Posts Tagged ‘World Cup’

Read All About It: England Win The World Cup! We have an original match report from 1966

This match report was  published on Sunday July 31 1966, the day after England became world champions. The report was written by Hugh McIlvanney (now of the Sunday Times)  who was then chief sports correspondent of The Observer, a post he held between 1962 and 1993. The piece, some 2,145 words long, would have been filed in the moments after the final whistle and at points you can sense McIlvanney’s journalistic instincts wrestling with the glorious emotion of the moment. In the circumstances, it’s an exceptional piece of reportage.


The greatest moment in the history of English football came at 5.15 this afternoon when Geoff Hurst shot the magnificent goal that made certain of the World Cup. It was Hurst’s third goal, England’s fourth, and, coming as it did in the final seconds of extra time, it shattered the last remnants of German resistance.

Germany had equalized with the last kick in the regular 90 minutes, and they had gone within inches of repeating the blow in extra time when Seeler lunged in on a headed pass by Held. But Moore took the ball coolly out of defence and lifted it upfield to Hurst 10 yards inside the German half. The referee was already looking at his watch and three England supporters had prematurely invaded the pitch as Hurst took the ball on his chest.

At first he seemed inclined to dawdle out time. Then abruptly he sprinted through on the inside-left position with a German defender pressing him. As Tilkowski prepared to move out, Hurst swung his left foot and drove the ball breathtakingly into the top of the net.

The scene that followed was unforgettable. Stiles and Cohen collapsed in a tearful embrace on the ground, young Ball turned wild cartwheels, and Bobby Charlton dropped to his knees, felled by emotion.

Almost immediately it was over and the honour that had escaped England for so long had been won. Soon the players, who had forgotten the crippling weariness of a few minutes before, were hugging and laughing and crying with Alf Ramsey and the reserves, who must go through their lives with bitter-sweet memories of how it looked from the touchline.


Moore holds the cup aloft

No failures
“Ramsey, Ramsey,” the crowd roared and in his moment of vindication it was attribute that no one could grudge him. Eventually, Moore led his men up to the Royal Box to receive the gold Jules Rimet trophy from the Queen, and the slow, ecstatic lap of honour began “Ee-aye-addio, we’ve won the Cup,” sang the crowd, as Moore threw it in his arc above his head and caught it again.

England had, indeed, won the Cup, producing more determined aggression and flair than they had shown at any earlier stage of the competition. In such a triumph there could be no failures, but if one had to name outstanding heroes they would be Hurst, Ball, Moore and the brothers Charlton.

Hurst, who just a month ago appeared to have only the remotest chance of figuring in the World Cup, had emerged as the destructive star of a feverishly exciting game, becoming the first man to score a hat-trick in the final. Ball, who looked like a boy, had done the work of two men. Moore, showing again that he is stimulated by the demands of the great occasion, played with an imaginative self-confidence that made it unnecessary for anyone to ask who was the England captain.

Beside him Jack Charlton was a giant of a player. And through the whole performance there ran the inspiration of Bobby Charlton. In the first half, when the foundations of England’s victory were being laid, it was his relentless but unhurried foraging, his ability to impose his experience and his class on the team’s play that counted most.

Pride in defeat
Every one of the others responded superbly and if some were sometimes short of inspiration, none ever lacked courage or total commitment. Of course the Germans were on the field too, and they let England know about it often enough. They may regret now that they set Beckenbauer to mark Charlton, for the young half-back had little opportunity to exploit his attacking genius until it was too late. Held and Haller, with tremendous early assistance from Seeler, did plenty of damage, but ultimately it was Tilkowski and his defenders who were left to save Germany.

They tried mightily, but in the end England’s spirit broke them. Germany had already won the World Cup, England had not, so they had a right to accept defeat with pride. They did, and the crowd cheered their lap of honour almost as much as England’s.


The teams line up before the game begins.

Wembley was charged with an atmosphere I had never known before. Long before the teams appeared the crowd was chanting and singing. When the band of the Royal Marines, who had played a tune for each of the 16 competing nations, came to play the national anthem it was sung as it may never be sung again. Deutschland Uber Alles boomed out in its wake and the battle was on.

The Germans began rather nervously, standing off from the tackle and letting England’s forwards move smoothly up to the edge of the penalty area. Charlton and Peters were able to work the ball along the left at their leisure and there was anxiety in the German defence before the cross was cleared.

Charlton wandered purposefully all over the field, bringing composure and smoothness wherever he went, again comparisons with di Stefano seemed relevant.

One of Hunt’s few imaginative passes set Stiles clear on the right and his high cross beat Tilkowski before Hottges headed it away. The ball was returned smartly by Bobby Charlton and Tilkowski had so much difficulty punching it away from Hurst that he knocked himself out.

The goalkeeper was prostrate, the whistle had gone and the German defenders had stopped challenging by the time Moores put the ball in the net. The crowd cheered in the hope that next time it would be the real thing.

Jack Charlton, carrying the ball forward on his forehead with a skill that would have done credit to his brother, moved swiftly out of defence and his finely judged diagonal pass let Peters in for a quick powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area. Tilkowski, diving desperately to his left, punched the ball round the post. Hurst met Ball’s corner on the volley but sent it much too high.

At that point Weber chose to give one of the agonized performances that have been the German hallmarks in the competition, but Mr Dienst quickly let him know he was fooling nobody.

Peters emphasized the eagerness of the England attack by surging in from the right to shoot the ball only 2ft wide from 25 yards.

Helmut Haller (far right) celebrates as he scores the opening goal of the 1966 World Cup Final

Helmut Haller (far right) celebrates as he scores the opening goal of the World Cup Final.

Then, stunningly, in the tenth minute England found themselves a goal behind. And it was a goal that anyone who had watched their magnificent defensive play earlier in the tournament could scarcely believe. Held glided a high cross from the left wing and Wilson, jumping for the ball in comfortable isolation incredibly headed it precisely down to the feet of Haller, standing a dozen yards out and directly in front of Banks. Haller had time to steady and pivot to turn his right-foot shot on the ground past Banks’ right side.

