Posts Tagged ‘ England ’

Top Five Matches

I came across a post on reddit asking Which five matches changed your life?Loved the question and after thinking about it for a bit, here’s what I came up with:

1996       England v Germany Euro 96

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This game created the template for watching soccer while working. ESPN picked up the rights to this tournament and I fell in love with Croatia, saw Gazza’s wonder goal against Scotland, and the Czech Republic’s heartbreak in the Final against Germany. In the previous round, England played Germany in a rematch of the 1990 World Cup Semi. I was working as a summer intern at the FBI and snuck up to a conference room to watch the second half and penalties. England were so close but after 11 perfect spot kicks, Southgate’s miss condemned the Three Lions to defeat.

1999       Bayern Munich v Manchester United   Champions League Final

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As my love for the Red Devils continued to grow, the Treble season reached its dramatic conclusion in Barcelona. With no Keane or Scholes, United was up against it and when Basler scored in the opening minutes, I didn’t believe. Negative by nature I just waited for Bayern to seal the game and accept defeat. But when Sheringham poked home from close range I screamed with excitement. And when Solskjaer put the ball in the Germans net, I ran around the house in sheer joy.

2002       USA v Portugal   World Cup 2002 Group Stage

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In the days leading up to the game, I had a dream that the US crushed Portugal like 6-0 but I had missed it by sleeping in. Due to the time difference, the game kicked off at 4am ET. On the morning of the game, I drove frantically to a friend’s house who was hosting people. After the early US blitz I thought maybe I had had some sort of premonition but alas, Portugal fought back and made for a nervous last couple of minutes. That tournament was amazing and I got up at all hours to watch the matches.

2009       Real Madrid v FC Barcelona     La Liga

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In the late 90s and early 2000s I start following FC Barcelona and watched a dramatic 2006 Champions League Final against Arsenal. In the years following, that magic team was broken up and rebuilt and taken over by Pep Guardiola who drove the Blaugrana to an unprecedented, at the time, Treble. Real Madrid hunted Barca down in the league and set up a crucial meeting at the Bernabeu, and when Los Merengues scored first, a sick feeling came over me. And then magic happened with Henry and Messi tearing apart the hosts, each scoring twice, and also getting goals from Puyol and Piqué. It was breathtaking and set the stage for Iniesta’s moment of magic at Stamford Bridge and an amazing finish to the season.

2012       Manchester City v QPR     English Premier  League

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The dramatic end to the 1988-89 season was before my time, so when United came back from 0-1 against Spurs in the final league game of 1999 to clinch the title, I didn’t think it could get much better than that. I was wrong. A bunch of fellow fans gathered at Buffalo Wild Wings for Fox’s Survival Sunday, with all ten games on an array of channels. With fans from several different teams present, cheers and groans were constant depending on the action. Eventually we started calling out the TV numbers to keep track of the events. United secured victory at Sunderland and with City down 1-2 against QPR, another league title looked secure. But the fickle finger of fate intervened and Dzeko equalized, setting up Aguero’s moment of glory. Stunned I drank several shots as I watched the celebrations at Etihad. Gutted by the result, it was still one of the greatest soccer community events I have ever experienced.

Let me know what games impacted your soccer support in the comments below.

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Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

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Strip Club–World Cup 2014 Kit Preview (Part 2)

In preparation for the 2014 World Cup I have been working on several projects, one of which is reviewing all of the kits from each country for the tournament.  For Euro 2012, I did an extensive series of posts, running a virtual kit tournament.  Alas time and scope do not allow me to do this sort of thing for the World Cup, so instead I went through all of the shirts and narrowed it down to the my top 20.  There are some excellent resources for this:

From there I ranked them and put together a couple of posts.  Hope you enjoy and comments are welcome.

#10  Belgium  Home       

I love the red color of the jersey with the image of the crown from the crest in the torso.  I am not familiar with the manufacturer Burrda but the company did well with all three kits.  All three use the flag colors in the ring collar and the horizontal accent is muted and adds a nice touch.

#9  Brazil  Home

Brazil 2014 World Cup Home Kit (6)               

Brazil has such an iconic yet simple jersey and it’s hard to screw up, but Nike and Umbro have both done so in the past.  The understated trim on the sleeves (as opposed to the #StoptheSleeve versions of recent years) and the new collar design really put this towards the top.

