Outsiders Algeria will need to be philosophical

December 6, 2009

Albert Camus
“Algeria are indubitably among the World Cup also-rans and as such it is fitting that the philosopher who spoke more than any for a generation of outsiders could once be counted among their goalkeepers. ‘All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football,’ Albert Camus wrote. A British-named company called Philosophy Football report that they have sold over 5,000 souvenir shirts emblazoned with this quotation.” (Telegraph)

England’s rivals in Group C: Algeria
“TEMPERATURES so hot that “tongues hang out like Berber dogs panting in the afternoon”, pitches “bumpier than the shin of an opposing centre-forward”, a striker “who would come down on you with all his weight, into the kidneys, sandwich you against the post, smile a Franciscan smile, and say, ‘Sorry old son’.” Thus did Algeria’s most famous sportswriter, the novelist Albert Camus, describe football in his native land. And that was more than 60 years ago, before it showed its really tough hide.” (TimesOnline)

Reason to Believe but Also to Be Cautious

December 6, 2009

“The World Cup draw for the United States was not even so bad when England popped out first from the magician’s hat. Then the draw kept getting better for the Yanks as Algeria and Slovenia materialized.” (NYT – George Vecsey)

Reds drop points at Blackburn

December 6, 2009

“Blackburn and Liverpool fought out a gruelling 0-0 stalemate at Ewood Park with Liverpool substitute David Ngog coming closest to a goal with a shot that rattled the bar. The first half was a shocking, grim affair with neither side producing anything worthy of note. After the break Liverpool were arguably the better side, but even a third successive clean sheet will not.” (ESPN)

Return of Sam Allardyce helps Blackburn keep Liverpool at bay
“The return of Big Sam after heart surgery to oversee a Blackburn team whose previous outing was the Carling Cup penalty shoot-out defeat of Chelsea, produced a performance that adhered to Allardyce’s managerial stereotype. Unfortunately for Liverpool, they were also dour, functional and lacking in zip, and, by the close of the game, Rovers were worrying the visitors. A draw is a fine result for Allardyce’s bunch, but frustrating for any follower of Liverpool, who had woken up 13 points behind Chelsea and are now two worse off than Tottenham, who occupy the final Champions League spot.” (Guardian)

Blackburn Rovers 0 Liverpool 0: match report
“When Steven Gerrard, in the coming years, decides that his body and spirit can no longer carry the burden of expectation bestowed upon him by his adoring public, hangs up his boots for good and looks back on his career, the occasion of his 500th game for Liverpool is unlikely to be a highlight. The Liverpool captain will fear, though, that it may provide an epitaph: Almost, but not quite.” (Telegraph)

Rafael Benitez frustrated as another point dropped
“SAM ALLARDYCE was back at Ewood Park after his heart surgery but confined to the directors’ box, so we weren’t even able to enjoy the sideshow of him attempting to monster Rafa Benitez as the stadium witnessed its second goalless draw in the Premier League in seven days. As Blackburn inflicted another blow to the Spaniard’s efforts to rebuild Liverpool’s league campaign, Allardyce chewed gum violently and was on the edge of his seat for the last 10 minutes as the home side managed to hang on, thanks largely to a point-blank miss from David Ngog, who hit the crossbar halfway through the second half after being set up by a brilliant run from Glen Johnson.” (TimesOnline)

The World Cup party Mandela began in Zurich arrives in South Africa

December 6, 2009

“15 May 2004 will be remembered as the day when a continent and a certain world hero felt the potent, transformative power of football. Nelson Mandela was in Zurich to hear if his beloved country would be awarded the 2010 World Cup. He was there to help sell South Africa, having passionately informed the 24 men who would make the decision, Fifa’s executive committee, that listening to radio coverage of football had provided the only respite from the hellish existence of a prisoner on Robben Island and in other South African jails during the apartheid years.” (Guardian)

How to have a blast at the World Cup with hard hats and vuvuzelas

December 6, 2009

“In South African football, the sounds, language, moves and styles of supporters in the stands are often more colourful and creative than the action on the pitch. The top supporter’s accessory is the makarapa, a customised miner’s hard hat that Alfred ‘The Magistrate’ Baloyi, 57, claims to have invented. Baloyi, who lives in a squatter camp near Johannesburg, first put a Stanley knife and blowtorch to work on a yellow helmet in 1979, to honour his team, the Kaizer Chiefs. He now makes a living from his invention.” (Guardian)

Barca battle their way to victory

December 6, 2009

“Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona bagged a hard-fought 3-1 win at in-form Deportivo La Coruna in the Primera Division. Pep Guardiola’s side had seen their lead at the top of the table cut back to two points just before taking to the field in Coruna, following Real Madrid’s 4-2 victory at home to Almeria.” (ESPN)

Deportivo – 1, Barca – 3
“FC Barcelona retained their lead at top of five points with a 3-1 comfortable victory against Deportivo at the Riazor. Messi gave Barca a deserving lead in the 27th minute but Deportivo equalised in the 39th minute. Secons half goals from Messi and Ibrahmovic then gave Barca a truly deserving victory. This was Messi’s first match after winning the Balon d’Or and he gave a performance intune with the award.” (All About FC Barcelona)

Deportivo vs Barca Highlights on 05/12/09
(All About FC Barcelona)

Fabio Capello’s forward thinking must include Michael Owen

December 6, 2009

“When England last tackled the United States in a competitive international, the players changed in the bus on the way to the ground, the team was picked by the chairman of the Football Association and the opposition boasted a former baseball star in goal. The field of dreams for the US was the stuff of nightmares for England. That American keeper, Frank Borghi, eventually became an undertaker, fitting employment after helping lay to rest England’s 1950 World Cup ambition. England never recovered from that 1-0 embarrassment in Belo Horizonte and bowed out to Spain at the Maracana, again failing to trouble the scorers.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)