The equalizer
It took England only six minutes to reassure the crowd. Overath had been warned for a severe foul on Ball and now he committed another one on Moore, tripping the England captain as he turned away with the ball. Moore himself took the free kick and from 40 yards out near the left touchline he flighted the ball beautifully towards the far post. Hurst, timing his run superbly to slip through the defence, much as he had done against Argentina, struck a perfect header low inside Tilkowski’s right-hand post.

Moore held one arm aloft in the familiar gladiator salute while Hurst was smothered with congratulations. It was another reminder of the huge contribution West Ham have made to this World Cup.

Bobby Charlton reasserted himself with a sharp run across the face of the goal from the right and a left foot shot. It troubled Tilkowski but he gathered it at his second attempt. The Germans retaliated through Haller, who was just beaten by Banks in a race for a through pass but the most sustained aggression was still coming from England. Moore, playing with wonderful control and assurance, was driving up among the forwards, joining intelligently with moves initiated by Bobby Charlton.

Unfortunately, however, Charlton could not be in two places at once. Time and again the attacks he conceived from deep positions cried out to be climaxed with his killing power. After Ball had been rebuked for showing dissent he took part in one of England’s more effective attacks. Cohen crossed the ball long from the right and Hurst rose magnificently to deflect in another header which Tilkowski could only scramble away from his right hand post, Ball turned the ball back into the goalmouth and the German’s desperation was unmistakable as Overath came hurtling in to scythe the ball away for a corner.

Certain to score
Not all the uneasy moments were around Tilkowski, however. First Ball and then Cohen toyed riskily with Held near the byline. Jack Charlton, maintaining the remarkable standard of his World Cup performances, had to intervene with a prodigious sweeping tackle on the ground to get them out of trouble. It cost him a corner and the corner almost cost England a goal. The ball went to Overath and from 20 yards he drove it in fiercely at chest height. Banks beat it out and when Emmerich hammered it back from an acute angle the goalkeeper caught it surely.

When a Wilson header into goal was headed down by Hurst Hunt appeared certain to score. But when the Liverpool man forced in his left foot volley Tilkowski was in the way. Soon afterwards a subtle pass from Charlton bewildered the German defence but Peters could not suite reach the ball for the shot.

The hectic fluctuating pattern of the first half was stressed again before interval when Overath hit a bludgeoning shot from 20 yards and Banks turned the ball brilliantly over the crossbar.

Martin Peters scores England's second goal.

Martin Peters scores England’s second goal.

Bobby Charlton, moving through on Moore’s pass early in the second half, fell after being tackled by Schulz, but the claims for a penalty were understandably half-hearted. Cohen was making regular runs on the right wing but his centres were easily cut out.

Mr Dienst was at his most officious but he was entitled to reprimand Stiles after the wing-half had bounced the ball in disgust at a harsh decision. Hunt was crowded out in the last stride as he met a cross from the left, but after 75 minutes he had a hand in England’s second goal.

He pushed a pass to Ball and when the winger shot Tilkowski pushed the ball onto the outside of his net. Following the corner Hurst’s shot from the left was deflected across goal by Schulz, and Peters, strangely neglected by the German defenders, came in swiftly to take the ball on the half volley and drive it into the net from four or five yards.

A free kick given against Styles was guided accurately above the English defenders by Emmerich, and Weber should have done more than head weakly past. In the last seconds of the 90 minutes the English supporters were silenced by an equalizing goal.

Charlton was doubtfully penalized after jumping to a header and the free kick from Emmerich drove the ball through the English wall. As it cannoned across the face of goal it appeared to his Schnellinger on the arm but the referee saw nothing illegal and Weber at the far post was able to score powerfully.

Wonderful shot
From the kick-off in extra time England swept back into their penalty area. Ball had a wonderful shot from 20 yards edged over the crossbar by Tilkowski. Charlton hit a low drive that Tilkowski pushed against his left-hand upright.

The Gemans looked weary but their swift breaks out of defence were still dangerous. Emmerich moved in on Banks but when he passed Held was slow to control the ball and Stiles cleared. Then Held compensated for this by dribbling clear of the entire English defence and turning the ball back invitingly across goal. But there was nobody following up.


England appeal for a goal to be awarded after Hurst’s shot hits the crossbar.

When England took the lead again in the tenth minute of extra time they did it controversially. Ball made an opening for himself on the right and when the ball went in to Hurst the inside forward resolutely worked for a clear view of the goal. His rising right foot shot on the turn from 10 yards was pushed against the underside of the crossbar by Tilkowski and when it bounced the England players appealed as one man for a goal. The referee spoke to the Russian linesman on the side away from the main stand and turned to award a goal. The delayed-action cheers shook the stadium.

Then we were up and yelling and stamping and slapping one another as Hurst shot that last staggering goal. The sky had been overcast all afternoon, but now the clouds split and the sun glared down on the stadium. Maybe those fellows were right when they said God was an Englishman.

England's Jack Charlton holds the Jules Rimet trophy aloft as he parades it around Wembley with teammates Ray Wilson, George Cohen  and Bobby Moore following their 4-2 win.

England’s Jack Charlton holds the Jules Rimet trophy aloft as he parades it around Wembley with teammates Ray Wilson, George Cohen and Bobby Moore following their 4-2 win.

Australia Cut To Host 2022 World Cup As Qatar Row Rumbles On

International Friendly - Australia v Argentina

World Cup to go Down Under..?

William Hill have cut the odds of Australia hosting the 2022 World Cup after their football federation announced that they would bid again if Qatar had their hosting duties stripped following recent scurrilous rumours.

Australia are 7/1 from 10/1 to host the 2022 World Cup although Qatar remain favourites at Even money. USA are second in the betting at 3/1.

“Australia are the first nation to come out and say definitively that their hat will be firmly in the ring should Qatar be stripped of the 2022 World Cup and it is primarily for that reason that they have been the big movers in this market so far,” said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.