#8  Iran  Away   

I didn’t even know that uhlsport still existed but the company created a dynamic jersey for Iran’s appearance at the 2014 World Cup.  The sublimated cheetah on the away kit is pretty cool and although this could be seen as a Portugal rip off, I think is distinctive enough to stand on its own.  In my research, I came across this on wikipedia:

On 1 February 2014, Iran announced the addition of the endangered Asiatic cheetah on their 2014 FIFA World Cup kits in order to bring attention to its conservation efforts.

#7  Japan  Home

Japan 2014 World Cup Home Kit (1)

Adidas got this spot on for the Blue Samurai.  The blue is very rich and is trimmed with a peach color which you don’t see very often.  The lines that radiate out from the national badge are not only an appealing accent but, according to Football Fashion, serve a purpose:

According to adidas: . . . the uniform is an expression of the strong determination as the players and the supporters realise that now is the time to unite as one and go into a huddle (“ENJIN”) to get ready for the battle ahead, to go all in for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and capture victory.  On the left side of the chest, there are 11 lines spreading out from the emblem, expressing the way those players depart from the “ENJIN” to their respective positions on the pitch for the battle.

#6  Cote d’Ivoire  Home

Ivory Coast 2014 World Cup Home Kit 2

Simply love this jersey.  Love the orange, and the shirt has such a great looking crest.  The African accents on the shoulders and armpits are unique and dynamic, creating a striking jersey for the team.  Here’s hoping that Didier Drogba and company get out of the group stage this time around.

#5  Holland  Home 

holland-home-wc-14

Another orange jersey and another classic.  As with Brazil, the Dutch kit is very identifiable and Nike has kept things very simple here.  In the end, a slightly redesigned crest really pushes this shirt up the list.

#4  Ghana  Home 

Ghana 2014 World Cup Home Kit 2

Love the contrast of the white shirt with the accents on the cuffs and shoulders.  Sometimes the simplest shirts are the best.

#3  England  Away   

England 2014 World Cup Home Kit (1)

Nike got this absolutely right for England.  The pinstriped red shirt with a ring collar cleverly hides a St. Cross design, and the crest pops against the red background.  Combined with the white shorts and red socks, this is one of best strips at the World Cup.

#2  Croatia  Away

Croatia 2014 Nike World Cup Away Jersey Image

I’m a big fan of Croatian kits, and this jersey uses the standard royal blue of their away kit and accents it with the red and white checks across the shoulders.  Speaking of the red and white checks, I found an interesting post on Wikipedia about the Croatian Coat of Arms, which gives insight into the colors used in the jersey.  It also appears that there is a two tone blue in the Football Federation crest but I haven’t been able to find anything that confirms that.

#1  Portugal  Away     

Nike Portugal 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

Wow.  When I first saw this shirt, I was reminded of previous Portuguese away kits.  Turns out that the 1998. 2000 and 2002 away kits were white with navy blue trim and accents, although for the life of me I couldn’t remember them ever wearing those at a competitive event.  This jersey has so much going for it: a white base with minimal blue trim around the collar and sleeves; a collar that combines modern design with the Nike button phase; and a crest that pops while referencing history (Portuguese Football Federation’s centenary).  Combined with the blue shirts and white socks, I hope Portugal wears this every game instead of their historic maroon kit.  This has definitely gone on the wish list and hope to pick it up in the coming months.

Strip Club–World Cup 2014 Kit Preview (Part 1)

In preparation for the 2014 World Cup I have been working on several projects, one of which is reviewing all of the kits from each country for the tournament.  For Euro 2012, I did an extensive series of posts, running a virtual kit tournament.  Alas time and scope do not allow me to do this sort of thing for the World Cup, so instead I went through all of the shirts and narrowed it down to the my top 20.  There are some excellent resources for this:

From there I ranked them and put together a couple of posts.  Hope you enjoy and comments are welcome.

#20  Chile  Away

Chile 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

This simple white shirt with just hints of the flag colors does a nice job but Puma’s funky collar (ie trachea patch) pushes it down the list.

#19  Russia  Home

Russia 2014 Home Kit 1

I really like the color of this shirt, which is reminiscent of their pre World Cup 2010 release (they failed to win the playoff, OOPS!!), and again I enjoyed the flag accents on sleeves.

#18  Argentina   Home

Argentina 2014 Home Kit 1

This shirt is a classic and adidas does well here by adding just a hint of modernization (ie the diagonally stripe things).

