Tag Archives: Diego Maradona

South Africa 2010 round up so far and what’s still to come..


With just the final round of group games remaining there are only 90 minutes of World Cup 2010 left for half the teams. Lets take a look forward to the remaining games and reflect back on what’s happened thus far.

Anelka & Domenech -the men at the center of the French controversy

In Group A it would appear that both Uruguay and Mexico have all but secured their spot in the final 16  and a draw between the two of them tonight would see them both go through. However a draw for Mexico would see them finish 2nd in the group meaning a show down against Argentina in the next round – obviously not ideal, so it makes for an interesting final game and gives a glimmer of hope to both the rainbow nation and a largely underwhelming French side. For South Africa, it appears they will be the first host nation to fail to emerge from the group stages and for the French it would be a travesty if they actually scrape through. They have been beyond disappointing thus far and clearly their much publicised internal problems are effecting the performances on the pitch – there must be plenty of Irish fans around the world who cant help but smile – fair play I say!

The Webmaster suggests Mexico will have the goods tonight in a narrow win which will see them top group. Hopefully the narrow defeat will still leave Uruguay in 2nd spot leaving them the unfortunate task of facing Argentina. South Africa and France to draw sending the French team to their holiday destinations, where they clearly want to be, and leaving the South Africans to join the rest of the country in the stands; blasting on Vuvuzelas.

Maradona's faith pays off - Higauin hits a hat-trick against South Korea

Moving on to Group B Argentina are sitting pretty at the top of the group and as long as they avoid defeat tomorrow they will go through in first place. Two pretty solid performances so far see them on 6 points and gives them an opportunity to give some of the remainder of the squad a run out tonight. The Greeks face the tough task of needing at least a point from the game against Maradona’s men to stay alive. When you combine their inability to score with the class of the Argentinian outfit their chances look slim. It is also likely that South Korea will handle any fight from Nigeria and go on to win their final game.

The webmaster predicts Argentina will make light work of the Greek side, recording another win and topping the group on 9 pts leaving them to meet Uruguay in the next round. Whilst Korea’s victory will see them finish in second place and through to the final 16 to face off against Mexico.

Capello brings squad together - time to perform!

Group C appeared to be the easiest group of the lot and the fact the likes of England and the USA have struggled highlights the disappointing nature of the tournament so far. Admittedly USA were robbed of a victory against Slovenia, with an outrageous ruling out of a late winner – the ref had almost blown the whistle before the free-kick was taken. Unfortunately unlike the webmasters’ predictions, England have reinforced their status of chokers with two disappointing performances against USA and Algeria. Despite the poor performance so far, a victory against Slovenia will see them sneak through, so all hope is not lost. There also appears to be a rift in the English camp, a claim that the players have denied, but there is no doubt the pressure has mounted on Capello and his men and they certainly need to turn it around against Slovenia.

The webmaster suggests that both England and USA will pull of a victory in their final game leaving USA in 1st place ahead of England on goal difference – meaning England will face the tough task of Germany in the next round.

Have we seen Harry for the last time?

Mathematically anyone in Group D can still make it through, making for a very interesting last round in the group. Germany started off so well with a convincing victory over Australia but were then shocked in the second game by a determined Serbian side who managed to pull off a very unlikely victory, especially after a poor performance against Ghana. Australia have been on the receiving end of two arguably harsh red cards that has put a massive dent in their world cup campaign. After a disappointing effort in the first game they came out against Ghana with a bang. Everything started so positively and grabbing an early goal put us right back in the mix, but Kewell’s red card and the resulting penalty really put us under the pump. In all fairness Australia still deserved to win the game and really did a fantastic job with only 10 men for such a long period – if only Wilkshire actually tried to score instead of passing to the keeper, things could have been very different. Personally the webmaster felt Ghana were very disappointing – surely they had to try and go for the win against a 10 man Aussie team especially knowing a win would have secured their spot. They now face the task of coming up against Germany in the last game.

Based on the performance against Australia, the webmaster sees Germany recapturing the form they showed in the first game and brushing aside Ghana with ease. This will leave qualification open for Australia to pip both Ghana and Serbia at the line. The webmaster cannot decide between a draw or Australian win, but either way it will then come down to goal difference for the team in 2nd and 3rd.

