Five things from….France 0 Ecuador 0

After a few days of work getting in the way of the World Cup, normal service can finally return to normal.  France, everyone’s not surprising surprise so far in the tournament versus Ecuador, a country that apparently only 1% of Americans can successfully locate on a map of the world.  Nobody gave the French a hope of a run into the latter stages of the World Cup based on their qualifying form that saw them 2-0 after the first leg of the play-off against Ukraine. But thanks to a kind draw and an attacking style they have almost secured a second round place before the referee took the ball off the plinth. Eight years ago Italy passed under the radar to win the World Cup – could France repeat the feat this year?

photo 3 (23)1. Why are France wearing away shirts again – So in the last game they played Switzerland (in red) and changed kit.  Tonight they are playing a team in yellow and again changed kit.  For those watching in black and white it must have been a difficult job.  I can only see one reason as to why they were playing in white – Nike told them too, or am I just being too cynical?

2.”You can’t get away with anything” – So says Gary Neville in seeing a replay of the Ecuadorian defender smashing an elbow into a forward’s face out of sight of the referee.  Sorry Gary but he has got away with it, and as Ecuador look like they are going out, any retrospective look at the incident and applying a ban seems pointless.

3. Illegal hair nets – Now that just looks bloody silly! Why did they think that putting a hair net on Noboa’s cut head would actually stop the bleeding.  All that happened is it made him look like Hilda Ogden.   Surely FIFA need to take action against these hair nets that aren’t in the same colours as the rest of the kit?

4. Valencia – What has happened to Antonio Valencia during the past few weeks?  He was awful in Miami against England and lost his cool against Sterling and in this tournament he has been a liability.  Lucky not to be sent off in the previous game and then an awful tackle tonight saw him rightly sent off.  Great example as a captain.

5. Cheating – Final seconds of the game, Ecuador need two goals to go through and they have a corner.  Did nobody else not see the ball was a foot or so outside the D?  Where is the video technology to stop this blatant cheating?

Five things from….Ecuador 2 Honduras 1

These middle games were always going to be a challenge for me as I was due to essentially spend twenty four hours in the air, and miss the Friday night games completely.  However, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, and the fact that every country in the world wanted to see even the most random games, I was able to watch this one cruising at 37,000ft between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur.  Beggars can’t be choosers when you are so high above the earth’s surface and whilst the rest of the cabin chose to sleep, I grabbed a gin and tonic, laid back and watched the clash of Central v South America.

Neither of these two really set the world alight either in their friendly games against England a few weeks ago in Miami or in their respective opening games.  But both would have targeted this game as the one to win in the race for second place in the group. France’s demolition of Switzerland earlier in the morning/afternoon/evening meant that a win here would give someone a foot in the second round.

1. Flags on socks – It’s the little touches that make all the difference and the flag of Ecuador on their red socks makes them one of the winners in the World Cup so far.  Add in the big H on the Honduran shirts and you having the makings of the kit of the tournament – which would be a great idea to present at the end of the competition.

2. That goal could be Costly for Ecuador – I wonder how long a World Cup commentator has had that line up his sleeve?  Finally, Ian Darke was able to deliver the line, pausing for dramatic effect after the Real Espana striker scored Honduras’s first World Cup goal in 32 years.

photo (1)3. The other Valencia – All the talk before the tournament was of Antonio, but it has been Enner who has grabbed the headlines with his third goal of the tournament so far.  Neither goal was what you could class a good goal, although if I was watching BBC’s coverage I am sure Lineker and Shearer would have called them “classic centre-forwards goals”, i.e benefiting from poor defending and deflections.

4. We all love a good story – Apparently Valencia came from a poor family and had to milk cows to get money to buy his first pair of boots.  Heart warming stuff when you hear it once, but when it is repeated every time he touches the ball it does get a little bit BORING.

5. Fouls in front of the dug out – We all love these…especially when one of the players ends up in the opposing dug out and all the handbags come out.  The Honduran bench weren’t best pleased with Valencia’s tackle on Garcia that led to a little spat and scenes similar to his sending off versus England two weeks ago.  He used to be such a nice man too.  Over 30 fouls in the game broke up the play far too often.