Where will the 2022 World Cup be played: 1/1 Qatar; 3/1 USA; 7/1 Australia; 7/1 South Korea; 8/1 Japan; 12/1 England


Rob’s World Cup Wire
Miroslav so Klose, English PL is tops & 23 World Cup questions

by Rob Shepherd.

Klose to Records

Mirosloav Klose, currently with 15 World Cup goals, needs one more to overtake Brazil’s Ronaldo and become the all-time highest scorer at the finals.

Ronaldo’s 14th goal, which equalled the previous record of France’s Just Fontaine, was the first of the 2002 final between the two teams in Japan and his second gave Brazil a 2-0 win and was his 15th.

But that is not the only World Cup record Klose, who was born in Poland, seeks tonight.

Should Germany win Klose will also achieve another record by equalling Brazli’s World Cup winning skipper of 2002 with 16 wins.

Klose, 36, has scored 70 goals in 135 game making him the country’s all-time top scorer ahead of Gerd Muller who scored 68 goals in 62 games.

He now ranks alongside Pele and German legend Uwe Seeler as one of only three players to have scored at four World Cup finals.

Klose’s contract with Italian club Lazio expires this summer and he’s considering one last move… possibly to a club in the MLS.


World Cup Posers

When it gets to semi-final stage all the pre-World Cup questions and hype seem so long ago.

The biggest speculation of course in the lead up is who makes the 23 man squad of each of the 32 countries..?

Now we are down to four here are 23 questions to pose ahead of tonight’s classic South America v Europe showdown (part one).

23. Who’s The youngest World Cup goalscorer..?
Brazilian legend Pele was only 17 when he became the youngest player ever to score at the World Cup, in 1958 in Sweden. He went on to become one of the sport’s greatest ever stars, and is one of just a handful of players to have scored in two World Cup finals.

22. What’s the biggest ever scoreline..?
The biggest scoreline in World Cup history – in fact the worst defeat in international football – is 31-0, Australia’s thrashing of American Samoa in qualifying in April 2001.


Zoff; Double record holder

21. Who’s the oldest ever World Cup winner..?
Italian goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff was part of four World Cup squads. He played in three tournaments and then finally won in Spain 1982 at the ripe old age of 40 years, four months and 13 days. He also holds the record of 1,142 minutes without conceding a goal.

20. How much has this World Cup cost..?
This will be the most expensive World Cup to date, with the Brazilian government spending around $14 billion dollars (just over £8 billion). That’s more than the last three tournaments put together and there were big protests across Brazil in the lead-up to the tournament from people saying it’s costing the country too much.

19. What has the Brazilian government hired in for the World Cup..?
Robots called Packbots have been hired by the Brazilian government to help boost security during the World Cup. The robots have heat vision, are super strong and light, and can even climb stairs and work underwater! They have previously been used to help find and rescue people trapped in earthquakes.

18. In how many different cities will matches take place during the World Cup..?
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will see matches take place in 12 different cities across Brazil. Matches have been played in: Manaus, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife, Salvador, Cuiaba, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Curitiba and Porto Alegre.

17. Which team was the last nation to win the Jules Rimet World Cup..?
Italy was the last nation to win the Jules Rimet World Cup in 1938, a year before World War Two started putting the next two World Cups on hold. It’s said the Italian Vice-President of FIFA hid the trophy in a shoe-box under his bed throughout the war to keep it safe.

16. What type of animal is the World Cup mascot..?
Fuleco the three-banded armadillo is the 2014 World Cup mascot for Brazil. The three-banded armadillo is an endangered species native to Brazil and his name is a combination of Futebol (football) and Ecologia (ecology).

15. Why was Diego Maradona’s famous goal against England so controversial in the World Cup?
In the 1986 World cup in Mexico City, Argentinean Diego Maradona scored a controversial goal that has become known throughout football history as “the Hand of God”. In the match against England, Maradona headed the ball into the net using his head and hand in what he later called: “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.

14. How many spaces does the base of the World Cup trophy have for the future winners..?
The base of the current World Cup trophy, which was introduced in 1974, has space for 17 inscriptions – enough for every winner until 2038.

13. Who scored the fastest goal in a World Cup..?
Hakan Suker of Turkey scored the fastest ever goal in the history of the World Cup against South Korea in 2002. 10.8 seconds was all it took for the striker to score, a record which today still remains unbroken.England’s Bryan Robson scored after 27 seconds against France in 1982.

12. Who was the first player ever to get sent off in a World Cup..?
During the opening match of the 1974 World Cup the Chilean player Carlos Caszely made history by being the first player ever to be sent off by a straight red card in a World Cup.

11. How far did the World Cup trophy travel on tour..?
The total distance covered by the World Cup trophy during its world tour before Brazil 2014 was 149,576.78 km (92,942.702 miles). That’s more than three times around the world!

10. Who found the missing World Cup..?
On the 20th of March 1966 the original Jules Rimet World Cup trophy was stolen from an exhibition in London. It was found a week later by a small dog called Pickles, out on a walk with his owner.

9. How many players tested the Adidas Brazuca football..?
The new World Cup ball is pleasing to the eye… And proved fit for purpose… it has also gone through a rigorous testing procedure over the past two and a half years. It was tested by more than 600 professional players and 30 teams in 10 countries across three continents, making the Brazuca the most tested ball in Adidas’ history. So much better than the beach ball which ruined the 2010 finals.

8. When was the World Cup first televised..?
The World Cup was first televised in Switzerland at the 1954 World Cup, but it wasn’t until the 1970 World Cup that it was broadcast worldwide. Now it is one of the most viewed sporting events in the world. The previous World Cup in South Africa attracted an audience of 3.2 billion people: around 46% of the world’s population, and that doesn’t include people who watched in on their mobile gadget or in a bar or restaurant!


England; Crap at penalties…

7. How many World Cup matches have been decided by a penalty shoot-out..?
As of the start of the 2014 tournament a total of 22 World Cup matches have been decided by a penalty shoot-out since the rules came into effect in 1978. The most successful team at penalty shoot-outs is Germany with four wins, and unfortunately England is the worst with three losses without any wins.

