Early Doors

Germans have beef with gauchos

Early Doors

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It might not be the World Cup grudge match that England fans were hoping for, but the upcoming quarter-final between Germany and Argentina is a fixture that has a rich history of its own.

Britain's back pages won't be covered in Hand of God references, "Gotcha!" headline retreads or Richard Littlejohn reminding us how good old Maggie sorted the Argies out, but there is plenty of gold to be mined in the build-up to Saturday's match in Cape Town.

There is the small matter of the two consecutive finals in which the two sides clashed in 1986 and 1990, a run which ended honours even.

But there are more recent meetings to stir up the fixture which have contributed to the Germans having a real beef with the South American gauchos after they have been twice besmirched in their own back yard.

In 2006, the then hosts beat Argentina in a penalty shootout at the same stage they meet each other at now, but clashes between players and coaches right after the then hosts fired their way into the semi-finals tainted their celebrations in Berlin.

And it must have jarred when, even setting aside the efficient stereotype, a country that prides itself on doing things in the correct manner saw its team undone by the anarchic whirlwind that is Diego Maradona, who led his side to March's 1-0 friendly win in Munich courtesy of a Gonzalo Higuain strike.

Germany vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has fired the first shot in the build-up to the game at the Green Point Stadium, branding them swarthy, conniving, tango-dancing cheats. Well, kind of.

He said: "It starts before the match. If you see how they gesticulate, how they try to influence the referee. That is not part of the game. That is a lack of respect. They just are like that."

"We should not be provoked by them. I hope the referee will pick up the feeling of who is provoking whom. We saw that again in their match against Mexico at half-time."

Maradona has already responded in his own inimitable style, simply asking: "What's up, Schweinsteiger? Nervous?"

Early Boers will be back out on the road today to visit Argentina's training camp in Pretoria. With a bit of luck, it will be Schweini's Bayern Munich team-mate Martin Demichelis who is be the one put up to respond to the German's comments.

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One thing this World Cup has really been great for is the incessant flow of statistics.

All across the globe subterranean bunkers full of number crunchers have been cooking up stats and facts that range from the sublimely insightful to the ridiculously random.

Take these two nuggets, one pertinent and one pointless, for example:

* After 56 of the 64 matches to be played at this World Cup, the average number of goals scored per match is 2.20. The all-time low for an entire tournament is 2.21, at Italia 90.

* So far in South Africa, no one with the shirt number 1, 5 or 22 has yet managed to score.

However, the most arresting fact that EB learnt yesterday is that Group C is the only group not to have provided a quarter-finalist, meaning England failed to win what is officially the worst group at this World Cup. Fact.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We fully understand and respect both players' decisions. We could have replaced them with two other players but feel the players involved are six of the best in the world - and that is what we promised to deliver. Everyone agreed the only decision possible was to postpone the event until next summer when we intend to deliver the same six player line-up." - A3:K director Terry Byrne convinces no one of the status of Messrs Gerrard and Rooney, who have pulled out of the football skills show at the O2 Arena scheduled for the week after the final.

FOREIGN VIEW: "I told the referee that he didn't even give a free kick for a tackle which could have broken my leg. The same player then committed another heavy foul on Robinho for which he should have been sent off. They have to have another look at this type of violence because the people who are losing out are the ones who get injured." - Brazil playmaker Elano calls for officials to clamp down on violent conduct after Cheik Tiote's reckless tackle in the win over Ivory Coast means he will miss the quarter-final against the Netherlands.

REASON TO ROOT FOR PARAGUAY OF THE DAY: "Of course I will (streak)... but with my body painted in the colours of Paraguay." - Lingerie model Larissa Riquelme, who has bounced her way to fame while cheering on the Albiroja this summer, has promised to match Maradona's pledge to run naked in the streets should her team win the World Cup.

BOERMY ARMY TWEET OF THE DAY:  "@EarlyBoers 10 Russian spies found in America posing as civil servants. Meanwhile, 11 English lads found in SA posing as footballers" - segmatt gives his bashing of the England team a topical slant.

COMING UP: It's the second of two days off for the World Cup, but there is still some major sporting action happening at Wimbledon. Follow live text commentary of Serena Williams v Petra Kvitova and Vera Zvonareva v Tsvetana Pironkova in the Wimbledon women's semi-finals from 13:00.

Or, if you are really that desperate for your football fix, there's live scoring of all the day's Champions League first qualifying round first leg clashes, featuring the might of Dnepr-Transmash, Torpedo Zhodino and Zalaegerszeg, from 16:30.

Plus, there's the Armchair Pundit with his daily cheat sheet, plenty of analysis from our select squad of experts, and the World Cup news ticker will be ticking away with, er, World Cup news.

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