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June 12, 2006

8 down, 56 to go

Sunday's matches started off with the Netherlands versus Serbia & Montenegro. Nobody really treats Serbia & Montenegro as debutants, because effectively they are counted as the same team as the old Yugoslavia used to be. They are unique in this competition though, since, following the referendum in favour of independence for Montenegro, they are the only team who will definitely never appear in the tournament again in this configuration. Judging by their performance against the Dutch, they aren't going to be troubling the World Cup in Germany for much longer.

Mexico versus Iran wasn't the most attractive fixture in the group stages it must be said, but we settled down to watch it nevertheless. Given how often football throws up funny draws (Sven's last game with England might be against Sweden, Angola and Togo getting to play former colonial masters Portugal and France respectively) it is a shame that this time Iran and the U.S.A. didn't get pitched into the same group.

The 3-1 victory for Mexico gave me my first correct score prediction in the Soccerway game I am playing - it probably isn't too late to join in and then go on to beat me despite my head-start. If you fancy it it is free to enter.

I've also started my experiment with drinking a range of the German or German-badged beers available from our local supermarket. This didn't go so well. Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier was pleasant enough, it is just that it exploded out of the bottle all over the futon, and caused a minor potential stain emergency which in turn meant that I missed some of the game.

Portugal started off against Angola by threatening Hakan Sukur's 11 second record for the fastest ever goal in a World Cup Finals tournament, but it took them all of four minutes to score in the end. Actually, I thought Angola did well to hold it to 1-0 given the way Portugal were ripping through them in the first ten minutes.

With the ban on jewellrey, we were spared the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo wearing his huge bling earrings, then, รก la Euro2004, having to cover them up with sticky tape lest they poke out someone's eyes. Perhaps Ronaldo's earrings are the modern day equivalent of Billy's Boots, as without them he had a shocker. He was taken off around the 60th minute mark, and shown by the cameras subsequently having a tantrum on the bench. At least "Big" Phil Scolari had spotted that with a string of missed chances behind him in the first-half he was going to struggle to hit a cow's arse with a banjo yesterday. I wonder if Ronaldo has that many attempts at trying to 'slip it in' on those 'nights out' of his that sometimes end up with him being arrested.

The saddest and most predictible story of the day though was the English fans arrested for having body-painted Nazi symbols on themselves. Firstly, you have to be a moron to think that is funny. Secondly, you have to be even more of a moron to go to Germany and not think that displays of Nazi symbolism might just be considered a hate crime there. And thirdly, the eldest of the two was 24, so born over 35 years after the war finished anyway - what is wrong with you people? For some people it seems like the clocks stopped ticking in Britain in 1945. I hope they get the custodial sentences you'd expect any Germans parading in Germany wearing Nazi symbols to get.

And bloody hell - we are now already an eighth of the way through the tournament!

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