LEIPZIG - The World Cup finally arrived in the old Eastern Bloc for the first time in its history, although driving through the streets of Leipzig to the stadium (think Reebok with a bit more style) there was little sign of World Cup fever until we hit a wall of orange.
Like the English, the Dutch seemed to get their hands on 25,000 tickets whatever the circumstances and, with a healthy contingent of Serbs, it was a terrific atmosphere with not the remotest hint of menace.
Continue reading "The Orange are coming..."
A CAR PARK, TROISDORF - The problem with Svan, our mobile home, is that it won't start.
We went to watch the Ivory Coast play a friendly match at their training ground in Troisdorf against the local team that normally calls the Aggerstadion home.
The Elephants team comprised the players that did not figure against Argentina on Saturday and dished out a 9-0 hammering in a 30-minutes each-way match.
Ricco and I then made our way back to Svan and prepared to head off to Frankfurt. Several hours later, with the time just gone nine in the evening here in Germany, we remain in a less than picturesque car park.
Continue reading "Our van won't start!"
FRANKFURT - A day of recovery. There were English bodies strewn around the city centre and along the river this morning and many still immobile this afternoon, although a quick wash in one of the fountains seemed to help.
For some it was their first sleep for 48 hours after driving through Friday night.
Combined with a hot day, strong German lager and a tub-thumping, invigorating performance from the team (erm, actually I made that bit up - watching the match was more like being given a sedative) no wonder the English were happy to slink into the background and let the Iranian and Mexican fans take centre stage.
Many who watched the game on the river complained they had to queue for up to two hours for beers. Perhaps today their heads are thankful.
BADEN-BADEN - England arrived in Baden-Baden last Monday just hours after heavy rain hit the area - and have now walked right into the middle of a German heatwave.
There was concern among England's medical staff about getting fluids on to players during the win against Paraguay, when temperatures were well into the 80s, and opposition players commented on how Sven-Goran Eriksson's side will struggle if the weather stays as it is.
It was certainly an unusual sight to see so many players heading towards the touchline at every break in play to take drinks on board.
And sympathy goes to Joe Cole, who on a couple of occasions wandered over for his drink from the left-flank in the first half only to for the game to re-start just before he could get refreshment - the footballing equivalment of arriving in a pub just as the barmaid puts the towels on.
Continue reading "England's heated debate"
COLOGNE – There’s a lot at stake for the Angolans tonight.
Not only is it their debut World Cup match but by a fluke of the draw, their first ever finals game is against their former colonial master – Portugal.
The two countries share a troubled history on and off the pitch.
In fact, when they last played in 2001 the game had to be abandoned 20 minutes from time after four Angolans were given red cards. At that point they were losing 5-1...
Continue reading "Angolans take on former masters"
The sombreros are out and waves of green are flowing through Nuremberg which can only mean one thing – El Mexicana are in town.
And aren't they letting the locals know they've arrived for the game against Iran on Sunday!!
They forced the temporary closure of a main road in the city centre on Saturday after gathering outside the hotel in which their squad are staying.
A rhapsody of songs to encourage Mexico's team followed and they then started to dance the day away as music blared out from a stage erected in the city's square.
Fans from other countries also joined in the party atmosphere but, for those of a calmer disposition, pan-pipe musicians were at close hand to sell CDs of their soothing sounds if the pumping dance music was a bit too much.
DORTMUND - Yesterday they were going to be world champions, today the Swedish fans are searching for answers as to why their team failed to beat Trinidad and Tobago.
The guys next door to us on the campsite, who were extremely bullish about their chances on Friday evening, just greeted me with a croaky "Oh, go away!" as I approached their caravan this morning.
"We've got a dumbass coach," said my new friend, Frederick. "Where was Kallstrom when Svensson was rubbish? He doesn't know when to use substitutes."
I managed to cheer them up with a set of Fletch and Ricco T-shirts, fast becoming the must-have fashion accessory of the World Cup, and they got a little bit more confident.
Continue reading "Downcast in Dortmund"
DORTMUND - Lot's of debate on what to title this blog entry, so it's open to a vote at the the bottom. But first what a a game !! Sweden against Trinidad and Tobago was just an absolute epic. Great ground, great atmopshere and the right result. It was one of those games it was just fantsastic to be at and everyone in the ground loved it. We were lucky enough to interview some of the Trinidad player's afterwards and they'd just loved every second.
Continue reading "SWEDE NOTHING"
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