6. How many people does the Maracana stadium seat..?
The famous Maracana Stadium in Brazil will host the final of the World Cup and can seat 73,531 people. The stadium opened in 1950 to host the World Cup, and a record-breaking 173,850 people paid for a ticket to watch the final match between Uruguay and Brazil, but the actual attendance to the match was around 210,000 – a record for a team sports match that still remains today.

5. How many countries have hosted the World Cup twice..?
This is the second time that Brazil has hosted the world cup. The first time was in 1950. Only five countries have ever hosted the World Cup twice.

4. Which country has played the most matches at the World Cup..?
Before the start of the 2014 tournament, Germany had played 99 World Cup matches, more than any other nation, with Brazil coming a close second with 97. Germany played their 100th match against Portugal on 16 June.

3. Which country has won the World Cup the most..?
Brazil is the most successful national football team in the history of the World Cup with five championship wins under their belt. Brazil has also qualified for every World Cup without the need for playoffs.

2. When did the World Cup first start..?
The first ever World Cup match was played in Uruguay in 1930. Thirteen teams from around the world competed and the host nation Uruguay became the first ever nation to win the world cup with a 4-2 triumph over Argentina.

1. Why do Brazil play in a yellow kit?
The Brazilian team originally played in a white kit, until they lost the World Cup at home in 1950. The kit was then seen as “cursed” and a campaign was launched to design a new one.

An 18-year-old named Aldyr Garcia Schlee came up with the winning design of yellow and green shirts with blue shorts. The kit was nicknamed the “Canarinha” which means canary.


Premier League Rules

English football rather than the England team can still claim to have had a good World Cup.

The Premier League had by far the highest number of players amongst the eight quarter finalists with 43.

Next was the Bundesliga with 25, Serie A 23, La Liga 15, Ligue 1 15, Erdevise (Holland) 11, and Primera Liga (Portugal ) 7.

The rest of the 45 players were spread across 13 other leagues.


Brazil Do It Wimbledon Style

The argument that Brazil are bruisers rather than Samba stars seems to be backed up by the fact that in their quarter final they committed 31 fouls over 90 minutes – which is the not just the most at this World Cup finals but since Ukraine committed as many against Italy in 2006.

Brazil have also received 10 yellow cards, Costa Rica top the foul play league at the moment with 10 yellows and one red.



Given the level of expectation Brazil have delivered in terms of getting this far – even if it has not been pretty to watch in the way most of us associate them.

In many ways the pragmatic tactics of Big Phil Scolari have been understandable.

David Luiz has said it is unthinkable, at least in the eyes of Brazil fans, not to reach for the final.


It was certainly unthinkable they didn’t get out of their group – and there were some wobbles at that stage – and too most of us it was unthinkable they would not reach the semi-finals.

But what would really be unthinkable is if, now they have reached this far, they set about trying to kick Germany off the park to reach the final.

Surely it must be hoped that having reached this far they attempt to turn on the Samba soccer..?

If not then the notion that this World Cup would be about a Rio carnival of Jogo Bonito would become hokum.

But I suspect it is unthinkable in the mind of Scolari that he would change tactics now, especially in the absence of Neymar.

In his eyes if he is hung on the alter of principle rather fantasy then so be it.

Yet In that respect this is where Brazil, and certainly Scolari, could well finally come unstuck this evening.

Germany, first under Jurgen Klinsman and now Joachim Low, have since losing to Brazil in the 2002 final (amazingly the only previous World Cup meeting between these superpwers) developed a far more expansive, attractive style of play from their old tradition of Vorsprung Durch Technik. It’s now more Uber Fussball if you like.

There is though still plenty of mettle in the German DNA. Don’t underestimate the fact they can still mix it with the best of them when push comes to shove.

If Brazil want to cut up rough again tonight then they are likely to find that Germany have an iron fist behind the velvet glove.


One to Watch:
Sebastian Schweinsteiger. In many ways he is up there with Iniesta and Xavi as the ultimate modern midfielder. Perpetual motion, tenacious, yet blessed with sublime touch and vision.

He has criticised Brazil’s aggression and now it is down to him to prove he has the courage to match and then let his finesse make the difference.

If Schweinsteiger is on top of his game, and he dominates Fernandinho, Germany can beat Brazil.


Beat the Bookie:

Given that Brazil and Germany are two giants of the World Cup it seem incredible that their semi-final clash will only the SECOND time in World Cup history the two superpowers have met at a finals since the tournament began in 1930.

It was in 2002 when Brazil (five times winners) went toe-to-toe with Germany (three times champions) in the final in Nagoya, Japan.

Michael Ballack who was the talisman of their team was suspended for Germany and Brazil, with their three R’s Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, won 2-0.

The same outcome tonight is 12/1.

Think it’ll be a bruising encounter..? Any Brazil player to be sent-off is 6/1.

Brazil to win and both teams to score in 90 minutes is 6/1.

The match to go to penalties is 11/2.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Corals also put up an enticing 11/1 for Germany to win 2-1 in 90 minutes.

William Hill offer 20/1 for David Luiz to be top scorer.


World Cup moment:

In 1970 it could have been the first meeting between Germany and Brazil at a World Cup finals.

Having beaten England, Germany were heavily fancied to beat Italy in the semi finals.

But at 90 minutes the game was deadlocked 1-1.

Gerd Muller put Germany into an early lead in extra time and it seemed they would prevail. What unfolded next was extraordinary;

Italy shook of the shackles of their rugged Catanaccio system and it became a nail biting end-to-end clash of Titans.

It reached 3-3. Penalty shoot-outs were not introduced until 1978 so the outcome of the game was heading for the toss of a coin. Really.

So both teams just kept attacking.

German star Franz Beckenbaur had dislocated his shoulder yet was playing with his arm in a sling. Really.

Then with the clock ticking down Gianni Riviera – the pin up of Italian football at the time – scored a winner.

Italy won 4-3 but would lose 4-1 to Brazil in the final.

