World Cup News: France Send In The Politicians As Things Go From Merde To Worse!
Good morning all and welcome to the daily World Cup column on Soccerlens.
Unsurprisingly both England and France are dominating the column inches today as both squads attempt to address their supposed in-fighting in very different ways, the English with beer and the French with strike action – it’s good to see that stereotyping is still alive and well in the 21st century.
Here’s what the World Cup has spewed forth today…
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Paraguay all but booked their passage into the second round of the World Cup with a comfortable win over a flat Slovakian side that, in truth, never looked like threatening to upstage their opponents.
Gerardo Martino‘s side played a high line throughout the game and pressed the Slovaks back into their own half for long periods, with the three-man Paraguayan front line offering up some scintillating inter-play during the first half.
It was a slick passing move that eventually saw Enrique Vera put the Albirroja in front after half an hour, the Atlas midfielder finishing smartly with the outside of his foot after latching on to Lucas Barrios‘ incisive through-ball.
The goal was enough to rouse Slovakia (if only briefly), with Kornel Salata wasting the fruit of their collective loom – heading a swirling corner over the bar.
Paraguay started the second half in a much more muted fashion, but Slovakia’s dearth of creative impetus (their much-lauded playmaker Marek Hamsik was anonymous) meant that they faced little in the way of attacking threat.
The South Americans eventually put the tie to bed with only four minutes left to play when Sunderland new boy Christian Riveros crashed a powerful shot past Jan Mucha to seal the victory.
Read the Slovakia v Paraguay match report.
If ever the term ‘rear-guard action’ was applicable to describe a team’s performance then it was New Zealand’s against the reigning World champions yesterday.
After taking a shock lead through Shane Smeltz in only the 7th minute, the Kiwi’s were undeservedly pegged back when Daniele De Rossi‘s dubious tumble allowed Vincenzo Iaquinta the chance to level from the penalty spot – the Juventus forward duly obliging.
What followed was a heroic defensive display from the Antipodeans, captain Ryan Nelsen leading by example as the Kiwi’s succeeded in keeping Italy at bay for the remaining hour of the game.
Wave after wave of Italian attacks were repelled by the hardy New Zealand back-line, with ‘keeper Mark Paston shining after a fairly torrid outing in his previous World Cup appearance.
Italy continued to push men forward in search of a goal as the game drew nearer to a close, but it was their opponents that came closest to stealing all three points when West Brom’s teenage striker Chris Wood span past Fabio Cannavaro and drove a low shot inches wide of the far post from an awkward angle.
Despite a pair of late snap shots from substitute Mauro Cameronesi, New Zealand held on to secure a momentous second World Cup point – thus remarkably keeping their dreams of progressing through to the last 16 alive.
Read the Italy v New Zealand match summary.
The first of the second-wave of Group G matches saw Brazil secure qualification for the knock-out stages with a workmanlike victory over the Ivory Coast – the emphatic scoreline achieved through clinical finishing rather than all-out domination.
Sevilla hitman Luis Fabiano ended his international scoring drought with a brace of goals, the first a ruthless drive into the roof of the net following a cute through-ball from Kaka.
Fabiano then doubled his tally ten minutes after the break with a goal that was extremely lucky to be allowed to stand – referee Stephane Lannoy failing to spot that two of the three touches the striker had used to conjure his shooting opportunity were with his arm.
Ten minutes later Elano put Brazil even further in front, the Galatasaray midfielder slotting home Kaka‘s driven cross from close range.
Brazil then kept possession admirably, their wonderful passing moves serving only to frustrate the Ivory Coast players into making a series of reckless fouls – Elano falling victim to a particularly ‘robust’ tackle and subsequently having to be replaced.
With just ten minutes left to play, Didier Drogba scored a consolation goal – smartly heading home Yaya Toure‘s deep cross after the Brazilian defence switched off completely.
However, the drama wasn’t over.
Real Madrid star Kaka, one of the cleanest-cut players in the modern game, picked up two ridiculous bookings within the space of a minute – the second being administered after some shameful play-acting on the part of Abdelkader Keita (a decision FIFA will surely overturn retrospectively, regardless of the corresponding rules – although I won’t be holding my breath).
Read the Brazil v Ivory Coast match report.
Quote of the day…
“The player who commits the foul escapes the yellow card, I have to congratulate him for that. It was a totally unjustified dismissal of Kaka, he was fouled and yet he was punished.
We are left a bit in doubt, what do we have to do in order not to receive these yellow cards?”
Brazil coach Dunga is as dumbfounded as the rest of us.
Clearing the air…
Former captain John Terry told a press conference yesterday that the England squad intend to hold ‘clear the air’ talks with under-fire coach Fabio Capello over the next few days.
Terry denied reports of divisions within the camp but did admit that the squad will meet tomorrow to review their ‘performance’ against Algeria on Friday and that the players also intend to use the meeting as a chance to air their grievances about the current set-up.
