Steven Bell interview: Wednesday 04 September 2019

Football Book Reviews caught up with Steven Bell the author of From Triumph to Tragedy: The Chapecoense Story (Pitch Publishing) to talk about his recently published book.

Football Book Reviews (FBR): Your day job is as an engineer, but what is your football background and how did that lead to you writing ‘From Triumph to Tragedy’?

Steven Bell (SB): My background – well firstly as a poor amateur player! But a huge football fan who grew up in the 90s and became besotted with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Class of 92. It was then Euro ’96 which swung me towards supporting England really rather than a club side at that stage if I’m honest. That subsequently  led me to becoming obsessed with the World Cup in particular and the whole colour, fans, passion and spectacle of the tournament.

My first real World Cup experience was watching Brazil win it in 1994, and when they were hosts in 2014, I knew I just had to go. Going there I made a lot of contacts and started following Brazilian football. The group I was with stayed in Rio for six weeks, next to the old training ground of Flamengo and I sort of adopted them as my Brazilian team and began following their results. When I was back in the UK the first result I looked at was one that was a huge upset, when Flamengo, the biggest team in Brazil, were beaten by a team I’d never heard of called Chapecoense. That was at the back end of 2014, and after doing a bit of digging discovered that they were a team that over the last few years had come from nothing – non league, on the verge of going out of business – to the top division in Brazil. It connected with me as a fantastic sporting story, with a couple of individuals, like the goalkeeper Danilo and star striker Bruno Rangel, with incredible individual journeys, overcoming poverty and making it to the top at the back end of their careers.

Fast forward two years to November 2016, and I woke up to an alert on my phone from all the news outlets that the team had been involved in a tragic plane crash on their way to what would have been their biggest match in the club’s history. I got hooked on the story from there and decided to research it for the book.

FBR: So, does the book trace that story from 2014?

SB: It actually goes back to my love and passion for both Brazilian football and the World Cup with Brazil winning it in 1994 and how that team inspired change in tactics and culture towards football in the country. It was an influence on Chapecoense and their style of play, they didn’t mind being the underdog, they didn’t mind that other clubs had better individual players – Chape could defend and dig in, scrapping and battling to get results.

So, in terms of this book, the story of Chapecoense starts in earnest in 2006, when they were a non league team, pretty much part-time, basically a team and a club falling to pieces. However, the local businessmen didn’t want to be part of a city without a football team, so they got together and put in place a financial package which rescued the club from oblivion. In addition, they brought in a decent manager and created a sound infrastructure, and gradually the team went from strength to strength, which saw them eight years later make it to Brazil’s top division, Serie A, before tragedy struck when travelling to play the First-leg of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Final against Atletico Nacional.

FBR: The book obviously takes the reader through to the tragic events of the 26 November 2016, but presume the story doesn’t stop there?

SB: In the timeline of the book, the crash is probably about three quarters of the way through and then there is a section on the how, why, and aftermath for the club, players, families, community and indeed Brazilian football as a whole. The book actually concludes with a reflection on the 2018 World Cup, which finished around the same time as I was completing the manuscript for From Triumph to Tragedy. As someone who has followed Brazilian football it was interesting to note the reaction to the teams defeat to Belgium in the Quarter-Finals, it was more reflective and a realisation that there is more to life than football, which I believe is a result of the Chapecoense disaster.

FBR: This seems then to be a significant change to the reaction in the wake of the 2014 World Cup Semi-Final mauling 7-1 by Germany.

SB: It’s funny you should mention that game, as I was watching it in Rio and it was a day I remember, with torrential rain all day. At the whistle, there were tears and tantrums, it felt like a national tragedy and was a surreal place to be on that day. For many Brazilians it felt like the world had come to an end. Compare that to four years later, when they valiantly lost to Belgium, when Brazil were the better team in the match, the reaction was completely different, and I genuinely believe that was influenced by the Chapecoense tragedy.

FBR: It is interesting that you talk about a change in fan perception and culture of football in Brazil arising from the crash. Does this book also show a different side and a change to Brazilian football in other ways, as many older football fans and perhaps historically, Brazil have been considered to have essentially one style of football?