#17 France  Home

France 2014 Home kit 1

For the most part, Nike has done well since taking over the French line.  The blue color used is very attractive, nicely accented by a white collar and a monochromatic badge.

#16  Colombia  Away

Colombia 2014 World Cup Away Kit (5)

This would have been a Top 10 selection without the accents on the sleeves, which cause the shirt to look very MLS-ish, and that’s not a good thing.

#15  Australia  Away

Austrlia 2014 World Cup Away Kit-1

What a color combination, very unique, which according to Football Fashion is “dark obsidian blue, and has been inspired by the design worn by Australia when they qualified for their first ever final 40 years ago.”

#14  Korea Republic  Away

I love the white shirt with just a hint of the flag colors (a theme for me), and the collar is quite unique and serves as a nice touch.

#13  Ghana  Away

Ghana 2014 World Cup Away Kit 1

I would have loved to put this in the Top 10 but the shirt is just a little too busy for me.

#12  England  Home

England 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

Nike does a nice job keeping the shirt clean and simple, but the V neck collar keeps it out of the Top 10.

#11  Cote d’Ivoire  Away

Ivory Coast 2014 World Cup Away Kit

To be honest, I think my bias against green shirts kept this lower but Puma did a great job with the African jerseys for this tournament.

Strip Club–Tip Out Edition

As I’ve written before, Euro 2000 was one of my favorite and most memorable soccer tournaments ever.  During a window in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, I turned from casual fan into full-on Soccer Nerd.  During those years I was reading, watching, coaching and playing to a level that raised the game to an obsession (an unhealthy one my wife might add) in my life.

One of the disappointments of that tournament was Germany.  The defending European champions had crashed out against Croatia at the 1998 World Cup and began defense of their title with a strong Bayern Munich contingent, a sprinkling of German contributions in the English Premier League and some domestically based stars.

The Germans were drawn in a group with Romania, England and Portugal.  In the opener, Mehmet Scholl pegged back the Romanians with a goal to secure a point (his goal is early in the video).  Next up was England, and Alan Shearer doomed Die Mannschaft to an early exit with a headed goal, marking the first time that England had won a competitive match against Germany since the 1966 World Cup final.

Portugal added insult to injury with a 3-0 demolition via a hat trick from Sérgio Conceição.  The winger nodded in Pauleta’s shot cum cross at the back post before getting laid out by Kahn to open the scoring.  Conceição then danced around Hamann and hit a shot right at the German keeper, which somehow he didn’t save.  Later in the second half, Conceição was released down the right hand channel and thumped his shot home to the far post.

The poor performance of the Germans started a rebuilding process that is paying dividends to this day.  Two years later Germany were in the World Cup Final.  They made the World Cup Semi-Finals in 2006 on home soil and were Runners-Up at Euro 2008.  Another Semi-Final appearance at World Cup 2010 was followed up by Semi-Final defeat by Italy at Euro 2012.  The team is poised for great things at the 2014 World Cup with players hitting their prime and Bayern Munich finding domestic and European success.

As for the jersey itself, I got it in unique circumstances.  The BIGGBY franchisee I worked for had three daughters.  The oldest daughter’s husband was in town on break from military service and was looking for a soccer game.  I hooked him up at a local facility and afterwards he said he had a jersey that he didn’t really wear or want.  So I took the bait.  Turns out it was the Germany away shirt from Euro 2000, which was seen in the game against England.

In my research, I found this information from Picking up the Threads about the color green being used:

The German away kit is traditionally green and white; there is a widespread urban myth that this was a mark of respect that Ireland retained neutrality in WWII, or they played their first post-war friendly against them; however neither of these stories are true (it was in fact Switzerland who West Germany first played a post-war friendly against in 1950).  The colours of the away kit actually reflect the colours found on the flag of the second biggest kingdom of ancient Germany; Hannover and Saxony.

The shirt is a little big and can get a touch heavy during hot conditions, but I love the look.  Adidas incorporated the German flag into the collar, bands on the sleeves and the three stars representing each World Cup victory.  One of the coed teams I played on recently used green as their team color, so I made sure to wear it every once in a while.  I enjoy watching this current German team, so break out the jersey occasionally during International weekends.  For the 2013 Champions League Final, I wore it to the Watch Party as I didn’t support either Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund.  It’s a nice collector’s item but not a heavy part of the rotation.

