FIFA World Cup 2014 – Saturday 14 June 2014

Today for me (and I presume most of the country) is all about the last game of the day. However, as I write there’s a tension in my guts and its hard to concentrate. Anyway, first to yesterdays fixtures:

Group A

Mexico (0) 1 – 0 (0) Cameroon

As with the opening game yesterday, the major talking point concerned the inadequacies of the match-officials. Mexico should have been 2-0 ahead at half-time, as Giovani dos Santos had two efforts disallowed. Both were given offside, but on each occasion, the officials made the wrong call. However, it wasn’t just these decisions that were poor. Cameroon midfielder Mbia deliberately put his forearm into his Mexican opponents face, but wasn’t even booked. The African team offered little in the opening forty five minutes, although Eto’o did have one chance which hit the post. 0-0 at half-time.

Into the second-half and the torrential rain that had been a feature of the opening half continued. On 61 minutes, Mexico deservedly went ahead. A good move ended with a ball into the box where Giovani dos Santos had his shot saved by Itandje, however, Peralta was on hand to sweep the rebound home. This forced Cameroon to come out of their shell and they did improve in the last 15 minutes. They nearly snatched an undeserved draw in the final minute when Benjamin Moukandjo was free in the box, but Guillermo Ocho in goal saved the header well. Mexico nearly got a second when in the last of the four added minutes, Javier Hernandez was unmarked in the box, but he blazed wildly over.

Thankfully despite the poor officiating, Mexico were deserved 1-0 winners.

Note to Clarke Carlisle, every sentence doesn’t have to end with the word ‘Sam’.

Group B

Spain (1) 1 – 5 (1) Netherlands

Well who saw that coming? With a minute to go in the first-half the World Champions were ahead 1-0 through a Xabi Alonso penalty (which had come on 27 minutes) and Spain were looking on course for a winning start to the defence of their title. However, a stunning diving header from Robin van Persie just before the break changed the momentum of this fixture.

Incredibly Spain conceded four goals without reply in the second-half to suffer a mauling at the hands of the marauding Dutch 5-1. The once imperious Spanish keeper Casillas looked as vulnerable as his back four as the Netherlands were able to play through the middle, almost at will. Casillas was helpless on 53 minutes as Robben brilliantly controlled Van Persie’s long ball, cut inside and lashed home for a 2-1 lead. However, the Spanish keeper must take the blame for the next two goals. First he flapped at a cross allowing de Vrij to head home on 64 minutes and worse was to follow 8 minutes later, when Casillas miscontrolled a back-pass gifting Van Persie his second of the game. The rout was complete 10 minutes from time when Robben outpaced the cover, taking the ball past Casillas and firing home with two Spanish players helpless on the goal-line.

One game doesn’t mean that Spain are suddenly a bad side, but their coach Vicente Del Bosque had a haunted look about him at the final whistle.

Note to Louis Van Gaal – work needed on the ‘high-five’ celebration.

Chile (2) 3 – 1 (1) Australia

What more can you ask for? A spine-less defensive display from Australia that was as yellow as their shirts. Two goals down within the opening 15 minutes after goals from Sanchez and Valdívia, the Aussies looked like they were in for a heavy defeat. However, 10 minutes before the break Tim Cahill outjumped his marker to reduce the deficit to 2-1.

The second-half was a more even affair and Chilean keeper Bravo made a smart save to stop an effort from Bresciano. Chile though had their chances and the goal-line technology was called into play after a Vargas effort was cleared by Alex Wilkinson, and showed it was not a goal. The South Americans weren’t to be denied though as in the closing minutes Beausejour scored a third to secure the points.

Taxi for the Socceros!

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So that was yesterday, but before England take to he field there are two other fixtures being played.

Group C

Columbia v Greece (17:00)

Columbia qualified having finished as runners-up in the CONMEBOL Group to Argentina, whilst Greece came through the UEFA runners-up play-offs after a 4-2 aggregate win over Romania.

This is a game I’ll be avoiding as any appearance by Greek skipper Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Mitroglou, will only serve to remind me of their part in Fulham’s relegation. Although in the case of Mitroglou, Fulham fans might not recognise him, given that although he was signed in January 2014, he started just one game.