SB: It is very much why I started the book at the point of the 1994 World Cup in the USA. Carlos Alberto Gomes Parreira was the Brazilian manager at the time and the style of play he brought in was very unpopular with the media and fans in Brazil who were used to free-flowing football. However, he didn’t have the players to continue that tradition, and he recognised that, so his squad were taught a more pragmatic style that was being used and working for European teams. Italy had been particularly successful with that approach over the previous decade or so, with the irony that Brazil beat the Italians at their own game in the ’94 Final on penalties. It did teach the Brazilian country nationwide that there was another way to play, what Pele had described as, the beautiful game.

FBR: With the recent events at Bury and Bolton Wanderers, does this book have a story to tell for those clubs and their fans at all?

SB: I think it does. Chapecoense were one meeting away from going out of business. Other clubs down the years have proved that there is life after the most trying circumstances. It’s funny what difference a decade can make. Chape in 2006 were on their knees and yet ten years later were taking part in the finals of an international tournament they could only have dreamed of previously. Who knows what lies ahead for Bury and Bolton ten years from now.

FBR: Finally, do you still follow the game closely in Brazil?

SB: Writing this book has been a big part of my life and I’ll always have that interest in the game in Brazil. As I said earlier I was caught up in the furore of the Class of ’92, so I will always say Manchester United were my first team, but having moved to Huddersfield, the Terriers are a passionate club – I live within walking distance of the ground – I can’t help but be caught up in the club. They aren’t doing very well at the minute, and the title of my book, From Triumph to Tragedy, could equally apply to Huddersfield Town at the minute! However, I’m sure they will soon be on the up.

FBR: Steven, many thanks for your time and good luck with what sounds like a fascinating story.


Saturday 28 September 2019 – Steven will be talking about From Triumph to Tragedy prior to the Huddersfield Town v Millwall fixture in the White Rose Club Lounge in the main stand at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Saturday 05 October 2019 – Book signing at Huddersfield Waterstones (11:00 – 15:00)

World Cup diary 2018 – Thursday 28 June

Going into yesterday’s fixtures there was the possibility that both Germany and Brazil could have exited the competition at the group stage. The South American’s progressed with a goal in each half, through Paulinho (36′) and Thiago Silva (68’), although Mitrovic had two decent headed chances that the Serbian couldn’t convert when the score was still at just 1-0. In the other Group E game, Switzerland took on Costa Rica, knowing that a point would be enough to take them through. Costa Rica dominated the opening half-hour and but for the woodwork and some fine saves from Swiss ‘keeper Yann Sommer, would have been comfortably ahead. However, somewhat against the run of play, Switzerland went in front when Dzemali smashed home a knock-down in the box on thirty-one minutes. Costa Rica though got back in the game after the interval with a smart header from Waston and then followed a dramatic last few minutes. First with just two minutes of normal time left. Drmic swept home sweetly to restore the Swiss advantage at 2-1. Almost immediately, Costa Rica were awarded a penalty, which was then overruled by VAR for offside. However, they weren’t to be denied the chance of an equaliser as on ninety- three minutes they were awarded another penalty. Up stepped captain, Bryan Ruiz who crashed the ball against the crossbar but as it bounced out it rebounded off the back of ‘keeper Sommer’s head and into the net to secure a 2-2 draw and a point for Costa Rico. In terms of the final placings, it meant Brazil topped Group with Switzerland in second place.

The real drama of the day though was to be in Group F. Sweden dispatched Mexico with three second-half goals from Augustinsson (50′), Granqvist (62′ pen) and Alvarez (74′ own-goal), leaving both sides with six points. It meant that Germany had to beat South Korea to advance. The 2014 Champions huffed and puffed with late pressure creating a couple of decent chances. However, as the game went into stoppage time it was the South Koreans who made the breakthrough, with Kim Young-Gwon having all the time in the world to control and slot into the German net. As Germany looked for a consolation with time running out, ‘keeper Manuel Neuer was caught in possession in midfield. Korea pumped the ball goal-wards, where Son Heung-Min gleefully slotted into an empty German goal to record an improbable 2-0 victory.

Two of the most interesting facts to emerge from this result were:


  1. The Champions curse – Germany fell in the Group stages four years after lifting the trophy, as did France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014.
  2. It is only the second time that Germany have been eliminated from the first round at the World Cup, with 1938 the last occasion.