Sneijder Celebrates after scoring against Japan

Moving on to Group E: we see the Netherlands who are one of only two teams that have already booked their spot in the  final 16 – along with Brazil. The dutch have had two solid performances but have definitely not hit full tilt just yet and will be banking on the return of Arjen Robben to spark some more life into the side come the knock-out stages, if not against Cameroon. Japan and Denmark face off in their last group game which could prove to be an exciting one with the winner going through. A draw would send Japan through most likely in second spot as long as Holland can secure at least a point against a Cameroon side that hasn’t really turned up.  Cameroon are already knocked out of the tournament after two lacklustre performances against Denmark and Japan and are just playing for pride against the Netherlands in the last game.

In the view of the webmaster Netherlands will progress in first place after another victory over Samuel Eto’s Cameroon, setting up a likely round of 16 battle with defending world champions Italy. Japan should be able to at least draw their game against Denmark which will see them against Paraguay in the next round.

Something tells me we wont see this again - thank god!

In Group F we have seen Paraguay almost sew up their spot in the final 16 with impressive performances against Italy and Slovakia. In their final game they are coming up against a resilient New Zealand  team who are determined not to lose, however as long as they avoid defeat they will go through in first place. Captain Ryan Nelsen has proved a colossal force at the back for the All Whites making them very tough to break down. Incredibly, if New Zealand could pull off another draw as well as Italy drawing with Slovakia with the exact same result the decision of who goes through will come down to a drawing of lots!!! This is because New Zealand and Italy will be tied on points, goal difference, goals for, goals against and the result between them was a draw – ridiculous but here’s hoping!  Alternatively if New Zealand win they will go through anyway. The current world champions, Italy, have been a massive let down so far in a world cup which has highlighted below par performances from some big teams. They have been highly unconvincing but will still get through with a victory over Slovakia in their final game. For Slovakia their is a glimmer of hope, should they beat Italy they will progress alongside Paraguay.

Whilst the webmaster would love to see 0-0 draws in both games so we can draw lots to see which of New Zeland and Italy will go through (you know you want to see that!), it appears unlikely and if it happens both games would be rather boring. Rather the webmaster suggests Paraguay will beat New Zealand and Italy will beat Slovakia sending Paraguay to meet Japan in the next round and Italy to face off against Holland.

Portugal celebrate one of their seven goals

Moving on to Group G, where we have Brazil who have already qualified for the round of 16 but could lose out on first place if they lose to Portugal in the final game. Brazil overcame a very determined North Korean outfit in their first game before a more convincing display against Ivory Coast in the second game. They will however be without Kaka in the game against Portugal after a sending off on the back of a ludicrous second yellow late in the game against Ivory Coast. Whilst Kaka has been largely disappointing thus far, his presence will still be missed. Portugal on the other hand started quite poorly against Ivory Coast, where they barely posed an attacking threat, but lifted to another level last night as they humbled North Korea in an embarrassing 7-0 victory. They were simply electric once they got going last night in a performance that has seen them almost guarantee a spot in the next round. Even if they lose to Brazil in the final round it would take a huge win for Ivory Coast over North Korea to swing the goal difference back in their favour. Ivory Coast had started so well against Portugal and in the view of the webmaster were unlucky to not come away with 3 pts from the game. A disappointing result against Brazil coupled with Portugal’s massive win last night has virtually put an end to The Elephants’ campaign. North Korea are already knocked out of the world cup  and will be determined to show their worth against Ivory Coast in their final game.

The webmaster feels the Portugal/Brazil game could be too close to call and could possibly end in a draw which would suit Portugal as I’m not convinced either will want to win, with the reward for coming first, a showdown with pre-trounament favourites, Spain, in the next round. Ivory Coast should have the goods and defeat North Korea but will still bow out due to goal difference.

Gelson Fernandes celebrates a shock winner against Spain

Finally, Group H is left in quite an interesting position. Chile currently sit top of the group with 6 pts, but are still a chance to miss out on the knockouts. They come up against Spain in the final game where a single point would confirm top spot for the Chileans. For Spain it is virtually a must win game as if they fail to win and Switzerland can secure victory over Honduras, the pre-tournament favourites will be on their way home. In what has been the upset of the tournament, Spain managed to lose their first game against Switzerland. They dominated possession but just could not manage to put the ball in the net. A comfortable 2-0 victory last night over Honduras has put them back on track, but Chile pose much more of a threat and Spain will need to step it up quite significantly to secure 3 pts. For Switzerland last nights result was a disappointing one however a victory over Honduras by 2 goals or more should send them through irrespective of the result in the other game. Mathematically Honduras could still go through in 2nd spot should Chile beat Spain and Honduras pull off a big victory over Switzerland, although it appears unlikely.

