For a country whose coach who takes astrology into account when selecting his national team, the people of France should have seen their dismal World Cup performances in the stars.
The word 'disgrace' has been used by the French Football Federation to describe the quite ludicrous events taking place at the French World Cup Headquarters in the last few days but the word would also aptly describe the fact that Raymond Domenech was granted the opportunity to oversee France's campaign.
He once ditched Robert Pires for being a Scorpio and also stated that: 'When I have a Leo in defence I've always got my gun ready, as I know he's going to want to show off at one moment and cost us.
To the rest of the world, including many French observers, this World Cup was a nightmare forseen. Domenech is clueless, gallingly eccentric and has no respect from his players.
For the first time ever I found joy in the antics of the eternally miserable Nicolas Anelka who used last week's half-time in their game v Mexico to air his feelings. Tonight, they still have a chance to project themselves into the last 16 and Domenech will have no impact on what transpires in Bloemfontein.
The scenes at their training ground on Sunday afternoon were scandalous. Now we are told several players may refuse to play against South Africa. Not only is the situation becoming a 'disgrace' to the French people but also to the World Cup.
As an Englishmen, I have to say I've found it all rather amusing. But I'm still wondering if Domenech could be on to something with his star sign theory.
After all, William Gallas was awful last Thursday and he's a Leo.
A Win Will Paper Over The Cracks - For Now
Backs to the wall. How many times do England find themselves in this predicament and prevail? There is serious doubt however that this time they will.
Fabio Capello's statement that John Terry had mad a 'big mistake' in his comments during Sunday's press conference indicate that the problems that have engulfed the England team since the revelations of Terry's private life are set to continue.
Factions in the camp, the promotion of Shaun Wright-Phillips from squad outsider to our first game-changer substitute, the lack of a player able to grab a game by the scruff of the neck, tactical ineptitude, the sudden disappearance of Joe Cole, the indifference of Capello since the end of the league season and now the apparent lack of trust by the players in his methods.
A win on Wednesday and England's World Cup will be up and running, hopefully, at long last. But even if that happens it seems it is merely sticking a plaster over some deep lying wounds.
Two wins. No goals conceded. Star man still on the bench. The Netherlands have started just as coach Bert van Marwijk would have wished.
Whilst you could say his side have been lucky in both games, Daniel Agger's own goal against Denmark in their opener and Eiji Kawashima's mis-reading of a swerving Jabulani, their expected ascent to the top of the Group E table and into the second round has passed with very little concern other than their inability to kill a game off convincingly and charm a goal from Robin van Persie.
Both could happily be resolved by the return of Arjen Robben to the side. With no signs of the traditional tournament internal row, the Dutch could be serious contenders for a first World Cup trophy.
Beauty With The Beast
Streetwise mixed with football from the heavens. That is the concept of the team moulded by Dunga.
It may not have pleased every Brazilian fan but Sunday night's fine 3-1 victory over Ivory Coast proved that you will not bully this Brazil. With giants running through the side in the shape of Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio and Luis Fabiano, teams can no longer even kick the class out of them.
Dovetail that with beautiful footballers such as Kaka, Robinho and Elano, and you have a new-look Brazil capable of combining the skill and substance necessary to triumph in the age of athleticism.
Thirty-two games in and still no goal from a free-kick. Still no real screamer flying into the top corner. Make no doubts about it - Adidas have made a colossal cock-up with the 'Jabulani' ball.
It amuses me that so many pundits, who have never played with the ball, dismiss the views of those playing at these finals who have almost collectively condemned it.
The facts speak for themselves. The players are not making excuses and it is no coincidence that their ability with it is improving day upon day as the tournament progresses.
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