What all the results from Group E and F meant was that the last 16 games are as follows:

July 02 Brazil v Mexico   July 03 Sweden v Switzerland

Book Review: A Life Too Short – The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng, (translated into English by Shaun Whiteside)

The disastrous performance by Loris Karius for Liverpool in the Champions League Final against Real Madrid is just another reminder of the vulnerable role of the goalkeeper, someone who is always walking a tightrope between would-be hero and scapegoat for any failure. The worst thing is that the goalkeeper himself believes this. No such self-doubt seems to exist with attackers like Cristiano Ronaldo. All the glory is his, any failure is somebody else’s fault – every single time.

With this summer’s World Cup in Russia raising the sport’s profile ever higher, it is worth reflecting on the Winner of the 2011 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award because it is probably the most poignant reminder that, for all the general excellence of the modern footballer, it is still a game played by humans, not computer-generated robots. Led by the media, we demand everything from them, conveniently forgetting that they are real people often with brittle egos.

Robert Enke is perhaps the best modern example of the pressure all this puts on a person and his suicide in 2009 rocked the football world. He was a talented, German international goalkeeper who attracted the admiration and interest of both Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho but his increasing anxiety and depression drove him to kill himself aged 32 when a place at the World Cup in South Africa appeared to be beckoning.

A book about the man was inevitable after the sad event but, ironically, the author Ronald Reng had been by chosen by Enke himself years before to pen the goalkeeper’s biography and they had become friends. Therefore he had a large amount of material at his disposal as well as access to those closest to Enke.

This very closeness has both advantages and disadvantages and the book itself is actually something of an oddity. It is well-written by Reng and, presumably, the translation by Shaun Whiteside is good but an added irony lies in the fact that its special interest comes from his ‘life story’ being actually his death story. The reader is aware at all turns that it is about a man whose depressive nature finally drove him to suicide. Therefore, the very detailed accounts of his ups and downs both on and off the football pitch tend to become rather tedious, as if they are helping to skirt around what the book should be centred on. Also, it asks a great deal of the reader’s patience as there is an inclination throughout to try spotting the fault lines in Enke’s life, the things that might have led to his depression. Was it being a temperamental and insecure goalkeeper that drove him over the edge? Was it his poorly daughter’s short life and death? Should he have quit football years before and found another, more stable career? Questions present themselves but are seldom directly addressed as there is always a sense that Reng is putting off as long as possible the build up to the final catastrophe.

The many insights into his character and depression which Reng gives us are gained to a lesser degree from his family and colleagues, to a much greater degree from a few intimates but it is mainly his wife, Teresa, who understandably provides the closest perspective. If the world runs on a belief in luck, as those within the narrative seem to feel, it is hard for people with less talent than he had to see how ‘unlucky’ he was. But happiness with him is always fleeting, pushing back the ever-threatening blackness. A major accomplishment of this book is to show how we should not have envied his life even without that final desperate act.

The story only becomes gripping in the final pages, once it is evident Enke had decided to end it all and had adopted a degree of calm resignation that contrasts strongly with the rising panic of those closest to him. We can only speculate how helpful watching ‘Titanic’ two nights before he died was to his peace of mind and how wise it was for his wife to take him to an exhibition of preserved corpses the day before he stepped in front of an express train. Reng chronicles these but makes no direct link. Enke left a wife, a recently adopted daughter, seven dogs and a bewildered nation as the pressure of performing, and potentially making mistakes, in front of a global audience became too terrible for him to contemplate any more.

The beautiful game, we remember, is not played by fantasy footballers but by people.


Graeme Garvey


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Review: Obrigado – A Futebol Epic by David Kilpatrick

If you wanted to look back on the events of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil you might check out the internet, look at some video highlights, read some articles on-line or maybe lookup some of the books written about the tournament.

How many of you though would have thought of poetry as a source of reflecting on the world’s biggest sporting spectacle? Presumably not many. However, that it exactly what David Kilpatrick has done in Obrigado – A Futebol Epic.

As a form poetry allows the writer a great deal of freedom, so for instance some examples have a strict rhythm and meter, whilst others are more abstract in structure. However, unlike longer forms of writing, such as novels, poetry is generally smaller and demands that words have to work harder and therefore have a greater intensity in order to impart their meaning and imagery.