The webmaster suggests that Spain will overcome Chile in the final game and that Switzerland should also beat Honduras in their final game which will leave Spain, Chile and Switzerland all tied on 6 pts. This will then come down to goal difference to work out who finishes 1st and 2nd. If both Switzerland and Spain win by 1 goal that would see Spain top the group on a better goal difference with Chile and Switzerland tied on goal difference, goals for and goals against and Chile would go through due to their result between each other (1-0 to Chile last night). Leaving Spain to face Portugal and Chile to face Brazil in the next round – PS I might have got this wrong.. feel free to let me know if I have!

So despite some uninspiring games so far we are getting towards the business end of the competition and hopefully that will bring about a more attacking brand of the beautiful game, more like what we got to see last night from Portugal. The webmaster just has three requests for the remainder of the world cup:

  1. the ref’s stop being so trigger happy or rather whistle happy – we have seen far too many yellow cards, some resulting in red cards for really poor decisions
  2. no more diving – I’m so sick of seeing these prima donna’s diving around for absolute rubbish, its plain embarrassing and brings a lack of class to the game we love so much – the webmaster would love to see a straight red card be given for diving, if we impose that for a few matches diving will never be seen again!
  3. no more complaining about the damn ball – it’s a ball, it’s round –> KICK IT! preferably into the goals..  if you’re a keeper –> CATCH IT OR STOP IT! quite simple.

Laughable..

Webmaster over and out.

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Argentina – Genuine Contenders?


The general consensus in the footballing world at the moment is that Germany and Argentina have been the teams which have impressed so far at the World Cup. Germany did it against a rather poor Australian outfit, and it could have easily been a repeat of their 2002 opening encounter against Saudi Arabia. Argentina first beat a respectable Nigerian side 1-0, a team that lacks a bit of quality, but to be fair to the South American’s it was just one of those days where the ball wasn’t finding the back of the net. Then last night they played some breathtaking football, to brush aside Asia’s best footballing nation in South Korea. Messi and Tevez ran the show, and Gonzalo Higuain continued on his brilliant goalscoring form which we saw throughout the La Liga season. But the real question is, are Argentina good enough to win the World Cup?

Diego shows how it's done from outside the white lines

Jubalani Shmubalani

Rewind back to the 2006 World Cup, and Argentina were in the “group of death”. They strolled passed Ivory Coast and then produced one of the better international performances in recent times, beating Serbia & Montenegro 6-0. Qualifying with ease, pundits around the word lauded over the Argentinians, putting them down as the team to beat. Then came the round of 16, and an unimpressive  2-1 extra-time victory over Mexico. In the quarter-finals, Argentina lost to the German’s (typically) on penalties. Pekerman came under intense criticism over his decision to use Lionel Messi as a substitute throughout the tournament, as well as the decision to start Cambiasso on the bench in the quarter-finals. But the overall story of Argentina’s tournament was their breathtaking form in the group stages, in contrast to their rather flat performances in the knockout rounds. One would hope this will not be the case this time round.

This World Cup we see a fairly different side though. Mascherano and Heinze are the only two players who regained their spots in the starting XI from the last World Cup. Messi, Tevez, Higuain and Di Maria are some of the most exciting players at the tournament, and they will be the men who can lead Argentina to World Cup glory. Sadly, Gutierrez still finds himself in the team; even more worryingly at right-back. Maradona as a matter of fact cannot fathom an Argentine team without Jonas: “Mascherano, Messi, Jonás and eight more”. Argentina once again also have Jewish representation in their squad – Walter Samuel, who I have been led to believe is a non-practicing Jew. Let’s hope that hamstring injury won’t rule him out the the rest of the tournament.