MatchDay Memory–Going Hollywood

During one of our Mid-Michigan United watch parties, after yet another Joe Hart/Rachel Maddow joke, I had the idea to do a post about players who like actors/characters.  I started jotting down some ideas and kept my notebook with me watching games in case something came to mind.  As usual, I was a day late and a dollar short to an idea.  Putting the post together, I came across the tumblr page Footballers Who Look Like Actorswhich had already gotten quite a head start.  Disheartened I pushed on, because I had a couple in my notes that they did not have, so here is my starting eleven plus a manager, a referee and a mayor.

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From the moment I saw David de Gea at Atleti, I was convinced he was the starting keeper for the Whoville National Team.  Look at him.  Crazy hair and sideburns, little button nose, scrawny as Calista Flockhart on a bad day.  As a United fan I want him to bulk up and be more of a controlling presence in the penalty area.  As a bitter, snarky prick, I want him to remain ridiculously frail so that everyone can make fun of him.

Val Kilmer is preparing himself for his role as Sergio Ramos in the upcoming biopic about the Spanish defender.  Not a single part of the last sentence is true, especially because Val would have to lose too much weight to even make that happen.  When I see the current Sergio Ramos (beard, highlights, shorthair), I think Ice Man and Thunderheart.

mexes-renner

Philippe Mexes has an uncanny resemblance to actor Jeremy Renner.  Credit to Footballers Who Like Actors for the pic, who did the hard work for me on that one.  Mexes occasionally has a moment of glory but sometimes (read: most of the time) can be utterly useless.  Likewise Renner has been in decent movies (The Town and Hurt Locker) but also has made some bad choices (The Avengers and Ghost Protocol).

Cedrick suggested that Thomas Vermaelen IS Jude Law.  Have to agree that some of the pics on the interwebs are striking in their similarities.  Tough to say whether the Belgian player is actually a decent defender or impersonating one in hopes of running off with Arsenal’s great fortunes.  Wait, what?

Fabio Coentrao is probably not chasing around supernatural forces or writing another best seller but he does have a resemblance to David Duchovny’s characters over the years, especially Hank Moody from Californication.  The actor has a little squarer jaw but Coentrao could probably do in a pinch.

ashley young

Another United player has a twin in the acting world.  Skimming the Footballers Who Look Like Actors website, a recent post showed side by side pics of Ashley Young and Jaime Hector.  Think what you want about Young (diver, poor crosser of the ball, waste of space) but Hector’s performance as Marlo Stanfield in the Wire was amazing.  What you say.  You haven’t seen the Wire.  Stop reading this post and start watching the series right now.

For the purposes of this post and as an acknowledgment of the Spanish Waiter’s tactical creativity with Chelsea at the 2012 Club World Cup, I have moved David Luiz into central midfield, and his doppelganger is easy: Sideshow Bob.  Next.

Mesut Ozil / Peter Lorre(submitted by mimirose)

Out on the left side of the pitch I have put Mesut Ozil.  Again the Footballers Who Look Like Actors website provided the comparison, in this case—Peter Lorre.  His name sounded familiar but had no idea who he was.  After a little research, found out he was in Casablanca, the Maltese Falcon, the Mr. Moto movies and Arsenic and Old Lace.  Who knew?

Pulling the strings for this eleven has to be everyone’s favorite Uruguayan—Luis Suarez.  Hopefully in some hypothetical match he doesn’t offend the opposition, try to dive for a penalty or save a goal bound shot with his hand.  His twin, Anne Hathaway, has been a running gag on the Men in Blazers podcast for a while now, even generating an entry on the MIB wiki.

Roberto-Soldado-111123-Celebrates-AI-300bradley-cooper

Hopefully scoring the goals for the team would be Roberto Soldado and Edison Cavani. I started referring to the Spanish striker as Bradley Cooper in my early posts on La Liga, while Cavani’s particular facial features reminded me of days gone by and Masters of the Universe villain Skeletor.

holloway sloth

Mean-spirit-ness ahoy. Managing this team has to be Iain Dowie.  Due to his long record of success?  No.  Due to his inspiring man management skills?  No.  Because he is Sloth, again a touchstone to another movie of my youth—The Goonies.  Not nice to say but most think it and don’t say it out loud.  Credit to ROLFrazzi for pic.

