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Chile 0-1 Germany

Confederations Cup Final, Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, 2/7/17.

To slightly amend Gary Lineker. Football is a simple game. Twenty-two plus men chase a ball around a pitch for 95 minutes, and the Germans win. Even if it’s their B-team.

Well, they might not have got to the final of the last European Championship but after this tournament who can doubt the strength in depth the German national team now has?

It’s a frightening thought for the other possible contenders for the 2018 World Cup.

Mind you, had it not been for a dreadful mistake at the back by Marcelo Díaz the game might have ended 0-0.

Still, Germany took that golden opportunity and Chile, despite their domination of possession, failed to take any of their chances.

And Germany always looked capable of getting another goal whenever they forayed up the park.

Not bad for a country whose normal first choices had been given the close season off.

For Joachim Löw it’s a good selection headache to have.

Summer Football

Way back in the dim mists of time the world was a simpler place and football did not dominate the calendar. World Cup finals were 16 teams large and the European Championship only had four qualifiers until it expanded to eight teams in 1980.

In Scotland the football season started on the second Saturday in August and finished on the last Saturday in April.

I thought it was pushing it when the season began edging into July to accommodate the Challenge Cup and altered League Cup format.

Today though is the 16th of July. The schools have barely broken up for the summer. Yet the Sons have a first game of the official season at Station Park, Forfar, in yet another alteration to the League Cup. It barely seemed the old season had ended when pre-season games began.

The squad manager Stevie Aitken has collected seems a little thin. The League Cup looks on paper to be not too daunting but I have no idea how we will fare against the three lower division sides in our group. (I expect to be beaten by Dundee.)

The league is a different matter. Already it looks tough. We’ll be relying on another full-time side to be rubbish (as Livingston were last season) to avoid the relegation play-offs and even then we’d have to finish above Ayr United, by no means a given.

How long we can continue to defy gravity I don’t know. This may be the season we don’t.

Serial Delusion South of the Border

In Thursday’s Guardian, Owen Gibson (in an article titled “Dyke sees remedy for Hodgson’s headaches” on page 42 of the print edition) said, “With the odd exception (1990, 1996, 2004) the [England] national side has consistently underperformed since 1966.”

Oh dear. Not again.

Would a more realistic way to look at this statistic not be to suggest that actually in those four years cited (out of a total of 24 opportunities) that the England team actually surpassed itself and otherwise played for the most part as might be expected?

It would only be on those occasions that England failed to qualify for a major championship finals that the team could be said to have “underperformed.”

(On this note it can now be seen that Scotland consistently overperformed on all those occasions between 1970 and 1998 when reaching the finals competition was achieved.)

England 3-2 Scotland Versus Writers’ Bloc

International Friendly, Wembley Stadium, 14/8/13

I didn’t see this as I was attending Sterne und Autobahnen* last night (see last post but one.)

By all accounts there were signs of promise.

I’d like to think, though, that in a European Championship or World Cup qualifier away from home we would not twice lose a lead. This is Scotland however: it will most certainly happen.

*The Writers’ Bloc gig went well, John Lemke’s and Poppy Ackroyd’s music – thoroughly modern for the most part, not my usual listening – was good and expertly performed, the story to accompany it entertained and was well read. The good lady and I may even have got a taste for tripping to Edinburgh for an evening.

Scotland 1-2 Wales

FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Europe, Group A. Hampden Park, 22/3/13.

Wretched. That’s the only way to describe Scotland’s opening to this game. Misplaced passes galore – and in the worst area of the field to commit that footballing crime.

And yet we went in one up. From a set piece obviously. (Nicely taken by Grant Hanley as it was.)

Then it was suicide in the second half as Robert Snodgrass over-committed in the penalty box and the side couldn’t reorganise quickly enough after his sending off and the loss of the first goal.

No new manager bounce.

It is becoming increasingly obvious we just no longer have the players to compete for qualification places in World Cup and European Championship groups.

Scotland 1-0 Estonia

International Friendly, Pittodrie Stadium, 6/2/13

I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. A win’s a win after all – and those were difficult to come by under Craig Levein.

The highlights didn’t look very exciting and a poor pitch didn’t help. The goal came from a set piece – which is how we’ll have to hope to score against the likes of Belgium and Croatia – and Allan McGregor saved the jerseys at one point.

Gordon Strachan’s mood music is brighter than Levein’s, he’ll most likely play in a more attacking style. The players might take heart from it.

It was only Estonia (no mugs, but also no great football power) but a clean sheet is always welcome.

We also have a few players in England’s top level, not something that could be said for a while.

It’s still going to be an uphill struggle to get a decent draw in the next European Championship.

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