For their part in Fulham’s downfall, I’m hoping the Greeks suffer defeat.

Group D

Uruguay v Costa Rica (20:00)

The hosts of the first World Cup (1930) Uruguay qualified after a 5-0 aggregate win over Jordan in the AFC/CONMEBOL play-off game. Costa Rica came through after finishing runner-up to USA in the final round of qualifying from CONCACAF.

Another game to be avoided for me, as Costa Rica feature the prolific Bryan Ruiz. Well, prolific at every club he has played for apart from Fulham.

Uruguay to pinch all three points with a 1-0 win.

England v Italy (23:00)

Just dreading watching the game. The dark cloud that hung over me as Fulham were relegated from the Premier League, has followed me into the World Cup. I just can’t see anything other than an Italy win, and I fear it could even be as bad as a 4-0 drubbing.

Perhaps I’m just better off not watching today…somebody tell me when it’s Sunday.

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Friday 13 June 2014

Group A

Brazil (1) 3 – 1 (1) Croatia

There is only one word for me after the opening game yesterday, that being, ‘embarrassing’.

The reason for this?

  1. The FIFA ‘doves of peace’. What a completely empty gesture.
  2. The ‘snow-spray’ used to mark 10 yards at free-kicks. What ever happened to referee’s actually being able to apply the rules and take charge of a game.
  3. The Croatian keeper. At fault for all three goals. Beaten by a long-range bobbler of a shot, parried the penalty into his own net and then conceded a hopeful toe-poke.
  4. The referee. Gave a joke of a penalty to Brazil and seemed to favour the hosts whenever he could.
  5. Brazilian defender Marcelo. Went down instantly anytime anybody had the temerity to tackle him.
  6. Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Not only for his running on the pitch to try and get a Croatian player booked during the game, but his post-match defence of the match referee.
  7. The TV producer who decide to show the goal-line technology decision as the ball nestled in the back of the Brazilian net.
  8. The oversized board used by the fourth official. The sponsors of it are certainly getting their monies worth.
  9. The ITV ‘expert’ panel of ‘Patrick’, ‘Lee’ and ‘Fabio’ fronted by ‘Adrian’. No wonder the protestors tried to break into their studio.
  10. Andy Townsend. Could he possibly be any more sycophantic over a frankly ordinary Brazilian team?


The match details? Croatia started the opening ten minutes well and deservedly went ahead on 11 minutes. Olic had space out wide and his low cross was scuffed by Jelavic, but went in off Marcelo as the Brazilian defender tracked back. Brazil were struggling to find any rhythm or fluidity, but were fortunate that a poorly hit long-range effort from Neymar bobbled past Pletikosa into the corner of the net. 1-1 at half-time.

In the second-half, Croatia did not look troubled and looked to be heading for a deserved point. However, the game turned on 71 minutes. As the ball was played into the Croatian box, Dejan Lovren was inconceivably penalised for a foul on Fred. The Brazilian should have been booked for diving, but instead Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura pointed to the spot. Neymar took the penalty, which Pletikosa, having guessed the right way, managed to parry it from one hand to the other and into the net. With the game entering the final minutes, the referee ignored a blatant foul in the centre circle and from this Oscar toe-poked a third Brazilian goal, with Pletikosa slow to get down compounded by being out of position.

So what delights await today?


Group A

Mexico v Cameroon (17:00)

Mexico qualified for the Finals after a 9-3 aggregate CONCACAF/OFC play-off victory over New Zealand. The squad features some familiar names to the Premier League, although the only one still playing in the competition is Javier Hernandez at Old Trafford. Others to have spent time on these shores include Carlos Salcido who had a spell at Fulham, although he never really settled in London and returned to Mexico in 2012. Another Mexican who had a spell in the capital was Giovani dos Santos who in 2008 joined Spurs and a brief loan spell Ipswich Town in 2009.

