World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

The half-way point

paul_fletcher.gif BAMBERG - At some point over the next 24 hours our trip will reach its half-way stage.

With two weeks gone and two weeks left to go, the World Cup has also reached the same juncture (though admittedly more than 50% of the fixtures have been played).

With this in mind - and the group stage now over - how do you think the tournament is shaping up?

Ricco and I have seen a lot of football, though it has to be said a decent percentage of this has involved blokes kicking a ball around a campsite. (I should mention we have also seen a few Americans playing baseball).

It seems to have been a pretty attacking World Cup, with relatively few of those dour, defensive games that are apparently devoid of anyone's desire to score.

bambergsvanday16-203.jpg I would have to say that, from a personal point of view, three things stick in the mind.

They are; meeting Shevchenko, watching Ricco drive Svan around Hockenheim and handing 'Fletch and Ricco' T-shirts to the security guards at England's team hotel in Baden Baden.

All of our trip so far has been in the south of the country so with this in mind we are now heading north.

Leipzig is our first stop then Hannover and on to Hamburg. If you feel there is anything we really must do in this places - or en route - let us know.

Ricco and I spent Friday in the beautiful city of Bamberg, just north of Nuremberg.

Not that I saw too much of it.

Washing was top of the agenda, followed by a desperate search for some rope so that I could hang my clothes out to dry.

In the end I just put them on the roof of Svan and the German weather did the rest.

Ricco must be very pleased about this because there were some dodgy smells emanating from a few of my socks, which were on the verge of becoming independent lifeforms.

After that I checked the oil and water levels and had a general tidy inside Svan, failed to find a post office and turned up at a hairdressers only to discover it was closed.

Ricco and I did manage to try the local brew last night - it is called Rauchbier and, honestly, tastes like bacon!

Unbelievable.

Don't forget to guess our mileage for the chance to win some
fabulous Sport Relief prizes, including a Pele-signed table football and
our very own Shevchenko-signed Fletch and Ricco t-shirts.

Comments  Post your comment

I think the tourament is shaping up nicely. No one team has dominated the group stages and I can't wait to see how the knockout stage developes. I don't think anyone could predict the winner at this point, everyone has been left guessing.

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  • 2.
  • At 12:22 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Greg S wrote:

It has been a good World Cup so far. Some decent attacking football and one or two outstanding performances. Most importantly, it has mostly been refereed very well - the 1998 and 2002 World Cups were both spoiled by terrible refereeing decisions. Despite all of this, I have not always enjoyed this year's World Cup and I don't think I can blame the level football for this. It's the sheer hype surrounding the event that has put me off. In the last ten years the World Cup has been transformed from a mere sporting event into a giant cultural juggernaut that will supposedly become a defining moment for a whole generation of England fans. In every paper, there is hype about the world cup. The local pizza place has a world cup menu. The local estate agent has posted me a world cup wallchart. I walk down the road and every billboard has a footballer on it. Every ad break on TV has the stars of 1966 wheeled out. Every music channel is crammed with patriotic football remixes of dodgy 80s songs. In particular, the level of hype surrounding England, Sven and the supposed "golden generation" of players makes me feel slightly queasy. Yes, I would love England to win the World Cup, but I do not need every paper to be filled with stories of Rooney's toe, Beckham's underachievements, Walcott's favourite flavour crisps, or what the wives and girlfriends are spending their money on. It's hard to enjoy a game of football when before a ball has even been kicked, a thousand adverts have already been commissioned and re-written and the press has already decided which players it will crucify and which it will turn into heroes. I don't know if the World Cup coverage is the same everywhere in the world, but I'd like to think that there are countries where the World Cup remains about football, and not just hype.

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For me and others the World Cup officially starts today.

The group stages are nothing more than an extention of the qualifers.

Take a look at the Argentina v Holland game. What a farce. Spain fielding their reserve team.

Virtually every big team makes it through the group stages in all World Cups.

