Jim White

  • Messi and only Messi can stop Germany winning the World Cup

    Just before the World Cup started I was at a function at the Argentine embassy in London, talking about the country’s long established sporting rivalry with England. Or at least that was advertised as the subject that Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and at least one far less qualified observer were supposed to be addressing.

    But it soon became evident from the questions asked by the large crowd of Argentine expats gathered in the magnificent Belgravia mansion that houses the embassy that rivalry with England was of no more than passing interest. What worried them far more was Germany. In

    Read More »from Messi and only Messi can stop Germany winning the World Cup
  • Brazil gambled on World Cup glory – and lost it all

    The most extraordinary thing about the most extraordinary night in Belo Horizonte was hearing the Brazilian fans at the end of the game issuing a series of oles to mark yet another sequence of German passes.

    As the brilliant Khedira, Mueller, Schweinsteiger and Kroos toyed with the home team they were applauded to the skies by locals who know good football when they see it. And, to their immense disappointment, they were seeing it expressed with such facility not by their own players, but by the opposition.


    No one was expecting this. No one

    Read More »from Brazil gambled on World Cup glory – and lost it all
  • That’s it then: no work is going to be done after 5 o’clock today. No office will be occupied, every social event compromised, cinemas and theatres empty. Because this evening promises to offer up the best football entertainment in years, potentially up to five solid hours of mesmerising skill, application and endeavour, together with more plotlines than a Hollywood blockbuster. France versus Germany, followed by Brazil against Colombia: who needs a barbecue when that lot is going on?

    For the Germans, every match at this World Cup seems to come with a subplot of revenge. Not on their part,

    Read More »from Hold on tight – this could one of football’s greatest nights
  • It was a horrible, painful end of the World Cup for Mexico in the steaming heat of Fortaleza on Sunday. It was cruel indeed for Miguel Herrera’s disciplined, determined, progressive side to be dispatched by two such late, late goals. They had played an exemplary game in conditions which – according to the local measure of such things – were hotter than Gisele.

    But one thing is certain: they have not been cheated of the chance to progress. The penalty which saw them eliminated was neither the result of a pan-European refereeing conspiracy nor of subterfuge. It was just a penalty. One of those

    Read More »from Dutch earned spot fairly but they do not hold Europe’s best hope
  • The apologism must stop: Luis Suarez needs help

    Watching Luis Suarez’s assault on Giorgio Chiellini again (and it is hard to avoid it here in Brazil, the local television is playing it on an almost continuous loop) what strikes me is how weird it is.

    As moral equivalence seems to be the prevailing requirement when dealing with anything to do with the striker, it has to be said he is not endangering the Italian’s life. His toothy intervention is not remotely threatening to the player’s future career. He is not attempting to break his leg or tear the ligaments on his knee. He is just biting him. Yet this is a 27-year-old man biting a fellow

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  • Forget your false hopes: This is failure at its most abject

    It is the hope that hurts. At least until 6:45 on Friday evening, England are still in the World Cup, clinging on by the thinnest of mathematical threads, their fingernails thrust deep into the window ledge.

    The fact that no team has ever before in the competition’s history qualified for the knock out having lost their first two group stage matches does not stop the pathetic seed of hope being planted in our collective mind. Until rejection is official, there is a chance, we tell ourselves. Knowing it is the most meaningless of platitudes.

    So it is that we will, against all our natural

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  • The Uruguay weaknesses England can expose

    It is possible England could lose tomorrow against Uruguay and remain with a chance of qualification. As long as Costa Rica lose to Italy in Recife on Friday it is mathematically possible to go down to the South Americans and not yet be eliminated. But the reality is England need to win. In order to keep the permutations in their own hands, in order for potential qualification to be something more than fanciful, they need to gain three points. Even one is not enough.

    And frankly, after seeing Uruguay falter against Costa Rica, any other result than a victory would constitute unnecessary

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  • Expect Milner, not Sterling, to start against Italy

    At least the pitch is looking nice and green. The groundsman at Manaus, faced with a playing surface that looked as if someone had assaulted it with a blow torch, got out his paint brush and applied a thick coating of green emulsion. Let’s just hope Roy Hodgson has packed some paint stripper, as his players are going to end up with green feet come the end of the game.

    But then, as Wayne Rooney said, it is not as if Italy will be playing on a different pitch. Both teams will be facing the same conditions. Both teams will be in temperatures more akin to a bread oven, running around in a sauna,

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  • Flying under the radar could help England in Brazil

    Along the beachfront in Fortaleza, life is going on much as it would even without a World Cup.

    Which means, this being Brazil, football is everywhere.

    Stroll along the promenade walks in the early evening and down on the beach there are floodlit pitches on the sand, on which dozens of boys play all night. Up on the prom there are floodlit concrete futebol de salao pitches on which bare-foot young lads do improbable tricks with the ball.

    Next to them are floodlit foot volleyball pitches, on which overweight middle aged men flick and head and chest the ball, wheezing between the points. Little

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  • Sven-Goran Eriksson does not reckon England have a hope in this World Cup.

    Which probably qualifies as the very definition of stating the bleedin' obvious. Besides, Sven should know about England not having a hope. After all, he managed to squander far more significant resources than Roy Hodgson has at his disposal.

    The Swede was in charge of England at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, when he presided over the reverse alchemy of turning the golden generation into straw men. Hodgson may not have a hope, but at least no-one in a month’s time will be lingering over the might have beens and the

    Read More »from England may be outsiders under Hodgson, but at least they show some fight