down to Nigeria in their second match, but with the aid of Sani Kaita's sending off they managed to come out of it with all three points in the bag. The best they can hope for in this match, however, is a repeat performance of Maradona's eyeball-popping goal celebration against the Greeks in World Cup '94. Come on Diego - do it one more time for us, just for old time's sake...

19:30 Nigeria v South Korea, FIFA World Cup Group B, BBC3
A draw might be just about good enough for the South Koreans, but they'll be taking nothing for granted. They'll be playing for the win, as will Nigeria who could (technically) make the knockout stages as long as they can win this one by a big margin. Unlikely in all probability given the Korean's impressive organisation and tenaciousness.

Wednesday 23rd June

15:00 Slovenia v England, FIFA World Cup Group C, BBC1/BBC HD
Once again an England World Cup campaign dissolves into farce and abject disappointment. There are so many issues hanging over Capello and his squad, it's ridiculous. We may never know how a once settled and increasingly impressive team have been reduced to the shambling mess we're now seeing, and as such we reserve the right to expect the worst against a team that, frighteningly, are better than the Algerians. You may wish to think twice about booking the day off work, if you haven't already.

15:00 USA v Algeria, FIFA World Cup Group C, BBC Interactive
By pressing the red button, however, you can escape the tension/misery/frustration* (*delete as appropriate) and watch two other countries going through the emotional wringer in an equally important Group C decider.

19:30 Australia v Serbia, FIFA World Cup Group D, ITV4
The Aussies have had a man sent off in both their previous matches so far and will be hoping at the very least to finish this one with all eleven on the pitch. Serbia, meanwhile, are a bit of a mystery having beaten Germany 1-0 and lost by the same score to Ghana. Should be an open game and one that neither side will want to draw. If they do, they could both be on the plane home pronto.

19:30 Ghana v Germany, FIFA World Cup Group D, ITV1/ITV HD
Germany's defeat to Serbia was their first in a World Cup group stage since 1986, and if this turns out to be their second it could unthinkably mean Germany are out of the competition before the knockout phase. They'll be without Miroslav Klose which won't help, so expect a nervy 90 minutes in which the Africans will undoubtedly be giving it their best shot.

denotes a match you may wish to leave work early to see.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Cup Kit Parade 2010: Puma

Without doubt the cornerstone of Puma's World Cup kit range for 2010 are those outfits created for its African teams. Of the six teams competing from that continent, Puma has supplied the kit for four of them (hosts South Africa and Nigeria being the exception) and they've already been seen my millions around the world having been launched just before the Cup of African Nations in January.

Where Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast are concerned, the home strips are smart, sleek, rather minimalist in their design and all the better off for it. Each of the shirts in question also have a unique feature of a panel on the right shoulder which have a shadowy logo – typically something associated with the relevant country. For Ghana it's the star which features on the country's flag, Ivory Coast have an elephant's head, Cameroon have a lion's head and Algeria have the head of a desert fox. A nice distinctive touch and one which Puma should be very pleased with.

Sadly the shoulder panel motif isn't carried through to the away shirts, but they've been given a theme of their own, namely 'stripes and hoops'. And what an impact they have. Algeria's green change shirt has a series of thin double-stripes in red and white which, when inspected at closer quarters, have a hand-painted look which is quite cleverly done. Cameroon's yellow away shirt takes a similar approach with single 'hand-painted' red lines.

When you get to Ghana's away shirt, however, things start to get a little crazy. In the past, Ghana have worn plain yellow to complement their white for home matches, but this year Puma have given them a shirt that’s red with thick yellow stripes, each one flanked with thin 'hand-painted' green lines. It is, to say the least, bold and ever so slightly garish.

Finally to the Ivory Coast and their away shirt looks more akin to a rugby outfit than anything else. It is predominantly green with thick white 'hand-painted' hoops, each of which is flanked with thin orange lines. The whole 'hand-painted' thing is very well executed indeed, although in all honesty it's very difficult to pick up on the work that's gone into the design if you're seeing the shirt from any more than 10 metres away. No matter – it shows someone's actually used a bit of originality at the drawing board stage.