Cameroon finished top of their qualifying group which included Libya, DR Congo and Togo. Their path to Brazil was secured after a 4-1 aggregate over Tunisia in the Knock-out phase of the qualifiers. When thinking about the current squad, most people automatically come up with the name of the well-travelled Samuel Eto’o who spent last season at Chelsea. Another spending time in London last season was defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto who played for QPR on-loan from Spurs. Others with England on their CV include keeper Charles Itandje who whilst at Liverpool was ostracised after apparently acting in a disrespectful manner during the Hillsborough Memorial Service in 2009. Alex Song had a long and successful spell at Arsenal before moving to Barcelona, whilst North of the Border, Celtic fans may remember Landry N’Guemo’s loan in 2009/10. Stephane Mbia played at Lotus Road during 2012, but spent last season on-loan at Sevilla where he picked up a UEFA Europa League winners medal. Also spending some time in West London was Eyong Enoh who had a very brief loan spell at the end of the 2012/13 season for Fulham.

It’s not a game that has my pulse racing and this could well be a cagey game which ends in a draw.


Group B

Spain v Netherlands (20:00)

This is the pick of the games on Day 2, with a repeat of the 2010 World Cup Final. To be honest I’d be happy to see another contest that has the edge that it did four years ago, although I would be incredibly surprised if that happened.

The current World Champions romped their qualifying group winning every game against the Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, and Scotland. It’s possibly the most famous squad in Europe and they simply need no introduction.

Netherlands also topped their group, and like Spain were pretty imperious, drawing just one game (a surprising 2-2 result against Estonia) in a group which also included, Andorra, Hungary, Turkey and Romania. The Dutch manager, Louis van Gaal is likely to be under the scrutiny of the press as much as his players, as after the tournament, the joys of taking charge at Old Trafford awaits. The teams experience is in its midfield and attack where the likes of Nigel de Jong, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben supply the ammunition for Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Neither side will want to lose this opener and this has the hint of a 0-0 about it.


Chile v Australia (23:00)

The last game of the day sees the two underdogs in Group B play. Chile qualified automatically after coming third in the CONMEBOL table, alongside Argentina, Columbia and Ecuador. Keeper Johnny Herrera played at Everton, but before those from Goodison Park start denying it, it should be said this is Chilean side Everton de Vina del Mar. A player who did grace the Premier League last season was Gary Medel, who was part of the Cardiff City team that suffered relegation. Gonzalo Jara has been playing in England since 2008 with spells at WBA, Brighton and Nottingham Forest. Jara would have come up against compatriot Jean Beausejour last season in the Championship, as the later was at Wigan Athletic after a spell at Birmingham City. Journeyman Mauricio Pinilla has played all round Europe as as part of his tour and had a brief time in Scotland at Hearts.

Australia ended up as runners-up to Japan in their AFC group to qualify automatically. Their English contingent is not what it used to be, with the quality of Schwarzer, Neil, Lazaridis, Kewell and Viduka, long since gone. These days the Aussies are represented by the likes of Bailey Wright (Preston North End), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace) and Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town).

I’m no fan of our Australian cousins in any sporting contest, so hope they get a mauling, although I’d settle for 1-0 to Chile. Vive la Roja!

Book Review: Come Sunday by George Nelson

Background and concept

Every four years sixteen European nations compete for the Henri Delaunay (European Championship) trophy. During the summer of 2012, photographer George Nelson set out to visit a number of London venues, (bars, restaurants, clubs and churches), screening Euro 2012 matches. His aim was to ‘follow’ every team with its London residing supporters and capture each experience in pictures.

There were only two self-imposed restrictions. One was a minimum of one venue to each participating nation and the second was the omission of England supporters, bringing down the number of locations to fifteen. The latter was a conceptual choice, as the gathering of immigrant collectives lay at the hub of this venture. The Euro 2012 project also serves as a demonstration of the London’s uniquely diverse make-up, locates several subtleties in cultural variation, yet more than hints at a universality in our relationship with ‘the beautiful game’.

From this vast palette, George settled on a single location in which to centre his book and the first Tatum Special publication. ‘Come Sunday’ hones in on the Italian Euro 2012 experience. On three Sundays* that summer Italian supporters gathered at C’asa Italiana – a penalty kick away from their Basilica-style Church, St Peter’s – as Clerkenwell reclaimed its ‘Little Italy’ status.

