Luck Of The French As Lloris Makes World Cup – International Round-up


Hugo Lloris [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Alan’s 2013-14 Season Diary no 23

Friday 15 November

England 0 Chile 2

Sanchez got both. No big deal. Experimental side. It would have been anyway, even without the withdrawals. I thought there were some good signs; Rooney, Wilshere. Frazer-Forster. Chile comfortable on the ball, cynical fouls on our players if they started to get away, well before they reached the danger area. Caught for the second by the classic last minute sucker punch. It confirmed what we already know. We need our best team playing well if we are going to beat teams that have qualified for Brazil.

France lose 2-0 to Ukraine, their decline continues. Back where they started before their World Cup win. Ronaldo the difference for Portugal in a 1-0 win which leaves the tie finely balanced. The stage is set for Ibrahimovic on Tuesday…a must watch game. I have multiple screens in my den, a bit like like Elliot Carver in the World is Not Enough. I think I’ll be watching England vs. Germany and Sweden vs. Portugal simultaneously.

Saturday 16 November

Championship and below only. Loads of goals, the lower leagues are a soap opera all of their own but be honest, it’s just not the same is it? Soccer Saturday Super 6 down to 5 games and I have no idea about half the teams. I’m getting Premiership withdrawal symptoms already and there is another week to go before the BOBS (Battle of the Big Spenders); us and moneybags Man City. At least we only spent what we had come in. Joni Mitchell sang “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”. So true.

Sun 17 November

Bad news for Spurs, Christian Eriksen picked up ankle ligament damage in the internationals and could be out for two months. Feel for him. Sometimes, though, out of adversity comes opportunity, for the team at least. I’d give Lamela a run now; encourage him to take defenders on and feed Soldado.

By the way, anyone else get confused all of a sudden? Lamela/Lallana. You say potato, I say potato. Dear old Bobby Robson or Jack Charlton would have a field day.

Tuesday 19 November

France become the only team ever to overturn a two goal deficit in the first leg of a World Cup qualifier play-off as they win 3-0 to scrape through  3-2 on aggregate against Ukraine. I thought that might happen, after Henry’s handball at this stage 4 years ago, they seem to have taken on the luck of the Irish, become the Arsenal of the international game. If talent doesn’t get them there, they luck through anyway. This time it was a Ukraine own goal.

I thought Ibrahimovic would come good and get Sweden through, so when he got his second I was starting to feel smug. Then Ronaldo does it yet again. A hat trick to prove he is the top man yet again.

England lose the friendly to Germany’s second string starring the Bender twins. Is Lowe taking the mick? I’ll leave you to make up your own Carry On film headline to that one. I didn’t think the Germans were supposed to have a sense of humour.

It’s the sixth loss in a row to them at Wembley.  No surprise. Hodgson played a slightly experimental team but it was the usual story against class opposition. Hart made at least 4 good saves but yet again shows hesitancy and late decision making in whether and when to come or stay.  Fixable. He could take a leaf out of Lloris’ approach in those situations. Atrocious defending for their goal. We allowed them 3 crosses onto the head of the same guy in 30 seconds. Mertesacker must have thought Christmas had come early.  If young Smalling had deliberately set out to prove he hasn’t yet got what it takes at that level he couldn’t have demonstrated it any better. Townsend did OK again.

We know what to expect in Brazil

First round exit if we are unlucky, second round if we perform to our level, quarter final if we get lucky. Semi-final if we play out of our skin, no injuries to key players and Rooney doesn’t lose it. Final/win it if there is a miracle.

“Scummy gnome”

Now that’s a phrase that I didn’t recognise when I read it in Simon Barnes’ Times article the other day. He said there would be no more references to the Scummy gnome when looking at England’s participation in major championships. Then I got it. “It’s Scummy gnome, it’s scummy gnome, football’s scummy gnome”. Very funny.

The Ashes

Regular readers will know that I sometimes stray into the realms of other sports if the event seems important enough, involves the national team, or if it’s a particularly quiet week regarding Spurs – like in international breaks.  The Ashes is an obvious candidate but I am going to try and avoid them for as long as possible. Why? Because I feel that what was once a great sporting event has been devalued by staging it too often. It’s another example of money and commercialism spoiling sport. We used to see an Ashes series once every 3 or 4 years. It was like the World Cup. It was precisely because we had to wait so long to play our main rivals that built it up and made it so special. Even for an armchair at arm’s length cricket fan, it has been really enjoyable to see the return to prominence of the England cricket team over the last 5 years or so. The Ashes in the Spring was only about a year on from our previous victory in Australia. Now we are back in Oz again after about only 6 months. It’s ridiculous. The series and the games have become ten a penny. So sorry if you don’t see much cricket comment in these blogs but at least you know why.