So the opening ceremony is now and let the games begin...


https://www.followingengland.com

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  • 4.
  • At 01:22 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Ian Fletcher wrote:

Point one, I agree, a pretty open tournament so far with lots of attacking action, but no real surprises. Hopefully the next stage will progress onto a real knockout feel.
Point two, this is not the time for the tired old Beckham knockers to kick off their interminable campaign. We are in the middle of a tournament, unbeaten, and with half of our goals coming from set pieces. Leave it alone!
point three, If you get back to my old stamping ground of Munster try and blag your way into Oxford or York barracks sergeants mess, always good for a few beers!.

Cheers IF.

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  • 5.
  • At 01:29 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Al weston wrote:

so far the world cup has been fairly attacking and free flowing! ive been most impressed with the germans who have really turned it on when it matters! maybe the f.a should have contacted mr klinsmann! but it is now where the big guns need to perform! england included! does the bier smell like bacon?????????

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  • 6.
  • At 01:43 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Maniac wrote:

Well, there can be few complains about organisation and atmosphere around the stadiums and all the host cities. although i wish there would be less commercialized football hype, the whole thing has really turned into a great party with people from all over the world - i`ll really miss that when the tournament will come to an end.

most of the matches i have seen were not memorable, but there have been quite a few nice goals and even some really exciting matches. unfortunately there were very few surprises whithin the group phase, the favourite teams have reached their goals, even if they had not shown their best performance. i think many of them hav to improve during the knockout, so we will hopefully see some better football.

if you come to hamburg, there are many interesting places to visit: beside the city center (with rathausmarkt and alster lake) there have to be mentioned the historical "speicherstadt" and the elbe-riverside with "landungsbrücken" etc. at nights you will enjoy the redlight and party district around the reeperbahn (St.Pauli), next to the FanFest on "Heiligengeistfeld". there's much more to see beside the tourist places, just feel welcome!

ps: always enjoyed your reports, keep on blogging!

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  • 7.
  • At 01:45 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Otto wrote:

"Rauch" means smoke, and that's what is indeed used to make this beer. The malt for the beer is dried with smoke from burning beechwood. Beech is a wood which is also commonly used to smoke bacon. It's not surprising that Rauchbier reminds some people of bacon.

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  • 8.
  • At 01:45 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Bimal wrote:

Well the beautiful game is in full flow now. Who have impressed me most in this tournament? To be honest, many teams have impressed me: Argentina's pass and move finding space maneuvers, spain have played well in numerous games with a similar style of play, England have been impressive when Steven Gerrard is loitering around the oppositions box, other countries are scared of him and the stupid swed doesn't realise where he should be playing (and you don't need to be biased to understand that), Brazil have on rare occasions been impressive, Germany are in full flow in front of their own fans and there have been a few underdogs too. Notably Ecuador, Mexico, Ghana and Australia.

All of which should in theory be knocked out in the next round but you never know in football.

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  • 9.
  • At 02:32 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Pat wrote:

No mention of the violence on your blog? Any particular reason?

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Now is when we have to look at the World Cup.

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I think that the tournament's 'shaped up' quite nicely, so far.

What worries me now is the number of good players who will be missing from the next matches, due to 'yellow cards'.

When will soccer take a leaf out of rugby's book: where every yellow card means 10 minutes in the sin bin?

This punishes misdemeanours 'there and then', rather than days later. Also, with players off pitches for short periods, we should see more goals, which would be welcome!

This is the celebration of world soccer. I'd like to see bad behaviour punished instantly, the world's best players play as much as possible and more goals being scored!

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  • 12.
  • At 04:54 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • jim evans wrote:

How come nobody talks about the fact that professional footballers "practice" fouls as part of their training. Clubs teach "fouling skills" as a part of the game and players commit fouls as part of the game.Stamp out the fouls and lets get a "beautiful game".

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  • 13.
  • At 05:11 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • James wrote:

Interesting piece. Personally I think the opening stages of the tournament have been generally good, although there have been a lack of shocks. Only after the knockout stages will we know how this World Cup will be remembered.

