World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

Italy wreck Becker's Berlin party plans

celina_hinchcliffe2.gifDORTMUND - Imagine interviewing one of Germany's biggest sporting legends. Imagine interviewing him straight after Germany are dumped out of the World Cup.

Boris Becker rocketed in my estimations though. The guy was clearly gutted but he stuck to the commitment and talked eloquently for our Match Of The Day highlights programme.

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Desailly reveals French confidence

celina_hinchcliffe2.gif FRANKFURT - Marcel Desailly is still very close to the French team.

Four of those who played in the victory over Brazil in Frankfurt played alongside Marcel in the 1998 World Cup final in Paris - Fabien Barthez, Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira.

And the former France defender, who retired in 2004, told me that since the win over Spain there's been real belief in the squad that they can go on and become world champions.

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Top team talks

celina_hinchcliffe2.gifSTUTTGART STATION - Talking of celebrity spotting, the other night I was three rows away from one of the greatest footballers of all time. Maradona sparked a flash bulb frenzy when he popped into the commentary stand to do spot of TV punditry at the Spain Tunisia match.

The media and press are obviously used to seeing big names at games but in the presence of a legend, they flocked to row W10. There was the stocky one, his barrel chest bursting his Argentina shirt. He talked animatedly about the game, gesticulating like an Italian chef. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand a word he was saying.

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England fans rock on the River Rhine

celina_hinchcliffe2.gif COLOGNE TRAIN STATION - It was tough getting any sleep last night. England fans were partying in the Cathedral square, right outside our hotel.

They were in full voice til about 4am and then started again at 6. As I opened my curtains this morning, I could see some of their St George flags still blowing - Stoke City, Hull City boys on Tour: Gaz, Phil, Pete and Darren and Worksop Owls.

I was at the game last night, such a privilege. I was perfectly placed, looking right down the barrel for Joe Cole's stunning opener. But what struck me was England's lack of width - and that has been the real buzzword out here around the in-form teams.

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Meeting My Hero Waddle in K-Town

celina_hinchcliffe2.gif HEIDELBERG - They say never meet your heroes because they will only disappoint you. Well when I saw him shimmy out of the commentary box after the Italy USA game, I knew that wasn't going to be the case.

Chris Waddle hadn't lost his touch.

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Argentine Ecstasy

celina_hinchcliffe2.gif AUFSCHALKE STADIUM, GELSENKIRCHEN - I've just watched the most beautiful football of my life at the AufSchalke stadium. Argentina were scintillating against Serbia and Montenegro.
The stands were full of banners proclaiming Messi as the new Maradona - both their pictures side by side.

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Crossing the border

celina_hinchcliffe2.gif BERLIN MAIN STATION - I'm crossing the border today, travelling to Poland, from where I will watch their match against Germany in Dortmund tonight. We're heading for Poznan. I know it's the birthplace of Polish striker Maciej Zurawski, and famous for its male choirs so hopefully the fans will be in full voice this evening.

Does anyone out there know much about Poznan? Let me know if you do. Also I was at the Brazil game last night - can anybody in Brazil tell us what your media made of it??

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Oranje Fever

celina_hinchcliffe2.gif LEIPZIG - The Dutch fans in our hotel are nursing a few sore heads this morning after their team's win over Serbia and Montenegro. I was at the Zentralstadion for the match - my first ever World Cup game. It was an experience I'll never forget, but more on that later.

After the game, I managed to speak to the former East German goalkeeper Renee Muller who kept goal for Lok Leipzig for 20 years. He was overjoyed that this day had arrived for the people of Leipzig, the East German city that was in the former German Democratic Republic.

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Munich gears up for the opening match

celina_hinchcliffe2.gif MUNICH. Grown German men in my hotel are on the verge of tears with the news that Michael Ballack may be out of the opening match (though until the team sheet is published no-one really knows). I spotted two men hugging and consoling each other over the biggest glass of beer I have ever seen in my life. If you think Rooney has fans in Britain hanging by his metatarsal tissue, Ballack's calf strain is the talk of Munich and Germany as a whole.

I was helping myself to a hearty German breakfast in our know the usual - vast swathes of ham, cheese and sausage meat, and there toying over the croissants were a merry band of Costa Rican fans.

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Party Fever sweeps Leipzig

celina_hinchcliffe2.gifLEIPZIG Anyone descending on Leipzig on matchdays will have to wander down the Football Mile on Gottschedstraße. 150,000 fans are expected for a mile long street party from 11am til midnight. Fans from the two nations playing that day are encouraged to celebrate their culture and party til the early hours.

There are two main stages as well as the street party. There will be music, dancing, face painting and culinary delights. Angola is travelling with a tribe and their country's biggest pop star "Kituxe", Holland have arranged their "Supporters club Oranje" for some World Cup atmosphere.

Speaking of the Dutch, I'm back here on Sunday for Holland v Serbia and Montenegro. After the game, I'll interview Martin Jol. If you can, tune into World Cup Match of the Day on BBC 1 at 23.35 BST and hear his thoughts on the World Cup so far. Any thing you think I should ask him, let me know.

Thunder and lightning in Leipzig

celina_hinchcliffe2.gifLEIPZIG. So I've arrived in Deutschland. I left boiling hot sunshine in London to be greeted by a monsoon here in Leipzig. Who cares about the weather, you could feel the World Cup buzz as soon as we landed.

No-one was more effusive than our taxi driver Gunther who played his own game of luggage Tetris cramming all our camera equipment into his small but brand spanking new Mercedes. With me balancing a tripod in the front seat, I got my first taste of the autobahn. No speeding restrictions on German motorways. Gunther did his best impression of Michael Schumacher but we survived.

As you'd imagine, Germany is swamped by world cup symbols. The onslaught began outside the aiport. A diving Oliver Kahn was suspended from a bridge. Jurgen, you have told King Kahn he's number two to Jens Lehmann.

Now, I am sitting within a stone's throw of the Zentralstadion. It's home to FC Sachsen Leipzig who play their football in German football's third tier. Imagine Grimsby Town hosting a world cup match. Leipzig is the only former East German venue at these finals. Tonight I shall try their local speciality - Lentil soup with Thuringian sausages, mmmm. And then tomorrow, it's off to Munich for the opening game.

About Celina Hinchcliffe

celina_hinchcliffe2.gifI have worked for the BBC for five years, starting as a reporter at BBC Southern Counties. If you told me back then when I was reporting on Crawley Town that I'd be going to the World Cup, I'd have probably keeled over at the Broadfield Stadium.

Football is my passion in life, Sheffield Wednesday my team. So while all of my school mates had pictures of New Kids on the Block and River Phoenix stuck on their leverarch files, I proudly sported a laminated photo of my footballing hero Chris Waddle.

While over in Germany, I'll be on the road presenting from the host cities for the BBC TV's highlights programme. I'd love to hear from readers about what entertaining things are happening in these cities, where to go and what the fans are up to.

It's not just watching football that I'm passionate about - I love playing footy, golf, tennis and skiing.

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