It's not all about Africa though. Puma also have Italy, Switzerland and Uruguay on their books for this World Cup, and for each one they've taken a very modest design and added some flashes here and there in a contrasting colour to break things up a bit but not too much. Quite nice, but nothing as distinctive as was seen with the African countries mentioned previously.

Oh, but there was one other thing – the Italian home shirt has a huge shadow design on it which looks rather incongruous and, well, to be honest, we're not sure what it's supposed to be. Needless to say it's been likened to a robot's rib cage and that's probably good enough for us. It also forms part of an all-blue Italy strip which we don't often see but looks very imposing nonetheless.

Overall then, some particularly good work by Puma on those African kits while the others are just 'alright'. Nothing quite as wacky as Puma's former controversies like the sleeveless Cameroon shirt, but that's just as well. Us fans like originality, smartness and style in our kits, and that's pretty much what we've got here.

Coming soon: Part 4 - Umbro's kit's all-white, plus any other business

Our great thanks go to John Devlin from True Colours Football Kits ( for the use of his excellent football kit graphics. To see all of John's World Cup kit designs in greater detail, click here.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What a load of rubbish...

"Nice to see your own fans booing you, that's what loyal support is."
These were the words of Wayne Rooney as he left the field in Cape Town, staring straight down the lens of a camera after playing in possibly the worst England football performance for many a long year.

The 0-0 draw against Algeria was, from an England perspective weak, uninspiring, amateurish and utterly bewildering for its lack of cohesion. For those reasons alone, every England fan from Table Mountain to Wembley had all the justification in the world to boo their team's performance. Wayne Rooney, however, doesn't share our disappointment. Well Wayne, let us try and explain where we're coming from on this one.

For a start, us England supporters were under the strange misconception that you and your white-shirted colleagues were capable of undertaking the bare basics for any footballer worth his salt - namely to kick a ball in such a fashion that it reaches its intended destination. In case you're still not sure, Wayne, you have two options where this is concerned:
  1. A fellow team-mate of yours, or
  2. (and this is by far the ideal option) the back of the opposing team's goal net.
In both cases, you all failed to do this for the vast majority of the match last night. Not very impressive.

It's possible we've all over-estimated the capacity you and you colleagues have for playing such a high-quality brand of football week in and week out. On reflection though, this is unlikely. Why else would your respective clubs pay you more per week than many of us booing ignoramsuses earn in several years?

You live in lavish, enormous houses, own cars the likes of us will only ever see in magazines and travel to parts of the world we can only ever dream of. Your very reputation as a footballer of the highest quality can open doors that permanently keep us riff-raff out.

You can't have reached that sort of position in life by playing the kind of football seen in every Primary School playground up and down the UK, can you? Oh... perhaps you have.

There are no excuses. Having nerves when faced up against a team that was beaten by Malawi at the last African Cup of Nations makes no sense. The Jabulani ball may be deemed to have unpredictable movement by some, but not by you, Wayne. You said as much to the press this week, remember? And tiredness? Don't give us that. You're just the latest in a long line of football players stretching back over more than a hundred years, all of whom got tired but didn't use it as an excuse to play like a bunch of clueless lightweights as you did last night.

No Wayne, the reason why so many of us were booing is because each and every one of us realises how lucky it is to have a national team to support at the finals of a World Cup. It only comes around every four years, and even then our team doesn't always qualify, but this time it did. We were ready to get behind you and your fellow professionals knowing that you all realised what a rare privilege it was to play at a World Cup. We wanted to feel the glory just like you and your mates, and we provided every single ounce of support you could ever have wished for. All it needed was for you and the team to match that in effort and skill, for that is what we know you're all capable of.

You let us down Wayne. That's why we booed. Remember that as you go back to your cossetted life of luxury and happiness. Some of us have to work a damn sight harder than you to get it, but all we ask for is a little escapism to numb the pain from day to day. That's what you're there for, Wayne, but perhaps we were asking for too much.

World Cup TV Preview: 19 - 20 June

Saturday 19th June

12:30 Netherlands v Japan, FIFA World Cup Group E, ITV1/HD

A pre-tournament turkey shoot has now become a dangerous encounter with a dark horse for the Dutch. Having said that, the Netherlands were pretty average against Denmark and still contrived a result. Reasons for orange confidence then, although the Japanese will be walking on air after their unexpected win against Cameroon. Unfortunately for them, Football is played on grass.