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  • 14.
  • At 05:15 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • chris the believer wrote:

Thankyou
At least people are talking sense on the blog.
Leave becks alone he is by far the best in his postion, please some tell me who is better????
OK England havent been at their best but come on they didnt have to be, now they can show who they are.
England 3 ecuador jack all!!!
Germany just gone 2-0 up not a surprise, lets be honest they are always there, can't wait until we meet them and give them another kicking.

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  • 15.
  • At 05:18 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • chris the believer wrote:

When we get the Germans Lets all watch Faulty Towers!!!

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  • 16.
  • At 06:59 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Karl wrote:

Yeah, watch Fauty Towers you xenophobic lot. It'll be the only fun you will have when England plays Germany.

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  • 17.
  • At 10:03 PM on 24 Jun 2006,
  • Jamie Stewart wrote:

Great Players - Lousy Ball

I think this world cup is the most frustrating I've ever seen (...and I was at England in 66 as a kid ) The standard of the supply ball from the wing or from free kicks and corners is appalling. Time after time and in every game I'm seeing the ball into the centre go too long.. too high ... too hard. It's driving me crazy! The fault must be laid at FIFA's doorstep. If they're going to introduce a new wonder ball that 'flies' then they should do it after the tournament and give the players 4 years to get used to it. Most of the players have just finished a domestic season of at least 6-7 months and are used to the weight and feel of the previous FIFA regulation ball. The deft flick over the defensive back line. The cross from the winger down the flanks. The supply ball from the midfield playmaker, even the corner kick. All are going long, fizzling out over the back or harmlessly into touch. It's so obviously apparent to me that this skill has been totally scuppered by this new ball to the great detriment of the beautiful game. My suggestion to the organisers would be to gather up all their new superballs, put them in a big sack, give the players a ball they're used to and maybe we'd see some better play. Open the sack after the final and give the new balls out then. The players will then get 4 years to practice with it.

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  • 18.
  • At 12:35 AM on 25 Jun 2006,
  • Andreas wrote:

What is "the ball that players are used to?". Is there an international standard ball for all leagues? I think using a ball that noone is used to is tha fairest thing you can do.

The remarks about the quality of play of course are true.

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  • 19.
  • At 12:42 AM on 25 Jun 2006,
  • James wrote:

Hello again. From the sod who sent you up Ulm Munster spire.

Just to say there is one non-arduous and worthwhile climb in Leipzig, to the top of the memomorial to the Battle of the Nations(1813). Hopefully, the monument should inform you that the English weren't the first or only people to defeat Napoleon. If you ever make it to Berlin, you can climb the SMALL hill in Victoria Park to see the 1813 monument there (a sort of thematic 'twin' to the one in Leipzig): the view from there over Berlin is fantastic; and it costs a lot less that a trip to the top of the Fernsehturm(TV tower)!

Regards, James

PS I now realise that you two are on the bummel. If you don't know what that is, I refer you to Jerome K Jerome's 'Three Men on the Bummel' (which is as funny as 'Three Men in a Boat', but less well-known). This describes a journey around Germany undertaken about 100 years ago. A definition is provided at the end the book: "A 'Bummel', I should describe as a journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started. Sometimes it is through busy streets, and sometimes through the fields and lanes; sometimes we can be spared for a few hours, and sometimes for a few days. But long or short, but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the sand. We nod and smile to many as we pass; with some we stop and talk awhile; and with a few we walk a little way. We have been much interested, and often a little tired. But on the whole we have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when 'tis over."

PPS Where next? No games in Dresden - but a fantastic place to visit. I couldn't face the queues for the Frauenkirche (it had just opened when I was there last year), but hopefully it is more accessible now. And the Radenberger (beer) was at its best in the town where it is brewed.

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  • 20.
  • At 12:43 AM on 25 Jun 2006,
  • Alex wrote:

Hello Gents,

Great to read your blog during the World Cup. Been in Hamburg for 9 years. When you're here in Hamburg get yourselves down to the "Schnazenviertel" or "Schanze" as it's known. Plenty of superb drinking spots, cheap eating and a superb football atmosphere. Parking for Svan is also not too difficult.

Have a good trip up.

