You have no idea how long I’ve awaited to hear Brent Musberger utter the line “you’re looking live at Nuremburg.”
Chelsea’s Arjen Robben (above) put one past Serbia & Montanegro’s Dragoslav Jevric in the 18th off a nice feed from Robin van Persie, the only goal in the Netherlands’ 1-0 victory earlier today. Robben had an absolutely otherworldly match, displaying the kind of pace and creativity that will…uh, leave him buried behind Ballack and Shevchenko on the Chelsea bench next season. Sorry about that.
Claiming that winning the tourney is a possibility for Sven’s men because “any team who can celebrate victory after playing as poorly as this clearly has luck on its side,” The Observer’s Paul Wilson is amongst those underwhelmed by a sluggish England win over Paraguay yesterday.
England were certainly lucky to be playing Paraguay, because a better side would have beaten them. Time and again England got away with defensive hesitancy because their opponents needed a crash course in finishing. Despite being gifted their goal as early as the third minute, England never really looked like creating another and ended up protecting their lead with some desperate manoeuvres in their own penalty area. ‘We suffered,’ Sven-Goran Eriksson admitted. We all did.
Marginally more threatening than a still rusty-looking Michael Owen, in the first half Peter Crouch had a couple of questionable penalty appeals, although if he is to succeed at this level he needs to position himself better and stay on his feet. As an outlet from midfield he was quite good, although his lay-offs to Owen never really worked. But the main problem was that he was too slow getting up the field when England wanted to find him on a quick break. For all the passing in England’s team, Joe Cole’s willingness to run with the ball was making most headway by the interval.
Recommended reading prior to this morning’s Iran/Mexico tilt ; The Independent’s Tim Collings’ profile of Mexico manager Ricardo La Volpe.