The match between Italy and Germany though was dubbed “Game of the Century” (as in the 20th century).


Rob’s World Cup Wire
Muller the Main Man, Cesar for Sale, England Need a German Gaffer!

by Rob Shepherd.



Gerd netted 10 times at Mexico ’70

Thomas Muller is on his way to ‘mullering’ Gerd Muller  – and for that matter Miroslav Klose – as Germany’s greatest ever striker.

If Muller nets today he will become only the third player in World Cup history to hit five goals at two different World Cups.

It has previously been done by Peru’s Teofilio Cubillas in 1970 and 1978 and Klose in 2002 and 2006.

Indeed at 24 Muller has possibly two World Cup left in him so could usurp Klose, who if he notches one today will overtake Brazil’s Ronaldo as the most prolific World Cup finals scorer by moving onto to 16.

It will though take a lot for the modern Muller to beat Gerd ‘Der Bomber’ Muller’s achievement of 10 goals at the 1970 finals. He added four more in 1974 including the winner in the final and finished with an incredible 68 goals from just 62 caps.

Like Gerd did, Thomas played for Bayern Munich having come through the ranks – and is not for sale.


Fergie Went Down Mexico Way

James Rodriguez was rejected by former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson four years ago when he first started to emerge as a force in Colombia.

United’s South American scouts identified ‘James’ as a future star but in the end Fergie opted for Mexican Javier Hernandez instead.

So Rodriguez moved from Colombian club Banfield to Porto in Portugal before moving on to Monaco.

He has been linked to a £40 million move to Manchester United, but as it stands with injured fellow countryman Radamel Falcao being lined up by Madrid he is set to stay for at least another season in France.


No Pick Axe at Old Trafford

Manchester United, who allowed Paul Pogba to leave from their academy to join Juventus over a wage dispute, wont pay the £60 million fee quoted to bring him back.

Chelsea are still considering a move for the 21 year-old Frenchman.

But he is more likely to move to Real Madrid when Zinedene Zidane eventually takes over as boss, which could be as early as next year perhaps after serving one year as boss of feeder club Castilla. That is if Paris St Germain don’t push out the boat this summer…

Pogba is known by his team mates as La Pioche: The Pick Axe.


Sale Cesar!


Cesar: 80 caps for Brazil, 5 Serie A titles & a Champions League winner – not quite good enough for QPR though…

If Brazil are to beat Columbia today then Julio Cesar is likely to be as much their hero as Neymar.

It seems incredible that at the start of last season Cesar couldn’t get a game in the Championship for QPR!

Indeed he often didn’t make the bench behind England’s former custodian, the ridiculed Rob Green.

But it wasn’t because Harry Redknapp didn’t rate him it was just about getting him off the books given the £90,000 a week salary Cesar was on.

Cesar though is still technically a Rangers player and the club are still paying around half his wages while he is on loan at MLS club Toronto.

He could then return to Rangers for Premier League action next season but ideally the club hope his displays at this World Cup will convince a club to buy him.


One to Watch:

It seemed when France axed Sami Nasri and then Frank Ribery was injured they would lack flair from the midfield or flanks.

But Mathieu Valbuena (be honest, how many had heard of him before..?) has come to the fore and France have flourished with goals. He has the been the main creative force of the France team – and according to FIFA stats has teed up eleven chances.



German boss Joachim Low has said England will NEVER win the World Cup again.

He may have a point – but may well have led the FA to a solution as well…

Who is the man who re-invented the German national team, helped Low on his way then went over to the USA and turned their national soccer team into a serious force..?

Ja, Jurgen Klinsmann.

A German as England boss. Warum nicht..?


Beat the Bookie

Brazil and Germany are odds-on favourites to progress but those odds could be turned on their head today.

Neymar insists he has the shoulders to carry the weight of the nation but carrying the Brazil forward line – which he has done brilliantly so far – could well prove too much against this talented and spirited Colombia side.

And in James Rodriguez Colombia have a player who can unlock a well drilled Brazil defence.

A 1-1 draw at 90 minutes is 6/1 – Colombia can then go onto win on penalties.

France v Germany has the making of a modern classic.

So stick your neck out and trust Karim Benzema to keep on scoring.

A 3-2 France win in 90 minutes is 50/1.

Odds from Corals.


Word Cup moment:

Tim Howard, according to the stat men, made 15 ‘saves’ for the USA against Belgium which is apparently a World Cup record since such things were logged in 1966.

Whichever way you want to look at it Howard produced the best all round keeper display at the finals – The man with the Golden Glove.

But Gordon Bank’s save from Pele’s header in 1970 surely remains the greatest single save;

Modern Classics..?
Friday’s World Cup Quarter Finals Preview + We Recall ’82 Semi

World Cup sensation James Rodriguez

World Cup sensation James Rodriguez

Brazil and Germany are odds-on favourites to progress from the quarter-finals of The World Cup but BOBBY’S BETS has a hunch that they can both be turned on their head…

Talisman Neymar insists he has the shoulders to carry the weight of the nation but carrying the Brazil forward line – which he has done brilliantly so far – could well prove too much against this talented and spirited Columbia team.

And in James Rodriguez Columbia have a player who can unlock a well-drilled Brazil defence. Rodriguez is 13/2 to score first and 15/8 as anytime scorer.

A victory in normal time may be beyond them but a 1-1 draw at 90 minutes is 6/1 – Columbia can then go onto win on penalties (which on its own is 12/1).

France v Germany has the making of a modern classic – and if it comes close to matching the drama of that incredible semi-final encounter from 1982 then we’ll all be happy!

So stick your neck out and trust Karim Benzema to keep on scoring. Benzema is 6/1 to open the scoring, 9/1 to score 2 or more and 7/4 anytime scorer.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Is a 3-2 France win in 90 minutes at a tasty 50/1.

If you believe that history repeats itself you can back Germany to triumph on penalties at 10/1, just as they did in that crazy semi-final from 32 years ago. You can relive that game by clicking on the below link where you can see all the action complete with the thoughts of two of the chief protagonists; West German goalkeeper Harold ‘Toni’ Schumacher and France’s Patrick Battiston.