15:00 Ghana v Australia, FIFA World Cup Group D, BBC1/HD
It is almost impossible to imagine how Australia can improve themselves sufficiently to be able to compete with a young and effervescent Ghana side. Their offside trap requires a serious dollop of 3-In-1 oil and the absence of Tim Cahill is going to smart. Harry Kewell could be back though...

19:30 Cameroon v Denmark, FIFA World Cup Group E, ITV1/HD
Back to Group E, then, and the door to the Last Chance Saloon has swung open early for these two teams. Defeat for either and they'll be told to finish their drinks and sling their hook. Victory means they can stay but they'd better pay up next time. A draw totally ruins my metaphor so let's not dwell on that shall we?

Sunday 20th June

12:30 Slovakia v Paraguay, FIFA World Cup Group F, BBC1/HD

There is a certain degree of unrealised expectations between these two teams. Paraguay enter the fray with greater confidence after a 1-1 draw with the world champions while Slovakia have more than a point against New Zealand to prove. This should be the play-off for second...

15:00 Italy v New Zealand, FIFA World Cup Group F, ITV1/HD
... unless the All Whites pull off the biggest shock in World Cup history and can get something against an unconvincing Italian side. Surely not.

19:30 Brazil v Ivory Coast, FIFA World Cup Group G, BBC1/HD
What to make of the Brazilian performance against the Dear Leader's XI. Were the champions elect suffering from first game malaise with normal service resuming against the Ivorians or can the African team go one better than the Koreans and stop Dunga's team in their tracks. Can't wait to find out!

World Cup Sound of Football Podcast - England 0 Algeria 0

Join Chris, Terry and Graham as we experience the terror of England's shambolic display against Algeria in their second game of the World Cup with another book-end podcast.

Laugh up your sleeves at our cautious optimism before the game starts.

Guffaw at our half time anguish.

Feel our pain as we look with mute horror at the prospect of elimination from the 1st Round.

You can listen to the podcast here or if you right-click on that link, you can download the MP3. Alternatively, you can subscribe via the your reader of choice or via our iTunes feed.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The (World Cup) Friday List of Little or No Consequence #169

When England didn't add up to much...
The 11 Lowest Totals When Adding Up The Shirt Numbers Of England World Cup Starting XI's Since 1954

1. 66 (v Romania in 1970 - Banks; Newton; Cooper; Mullery; Labone; Moore; Lee; Ball; B. Charlton; Hurst; Peters)*
2. 66 (v Soviet Union in 1958 - McDonald; Howe; Banks; Clamp; Wright; Slater; Douglas; Robson; Kevan Haynes; Finney)*
3. 66 (v Belgium in 1954 - Merrick; Staniforth; Byrne; Wright; Owen; Dickinson; Matthews; Broadis; Lofthouse; Taylor; Finney)*
4. 72 (v Portugal in 2006)
5. 75 (v Morocco in 1986)
6. 75 (v Portugal in 1986)
7. 76 (v Austria in 1958)
8. 76 (v Brazil in 1958)
9. 77 (v West Germany in 1970)
10. 77 (v Soviet Union (play-off) in 1958)

* These are the only three occasions in the World Cup since 1954 where England's starting XI have worn shirts numbered 1 to 11.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup Sound of Football Podcast - South Africa 0 Uruguay 3

Join us again for another edition of our increasingly popular "book-end" podcast.

This time Graham, Chris and Terry look forward to the South Africa v Uruguay game before kick off with some confident predictions, indulge in some Sid James shenanigans at half time and ponder the prospects of Uruguay's fortunes in the World Cup and reflect on the game's talking points once it's all over.

For those of you who have not read that excellent post about UK broadcasters on The Scotsman which we referred to on the podcast, it's right here.

You can listen to the podcast here or if you right-click on that link, you can download the MP3. Alternatively, you can subscribe via the your reader of choice or via our iTunes feed.

World Cup TV Preview: 17 - 18 June

Thursday 17 June

12.30 Argentina v South Korea, Group B, ITV1/ITVHD
South Korea's display against Greece was one of the best from the first round of fixtures. However that was at sea level and this one is almost 6,000 feet higher. The Argentinians have already played at Jo'burg's other venue, Ellis Park, beating an obviously ill-prepared Nigeria but respecting the conditions (no doubt mindful of recent altitude defeats to Ecuador and of course the 6-1 drubbing lowly Bolivia gave them). Should provide an entertaining encounter, well worth taking an extended lunch break for.

