Armchair Pundit

World Cup cheat sheet: Day two

Alex Chick

View photo


Steel yourself for the unique brand of agony that is England at the World Cup, as Fabio Capello's men take on the USA on day two.

- - -

Friday's action

Opening ceremony
An hour or so of regulation dancing, children singing an R Kelly. The show was comprehensively stolen by a giant dung beetle, who came on and managed to dribble a Jabulani ball without it flying inexpicably into the crowd. Regrettably, the beetle did not get to take a penalty like Diana Ross in 1994.

South Africa 1-1 Mexico
Despite the outrageous noise created by 94,000 vuvuzelas, it seemed the occasion and Mexico would overwhelm the hosts in the first half, with Guillermo Franco missing three good chances. But Carlos Alberto Parreira's men came back and took the lead with a very early contender for goal of the tournament -  a lightning break finished emphatically by Siphiwe Tshabalala. The hosts' excitement came down a notch when Rafael Marquez scored a late equaliser but it represented a fine start to the tournament.

France 0-0 Uruguay
Little did we known when Sidney Govou missed a seventh-minute sitter that it would be just about the only chance of note in the entire game. Raymond Domenech's side lacked inspiration, with Florent Malouda consigned to the bench following a row with the coach. Only after Uruguay had Nicolas Lodeiro sent off late on did the French go for it, with Thierry Henry - who else? - having a penalty appeal for handball turned down.

Saturday preview

Korea Republic v Greece - Group B - 12.30pm
If somebody told you recent European Champions were playing recent World Cup semi-finalists, you might be quite excited. But to be honest this is one of those games you just have to get through, like the sticker of Liam Ridgewell you need to complete your Panini collection. Excitingly, Eurosport-Yahoo!'s predicted line-up has four blokes called Lee playing for Korea. So, no room for confusion there.

Argentina v Nigeria - Group B - 3pm
How exciting is this? You feel that Diego Maradona's side will either be sublime or ridiculous and nothing in between. They are certainly the least predictable side in the tournament and this is our first glimpse of which Argentina are going to turn up. Video footage of a playground-style free-for-all either suggests they are perfectly hyped-up or falling apart. And concern surrounds Lionel Messi, whose fitness coach said the little genius was 'irreversibly' jaded. Nigeria can expect plenty of support from the locals.

England v USA - Group C - 7.30pm
Get the barbie fired up even though it's raining, and gorge yourself to a standstill on semi-raw sausages and weak continental lager.If your still standing come early evening, plonk yourself down in front of the box. It's England time at the World Cup. An easy draw means this winnable encounter against well-drilled but limited opponents has been blown into a titanic battle between two sporting behemoths. While Fabio Capello has rightly earned the nation's trust, you can still expect an excruciating 90 minutes.

Chat with Eurosport-Yahoo! blogger Jim White at 10pm on Saturday night after the England game

- - -

Water cooler chat: Anglo-American rivalry

If Britain's relationship with the United States really is special, it is in the same way that a hammer enjoys a special relationship with a nail.  They have flooded these shores with their films and music, taught us their slang and got us involved in their wars. And our sole form of retaliation? Simon Cowell. Despite 'soccer' featuring well down the American sporting agenda, Uncle Sam is clearly spoiling for a fight. Players have talked about trying to wind up Wayne Rooney, while Landon Donovan speculated publicly that England's talisman might be jaded after a mammoth season for Manchester United (pretty rich coming from a man who played a full MLS season then spent the winter break on loan at Everton). It's time to make a stand. If we cannot be leaders of the free world, then Group C of the 2010 World Cup will have to do.

How to show your patriotism: Boycott McDonald's and find a Wimpy bar instead.

How not to show your patriotism: Buy all your petrol from BP.

- - -

World Cup jargon: Miracle on Grass

England's one and only World Cup meeting with the US came in 1950, when a star-studded side including Billy Wright, Tom Finney and Stan Mortensen were expected to brush aside a team of rank amateurs. Walter Winterbottom's side hit the woodwork more often than a karate expert, but could not convert, and Joe Gaetjens nicked the only goal of the game - a result know known as the 'Miracle on Grass'. When the result was telexed back to Blighty from Brazil, many assumed it was a misprint and England had run out 10-1 winners. Sadly not.

- - -

Follow Armchair Pundit on Twitter:

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so that everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Win cash in one day fantasy football contests. Join now!

    Learn how to play

    Contest Entries Entry Fee Prizes Starts (EDT)
    Premier League Cup Round 3 [£1.5K Free] 28824/500000 Free £1500 Saturday 10:00 AM Enter
    Champions League £1,000 Round 16 91/225 £5 £1000 Today 2:45 PM Enter
    CL £1 Learn To Play [No Risk] 76/150 £1 £180 Today 2:45 PM Enter