*       10 June 2012, Group C, Italy 1 – 1 Spain

24 June 2012, Quarter-Final, Italy 0 – 0 England (Italy won pens 4-2)

          01 July 2012, Final, Italy 0 – 4 Spain



In December 2013 Monte Fresco died at the age of 77. It’s a name that many people won’t recognise, although undoubtedly many will remember his work. Monte was an English sports photographer, and one of his most famous images was that of Vinnie Jones ‘tackling’ a young Paul Gascoigne.

Despite the fact that our screens are awash with football from all over the world, photographs which capture a moment, an emotion or are breath-taking, challenging or beautiful, will always have a place in ‘the people’s game’.

George Nelson in ‘Come Sunday’ has looked to focus on the fans rather than the action on the pitch. Nelson shared three games with the Italian fans, including those which saw, qualification from Group C, the drama of a penalty win over England and the disappointment of defeat in the Euro 2012 Final to Spain.

The book consists of thirty images which capture this journey. Nelson succeeds in conveying the emotion and drama of both victory and defeat, without an image of any of the games. Instead the ‘high and lows’ are conveyed through the expressions and body language of those gathered in Clerkenwell.

Nelson is successful in capturing more than just the football, in that the essence of family and community is evident, as the pictures portray the old and the young, men and women, all united in supporting ‘their team’.

One of the other themes which emerge from this collection is the idea of football as a religion. Not only are the images captured on a Sunday (the traditional day of rest), but the location is linked to the local Catholic church.

The great thing with the images is that you can initially focus on the central figures, but then also can revisit the pictures and understand what is going on in the background, so getting a feel for the context. For instance, the last image in ‘Come Sunday’ shows a mother, coat in hand, ready to take her children home. On the screen in the room, Spanish striker Fernando Torres celebrates victory in the Final as he takes his own child on a lap of honour.

It is a small tome, but is a collection of pictures you’ll want to look at again and interpret for yourself.

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For more information about George Nelson and to buy ‘Come Sunday’, follow this link

2013 UEFA Women’s Under 17 Finals: [08 December 2013] Final – Germany v Spain (Proact Stadium, Chesterfield FC)

Germany: Brandt, Brandenburg, Karl, Felhauser, Ehegotz, Meier, Widak, Sehan (c), Stenzel, Walkling, Specht

Substitutes: Pauels, Lober, Mathiels, Ozkanca, Hartig, Ott, Dick

Spain: De Toro, Nuria Garrote (c), Beltran, Merida, Pilar Garrote, Garcia, Garcia Boa, Guijarro, Sanchez, Bonmati, Gomez

Substitutes: Portomene, Galvez, Menayo, Ortega, Montagut, Oroz, Dominguez

Officials: Referee: Sara Persson (Sweden), Assistants: Mathilde Abildgaard (Denmark), Katalin Emese Torok (Hungary)