Last but not forgotten is Diego Maradona. He may not be a tactical genius, but he certainly seems to be a motivational phenomenon. He seems to instil confidence into every player in his team. They all look very comfortable on the ball, and what is very important is that they have been encouraged to express themselves with the ball at their feet. Maradona stuck with Higuain after his assortment of misses against Nigeria, and as we all know, it paid off massively. What Maradona has done brilliantly, is give Messi the license the roam. Messi has been everywhere, and there is no doubt Maradona knows where to start the man, who’s playing style is almost identical to the infamous gaffer. Most importantly, the Argentinian squad all love Diego to bits. They trust him and they respect him, something which cannot be said for the French camp.

While we have to wait and see whether or not Argentina’s brilliant performances will carry through the knockout stages, we can certainly say we have been greatly entertained by Maradona’s men (And Maradona himself, he just can’t help himself when the ball rolls up to him!). Unlike Michael Cockerill (PTS’s favourite journalist!), I am not sensationally claiming that Argentina are the best thing since sliced bread, but with Lionel Messi, and his incredible supporting act, who knows what this team can achieve?


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Saturday Sugar Special Report – Maradona Watch


This was originally meant to be a part of the Saturday Sugar column, but there’s just so much dirt on Diego that it’s evolved into its own special report by PTS. Come back tomorrow for Saturday Sugar.

MARADONA WATCH

After all the talk and fuss about good ole Diego, he hadn’t done all that much of late. Football fans around the world were getting restless, could it be that Maradona wouldn’t be the hinderance everyone predicted? Well this week answered all this and more, with a bizarre string of stories that assured everyone that he’s a total and utter idiot.

1. If the World Cup lacks anything, then it is nudity. Everyone loves a little skin, and Diego has assured us that we’ll get more than our share. Take note, we can now add “naked fat man” to our tag cloud for Maradona. His promise to strip bare is conditional, however, and for Argentina to win the Cup would be remarkable to say the least. (Just to clarify, Maradona will run naked if the Pumas win the trophy) I’m not sure if his promise acts as any kind of incentive for his players, or anyone really, but I suppose it might be an incentive for himself, or comedic fans everywhere. On a serious note for a second, it doesn’t sound like the biggest vote of confidence in his players. It’s akin to “I’ll eat my hat if Argentina win the world cup”. Anyway – brace yourselves people, if Messi fires, then we’ll get to see Mardona’s penis. (vulgar I know, but for dramatic purpose)

2. Earlier in the week, Maradona came out with the startling and vital news that the toilet facilities in South Africa aren’t up to his apparently high standards. Now, without ever having been to the High Performance Centre in Pretoria, it doesn’t sound like the kind of place to shirk it’s lavatory responsibility. It’s not like it’s a whole in the ground or anything. Anyway, Maradona has insisted on getting his “IntiMist” that includes warm air blow dryers, seated heats, and two jet streams (front and rear). Apparently better than the iBidet (this is all legit – yes, yes, I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s Maradona!) the two new toilets have set the Centre back $900. Maybe it’ll be a collector’s item?

3. If you thought I was finished, then think again! Maradona has come out and encouraged his players to engage in sex throughout the tournament. The following quote just about says it all: “Sex is a normal part of social life and is not a problem. The disadvantages are when it is with someone who is not a stable partner or when the player should be resting. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE ACTION SHOULD NOT REVERBERATE IN THE LEGS OF THE PLAYER.” Just remember, Maradona thought it necessary to tell us this, it wasn’t like he was asked his opinion or anything. Brazilian coach Dunga managed to avoid controversy with the reply of “they can do what they want”, but Maradona just can’t stay on the straight and narrow. Going further, he has disagreed with Fabio Capello’s booze ban slapped on the Poms and stated that he will encourage his players to enjoy a tipple. If that hasn’t proved it, then I’m not sure what will.

Maradona this week has sumptuously ruined my Argentina World Cup experience. I won’t be able to watch Messi without thinking of Maradona taking a dump. I also won’t be able to watch Messi score, because every time he strikes, it means one step closer to a fat naked man on headline news around the world.

Video of the Week

Below is our Maradona footage of the week – classic press conference – this is how it’s done.

Vintage Maradona Quote

“I was, I am and I always will be a drug addict. A person who gets involved in drugs has to fight it everyday” – Maradona, 1996, as part of Argentina’s anti-drugs campaign. Maybe that explains everything…

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World Cup Preview – Group B – Argentina


A few of you readers have been screaming for more and well… here it is! We start our look at group B with Argentina.

