Alex Chick

  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day eight

    After Argentina sparkled and France flopped, England take to the field again as they face Algeria.

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    Thursday's action

    Argentina 4-1 South Korea - Group B - Soccer City

    Two wins out of two now for Diego Maradona's side, who played with real swagger and togetherness, and have been installed as co-favourites along with Spain and Brazil. Park Chu-Young deflected a free-kick into his own net early on, before Gonzalo Higuain headed the second just after the half-hour mark. Bolton's Lee Chung-Yong pulled one back against the run of play just before the break. Higuain tapped in from close range

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  • Top World Cup marketing tie-ins

    The World Cup is a marketing man's dream. No creativity required - just align yourself with something that already exists and is extremely popular, and bingo!

    I ventured a full quarter of a mile from my house to a local supermarket to check out the best and worst World Cup related (official or unofficial) products.

    While there was nothing to beat the limited edition Cross of St George wheelbarrow on sale in B&Q, World Cup tie-ins were in abundant supply.

    Walkers Flavour Cup

    In the old days, if they were feeling bold, Walker's might release a new flavour for the World Cup (impala and onion,

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  • World Cup will come good

    This morning I sat,
    sullen-faced, in the reception area of a major automotive parts replacement
    specialist in Slough, surrounded by fellow mugs waiting to be told the grim
    truth about the shabby state of their cars.

    As I flicked through
    a 16-month-old copy of Good Housekeeping, scanning the page for top tips on
    uses for left-over asparagus, 12.30 could not come soon enough.

    Fifteen hours might
    not be a long time to develop withdrawal symptoms, but I was desperate for
    World Cup football. Give me anything, I thought, even an absolute clunker.
    Uruguay-France, Slovenia-Algeria, I don't care. I'll

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  • Battle of the broadcasters

    Like it or not, the people presenting the World Cup on TV are as much a part of the tournament as the players themselves.

    So let's have a look at the team sheets for rival broadcasters BBC and ITV.

    The BBC have shown customary restraint in spending the licence-payers' money, sending a team of just 295 to South Africa - 15 per cent fewer than they had in Germany four years ago but still absurdly bloated.

    The TV talent is led by Gary Lineker, with regular studio honchos Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Lee Dixon.

    Special guests include Emmanuel Adebayor, Harry Redknapp (who until recently refused

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day one

    In case you haven't heard, the World Cup starts today, and it is hard not to leap out of bed with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old on Christmas morning.

    The cars are decked out in flimsy England flags and the supermarket shelves are stacked with Crouchy-endorsed Pringoooooaaallls - everything is ready for a month-long sporting feast.

    Even if you are not a World Cup junkie who would leave his wife's bedside during childbirth to catch the second half of Honduras v Switzerland, it is hard not to get caught up in the excitement and drama of the tournament.

    Yes, it's overhyped. Yes, it's irritating

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: day three

    First match, first psychological trauma for England. And that second-round meeting with Germany appears ever-more likely. Here's today's essential information.

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    Saturday's action

    South Korea 2-0 Greece - Group B - Port Elizabeth

    If there were any justice in the world, Greece would be expelled from the tournament after this abomination of a performance, and FIFA would invite Ireland to play the Greeks' remaining games against Argentina and Nigeria. Woeful marking allowed Lee Jung-Soo to notch the opener from close range, before a shocking blunder by Loukas Vintra sent Park Ji-Sung on his

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  • We have a tournament

    Well, we've got a World Cup.

    The opening goal by Siphiwe Tshabalala (a spelling minefield right up there with Eyjafjallajokull) was brilliant, uplifting, and although Mexico snaffled an equaliser they probably deserved, it gave South Africa genuine hope of progress in the tournament.

    Tshabalala culminated a superb counter-attack by lashing a left-foot shot into the top-fight corner, then celebrated with a convoluted Macarena-style dance that was just a little too rehearsed to be truly enjoyable.

    If you were picking nits, you might say there is something deeply patronising about the way

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: Day two

    Steel yourself for the unique brand of agony that is England at the World Cup, as Fabio Capello's men take on the USA on day two.

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    Friday's action

    Opening ceremony
    An hour or so of regulation dancing, children singing an R Kelly. The show was comprehensively stolen by a giant dung beetle, who came on and managed to dribble a Jabulani ball without it flying inexpicably into the crowd. Regrettably, the beetle did not get to take a penalty like Diana Ross in 1994.

    South Africa 1-1 Mexico
    Despite the outrageous noise created by 94,000 vuvuzelas, it seemed the occasion and Mexico would

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  • World Cup cheat sheet: day four

    Sunday's action

    Algeria 0-1 Slovenia - Group C - Polokwane

    The Balkan nation claimed their first World Cup win and went top of Group C after Robert Koren's late shot somehow evaded goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi and found the right corner. While not on a par with Robert Green's howler, it was a bad mistake by Chaouchi. Algeria blamed the Jabulani ball (Lionel Messi has also now spoken against it) but the replay showed no major movement in the air.

    Serbia 0-1 Ghana - Group D - Pretoria

    A stodgy game eventually went Ghana's way after Serbia pushed the self-destruct button in the second half.

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  • Anyone for ruthless efficiency?

    The Germans
    are looking confident, ominous and dangerous, which means one thing - it feels
    like a World Cup at last.

    It was all
    starting to go badly wrong after an enjoyable opening game. The first seven
    games produced just nine goals, a pathetic rate of 1.27 per game with no match
    yielding more than two.

    From those
    games, the only goals that could really be described as good were Siphiwe Tshabalala's
    for South Africa and Steven Gerrard's for England.

    In fact,
    two third of the nine involved some sort of howler - goalkeeping errors by
    Robert Green and Faouzi Chaouchi for the USA and Slovenia

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