15.00 Greece v Nigeria, Group B, BBC1/BBCHD
While both teams lost their opening fixtures they'll enter this in polar opposite states of mind. Nigeria can only benefit from getting their toughest game over with first and meeting the seemingly clueless Greeks could kick-start their campaign. Greece offered little in their defeat to South Korea and it's hard to see how the the introduction of Liverpool's Sotiris Kyrgiakos in defence will greatly improve them. A result either way could see the first team eliminated from the competition.

19.30 France v Mexico, Group A, BBC1/BBCHD
If I could find it in me to care, I'd be worried for France. Their body language and play says to me they hate each other and their manager - it's like watching a 1990's Dutch side. Mexico did better than they've got credit for against an under-rated host, a vociferous home crowd and the sheer weight of history in their opening draw and could take advantage of the French. But the Mexicans still look shaky at the back and players of huge individual attacking skill like a lively looking Franck Ribery could make them pay.

Friday 18 June

12.30 Germany v Serbia, Group D, BBC1/BBCHD
Critics of the controversial Jabulani ball will see Germany's 4-0 demolition of Australia as evidence of the ball's eccentricities. Played at sea-level with a ball that many Bundesliga clubs have used in the second half of the season, Germany seemed the most calm and assured side during the first round of fixtures - and the result stands out. It mustn't be forgotten, however, that Germany start World Cups well - scoring four or more in four of the their last six openers. Serbia will provide a sterner test as they look to recover from their defeat to Ghana.

15.00 Slovenia v USA, Group C, BBC1/BBCHD
Both teams will be happy with their starts to their World Cup but both will need to improve if they are to progress. Slovenia huffed and puffed their way to a narrow win over an unconvincing 10-man Algeria, while USA of course capitalised on a goalkeeping error to snatch a point against a one-dimensional England side. A draw here wouldn't be the end of the world for either side and is, in my opinion, the likeliest outcome.

19.30 England v Algeria, Group C, ITV1/ITVHD
They won't screw this one up, will they?

denotes match to be covered by The Sound of Football Podcast.

denotes match we recommend you take a long liquid lunch break for. 

(All times - UK.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup Kit Parade 2010: Nike

I like to think of the office where the Nike World Cup kit designers work as being divided into three sections, each labelled ‘Sane’, ‘Slightly Silly’ and ‘Monster Raving Loony’. When you’ve seen the kits they’ve come up with for this summer’s tournament, it’s easy to spot which kit was designed by which part of the office.

At the neat and stylish end of their product range you’ll find the understated cool stitched into every fibre of the home shirts worn by Brazil, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the USA. A common theme on each is a single round-ended stripe in a contrasting colour running along the shoulders as it does down the sides of the shorts. A simple device which works a treat without being too showy.

If, however, you’re looking for something a little more daring, Nike won’t leave your desires unfulfilled. Both the Australia shirts (home and away) have a broad block of colour spanning the shoulders and sleeves, a thin second band of colour just below that and the rest of the shirt in the main third colour. Bold and uncomplicated, it hasn’t found favour with everybody – indeed one writer in The Guardian likened the home shirt to the sort of garb donned by an Aussie one-day cricketer.

Elsewhere, Nike’s Serbia home shirt has a white cross intersectioned over the right breast which scores points for originality, while Portugal’s home and away kit also set one foot beyond the boundaries of modest inoffensiveness.

The home strip is no longer all red for the first time in many a year and the shirt features a broad green band across the upper chest. The away shirt is all white and has a racy green and red double-stripe running down the centre from top to bottom.

But if that’s not extravagant enough for you, why not try the new Slovenia home and away shirts? Both look resplendent (if that’s the word I’m looking for) with a zig-zagging stripe spanning at mid-chest level. The white home shirt has a green zig-zag and the green away shirt has a white zig-zag. One can only guess whether the designer was an amateur mountaineer or perhaps a doctor that works with heart-rate charts. Strange...

All things considered then, Nike have provided something for everyone – normal kits, abnormal kits and something in-between, all of them well made and all likely to prove popular with fans around the world.