Odds courtesy of Coral.

The Case For The Defence
Not Keeping 3/4s of the Chelsea Defence Together Was Costly Error

by Roy Dalley.

Easy to be wise after the event, as they say, so I’ll begin by directing you toward a tweet I wrote before Roy Hodgson announced his squad for the World Cup.

You probably can’t be bothered to check so here’s an action replay;

“Hart (alas); Johnson, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling, Barkley, Rooney; Sturridge. Job done!”

Got most of them right, at one time or another. Alas it’s the two who didn’t make the cut, Terry and Cole, who might have made a difference. A rather big difference.

Evertonians will probably protest, of course; but how many others are also bemoaning the presence of Jagielka, in particular, in the England team? And Baines, for all his quality in his opponents’ half, is not an international full-back (the key word in the sentence being ‘back’).

Yes, Terry and Cole are both getting on a bit and had issues with the Football Association, not to mention almost everybody else. But… are they any good..?


Would Terry & Cole’s experience have made all the difference to England’s World Cup campaign..?

Well those boffins in the stats office reckon so. Chelsea had the best defensive record in the Premier League last season, again, with Terry seemingly rejuvenated by the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. Cole, of course, played less of a starring role, and there is no doubt he can no longer bomb-on past the halfway line.

But doesn’t it make sense to select three club mates for your international team..? Three guys who have been around the world together keeping clever, quick and sometimes downright nasty opponents at bay..?

Hodgson would have been forced to employ a low defensive line but, in doing so, would have played to England’s strengths both in defence and attack.

Hodgson felt he was in a dilemna; play to his instincts or play to the crowd. If he’d only played like Chelsea in the Champions League, he could have done both – sitting back and allowing our wonderfully exciting forward line the room to use its explosive breaking potential.

Rather they were stifled trying to break down ranks of experienced and disciplined Italians and Uruguayans.

Yeah I know my tweet suggests Rooney on the left but, in truth, I would have liked to have seen an interchangeable attitude between the front four.

Certainly I would have told Rooney he is no longer the Big Man, as he declared himself before the 2006 tournament in Germany.

He’d have to put in the yards just like the rest of ’em! And, if not, then let’s see what Lallana can do…

 Roy Dalley is a former Fleet Street sportswriter (@RoyDalley)


Brian Glanville
“The Story of the World Cup”

376903-MPublisher: Faber & Faber

ISBN: 0-571-21058-9

There will never be another football writer like Brian Glanville.

Erudite, eccentric, brilliant and sometimes maddening but always with an opinion based on vast knowledge and insight of a game he started covering in the Fifties.

Even though he is now in his Eigthies Glanville is still to be seen in press boxes where he writes match reports for The Sunday Times – and still does it the old style by ad-libing his copy.

Not for him the clincism of a laptop – although he does use a mobile phone to dictate which he handles more like a walki-talki – one of his grandsons (there are no copy takers anymore) then taps out Brian’s words and emails them to the sports desk.

It means that Brian’s live reports still have that wonderful feel of, well, being live, containing a deft combination of lyricism and one line wit in the manner of one of his heroes; Groucho Marx.

He says it as he sees it and still asks managers probing questions refusing to be swayed by PR machines.

Brian has written many books on football, both fact and fiction, plus non- football novels and musicals.

But if there is one book of Glanville’s you must read then it has to be “The Story of the World Cup”.

It’s simple but brilliant. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

It is also brilliant from a publishing point of view because every four years ahead of the next World Cup Brian simply adds a chapter from the last tournament and its then re-issued.

Years ago Bobby Moore said of it “There is no better book if you want to learn about the World Cup. Beware of less enjoyable imitations – this is the definitive history.”

Need I say more…?

BB Rating9/10

by Rob Shepherd.

The Murder of Andrés Escobar: 20 Years On

by Karl Hofer.


Escobar was a much loved football star in Colombia

On 22 June 1994 Andrés Escobar scored an own goal in a World Cup group match between the United States and Colombia when in the 34th minute he deflected a cross from the former Derby and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder John Harkes into his own net. The US added a second a few minutes into the second half when Earnie Stewart capped off a fine move with a delicate finish. Colombian striker Adolfo Valencia restored some pride a minute from time but the match ended 2-1 and Colombia were subsequently eliminated from the tournament, despite defeating Switzerland in their last group match.

Nothing remarkable there; every four years a number of nations depart from the World Cup earlier than they perhaps envisaged and fans have to deal with the disappointment. In Colombia however that disappointment was more palpable than most. Pele himself had said pre-tournament that Colombia, inspired by the great Carlos Valderrama, could go all the way and win it that year, but it wasn’t to be.


On July 2nd, ten days after he had diverted the ball past his own goalkeeper in Los Angeles, Escobar was murdered in cold blood after being shot twelve times in the parking lot of a nightclub in his hometown of Medellín.

Humberto Muñoz, a bodyguard and driver for leading members of a Colombian drug cartel, was arrested shortly after the shooting and charged with murder. He confessed and was eventually given a 43-year sentence – but he was freed in 2005 for good behavior.

In the immediate aftermath of the murder the media were quickly speculating that the shooting was in retribution for Escobar’s own goal, including theories that he had been targeted by drug lords or gambling syndicates who had bet heavily on Colombia at the World Cup.

Most people believe that Muñoz was merely a hired gun and say it was cartel leaders who ordered the hit. Others believe the murder was merely a reflection of the lawlessness that gripped Colombia back then. We may never know for sure, but for Colombia, a country plagued by decades of guerrilla conflict fueled by drug trafficking, the killing stands out as one of the nation’s moments of ignominy.


In an interview with the Wall Street Journal the 50 year-old brother of Escobar revealed his anguish; “My brother was a respectful, honest man,” Santiago Escobar said. “He left a great memory, a great mark on Colombia, and we will commemorate him on July 2nd this year, as we do every year.”