THE BASICS

• Nickname: Albicelestes (white and blue sky) (is Pumas only the rugby team?)
• Colors: White and light blue
• FIFA Ranking: 7
• How They Got Here: Finished fourth in South American qualifying, with six losses and more controversy than Justin Beiber.
• World Cup Pedigree: 14 World Cups, winners (’78 as hosts and ’86), runners-up (’30, ’90), quarterfinals (’66, ’98, ’06).

THE PLOT

So much of the talk around Argentina focuses on their manager Diego Maradona. One of the greatest players to ever tie up the laces and grace the World Cup arena is now at the helm for his beloved country, but not before he smashed a whole bunch of drugs and changed body shapes more times than Jenny Craig. The Argy Bargies are one of the most talented sides in the comp and bring a whole lotta samba to South Africa. Expectations are typically high, however, and the pressure to perform is immense. The undisputed best player in the world, Lionel Messi, could be the hero, but rest assured, the cameras will be on Maradona just as much. Will his one man band take some of the focus off his team and help them to win, or completely backfire and leave them unstructured and outplayed?

THE DIRECTOR

Diego Maradona

Where to begin? Maradona should have been the greatest player in history. Have a sneak peak at this: (yes it’s true that’s really him!)

But he was the architect of his own undoing. After leading Argentina to a glorious (and controversial) victory in 1986, he was suspended from football for 15 months in 1991 and booted out of the ’94 World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine. (big muscles, small pipi) He then ate one too many crab cake, and ballooned to an enormous size. Many even suspected he was on the verge of death early last decade. He announced in 2007 that he had quit drinking and using drugs and the cult figure took over as manager of Argentina in 2008. The team has been, to say the least, unspectacular. They lost six times in qualifying, including a 6-1 drubbing in Bolivia. He used 78 players in qualifying, never using the same lineup twice. It must be near impossible for Diego to run a squad like this, or even remember their names, and the majority of the football world wish that he’d just piss off and leave it to someone else. Noted play-makers like Juan Riquelme decided to retire rather than play for Diego. It’s unsure whether world-class midfielder Esteban Cambiasso will even make the final World Cup roster due to his personal differences with the gaffer. Maradona’s time in the job so far will probably be best remembered for his antics when they qualified that included several (sic) graceful swan dives and a whole lot of belly wobbling that made the headlines everywhere.

LEADING MAN

Lionel Messi

Thousands upon thousands of words have been heaped upon the floppy-haired wizard. I won’t spill any more. After all, I think Ray Hudson said it best when he said: “What he is, is like something out of Greek mythology, man. A little short-legged bull, Lionel Messi, covered with eyes.” Or “Messi is to his team what M&Ms are to E.T.” Ray Hudson is a remarkable man. A global treasure. If anyone can understand either of these quotes then let me know…

SUPPORTING CAST

Javier Mascherano (midfielder, Liverpool) is a tireless worker and excellent distributor who’s had a bit of an off season (like most of Liverpool) in the Premiership. He’s an experienced lad who has a certain aura around him that can only help the South American’s cause. Carlos Tevez (forward, Manchester City) is a bulldog with the ball and an absolute terror with it in the box. He’s scored 23 times with Manchester City and showed that he is pure class. Over the last season, he’s revolutionised forward play, showing a willingness to track back and pressure the opposition from the front. He seems to always strive for that extra little bit of effort and could be the inspirational leader that they need. Javier Zanetti (defender, Inter Milan) is a veteran of two World Cups (’98 and ’02) but was controversially left out of the ’06 team. He’s old, and their whole defence is old, but there’s no substitute for experience and Zanetti has bucketloads of the stuff. Esteban Cambiasso (midfielder, Inter Milan) is an interesting addition in this section. Failing to make the squad over and over, Cambiasso may have to leave his legacy as it stands and watch the action in South Africa from the comfort of his lounge room. The bald headed holding midfielder will forever be remembered for scoring that goal that left many a supporter gasping for air after 23 passes. In passthesugar’s humble opinion the likes of Veron should be behind Cambiasso in the pecking order.