Coming soon: Part 3 - Puma and their off-the-shoulder numbers...

Our great thanks go to John Devlin from True Colours Football Kits ( for the use of his excellent football kit graphics. To see all of John's World Cup kit designs in greater detail, click here.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

32 For 2010: Netherlands

It’s been noted by many people that only seven countries have ever won the World Cup in its 80-year history. Those same people have also suggested the time is now right for a new name to be added to the roll of honour, and most of those have put forward Spain as the country most likely to become the eighth. Perhaps they do so in haste, for the Netherlands are ready to learn by their mistakes and make one big push to become champions in 2010.

There is much evidence to suggest they could. Euro 2008 saw the Dutch complete an emphatic group stage in which they beat Italy 3-0 and France 4-1. With three wins out of three, it was somewhat unfortunate that they were punished in their first bad day at the office – a 3-1 defeat after extra time to Russia – after which they were eliminated from the competition.

They did at least impress with their fast, technically excellent brand of football which garnered much admiration from home fans and neutrals alike, but sadly they couldn’t find the clinical touch when they needed it most. The same could be said of their World Cup 2006 campaign in which they finished level on points with first round group winners Argentina only to be defeated 1-0 against Portugal in the second round.

With former Borussia Dortmund coach Bert Van Marwijk at the helm, fans of the Dutch team are at least optimistic that they can live up to their label of ‘dark horses’. Under the stewardship of the 58-year-old, the Netherlands breezed through qualifying for World Cup 2010 by winning all eight of their games. Dirk Kuyt and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored three each during that campaign, but they weren’t the sole source of goals by any means. Such is the strength in depth of the Dutch squad that Mark Van Bommel and Rafael van der Vaart pitched in with two each while seven others including Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben each scored one.

From 1 to 23, it’s difficult to find a Dutch player who isn’t based at one of Europe’s top clubs. Of those that still ply their trade in the Eredivisie, Maarten Stekelenburg (replacement for Edwin Van Der Sar in goal) and former Rangers  defender Giovanni Van Bronckhorst are two worth highlighting.

Juggling so much talent in all areas of the field – even in the weaker Dutch defence – requires a decent coach, and since Van Marwijk took over from Marco Van Basten in 2008 there’s been a greater emphasis on getting things right rather than playing with flair and pace. This makes for a new era of Dutch performances that are less easy on the eye, but with an illustrious history of total football behind them, you’re never far away from entertaining football.

As things stand, Dutch fans have much to be optimistic about at this World Cup, but that optimism is tempered with the hard reality that comes with a trophy cabinet that’s been empty for the last 22 years. The question therefore remains: not ‘can’ but ‘when’ will the Netherlands win the World Cup?  If the answer’s ‘2010’, they’ll have to beat Spain or Brazil along the way and that’ll call for a truly outstanding brand of Oranje indeed.

World Cup Sound of Football Podcast - Germany 4 Australia 0

Chris, Graham and Terry return for a new podcast and it's time for another 'book-ended' edition as we discuss the Germany v Australia game before kick-off, at half time and after the final whistle.

We're rather pleased with this format and hope you find it entertaining. You can listen to the podcast here or if you right-click on that link, you can download the MP3. Alternatively, you can subscribe via the your reader of choice or via our iTunes feed.

World Cup TV Preview: 14 - 16 June

Monday 14th June

12:30 Netherlands v Denmark, FIFA World Cup Group E, ITV1/ITVHD
Out of all the teams categorised as ‘favourites’, only Germany have impressed thus far, but the Dutch can add their names to the list by beating a tricky Danish side. Bert Van Marwijk will be relieved to welcome Arjen Robben back to something resembling full fitness after a hamstring injury, but he looks set to sit this one out. That means Rafael van der Vaart will get a run-out, while for the Danes, ‘Super Klas’ Bendtner has a groin injury and will also take his place on the bench. Sorry Graham – that Golden Boot award for the Arsenal striker may have to be put on ice for a while.