Alex

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  • 21.
  • At 01:48 AM on 25 Jun 2006,
  • The Kraut wrote:

"chris the believer wrote:
When we get the Germans Lets all watch Faulty Towers!!!"

'Chris, the ignorant' would be a better name.
Believe it or not, Fawlty Towers (you cannot even spell it right!) was even a hit in Germany and the episode "The Germans" was popular here.

And you do still believe it is about mocking the Germans, do you?

Sorry, Brit. It is about you Brits and your obsession with the war, so get some education, Chris, before you laugh for the wrong reason.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Germans

cite: "The very last line of the episode, and the first series, comes from one of the Germans – "however did they win?", which is among the reasons the episode has never been considered anti-German. The butt of the joke is Basil, who makes a bigger fool of himself with every outburst. At the same time, the Germans remain calm (although understandably annoyed and upset) throughout, a telling sign that perhaps the British are less mature about the whole thing."

There are even better links I could provide, where Cleese himself says who are the real 'targets' of ridicule for this scene. Unfortunately, they are interviews translated into German, so you ignorant and uneducated xenophobic guy will not be able to read them.

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  • 22.
  • At 05:39 AM on 25 Jun 2006,
  • Mark Hendrikx wrote:

Seeing as you are driving near to Hannover, maybe you should visit a town about 40km north east of Hannover, called Celle. This is the town where Sophie of Celle (married to king George I) comes from. Their story is quite harsh, but the successor to George was their son, George II.
So - the royal family roots comes from that town.
By the by - My family stems from there too, so I can reccomend it because it's just gorgeous! (Angola were stationed there for the World Cup)

Have fun if you do go - and post some pictures!

Peace

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Thanks for all the suggestions.

I must say that Jamie (comment 17) really must not like us since all he has us do is climb up and down hills/church spires etc.

We have not climed the hill you suggested in Leipzig but have put it on the list for Berlin.

By the way - your literary references leave me for dead I'm afraid - but when I get home I might just check that book out.

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  • 24.
  • At 12:07 PM on 25 Jun 2006,
  • Will wrote:

What was the music you used as the backing to your half-way video montage last weekend?

Really beautifully put together, but I'd like to know how to get hold of the music.

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My first World Cup was way back in 1958 and since then I've watched every one religiously. I've seen the same old story unfold time and time again with respect to England's tortured progress and listened to the same old bland, determinedly uncontroversial punditry. This time, however, I have to take my hat off to the Beeb, for this time you have truly plumbed new depths with the appalling quality of the drivel which passes for "expert comment" in your sumptuous Berlin location.

When will broadcasters realise that it's a huge mistake to use ex-players exclusively to act as their pundits? These people, besides knowing little about the game, are far too close to the players they're asked to criticise and, consequently, their obvious unwillingness to do so is clear for all to see. They all deliver straight down the line, middle-of-the-road cliches which add nothing to the enjoyment of the tournament, when real punditry would. You should balance out your 'panel' with a couple of respected journalists perhaps, or even carefully selected fans, (Skinner and/or Baddiel might be ideal). The popular "truism" that only those who have played the game professionally can be qualified to understand it and talk about it is completely bogus and arrogant nonsense, particularly with regard to British ex-players. For example, during this tournament:

Alan Hansen told us that England had been very impressive in the first half against Paraguay – garbage – and nothing less than a straightforward misrepresentation of the truth!
Alan Shearer has delivered monotonic, uninspired stodge with unerring consistency.
Martin O'Neill seems to have lost the plot and now concentrates on acting as a wacky, (ever-so-nice you know), Irish little chappie whilst delivering little of value.
Gordon Strachan seems to think that he's God's gift to tactics and can just about bring himself to talk to us and………. as for Lee Dixon? Ye Gods! Apart from the fact that he appears to be the only person in England who hasn't by now twigged that England can't play Gerrard and Lampard together without a holding player, (no matter how much they might like to), and that there's only a marginal superiority at best in the quality of Beckham's crosses over anybody else’s, (which means that we'd gain far more from playing Lennon), he's also, apparently, unaware that Berlin is the capital city of Germany, even though he's been living and working in it for the past few weeks!! His self-volunteered excuse for this ignorance?