The death of Andrés Escobar was a traumatic one, not just for his family but for the nation as a whole. But it may well have been the catalyst for some degree of change.

Thankfully things have improved greatly in Colombia over the last 20 years and, while many of the issues that plagued the country in 1994 still remain, it is no longer the anarchic hotbed of violence and corruption it perhaps was.

As the 20th anniversary of his murder arrives this week the memory of Andrés Escobar will never be forgotten, but the country is fighting hard to overcome its reputation and as Colombia prepare to take on the hosts Brazil on Friday in the quarter finals of the World Cup, perhaps a new, more positive image can start to be cultivated for this beautiful and passionate land.


The moment that made Andres Escobar a marked man


Rob’s World Cup Wire
Johan Not Happy, Mexico a Tough Nut to Crack + Miguel a Real Tweet

by Rob Shepherd.

Johan Not Satisfied


Cruyff is unimpressed by Dutch performances

Holland have under Louis Van Gaal developed a style more like Power Football than the fabled Total Football which came to the fore in the Seventies with Johan Cruyff the inspiration.

It’s highly effective with Holland having won all their group games with 10 goals, but Cruyff is critical and wants to see the Dutch turn on the style against Mexcio and ironically be more German! The Germans have turned their old power game into a more attractive style, as Cruyff observed;

“The Oranje has qualified but the football isn’t that good. I liked the way that Germany kept playing in their own style – even during the moments when things weren’t going well against Ghana.

“That’s the way Netherlands should be playing as well. The results are good, now we have to start playing good football.”


Mexican or Mexican’t..?

Mexico will test just how good Holland’s counter attacking really is given they have proved to have one of the toughest defences so far.

Along with Belgium and Costa Rica, Mexico are the only team to have conceded only one goal.

The stats back it up as well; They have made 42 tackles compared to a tournament average of 36.7, have achieved 121 recovered balls compared to 88.8 and there have been 9 off-sides given in their favour against an average of 4.9.


Miguel Tweets ‘Em Right!

He is hardly the best known but Mexico coach Miguel Herrara has become a cult hero.

His impassioned touchline antics plus the generous way he treats fans has seen him gather nearly 800,000 Twitter followers – which is the most of any coach at the World Cup.


Did You Know…

Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto is Costa Rica’s coach, but just after World War Two they had an Englishman in charge. Randolph Galloway, a pre-War striker for Derby and Nottingham Forest, managed several clubs in Europe – including Valencia and Racing Santander – and briefly took charge of Costa Rica in 1946.

Oh, and the last time they made the round of 16 was on their World Cup debut in 1990, memorably beating Scotland 1-0 on their way to qualifying behind Brazil in their group.

But despite a fine equaliser from Costa Rica’s Ronald Gonzalez they were beaten 4-1 by Czechoslovakia in the last 16, with Tomáš Skuhravý scoring an impressive hat-trick (see below).


Greek Toffee..?

Georgiois Samaras is a familiar face after spending two years at Manchester City then six at Celtic.

He will be the focal point of the Greece attack tonight and the player Costa Rica need stop having ended a goal drought 1,478 minutes old with his last minute penalty winner against Ivory Coast.

Now 29, his contract has expired with Celtic and could move back to the PL. Everton have expressed interested but Sevilla of Spain are also looking at him.


Who’s The Victim Here..?


A young Luis Suarez (in blue) and brother Maxi Miliana with grannie Lile Rene.

There is an old newspaper saying; Dog bites man, no story. Man bites dog, big story.

But far from losing his livelihood or even liberty, Luis Suarez arrived back in Uruguay following his ban after an unprovoked assault on Italian Giorgio Cheillini hailed as a national hero. He has even had the backing of the country’s president.

Indeed he can look forward to a pay rise if a move to Barcelona goes through. Leaving Liverpool was always the plan this summer, this unseemly incident makes the parting of ways easier.

Sometimes justice and morality around modern football seems to be upside down.

After all his grandmother has been quoted as saying the FIFA ban was “barbaric” and he has been treated like a, er, “dog” as if HE has been the victim of rough, rough justice.

And Suarez himself has, well, lied through his teeth by denying what he clearly did in his formal response to the FIFA charge.

Talk about barking…



Brazil are still favourites to win the World Cup but I say they are there for the taking when they face Columbia in the quarter finals on Friday.

It was not a surprise they were taken all the way by Chile and only scrambled over the line on penalties on Saturday.

With the exception of Neymar they have been distinctly lacking in Samba skills upfront and ironically for them have been indebted to a pretty tough defence.

Hulk and Fred don’t seem up to it and Oscar hasn’t clicked.

It’s as if they have been carried through on the wave of emotion and support that surrounds them.

It could still see them through but Columbia, familiar opponents in the Copa America, won’t be fazed and with James Rodriguez upfront could well deny Brazil’s dream of winning the World Cup on home soil – just as Uruguay did back in 1950.


One to Watch:

Georgious Karagounis is a modern day Greek god.

He was an inspiration when Greece won the 2004 Euros and is still going strong at the age of 37.

He will retire from international football after the tournament and is out of contract at Fulham.

But in what is dubbed the clash of the underdogs he still has the energy and passion to drive Greece, who like Costa Rica are seeking to reach the QF for the first time.


World Cup Bet:

Holland to win and both teams to score is 4/1.

The Dutch to beat Mexico 3-1 is a tempting 18/1.

Costa Rica v Greece could be a slog so a draw at 90 minutes at 2/1 is prudent;  1-1 is 11/2  and 2-2 20/1.


World Cup moment:

It’s argued that Holland’s 1974 team were the best side never to win a World Cup.

They couldn’t have got off to a better start though when English referee Jack Taylor awarded them a penalty in the first minute of the final. It was converted by Neeskens but Germany, led by Frank Beckenbauer, bounced back to win 2-1.

The Dutch also lost the 1978 final but perhaps now is the time to show they can at last be champions…



Rob’s World Cup Wire
incl: States Gets Soccer Fever & Klinsmann’s Chicken Salad Recipe!

by Rob Shepherd.

Jay Who..?