15:00 Japan v Cameroon, FIFA World Cup Group E, BBC1 / BBCHD
It’ll be interesting to see how the Beeb package this one given that it’s very much on the undercard of today’s fixtures. The Indomitable Lions will look to follow Ghana’s lead as the first African team to win a game on their home continent, and given Japan’s propensity for scoring own goals, they might just get it. Not only that, but Japan have a problem to overcome in the form of scoring goals at the right end of the pitch, so Cameroon should be good for at least one point if not three from this match.

19:30 Italy v Paraguay, FIFA World Cup Group F, BBC1 / BBCHD
So many injury worries litter the early part of this World Cup, and this game is no exception. For Italy, Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi have both had calf problems with only the latter looking likely to figure in this match. The Paraguayans have been sweating over key striker Oscar Cardozo’s ankle injury and it looks like he’ll be absent. Man City fans – expect to see Roque Santa Cruz taking his place alongside Borussia Dortmund’s Lucas Barrios.

Tuesday 15th June

12:30 New Zealand v Slovakia, FIFA World Cup Group F, BBC1 / BBCHD
The Slovaks' involvement in major competitions has been rather stop-start over the years, whether as part of the former Czechoslovakia or as a nation in their own right. It’s therefore good to welcome them back to the fold and here they’ll have a chance to impress against an All Whites side that might struggle to contain them.

15:00 Ivory Coast v Portugal, FIFA World Cup Group G, ITV1 / ITVHD
Portugal’s qualification for the finals was not entirely convincing and that makes Ivory Coast the ideal opponents to judge how good they really are. Cristiano Ronaldo will have a key role to play for Carlos Queiroz’ side (especially as his last competitive goal for Portugal was in Euro 2008), but so too will Didier Drogba for The Elephants – presuming he’s shaken off his elbow injury, that is. Should be a cracker of a game and one well worth leaving work early for if you get the chance.

19:30 Brazil v North Korea, FIFA World Cup Group G,  ITV1 / ITVHD
Before you all say ‘one-sided’, consider this: Brazil have struggled to beat sides that parked the ubiquitous bus, and if there’s one nation that believes defence is the best form of attack, it’s North Korea. Just ask any South Korean. That said, Brazil have skill, organisation and discipline in abundance and should, in reality, be no match for the canny East Asians.

Wednesday 16th June

12:30 Honduras v Chile, FIFA World Cup Group H, ITV1 / ITVHD
And so to the battle for second place behind Spain in Group H. These two stalwarts of the 1982 World Cup will be looking to get three points in the bag to gain an early advantage over Switzerland (who play later). Chile would appear to be favourites given their impressive qualification under the stewardship of former Argentinean head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Their team is built on the foundations of the successful Under-20 World Cup squad that finished third in 2007, and their style is quick and wing-based. A dangerous prospect for a Honduran team who, if they can’t get their noses in front early, could find themselves quickly overwhelmed.

15:00 Spain v Switzerland FIFA World Cup Group H, BBC1 / BBCHD
Despite winning Euro 2008, some people still doubt Spain’s ability to win the World Cup. More fool them, we say. To begin with, Spain face Switzerland having played them 18 times before and won won 15 of them (they drew the other three). Add onto that the fact that Spain have won all their First Round group games in the last two World Cups and it seems this slightly humdrum Swiss side will have got their work cut out.

19:30 South Africa v Uruguay, FIFA World Cup Group A,  BBC1 / BBCHD
And back we come full circle with this Group A tie between two sides that will be relatively satisfied with their respective first games. The hosts gave a good account of themselves against Mexico and are undoubtedly buoyed by that vuvuzela-enhanced home support. Uruguay can best be described as ‘no frills’ although Diego Forlan might have swung their game against the French on a better day. If he can find the target today, Bafana Bafana might be in for a slight setback.

denotes match to be covered by The Sound of Football Podcast.

denotes match we recommend you leave work early to see. 

(All times - UK.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Football Americana Week 12: Pontius hat-trick downs the Sounders

Just a quick one from me this week, with four midweek matches taking place in Major League Soccer before it takes a short break for the World Cup, where Bob Bradley's USA kick off against England tomorrow.

Chicago Fire hosted Colorado Rapids in Bridgeview, and the two battled out a thrilling 2-2 draw. Conor Casey superbly set up Omar Cummings, who took the first goal well. Marco Pappa equalised for the Fire with a cheeky low free kick halfway through the first half, and then gave them the lead on the stroke of half time. They had to settle for a point, though, because Casey got himself on the scoresheet with a glancing header past Andrew Dykstra.