"Well. I'm a footballer, wadda ya want?"

Oh, I almost forgot, there's also Wrighty of course. Well, wot can I say my man? Ya know wot I mean?

For an idea of what real punditry, containing some genuinely interesting insights, might be like; punditry which dares be critical and, when warranted, controversial, then listen to your former employee Terry Venables, along with Ruud Gullitt on ITV. I got more value from Venables in 5 minutes than I've had from your gaggle in the whole competition.

God knows, Sky Sports operate at the fag-end of tabloid tat and I pine for the “good old days of the proper BBC”, but I have to congratulate you on achieving the impossible - YOU'VE ACTUALLY HAD ME WISHING THAT SKY WERE COVERING THE TOURNAMENT A LOT OF THE TIME!!

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My first World Cup was way back in 1958 and since then I've watched every one religiously. I've seen the same old story unfold time and time again with respect to England's tortured progress and listened to the same old bland, determinedly uncontroversial punditry. This time, however, I have to take my hat off to the Beeb, for this time you have truly plumbed new depths with the appalling quality of the drivel which passes for "expert comment" in your sumptuous Berlin location.

When will broadcasters realise that it's a huge mistake to use ex-players exclusively to act as their pundits? These people, besides knowing little about the game, are far too close to the players they're asked to criticise and, consequently, their obvious unwillingness to do so is clear for all to see. They all deliver straight down the line, middle-of-the-road cliches which add nothing to the enjoyment of the tournament, when real punditry would. You should balance out your 'panel' with a couple of respected journalists perhaps, or even carefully selected fans, (Skinner and/or Baddiel might be ideal). The popular "truism" that only those who have played the game professionally can be qualified to understand it and talk about it is completely bogus and arrogant nonsense, particularly with regard to British ex-players. For example, during this tournament:

Alan Hansen told us that England had been very impressive in the first half against Paraguay – garbage – and nothing less than a straightforward misrepresentation of the truth!
Alan Shearer has delivered monotonic, uninspired stodge with unerring consistency.
Martin O'Neill seems to have lost the plot and now concentrates on acting as a wacky, (ever-so-nice you know), Irish little chappie whilst delivering little of value.
Gordon Strachan seems to think that he's God's gift to tactics and can just about bring himself to talk to us and………. as for Lee Dixon? Ye Gods! Apart from the fact that he appears to be the only person in England who hasn't by now twigged that England can't play Gerrard and Lampard together without a holding player, (no matter how much they might like to), and that there's only a marginal superiority at best in the quality of Beckham's crosses over anybody else’s, (which means that we'd gain far more from playing Lennon), he's also, apparently, unaware that Berlin is the capital city of Germany, even though he's been living and working in it for the past few weeks!! His self-volunteered excuse for this ignorance?

"Well. I'm a footballer, wadda ya want?"

Oh, I almost forgot, there's also Wrighty of course. Well, wot can I say my man? Ya know wot I mean?

For an idea of what real punditry, containing some genuinely interesting insights, might be like; punditry which dares be critical and, when warranted, controversial, then listen to your former employee Terry Venables, along with Ruud Gullitt on ITV. I got more value from Venables in 5 minutes than I've had from your gaggle in the whole competition.

God knows, Sky Sports operate at the fag-end of tabloid tat and I pine for the “good old days of the proper BBC”, but I have to congratulate you on achieving the impossible - YOU'VE ACTUALLY HAD ME WISHING THAT SKY WERE COVERING THE TOURNAMENT A LOT OF THE TIME!!

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  • 27.
  • At 01:58 AM on 26 Jun 2006,
  • Rolf Habich wrote:

England has been playing in an uninspiring, boring way thus far and yet moved on. Reminds me of some (but, mind you: not all) Germany's feats in recent soccer history.

The good thing about it is that you blokes deriveconfidence from this.

You will soon experience what this will do to you:

Football will be comong home (to Leeds, Chelmsford, Pinkvile, Daisytown and thr likes).

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