Finally, taking charge of the match must be Spanish referee Cesar Nunez Fernandez who, along with University of Kentucky Lead Car Salesman Head Basketball Coach John Calipari, is keeping the world’s hair gel economy afloat.  Obviously he’s been hitting the beach or tanning bed more than the UK coach, and I’m sure he could make sure that any game goes off without a hitch.  Even with Suarez on the field.

Overseeing all of the festivities would be Mayor Quimby from the Simpsons, giving the match a sense of decorum.  And if he couldn’t make it, I’m sure his understudy, Brendan Rodgers, could step in.  Have to give a shout to Mid-Michigan United Supporters John and Ravi who tipped me off to this one.

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So that’s the list.

GK      David de Gea              Who from Whoville

RB       Sergio Ramos              Val Kilmer

CB       Thomas Vermaelen     Jude Law

CB       Philippe Mexes            Jeremy Renner

LB       Fabio Coentrao           David Duchovny

RM      Ashley Young             Jaime Hector

DM      David Luiz                  Sideshow Bob

AM      Luis Suarez                 Anne Hathaway

LM      Mesut Ozil                  Peter Lorre

ST        Edison Cavani             Skeletor

ST        Roberto Soldado         Bradley Cooper

MGR   Iain Dowie                  Sloth

Referee Cesar Nunez Fernandez        John Calipari

The goal now becomes creating another squad for this team to play against.  The notebook will be at the ready and if I can’t create it on my own, then I’ll “borrow” from Footballers Who Look Like Actors.

In my research I found some more resources:

Enjoy and thanks to everyone for their suggestions and notes.

Strip Club–Euro 2012 Kit Tournament (Group D)

In an ambitious effort to get involved with the upcoming Euros, I followed the draw, game by game, to determine which kit would win Euro 2012 based on my tastes.  These posts are an extension of my Strip Club posts and the epic Kit Tournament done by Avoiding the Drop for the 2010 World Cup.

Special thanks to Mao Football, whose post got this all kicked off for me.  Also to TheScore.ie , who put together a slide show of each jersey.  Finally, 7football created a graphic representation of each strip complete with shirt, shorts and socks.  Truly phenomenal stuff.

Here we go.

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France

England

Sweden

Ukraine

France v England

A couple of years ago, Nike got a hold of the France kit and did a major overhaul, going with a darker blue for the home kit and using a creamy white for the away kit with some sort of black trim.  The original home kit was epic.  This version? Not so much.  There are subtle alternating horizontal strips of a bluish black hue but the collar sinks it.  The traditional royal blue sticking out and a design straight out of a J Crew catalog from the early 90’s.  As for the English, their away kit is confusing.  The black shirt could be an attempt to be menacing, like “we’re the Three Lions and we’re going to rip out your throat after over a hundred of years of disappointment”, but the light blue collar, possibly echoing the lions on the badge, gives it real clearance rack potential. A tedious draw.

Ukraine v Sweden

The co-hosts home kit is relatively simple and stays out of the way.  Looking at the rest of the group, this is probably the way to go. Sweden’s away kit is almost too simple and screams lack of imagination. The navy blue and the yellow sash, which I love in this case,  is a possible River Plate, US 1950 shout out, but felt they could have done more.  Edge to the hosts as they get off to a good start.

Sweden v England

The Swedes home kit doesn’t vary too much from ones before it, going with the yellow shirt and narrow blue pinstripes.  The collar doesn’t work for me but gets the three points over England’s away strip.

Ukraine v France

This will be an interesting kit choice for the counties and TV broadcasters.  Is it the yellow home strip of Ukraine against the white of France or the blue away Ukrainian strip against the white or the yellow against the deeper blue French kit?   My guess is that it will be third of these options and co-hosts will book themselves a spot in the knockout phase with a victory.

England v Ukraine

England’s new home kit is elegant.  White with a minimal red accent, red manufacturer logo and red crest.  So much better than the away version. Ukraine’s away kit is a mirror of the home, with a nice shade of royal blue getting the job done.  This is tough one, but as Rooney will be back, I’ll give the edge to the English.

Sweden v France

Again there are several possibilities of which kit each team will wear.  My guess is that both teams will run out in their traditional colors, which may mean that the white away kit of France may not make an appearance in the tournament.  Both collars distract me but the rest of the Sweden shirt gives them the edge.

Standings

Ukraine 2 0 1 6
Sweden 2 0 1 6
England  1 1 1 4
France 0 1 2 1
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