The Beer World Cup

No surprises I struggled to find a beer from either country on an Emirates flight so instead we substituted a Tiger Beer for Ecuadorian Cerveza Umiña and a Amstel Lite for Hondurian Cerveza Salva Vida.  Not a particularly fair way of doing things but completely within the FIFA spirit we felt.

Ecuador 2 Honduras 0

The Kit World Cup – Day Nine

Nike – 24
Adidas – 18
Puma – 18
Lotto – 6
Marathon – 3
Burrda – 3
Uhlsport – 1


Five things from….Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1

The good news – our Five Things seems to be well received.  Viewing figures are up, readers are happy and even non-football fans are pressing the “Like” button.  But the bad news is that I’m flying to the other side of the world today so who knows when the next chapter in this little project will make an appearance.  Apparently Emirates will be showing all the games live on their flights, which is brilliant news, but the time difference may prove a little bit difficult to keep up, so please be patient.

So after the excitement of Super Saturday, we have slow Sunday.  If ever there was a fixture that could return this World Cup to its normal defensive status quo it was this game.  Switzerland, unbelievably, are 6th in the FIFA World Rankings at the moment. SIXTH?? Ahead of Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, France and even Scotland.  Their opponents, Ecuador, twenty places lower, qualified in 4th place in South America.  On paper this should have been a banker Swiss win, but I had a sneaky feeling that the South American flair would win the day over Swiss defensive efficiency.

photo (1)1. Empty Seats – When the teams walked out you thought, WOW! Look at the crowd…and then you realise they weren’t thousands of Swiss fans but actually empty seats…lots of empty seats.  All in the prime camera positions.  Doesn’t look good on FIFA does it? But actually, do they really care?  Of course not.  They have the sponsors money in the bank and they don’t care.  Twenty minutes later those seats are remarkably full…I wonder if they were moved from areas of the ground not visible by the main cameras?

2. Mexican Wave Barometer – A tournament record of 9 minutes 34 seconds before the cheers started going up to signify the start of the blight on world football.  Is that symptomatic of a boring game?  Ten minutes later the crowd felled into silence – a definite sign they were asleep.

3. Shadows – Billions has been spent on the media rights for the tournament and sensitivities on the time zones has been discussed, hence why the England game was moved from the initial 2am slot.  So why didn’t they think of the shadows of the roof when they scheduled the games?  If this was the 8pm game then it would be prime time still in both countries and the shadows would have disappeared

 4. Like a salmon – Great cross, unmarked header into the net.  The keeper’s reaction?  Wait until it is in the net and then leap like a salmon, getting nowhere near it but at least able to say “I heroically tried to save it”…

5. Shaving foam – Good spot by my daughter who thinks that the referee’s special spray is actually shaving foam.  She claimed she saw the label on the can.  We tried it in the garden and it did “dissolve” after a minute or so.  However, when the grass was wet, it did get a bit messy.

The Beer World Cup

Back in 2010 a group of us took part in the Cup of Good Hop, a one day beerfest that saw us decide which beer was the best in the World Cup Finals.  The winner? One of the rank outsiders, Switzerland, took the title, hands down with their outstanding 14% Samichlaus beer.  And four years later the beer, brewed in the Eggenberg Castle in Vorchdorf was back again.  What better way to prepare for a six-hour flight than downing one of these.  On the other side, Ecuador’s Club beer was meekly brought forward as the opponent.  They should have stayed in South America.

Switzerland 4 Ecuador 1

Beer, Bratwurst and bloody penalties – part 2

So five games down and still going strong.  I waived CMF off at Karlsruhe/Baden Baden and continued my journey north, to the sinful city of Hamburg.  Hamburg is one of my favourite places in Germany, ney Europe.  At Christmas the city is transformed into a massive market with stalls selling beer, food, beer, Christmas gifts, beer and of course beer.  It is a prosperous city, with locals looking down their noses at you unless your BMW is less than a year old, or your Hugo Boss suit only has one crease in it.

I had originally tried to get to see a game in each of the twelve stadiums being used in the tournament but initially logistics deemed that I would miss out on games in Leipzig and Hamburg. Dortmund and Berlin were obviously sorted as England would reach the final right? So when I turned up in Hamburg for the game between Ukraine and Saudi Arabia I didn’t have a ticket for the game, or even a hotel room. Continue reading