  • Twitter feed:
  • Ten minutes to kick-off: Tournament leading scorers face each other tonight – Jasmin Sehan (Germany) and Andrea Sanchez (Spain) – both have 4 goals
  • Teams on the pitch for National Anthems
  • Germany in white and black. Spain in red and blue.
  • First-half: Germany kick-off.
  • First corner to Germany.
  • Long range effort from Karl easily gathered by De Toro.
  • Early German pressure. Ehegotz prominent.
  • First Spanish shot on goal. Sanchez well wide.
  • Spain again attacking. Guijarro wide.
  • Very open end to end opening five minutes.
  • Spain win free-kick wide in Gemany half.
  • 9 minutes: Eventually breaks to Guijarro. Great control and strike from outside the box. Spain 1-0
  • Spain dominating. Sanchez seeing plenty of ball on left. Shot dragged wide.
  • Good play by Garcia Boa wins corner for Spain.
  • Good pressure. Germany can’t clear. Another Spanish corner.
  • Garcia Boa shot. Comfortable for Brandt.
  • All Spain at the minute.
  • Foul by Specht on edge of box. Spain free-kick.
  • Relief for Germany as Ehegotz breaks into Spanish half but cross cleared.
  • Widak and Specht break for Germany but then concede a foul.
  • Ehegotz again positive for Germany but ball runs-out for goal kick.
  • Foul by Karl on Garcia Boa. Edge of box. Driven against wall.
  • Germany looking to get ball wide to Ehegotz as much as they can.
  • Germany free-kick. Brandenburg to take.
  • Garcia Boa shot wide.
  • Spain continue to attack
  • Germany look to press further up and force Spain back.
  • Nice passing and movement from Spain ends with shot by Garcia
  • Walkling down injured for Germany. Break in play.
  • Walkling hobbles off. Receiving treatment at side of pitch.
  • Walkling back on.
  • Spain win corner. Taken by Sanchez.
  • Breaks to Garcia Boa but shots wide.
  • Germany Substitution: Walkling off. Saskia Mathiels on.
  • Germany struggling to clear. Sanchez causing problems.
  • 1 minute time added-on at end of first-half.
  • HT: Germany 0 – 1 Spain. Well-deserved by Spain. Dominated.
  • Second-half: Spain kick-off.
  • Spain starts positive. Garcia Boa dangerous.
  • Sanchez again causing problems out wide.
  • Good skill by Garcia Boa but cross from Nuria Garrote easily collected.
  • Specht booked.
  • Germany as in much of first-half playing too deep. Spain on top in early part of second-half
  • Specht forces a corner for Germany. Stenzel to take.
  • Good claim by Spanish keeper De Toro.
  • Garcia Boa beats two defenders to ball but shot wide.
  • Shot by Pilar Garrote blocked.
  • Great skill and ball from Garcia.
  • Cross shot just wide from Garcia Boa.
  • Pilar Garrote concedes foul.
  • Germany substitution: Stenzel off, Isabella Hartig on.
  • Sehan shot for Germany blocked. First real sign tonight of Germany captain.
  • Germany gives away ball but Garcia Boa can’t take advantage.
  • Widak chases down long-ball but throw-in comes to nothing.
  • Great run by Garcia into box but eventually loses ball.
  • Germany into Spain half but cleared.
  • Specht down wing forces a Germany corner.
  • Bonmati slices clearance for second corner. But great take by De Toro.
  • Spell of pressure from Germany.
  • 65 mins: Fifteen minutes left. Sanchez forces corner for Spain.
  • Specht heads clear for another corner.
  • Sanchez fouled out wide.
  • Brandt can’t hold shot but Garcia unable to slot in as ball runs away from her.
  • Specht working hard up front for Germany but with no luck.
  • Tonight’s attendance: 1,196
  • 70 mins: Ten minutes left. Will Germany find a goal from somewhere, or will Spain look for a second killer goal?
  • Spain keeping the ball. Neat passing.
  • Germany press but cross by Sehan goes out.
  • 75 mins: Five minutes to go. Germany getting forward.
  • 76 mins: Germany score! Specht breaks out wide. Sehan missed shot and substitute Hartig smashes home. Germany 1 – 1 Spain.
  • Spain win free-kick. Sanchez to take.
  • Brandt tips over the bar. Corner to Spain.
  • Germany buzzing. Karl breaks forward but pass can’t fund Sehan. Spain looked dazed.
  • Specht again dangerous out wide. Can Germany nick it?
  • 2 minutes time added-on at end of first-half.
  • De Toro saves at post from Brandenburg.
  • FT: Germany (1) – (1). No extra-time. Straight to penalties
  • Spain dominated for so long, but Germany never gave up. The cruelty of penalties now begins.
  • Penalties: Spain 1-0 Guijarro scores. Spain 1 -0 Germany
  • De Toro saves from Meier. Spain 1 -0 Germany
  • Garcia Boa misses. Spain 1 -0 Germany
  • Sehan scores. Spain 1 -1 Germany
  • Garcia next for Spain. Brandt saves. Spain 1 -1 Germany
  • Widak smashes home for Germany. Spain 1 -2 Germany
  • Pilar Garrote next for Spain. Misses. Over the bar. Spain 1 -2 Germany
  • Hartig next for Germany. Scores! Spain 1 -3 Germany
  • Germany are European Under 17s Women’s Champions.
  • Spain totally distraught. A game they totally dominated but couldn’t kill it off.
  • Congratulations though to Germany.