Kilpatrick details this collection as, “64 games (total played in the tournament), 32 teams (total participating in the tournament), 30 days (duration of the tournament), 65 poems (a poem for each game played plus an introductory poem), 1 epic”.

The interesting term to note in Kilpatrick’s summary is “epic”, in that the definition of the term as classic or grand, could be applied to the tournament as a whole. However, there can also be another interpretation in that it refers to Kilpatrick’s collection as a homage to Greek epic poetry.

Indeed this idea is reinforced within the opening poem “I. Futebologia: Towards a poetics of sport”. Here Kilpatrick presents a poem which references the Roman poet Martial, the Greek writer Pausanias and in deference to Aristotle’s elements of poetry, contains the line:

Muthos, ethos, dianoia, lexis, melos, opsis

The poems that follow are an offering to the football gods, a thank you (obrigado in Portuguese) for the games, its players and the tournament as a whole. Within each one the key incidents and results are referred to in a creative manner, but Kilpatrick is also not afraid to express his opinions with in particular hosts Brazil and its players coming in for his displeasure.

Within “II. Brazil v Croatia”, Brazilian golden boy Neymar is dubbed “The Hyped One”, whilst fellow forward Fred is chastised for a dive in the following lines:

And then one ugly moment

Halts beauty’s heritage

The cynical, the crass, the dishonest

A dive, a disgrace, as Fred flops

Brazil’s ignominy is completed by Kilpatrick’s damning words following their 7-1 defeat to Germany in “LXII. Brazil v Germany”:

The gods of futebol exact bitter revenge

For Brasil’s betrayal of jogo bonito

As a review of the World Cup it is certainly different, but like all good poetry makes you want to go back and read it again so that all the nuances of the words can be explored.

Brazil 2014 will be remembered as a great World Cup and this collection of poems should please the football gods too.


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FIFA World Cup 2014 – Postscript

As the Final between Germany and Argentina entered the second-period of extra-time, I desperately wanted a goal from either side to settle the contest rather than it go to penalties. The reason? Brazil 2014 has been a memorable tournament and it needed to be sealed with something special.

Thankfully it arrived on 113 minutes, Schurrle (who had done well whenever he came off the bench for the Germans), bustled down the wing before delivering a ball inside where another substitute, Gotze, controlled it beautifully on the chest before volleying home. A wonderful finish to a brilliant competition.

My memories of World Cup Finals stretch back to 1978 and I can’t remember there being a better tournament for the quality of games, the drama and the shocks. Who saw Italy and Spain not making it out of the Groups stages? Did anyone see Portugal being dismantled so easily by the Germans? Costa Rica in the Quarter-Finals?

Of course the competition could so easily have been remembered for the Suarez biting incident, and it therefore needed an even bigger story to wipe away the tawdry behaviour of the disgraced Uruguayan and thankfully it duly arrived as Germany humiliated the host nation Brazil 7-1. That was and will always be a significant moment in football history; nobody who watched it will ever forget it. The Brazilians with the ghost of the 1950 loss to Uruguay embedded into their psyche now have added a skeleton that would fill a mansion never mind a cupboard.

The fear from the media and perhaps even from within the country, was that going into the tournament, Brazil off the pitch was not ready to host the biggest competition in football. The irony is that actually it was on the pitch that Brazil weren’t ready.

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Thursday 10 July 2014

The second Semi-Final was always going to struggle to shine after the events of Tuesday night and indeed the ninety minutes of normal time were as damp as the weather conditions in Sao Paulo.

None of the ‘big’ names stood out as even the basics seemed to be beyond both teams at times. However, the Dutch ended the stronger of the sides in ninety minutes and Robben was denied a late winner by an excellent block tackle from Mascherano.

The first period of extra-time brought no chances for either team despite the fact the game was becoming stretched. Eventually, Argentina woke up with five minutes to go in the second period, when Palacio had a chance, but he tamely headed into the hands of Cillessen. Almost immediately a rare break from Messi created a chance for Maxi Rodriguez, but his shot lacked power. And that was that…and so to penalties.

