Alex Chick

  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day 13

    England's workforce will call an unofficial strike at 3pm and productivity will plummet - it's crunch time as Fabio Capello's men take on Slovenia.

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    Tuesday's action

    France 1-2 South Africa - Group A - Bloemfontein
    A desperate World Cup for France ended in suitably shambolic circumstances as they lost to the host nation. Captain Patrice Evra was among four men banished from the side after a players' revolt over the expulsion of Nicolas Anelka, while Djibril Cisse started up front. Bongani Khumalo headed South Africa in front after an error by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, then France playmaker

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  • What we know and what we don’t

    After a week of action in South Africa, what do we know? And what don't we know yet?

    What we know

    South Africa can host a World Cup

    Without wanting to tempt fate, all the questions about Africa's ability to hold sport's biggest single-sport event have been emphatically answered. Everything was built on time, organisation is fine and security has been tight. Even the football is starting to liven up. The doom-mongers have been reduced to whining about vuvuzelas and the cold weather. How dare this country position itself in the Southern Hemisphere?

    Bad teams are getting better

    I have spent all

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day seven

    Another weird day at the World Cup saw favourites Spain beaten, while hosts South Africa were humbled. Thank goodness Greece are back to lift everybody's spirits.

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    Wednesday's action

    Honduras 0-1 Chile - Group H - Nelspruit

    An enjoyable game gave us just about the most one-sided 1-0 win you will ever see. Chile lived up to their 'dark horses' tags, giving the tournament a welcome injection of flair and imagination. The goal was far from a classic - a clearance hit Jean Beausejour and went in from close range. But some of the Chilean interplay was a joy, particularly that involving Alexis

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  • Spanish Tragedy shows need for Plan B

    Does anyone want to win the World Cup? After
    seeing every team in action at least once, the tipsters have reacted to the
    opening round of matches with a collective puzzled shrug. 

    Only Germany and Uruguay have scored more
    than twice and, of the contenders, only they and Argentina can truly declare
    themselves pleased with their performance.

    We did at least get the best game of the
    tournament in Switzerland's oddly unpopular upset of red-hot favourites Spain.

    If Germany, France or Italy got turned over,
    we'd be doing cartwheels, so why is there a collective sense of unease when
    Spain lose?


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  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day 12

    It's business time in the group stage, with four teams set to book their place in the knock-out rounds today. Hint: France won't be one of them.

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    Monday's action

    Portugal 7-0 North Korea - Group G - Cape Town
    This absolute hammering was actually quite close until the most disastrous half-time team-talk of all time. The Koreans trailed 1-0 to a Raul Meireles goal but were making life hard for Portugal, but after the break started to hurtle forwards and got repeatedly caught out - goals flowed like the rain in soggy Cape Town. Simao, Hugo Almeida, Tiago (twice), Liedson and Cristiano

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  • Get your stats together

    This blog has spent plenty of time talking about TV, radio and newspaper coverage of the World Cup, but devoted shamefully little attention to the internet.

    Partly that is a result of its undying loyalty to the Eurosport-Yahoo! family, and partly because promoting any website other than this one could result in senior management hiding poisonous snakes in my desk tidy.

    For what it's worth, I genuinely think this site's matchcasts are the best of the many available, as they strike the perfect balance between information and colour. End corporate toadying.

    What this site doesn't have, however,

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: day 10

    Some football matches dared to interrupt the England inquest on Saturday, with Netherlands going through and Cameroon going out.

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    Saturday's action

    Netherlands 1-0 Japan - Group D - Durban
    The Dutch cruised through to the last 16 by notching a second win on the trot without ever really impressing. Wesley Sneijder scored the only goal late in the first half with a 20-yard shot that deceived goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima who could only deflect the ball into his own net. However, it was a largely turgid game with few chances for either side. Coach Bert van Marwijk will hope the returning Arjen

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  • World Cup cheat sheet

    Every morning during the World Cup, I will post a 'cheat sheet' with match previews and reviews, a rundown of the big news stories and a handy jargon buster. Basically, it's everything you need to sound like a World Cup expert in one easy, five-minute dose.

    As we are still in preview mode, here is a quick guide to what the press will be saying about the leading contenders, and the reality.

    The World Cup requires the media to pay attention to teams and players about whom they know relatively little. Which is where handy national stereotypes come in.

    Germans are efficient, Brazilians can't

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  • A very French controversy

    More bad news for England fans. Despite the woeful performance against Algeria, despite the players' obvious emotional constipation, Fabio Capello's increasingly poisonous relationship with the press and Wayne Rooney's sarcastic barb at the 'supporters' booing him off last night, England are not even the most dysfunctional team at the World Cup.

    That honour goes to France, holding off competition from Australia and Cameroon (both reportedly in open dispute with their manager).

    Les Bleus got one player lighter today after Nicolas Anelka was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech and

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  • A diary of despair

    With the nation gathering in its collective front room for the Algeria game, I chronicled the unique torture that is England at the World Cup by keeping a running diary.

    18.00: After a week of hysterical gnashing of teeth after the draw against the USA, it seems nothing short of a demolition job will mollify the critics.

    Personally, this is my five-point wish list for tonight, which we'll revisit after the game:

    1- A win. Obviously. But I don't care by how many. What I really need is to see improvements in four aspects of England's play:

    2- Wayne Rooney needs to see more of the ball further up

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