Is it now or never for England?

October 16, 2009

“Team Limey was basking in an unfamiliar relaxed state leading up to this week’s final round of World Cup qualifiers, as its beloved England team safely qualified at the beginning of September with two games to spare. That marked a drastic change from some of the nail-biting, angst-ridden, stress-inducing recent qualification (or lack of) experiences. (SI)

England’s Expectations Too High for Its Players
” On Wednesday morning, the start of a mild gray day, the final participant in the famous Fourth Plinth experiment in Trafalgar Square had her say. The experiment — Antony Gormley’s project allowing 2,400 people to spend an hour each on the plinth (a pedestal on which a statue usually stands) over 100 days — was eccentric, but it gave ordinary people the power to perform or preach in a great public space.” (NYT)

England uninspired in victory
“England ended its pre-World Cup competitive schedule with a solid 3-0 win over Belarus here on Wednesday night. Almost everyone at Wembley Stadium went home happy but England manager Fabio Capello’s smiles must have been masking disappointment. This was a very mediocre performance from a team that’s being talked up as possible World Cup winners.” (The Globe and Mail)

Football transfer rumours: Brazilian starlet Nílton to Liverpool?

October 16, 2009

“The Mill sees no borders. It recognises no flag. It also has a tendency to stuff large slabs of cheese, oversized chocolate bars and great hernia-inducing cardboard barrels of cheap red wine into its fraying sports holdall before walking down the “nothing to declare” aisle and worrying about small, neat, frightening men with clipboards peering at it through the makeshift off-white partitions and detecting its febrile smirk of pathetic, quivering guilt.” (Guardian – Barney Ronay)

Gerrard and Torres out
“Rafael Benitez has been dealt a huge double injury blow after confirming key men Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will miss the trip to Sunderland. Torres suffered an adductor injury while away with Spain on international duty and did not figure in their match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday.” (ESPN)

Harnessing the Heat of Closer-Circuit

October 16, 2009

“I watch most U.S. national team games cloistered in my own soccer nerdom, hunched over a computer or slouched at a friend’s house where I can bitch freely about the team’s dry ideas and dire first touch. This is how a lot of us watch games. As a whole, U.S. fans are a nerdy and pessimistic bunch. We pick apart 1-0 wins over Trinidad & Tobago. We fear loud noises and confrontations at bars with Steelers fans over television-space. Saturday’s game against Honduras, however, forced us to come together with an energy and pride that we rarely exhibit.” (Foot Smoke)

Great And…Not Great – Roberto Baggio

October 16, 2009

“The greatness and the gaffe. The genius and the gomer pyle. While we last ruminated on an unknown-outside-Argentina-striker, we now turn our attention to the Italianinternational scoring phenomon known as Roberto Baggio. Or, how Pope John Paul referred to him – ‘my worst nightmare.’” (futfanatico)

The Joy of Six: Great teams that missed out on the World Cup

October 16, 2009

“From England’s crop of 1934 to Zambia’s talented but tragic USA hopefuls: half a dozen teams who didn’t make it to the big party” (Guardian)

Argentina live to fight another day

October 16, 2009

“Well, it’s been memorable. Qualification looked comfortable for Argentina in the final table, four points clear of fifth-placed Uruguay and a full five ahead of Ecuador in sixth, who lost out on the play-offs thanks to Chile continuing to play to the end in spite of having assured qualification early. Why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the run-up?” (ESPN)

Scottish Football Map

October 16, 2009

“We’ve got our first ever football map of Scotland this month by sports map guru Bill Turianski. The simple and obvious fact of Scottish football, known to most if not all of you, is the overwhelming dominance of Glasgow’s Old Firm duo Celtic and Rangers. And it shines right through on the map and attendance table.” (albion road)