With the Dutch having made all their substitutions, there was no option for them to bring on the penalty hero Krul. Therein lies a conundrum. If van Gaal hadn’t used all his substitutes would he have brought Krul on again? If it worked once why wouldn’t it work again if the coach believed (as he stated) in the reasoning of using a keeper with better height and reach? For me, Cillessen was left in a difficult position as he was under pressure to perform given Krul’s exploits. In these penalties though it was the Argentinian keeper Sergio Romero who was the hero with penalty saves from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. It was another blow to hosts Brazil as their arch-rivals made it through to the showpiece event.

So no repeat of the ’74 Final in Munich, but a repeat of the Finals from Mexico in 1986 and Italy in 1990 as Germany take on Argentina on Sunday. For the shell-shocked Brazilians and the Netherlands they have the ‘pleasure’ of the 3rd/4th Place Play-off fixture on Saturday.

One last effort gents and we are nearly there.

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Wednesday 09 July 2014

I really must stop my late night port and Stilton snack before bedtime. It gives you the weirdest dreams. Last night I dreamt that Brazil lost 7-1 at home in a World Cup Semi-Final. Really? No, please you’re kidding me – what do you mean it wasn’t a dream…

It was quite simply the craziest six minutes of a football game I have ever seen as Germany scored four goals against a Brazil side that simply imploded, and in the process tarnished the name of the great Brazilian teams of the past. Do I feel sorry for them? Not a bit. The antics of Marcelo and coach Scolari in the opening game against Croatia and their fortunate penalty in that fixture set me against the hosts from day one. And in amongst their spineless display against Germany last night, they dived and were cynical in the tackle. Okay they aren’t the only team in this tournament doing it, but for me the myth about Brazil and their tradition for the ‘beautiful game’ was shattered. Credit to the Germans they beat what was in front of them and good luck to them in the Final. Congratulations also to Klose for setting a new record for goals in World Cup Finals.

What that result does is keep alive my images of 1974; British referee Jack Taylor, that first minute penalty, Cruyyf, Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller – the incredible structure that was the Olympic Stadium in Munich. It was the first Final I remember watching and it will always take me back to a time of youthful innocence.

For a repeat of that ’74 Final the Dutch have to overcome Argentina. The game later today brings back memories of the 1978 Final in South America which the hosts won 3-1 in extra-time. Those ’78 Finals were the first time I watched most of the games and can remember staying up in the early hours, listening to the wonderful commentary of David Coleman. But the teams also met four years earlier in West Germany in 1974 when the Dutch romped to a 4-0 win – ‘total football’ with goals from Cruyyf (2), Rep and Krol. A time when the phrase, ‘the future’s bright, the future’s orange’ referred only to Dutch football.

More genius was to follow when the teams next met in 1998 and is remembered for the memorable finish from Dennis Bergkamp in time added-on to clinch a 2-1 win which took the Netherlands into the Semi-Finals. However for all those classic Dutch memories, the last meeting in the Finals came in 2006 in Germany when they met in the group stages and they played out a 0-0. We’ll forgive both teams for that one as both teams had effectively qualified for the knock-out stages.

What can we expect tonight? After last night, to try and make any sort of prediction about the result seems like madness. Surely nothing will top the events in Belo Horizonte?

Make mine a large port…

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Tuesday 08 July 2014

The only fixture between these sides previously in a World Cup tournament was in the 2002 Final held at the International Stadium in Yokohama. The Brazilians triumphed with two goals from Ronaldo scored in the 67th and 79th minutes as the country won their fifth World Cup.

For the hosts the big question is how they cope without the injured Neymar and the suspended Thiago Silva. It might allow others to step up to take centre-stage or could leave Brazil without inspiration and leadership. If it does the Germans will look to exploit this weakness. Germany coach Joachim Loew has not been afraid to change his starting line-up and formations during this tournament.

The Quarter- Finals were probably the first stage of these Finals where the more dour ‘cat and mouse’ approach to games was more evident. Granted there were some grandstand finishes and drama, such as in the Netherlands v Costa Rica game, but the Germany v France/Argentina v Belgium fixtures with one goal victories were on the whole uninspiring. Is this because there is more at stake in these fixtures or are teams beginning to feel the exertions of the conditions in South America? It’s probably a combination of the two.

As much as I’d love tonight to be a thrilling 4-3 exhibition of attacking football, I really can’t see that happening. For me it’ll be another game settled by a single goal. I would love Germany to make it through so that I’ll have my sweepstake team in the Final and will hopefully the first leg in ensuring a repeat of the 1974 World Cup Final.