The Chelsea defender told the assembled media;
“We have a meeting tonight to watch the game and see where we went wrong. As a group of players we owe it to the people back home.
If we upset the manager then so be it. If people need to get things off their chest they should do. If we feel that things need to be changed then everyone needs to voice their opinion. If that upsets him or any player then so what?”
However, it would appear that the proposed talks did upset Capello and, being the stern disciplinarian he is, the Italian coach reportedly banned players from voicing their criticisms – as the entire squad sat in silence whilst their previous match was analysed.
It is being alleged that Capello will compromise over one of the factors that is fuelling the players’ growing unrest by agreeing to name his starting XI the night before the game – rather than just two hours before the match actually begins.
Terry also revealed that the England players are now to be allowed a post-match beer and chinwag – to which they were not previously privy;
“Usually everyone goes straight back to their room and stays there until the following morning. But for the first time since the manager took over he let us have a beer.
We had one each, nothing more than that, and seven or eight of us sat there talking about the game. It was good to get things off our chest and express how we felt.”
Ah beer! The cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems!
Cap to quit?
A few of the major sporting news outlets and newspapers (most notably the BBC Sport team and the Daily Telegraph) are speculating that the Football Association (FA) is fully anticipating England coach Fabio Capello to hand in his notice should his side fail to make the second round of the World Cup by buggering it up against Slovenia..
There are no direct quotes to back the rumours, only claims that ‘senior figures’ within the FA are already considering their next move should England fluff their lines (again) on Wednesday afternoon.
The Beeb go on to add that, even though Capello signed a four-year contract extension just weeks before the World Cup, the financial implications of sacking their current incumbent won’t put the FA off in their bid to replace the Italian.
The FA hierarchy are also said to be privately discussing a £10 million pay-off for the 63-year-old, akin to the ridiculous compensation package they were required to hand Sven-Goran Eriksson upon his dismissal four years ago.
However, the official line is that they are fully supportive of Capello and his oft-ridiculous methods.
Je naim pas…
Following this training ground clash between captain Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duveme (which saw the latter hurling his World Cup credentials in to the surrounding foliage) coach Raymond Domenech read out a hand-written statement from his squad – detailing their reasons behind their refusal to train following the expulsion of striker Nicolas Anelka.
The statement read;
“All the players in the France squad, without exception, want to declare their opposition to the decision taken by the French Football Federation to exclude Nicolas Anelka from the squad.
If we regret the incident which occurred at half-time of the match between France and Mexico, we regret even more the leak of an event which should have remained within the group and which is quite common in a high-level team.
At the request of the squad, the player in question attempted to have dialogue but his approach was ignored.
For its part, the French Football Federation has at no time tried to protect the squad. It has made a decision (to send Anelka home) without consulting all the players, on the basis of the facts reported by the press.
Accordingly, and to mark the opposition to those at the highest level of French football, all the players decided not to train today.
Out of respect for the public who came to attend training, we decided to go to meet the fans who, by their presence, showed their full support.
For our part, we are aware of our responsibilities as those wearing the colours of our country. Also for those we have towards our fans and countless children who keep Les Bleus as role models.
We forget none of our duties.
We will do everything individually and also in a collective spirit to ensure that France regains its honour with a positive performance on Tuesday.”
Sacre bleu! Just when you thought things were a bit fractious in the England camp…
There’s more where that came from…
President of France Nicolas Sarkozy has asked his minister for Sport Roselyne Bachelot to intervene to help quell (and perhaps punish) the unrest within France’s World Cup camp in the interest of the nation at large.
Bachelot told TFI television;
“We are taking note of the indignation of the French people and…calling for dignity and responsibility.
It’s not yet the right time to take disciplinary action but that time will come very soon.”
Fellow politician Economy minister Christine Lagarde, who represented her country as a synchronised swimmer, has also had her five-penneth – telling LCI television;
“I am appalled. I am appalled because I have worn the French national colours as you know, and when you wear the French national colours you have added responsibilities.
The first responsibility is to be the best possible in sport, but also to be exemplary because you are watched. There are young children, young adolescents who practise the sport and look to you as an example.”
You’ve got to ask yourself: Would any of this happened if the FFF had appointed Laurent Blanc as coach before the World Cup began?
Other quote of the day…
“Normally nothing should happen walking there but if you go too close to the river then the iguanas, and they are quite big, can swing their tails and have been known to break several bones. Luckily nothing of that sort has happened yet.”
Germany’s general manager Oliver Bierhoff on the reptilian perils that lay in wait at his side’s luxury spa HQ.
And in other news…
‘Bouffanted’ Colombian legend Carlos Valderamma, who single-handedly kept the perming industry afloat in the 1990′s, has branded this World Cup a ‘very bad disaster’. (Goal)
Soccerlens Fantasy Football…
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The 2010 World Cup on Soccerlens…
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