Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Flexing their muscles

Mickey McBias strikes again :

So, the big teams begin to flex their muscles, at last. Well, sort of. Spain safely through, and tonight, Sweden too, to join England, Germany, Ecuador, and the rest. Germany simply brushed aside an Ecuador side who rested 5 of their top players. The England v Sweden game was good, perhaps Sweden wasted a few chances in the second half, before going behind and then showing us the late late show again, to snatch a 2-2 draw, which they deserved.
The African threat of recent years has simply not materialised this time - if anything, maybe it's gone slightly in reverse, which is a shame.
I am slightly disappointed though that England don't face Germany next. The competition needs a huge match like that in the next stage. But, England v Ecuador it will be, and Germany v Sweden. Both former teams mentioned there, should go through ok. Lots of big deciders still to come over the next few days, as the final games are all played simultaneously, for each group in question. Then we are down to the last 16.
If it's goals you wanted, perhaps you would have initially looked a lot further than Group H containing Ukraine, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. But, 4 games so far, 4 goals in each game. Can't be bad.
The closest group, as we go into the final matches, features Italy, Czech Republic, Ghana, and the USA.
I do fear for the Czechs, I think they may well be overtaken at the last knockings. I do hope not, as they are so good to watch. But, it would be nice to see Ghana there. Time will tell.
And of course, France have to beat Togo in their final match. Or, it's au revoir, chaps. I expect them to get through.
As I seem to have been cast as a sports reporter, can I just mention the start of Wimbledon next week. Happily, it looks as if Serena Williams won't be there, which is such a bonus. I had never seen a tennis player dressed like she was 4 years old before yet thinking it still looked good, but Serena does it every time. It is usually one of the most laughable things on a tennis court I have ever seen.
I like Sharapova, except, please madam, lose the grunting (or at least, use it on more appropriate occasions). With the women players, I guess I should support Mr Reece's favourite, Maria Kirilenko.
She's probably not good enough to win it, but if I don't support her then JR himself will throw me off my sports reporting job, I fear. Tim Henman should get a few hopes up and then dismally fail ('bravely', apparently) but our hopes are with Andy Murray. However, a couple of matches of over 3 hours and the poor lad seems to collapse. Feed him some more haggis, and he'll be fine. Can't see much past Federer, who is so efficient it's frightening.
Oh, and after Wimbledon and holiday time, I'll retire from reporting until the footie season begins again in August, where I will have a round of outrageous predictions. You have been warned.