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Friday 04 July 2014

Friday 04 July 2014

France v Germany

As West Germany these two teams have met in three World Cup tournaments. The first was in 1958 when in the Third Place Play-off game France emerged winners 6-3. The next encounter in 1982 was perhaps the most memorable and not only for a dramatic game that after finishing 3-3 saw West Germany win 5-4 on penalties, but for an unpunished ‘assault’ by German keeper on Patrick Battiston that saw the Frenchman injured suffering two missing teeth, three cracked ribs, and damaged vertebrae. The last encounter was in 1986 when in a Semi-Final Germany emerged 2-0 winners with goals from Brehme and Voller.

This could be close encounter and maybe goes all the way to penalties. With my sweepstake money riding on Germany, its Deutschland gehen!

Brazil v Colombia

In their fourteen international meetings, Brazil have won seven, Colombia just the once and the remaining six games have been draws. In fact the last four meetings have been drawn. They have never met in the Finals of the World Cup.

During this tournament both teams are unbeaten, with Columbia still boasting a 100% record with four wins out of four. Despite the number of draws between these South American neighbours this one will be settled in normal time and could be a battle between the respective No: 10?s. For Brazil there is Neymar, whilst Colombia have James Rodríguez who currently plays his club football at Monaco. Rodriguez is the leading scorer with five goals having score in every game so far. Neymar is just behind with four goals and also handled the pressure in slotting home the winning penalty against Chile in the last round.

As Brazil progress the pressure intensifies so the expectation of a nation grows. Is this the round where it all goes wrong for the hosts? Will it be James who’ll be making the Brazilian fans sit down?


Saturday 05 July 2014

Argentina v Belgium

Only two meetings between the teams and both at World Cup tournaments. In 1982 they were drawn together in Group 3 and in the opening game in that group, Belgium emerged winners 1-0 win a goal from Erwin Vandenbergh. Both qualified from the group but then finished bottom of their second round groups after losing both games. In 1986 they played in the Semi-Final where two goals from Maradona put Argentina on their way to the Final and a second World Cup title.

Argentina came under massive criticism for their lacklustre win over Switzerland, when Messi seemed to be the only player for the South Americans to put in a performance. Belgium have quietly gone about their business, with coach Marc Wilmots getting the most out of a squad that seems to have a strong unity and work ethic.

Messi to be the difference between the teams.

Netherlands v Costa Rica

These two have never played each other. Costa Rica the surprise package, against a Netherlands team epitomised by Arjen Robben. A man who has such talent, but prone to a spot of diving and more than happy to have a moan at the officials.

Surely the Costa Rican run will come to an end? Their captain Bryan Ruiz made his name at Gent and FC Twente in the Netherlands and it would be ironic if he could put out the Dutch.

Looking across the fixtures, it’s interesting to note that the most influential players often wear the No: 10 shirt. England’s wearer of that shirt? Rooney. No don’t get me started…

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Wednesday 02 July 2014

In the office World Cup predictions competition I had the following as the Quarter-Final line-up:

Brazil v England

France v Portugal

Netherlands v Italy

Argentina v Belgium

The reality as we now know after yesterday’s final last sixteen games is:

Brazil v Colombia

France v Germany

Netherlands v Costa Rica

Argentina v Belgium

63% success rate – not bad. However, looking back the selection of England to make it this far was at best blind faith and at worst delusional. It also puts into perspective how well Costa Rica have done in getting this far at the expense of Italy.

Overall the last sixteen games have reflected the tournament’s group fixtures with late drama, goals and open play. There have been exceptions though and Argentina v Switzerland last night only sparked into life in the last five minutes of extra-time. However, there was also a great couple of minutes when the Brazilian fans in the crowd got behind the Swiss with chants of “ole, ole” as they strung together a few passes.

I honestly don’t think there is an obvious favourite to win the competition as all the teams have had some inspirational wins and some when they have looked very, very ordinary.

For me though the word of the last sixteen has been ‘plucky’. The reason being that the ‘big’ sides have emerged over the less fancied teams, but they have all been made to battle hard for a result. So although Chile, Nigeria, Algeria, Mexico, Switzerland and USA have now departed, they have done so with honour intact.