GET YOURSELF LABELLED AS “THE HOTTEST PROPERTY”

Sergio “Kun” Aguero (forward, Atletico Madrid) and Gonzalo Higuain (forward, Real Madrid). Maradona will probably not, unfortunately, find room for both these budding stars in the starting lineup (or even one of them) as they face the stiffest competition for a forward place of any of the teams in South Africa. The Madrid duo will hopefully push Maradona’s hand into playing a 4-3-3 that is suited to this particular team if ever there was one. Last time out the likes of Messi rose to prominence and particularly for Aguero a strong showing could see a move to a big, big European club. These guys will mean that Argentina won’t have a problem scoring goals.

THE LIKELY VILLAIN

Maradona

Absolutely no one will be surprised if Argentina wins the entire tournament. On the other hand, no one will be surprised if Argentina loses in the second round (or, gasp, the group stage). Maradona is that bad of a manager.

FORMATION

The team will play a 4-4-2 with Tevez and Messi up front and two defensive midfielders. Diego seems to live vicariously through Messi, as he persists to play the Barcelona star in a similar role to that which he used to fill. Messi is given free reign to float across the attacking third to play the killer ball or make the incisive run that he’s capable of. Alongside Tevez, however, and without anyone playing a midfield distributor role that Messi plays in front of at Barcelona, the formation doesn’t really seem to be a perfect fit. The Argentinians would be better off with a 4-1-2-1-2 or a straight 4-3-3 if Diego can’t do the maths.

THE STRIP

IT’S SORTA LIKE…

Any Jackie Chan movie

Jackie Chan and Diego Maradona are very similar (without the drug part for Chan). Think about it. Both men are amongst the most remarkable specimens in their field (Chan at martial arts, Maradona at dribbling), but both make questionable decisions (Chan making “Shanghai Noon” and Maradona’s cocaine phase). Though, to be fair. Saying that Maradona makes questionable decisions is like saying a hurricane is just an average thunderstorm with a little bit of wind and water. They also tend to be afterthoughts in conversations about the greatest ever because for much of their working life they have been considered sort of a joke. While Jet Li was making serious movies, Chan was doing “The Legend of Drunken Master.” While Pele was selling the game to the entire world, Maradona was getting tattoos of Che on his arm. Having said all of that… most Jackie Chan movies (like “Super Cop” and “Drunken Master”) are awesome. Just like most of the time Maradona touched the ball on the field.

TRAILER
This is what the Argentineans do best: a 23-touch goal that’s just spectacular.

USELESS TRIVIA

The country has one psychologist/psychiatrist per 100 residents.

THE FAIRYTALE SCRIPT

The Argentinian’s fairytale script could only lead to lifting the cup. Who cares about that hard draw everyone’s talking about, Messi and his men sweep their opposition aside with a flurry of passing and wonder goals. The whole thing will end with more swan dives from Diego and just like in ’86, Maradona will be carried from the field after “masterminding” their World Cup winning tactics. In a seemingly eerie resemblance, Messi will show his true class and subsequently begin to take drugs and turn into a Maradona-esque enigma. To cap it all off, Maradona announces the beginning of his campaign to become Argentina’s president while still on the winner’s podium (knocking out the unaware Sepp Blatter in the process). Obviously, he wins, and proves to be a worse ruler than Chavez.

FINAL VERDICT

When I looked at the odds, I simply couldn’t believe that Argentina were so far down the favourites list. Sure, there manager is a total nut-job, but managers of national teams are renowned for being figure heads more than anything else. How much can a manager do in a month anyway? (Watch Maradona make me eat my words with several drunken and nude rampages through Soweto) No team in international football can boast such an array of attacking weapons. They are all proven goal scorers. It seems, however, that every team we’ve previewed so far has a weak defence. Hopefully that’ll lead to a tournament full of goals! For Argentina to really give the tournament a shake up, Messi will have to fire as he does for Barcelona. So far, he’s gone missing for his country, but if he turns it on, then he’ll be able to take care of many of their group opponents by himself.

Sheer attacking brilliance + the best player in the world + an easy group – troublesome defence – joke of a manager – having to face Spain before the finals = A heart wrenching quarter final exit at the hands of the fancied Spaniards. It all seems very cruel, as Diego has finally got his act together. This will be the game of the tournament have no doubts.

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