No Silva service for Sunderland

In every walk of life, there is information that is available on a need-to-know basis to a small circle of people, but not disclosed more widely.

Football tries to be as secretive as most of those walks of life.

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World Cup Soapbox: withdrawal symptoms or back to a normal life?


… in which Pete Sixsmith fills a World Cup gap by going to the circus before offering his closing stage predictions (for the football, not the circus); thus Pete laments the likely end of the road for Paraguay, sees Ghana proceeding to the semis and names the trophy winners …

After coming through two scary days without football. I need my fix today. Like Renton in Trainspotting, I will have my perfect day in front of the screen tonight, taking an interest in Holland v Brazil and roaring out encouragement for Big John and the Black Stars tonight.

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(we …) just like watching Brazil

brazil11Image: Thomás

When the odds were checked a minute ago, Brazil were still the bookies’ favourites, marginally ahead of Spain, to win South Africa 2010. We could even, at a pinch, have an all-South American final four; that would take a mighty performance from Our Lads against the Spanish. Jeremy Robson takes a cool-headed look at the past and explains, in this discussion of the importance of geography, how that would buck the World Cup trend …

When the World Cup comes round every four years, there’s one historical fact that is always trotted out in the build up to the tournament. Namely, that the winner of the competition when it’s held in Europe has nearly always been European, and conversely when it’s held in South America the winner has always been a nation from that Continent.

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Sod’s law … but vamos Paraguay all the same, like

paragirl2Image: Rapidgamer

JOYOUS UPDATE from Le Cafe Marly, opposite the Pyramid at the Louvre, where I followed BBC coverage of the penalty shootout. Ha’way Paraguay – even if Maud, the Spanish waitress (really a student at the swish Science-Po happening to be doing a bit of waitressing), thinks they’ll be a pushover in the next round. My thanks to Peter Allen, who texted the Spain v Portugal score to my night train .

Sod’s law dictates that at kickoff time I’ll be inside the Louvre interviewing people about a forthcoming exhibition called Routes d’Arabie. I’d rather be watching Paraguay v Japan.

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Ha’way Paraguay, ciao Italy

paraguay 12

Just the shortest of postings to congratulate Paraguay on their brilliant feat in topping a group also containing the, er, mighty Italy.

It was almost as pleasing to see the Italians finish bottom and follow France out of the World Cup.

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Vamos Paraguay – una vez más

paragirlsImage: Rapidgamer

Rob Hutchison gave us a juicy flavour of the tale of how a few stray Sunderland fans met for a highly partisan evening for Paraguay v Italy, our boys in red and white stripes putting in a show of honest endeavour to snatch an unexpected draw. It wouldn’t be right to let the occasion pass without the main course, served up by Clive Stevenson, who explains the widespread Vamos Paraguay phenomenon among SAFC fans and reveals more of a memorable night out (and its sequel) …

See also: Ha’way Paraguay, Vamos Sunderland

the story started a bit before that Rob, and I wish I could use the old Hot Chocolate lyric It started with a kiss

… but I’m afraid it started with a deep sense of betrayal and rejection that came with the news that all of us expected, that the striker who scored 24 goals last season, only two behind the bizarre result of an experiment to clone a bulldog with a can of Campbell’s condensed vegetable soup and almost two dozen ahead of a lump of wood, was left out of the England squad.

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