The unmistakable Jay Goppingen…

Jurgen Klinsmann quickly defied the cliché that Germans don’t have a sense of humour when he arrived at Tottenham in 1994 and produced a self-mocking pronounced dive celebration when he scored on his debut at Sheffield Wednesday.

And when he left Spurs he held a press conference at London’s Comedy Club.

After quitting playing in 1998 (after a loan period back at Tottenham) he moved to California and in 2003 he put his playing boots back on – but cheekily under a false name.

Known as Jay Goppingen (Goppingen being the German town where he was born) Klinsmann played eight games for local team Orange County Blue Star scoring five goals during the summer of 2003.

“I was just having fun and staying healthy and fit, and having a group of guys to kick the ball around with,” Klinsmann said. “It was for me after a long career, it was just enjoyable. It was a lot of fun and the name thing is funny.”


Jurgen’s Chicken Salad Recipe

It’s a quote that will always stick with me;

In the opening game of the 1994 World Cup (won 1-0 against Bolivia) Jurgen Klinsmann put in a typically energetic display in intense heat at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Afterwards I chatted with an American Sportswriter who was hugely impressed by Klansmann’s sheer energy, physicality and willingness not to see any wayward pass as a lost cause but a potential chance.

“You see that guy Klinsmann… he makes chicken salad out of chicken shit!”

What a wonderful turn of phrase.

In 80 internationals Klinsmann hit an impressive 38 goals.


German Resort

Quite rightly a lot has been made about the ridiculous number of England backroom staff  (77 no less)  and the £2 million cost of the trip to Brazil.

But Germany built a new facility and built their own training ground to suit their requirements.

The custom built complex near Porto Seguor was commissioned by the German DFB and will become a sports and nature resort with a youth academy when the World Cup is over.



Mind you the England entourage pales into insignificance compared to that of the USA…

Their contingent – bloated by security men for fear of a terrorist threat includes their own traffic cops and FBI contingent – is an incredible 700.


Asamoah Makes Amends

Asamoah Gyan was the player who you will remember missed the last minute penalty that would have put Ghana into the World Cup semi finals four years ago.

But his goal in the 2-2 against Germany has kept Ghana in it this time.

It is the third successive World Cup in which he has scored and he is now Africa’s all time WC top scorer with five goals.

And has hit a whopping 41 goals in 80 internationals.

He has the potential to lead Ghana to the next stage but a move back to the Premier League is unlikely. After leaving Sunderland in 2012 he signed a six year deal with UAE worth a £6 million a season.

States Soccer Makes Strides


Spurs Win Title! (wont be typing that again for a while I suspect…)

USA’s match against Germany today is expected to attract the biggest ever soccer audience in the States, possibly pushing towards the 30 million barrier which would be bigger than many regular season NFL games.

The opening game victory over Ghana attracted the biggest US television audience for a football match – 16m people. The draw with Portugal smashed that record with an average of 24.7m viewers.

Football is finally beginning to gain genuine ground on America’s three heartland sports of American football, basketball and baseball.

Coach Jurgen Klinsman has tried to boost audiences by wirting a letter to urge bosses in the States give workers time off.

To put the audiences in perspective the concluding game of the NBA Finals last week drew an audience of 18m when the San Antonio Spurs beat Miami Heat, while Major League Baseball’s hallowed World Series averaged just short of 15m viewers.

The average audience for regular-season games in the NFL in 2013 was 21m, although the Super Bowl was the most-watched programme in US history with 111.5 million


South Korea Go The West Ham Way!

Given the clichéd view of the stature of South Koreans it is ironic thet they have developed a version of long-ball, route one football.

Both their goals in the 4-2 defeat to Algeria were from long ball punts which is the liking of Park Chu-Young who is an Arsenal player but spent last year on loan at Watford.

Maybe West Ham boss Sam Allardayce will take in interest in the Korean target man…?


In Case You Missed it, Luis Suarez Is In The News…

In Uruguay, Luis Suarez trades on his bad-boy image, so his latest transgression could actually increase his marketability given the dubious moral code of top level football and big business.

In an interview yesterday Creative chairman of advertising agency Green Cave People, Malcolm Green, told BBC Sport: “The level of social media interest shows he has been able to take his infamy to new heights in an instant.

“More than just a pantomime villain, he is now able to take the role to unprecedented heights.”



One to Watch:

Algeria reached the semi finals of 2013 African Nations Cup and can enjoy their best ever run at World Cup if they best Russia today.

For them to do so then their 5ft 8 attacking midfield player Yacine Brahimi will be key to their success – and Russia boss Fanio Capello enduring more World Cup misery.



Roy Hodgson has suggested he will keep the door open for both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Hodgson says he doesn’t want either to retire formally from international football because it means “They disappear from England selection”.

No it doesn’t. There is no contractual obligation or pension complications about such a retirement.

But the idea that Hodgson feels he might need to turn to them as England embark on their 2016 Euro campaign illustrates why Roy should retire from the scene.

He says he won’t resign so he should be sacked.

Not just because of two dire showings at major tournaments but by suggesting that he doesn’t seem to have a clue of how to build a new team, as revealed by trying to cling on Gerrard and Lampard and keep them part of the set up. How can that be progress when both are in their mid thirties..?

Those at the FA who have their doubts about standing by Hodgson should consider that when they make their deliberations in the wake of the failure in Brazil.

As it happens I suspect that both Gerrard and Lampard will do Hodsgon’s job for him on that front and hang up their England boots.


Beat The Bookie

It is never a good idea to back against Germany but William Hill are offering an incredible 10/1 on a USA win. That’s worth a tickle…

A safer bet would appear Thomas Muller and Eden Hazard both to score.

Ghana at 21/10 against a dispirited Portugal is also worth a punt.


World Cup Moment

It is perhaps the most painful for England fans.

Not the 1-0 defeat to USA in 1950 but Gerd Muller’s extra time goal to give West Germany a 3-2 win over England and knock Sir Alf Ramsey’s World Cup holders out of the 1970 tournament at the quarter final stage.