The biggest news this week was from Utah, where Real Salt Lake ended LA Galaxy's unbeaten record in 2010 with a 1-0 win. Believe it or not, the match was halted early on due to lightning, which forced the players from the field. It took 80 minutes, but Javier Morales won it for RSL with a neat finish past Donovan Ricketts to make Jason Kreis' men the first team to beat LA this season.

Kansas City Wizards dismissed Philadelphia Union in the first half at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Kei Kamara opened the scoring inside the first ten minutes, thumping in from the edge of the area. Graham Suzi doubled the lead with an easy finish provided by Ryan Smith, and the Union once more ruined any hope they had of a comeback by having a man sent off. Michael Orozco saw red after his second bookable offence, a very clumsy tackle on Josh Wolff.

The final game took place late on Thursday at Qwest Field, where a hat-trick described as "resourceful" by the official MLS match report only told half the story as DC United left the other Washington with three points in their back pockets. Chris Pontius' first goal was well made by a lovely dummy but deflected horribly past Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Keller then made two horrific errors as DC ended up with a 3-0 lead, spilling another well worked effort from Pontius over the line, and then letting the 2009 rookie's header across goal swerve in off the far post.

Stoppage time goals from James Riley, via a deflection, and Fredy Montero took the edge of a great result for United and made them sweat at the end, but they are three points gratefully received. Keller, meanwhile, said afterwards that he wants to play another year - but not if he plays like that.

You can see all that action here and the latest standings here, where you'll see that United are finally off the bottom of the East, where the Union now prop them up. Aside from that, nothing too much at the top or bottom has changed apart from RSL's win dragging them a tad closer to LA. Have a fantastic World Cup.

World Cup Kit Parade 2010: Adidas

In the first of a four-part series, Some People Are On The Pitch assesses the wide range of football kits you’ll be seeing during the 2010 World Cup, looking at the output of each manufacturer in sequence. 


With twelve World Cup countries in its portfolio, Adidas is once again assured of maximum visibility when the competition gets underway tomorrow.

As is not uncommon, the German company has ensured a modest degree of individuality to creep into the designs for its top teams while others have had to settle for an off-the-shelf template outfit. France’s blue home shirt, for example, features red and white flashes in a nod to some of its former designs including those for Euro ’84 and World Cup ’98.

Germany’s white shirt for home games has an understated yet smart trio of pinstripes in the colours of the national flag running from top to bottom, dissecting the club crest as it does so. A nice touch and a world away from the bold, some would say ‘garish’ shirt of World Cup ’94.

Japan’s home and away shirts both feature a short red block appearing from the underside of the collar – something you won’t find on any other country’s shirt, but given its slightly mystifying nature, perhaps that won’t be regarded as any kind of tragedy.

Denmark, on the other hand, have a curious white band going across the chest of their shirt, made up of eleven rows of dotted lines forming an illusion of visual perspective. The lines are supposed to be a tribute to the efforts of the eleven men making up the Danish team – a distinctive design and one which does Adidas great credit.

Sadly not every team wearing Adidas at this year’s World Cup are quite so lucky. The home shirts for many teams such as Greece, Slovakia, Spain and Nigeria (as well as the away versions for others including Denmark, Argentina and Paraguay) look like the kind of thing your ambitious Sunday League team would be happy to wear given half a chance. Sitting somewhere in the middle of the Adidas World Cup range, however, are the hybrids – those shirts which look like they were taken one step on from the base-level design but no further than that.

For examples of this, see the home shirts for South Africa and Mexico, replete as they are with two strange under-arm blobs. We’re sure they would’ve been something more distinct, but perhaps the designer took an early lunch and never came back. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all...

Taken as a whole then, Adidas have produced a smart range of shirts and kits which are understated in their style, but style there most definitely is. You won’t find anything wacky or beyond the realms of good taste – moreover, you’ll get style in abundance even if, at times, there occasionally seems to be a lack of imagination.

Coming soon: Part 2 - Nike go for the sublime and the ridiculous...

Our great thanks go to John Devlin from True Colours Football Kits ( for the use of his excellent football kit graphics. To see all of John's World Cup kit designs in greater detail, click here.)


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