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World Cup Draw

Hmmm. Interesting.

England, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta.

It’s tricky. Not as tricky as Group A though; or G. And it might have been better to be in Group B.

The England games will take care of themselves, I suppose, but we’ve come unstuck against Lithuania before.

We’ll just have to make the best of it.

Germany 4-1 England

Free State Stadium, Maungang/Bloemfontein, 27/6/10

Well, this humiliation was coming.

Here, after dismal performances against the USA, Algeria and (despite some whistling in the dark) Slovenia, a bunch of over-blown, over-paid, cosseted individuals who perhaps believe their own hype too much but played as if they’d never seen each other before were roundly horsed by an opposition who worked together as a team and actually looked as if they knew what they were doing.

Yes, the ball was over the line from Frank Lampard’s shot but it wasn’t a goal. It wasn’t a goal because the ref didn’t give it. End of debate.

And forget about goal line technology. It’s not needed. For big games like this the fifth ref – as introduced in the Europa League this season – would surely have spotted this one.

Back to the game.

There was a telling stat which unrolled a few minutes before Germany scored.

Shots: Germany 4 England 0.

Yet England had had the greater share of possession. They simply couldn’t do anything with it.

At half time I was thinking that Argentina would probably take both of them. Germany’s confidence will have an almighty boost now, though. A 4-1 win does that to you. And we’ll see how Argentina fare against Mexico tonight.

As far as England is concerned, was it a case of good players not living up to their potential?

Maybe it’s really that they’re not actually very good, that in their club sides they are surrounded by people of other nationalities who make them look better than they are.

Anyway, I can relax and enjoy the competition now. No more references to 1966 to spoil it.

England 0-0 Algeria

Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, 18/6/10

Well; this was dire. Apart from Algeria, of course. At least they could pass to each other.

Emile Heskey in this game managed to redefine the epithet “donkey” as applied to a football player. The ball kept bouncing off him at all sorts of odd angles as if he was composed entirely of sharp edges. “Donkey” is way too complimentary. I couldn’t understand why Crouch wasn’t sent on to replace him at half time.

During the second half my thoughts kept going back to 1986 when England’s start was even worse than this. (Yes that is possble.) They reached the quarters then, if you recall.

A more chilling parallel is with 1990. They drew their first two games that year. Surely they can’t reach the semis with this team?

Accordingly I fully expect them to hump Slovenia on Wednesday.

TV bloke’s moment to make you splutter?

Adrian Chiles before the game moaning that England never seem to get any luck.

Oh really, Adrian?

Have England ever been drawn in a group of death? (As opposed to a deathly group, that is.)

I didn’t see their second half but congratulations to the US for their comeback.

World Cup Finals Draw

No sooner had the tedious process finished than Motty was at it again. England willl win it, he said.

At least Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson went for Spain and Brazil – though, historically, Spain have an even poorer World Cup record than England. (Not so in European Championships, of course.)

There was a degree of unseemly euphoria at England’s “good” draw and first place in the group was taken for granted. Already it was so-and-so (possibly Germany, though the likely alternatives, Australia – even Serbia and Ghana – could be tough prospects) in the last sixteen and France in the quarter finals.

Let us be clear about this. The USA are no mugs. They could have won the Confederations Cup last summer. If the USA play to form, England will be stretched to beat them. Algeria beat the African Nations champions, Egypt, to qualify and Slovenia may well spring a surprise.

[By the way, judging by how France struggled to qualify, they will only get to the last sixteen if Uruguay and South Africa are mince. I expect at least one of them to be tougher.]

As for the quarter finals, that will be your lot. Overseas it usually is.

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