An Aggravated Ribery
Everything changes. In my youth, I would only consider a good looking female as a potential mate. Nowadays, only the lack of a pulse would rule a 'lucky` lady out of contention; and in all honesty, that`s not a total deal-breaker. Football is also constantly changing. Only a decade ago, a player would never wear gloves because it was a little bit chilly, back then, even a goalkeeper risked ridicule by pulling on a pair.
As well as being stronger mentally, 'old school` footballers were also tougher physically. Bert Trautmann famously played on after breaking his neck; the modern day footballer now rolls around on the grass for 17 minutes if he breaks into a sweat.
Paradoxically, international football has hardly changed at all. The big boys were beating up on the little boys 76 years ago; this weekend, more thrashings will be handed out. All the two-bob pundits believe that 'there are no easy games in international football`, but that line can be filed alongside 'of course i still respect you`, and 'don`t worry, it`s good for your complexion` in the 'often used, but not actually true` category.
Saturday`s action kicks off with Portugal v Iran and a wager on the Portuguese at 2/5 will prove a profitable start to the weekend action. Big Phil`s mob did not look overly impressive against Angola, yet won comfortably. The Iranians looked good in patches against Mexico, but giving up smoking just before a World Cup could prove to be a huge mistake.
The Czech Republic face Ghana in the following match, and another favourite is set to romp home. The Czechs were arguably the most impressive team of the first week, and in Tomas Rosicky, they have an early candidate for the player of the tournament. The Czechs are bouncing, get on at 4/6.
Saturday`s action is wrapped up by Italy v the USA. The Italians looked a quality outfit in their opener, while the Americans looked exactly what they are, a mediocre football team. The Italians are standout bets at 8/15 to send the Yanks home to 'sports` where the score is 74-73 after 45 seconds. Be careful if you intend to play the bookings on the spreads though, the Italians have a tendency for dissent, even the manager`s lippy.
Sunday`s early game will pit Japan against Croatia, and yet again, the favourites are unopposable. The Japanese crumbled like a cheap biscuit against the Aussies, while Croatia can consider themselves unlucky not to take a point off Brazil. Back the Cro`s to fly at a pleasant 4/5.
All those who snapped up short prices about the Brazilians winning the tournament are probably sweating like an Aussie in a police station about now. The news doesn`t get any better i`m afraid, much like their ancestors before them, I can see the Australians nicking a point against the Samba Boys on Sunday afternoon. The draw is available at 9/2.
Sunday`s action ends with France v South Korea. The French were bitterly disappointing in their opener against the Swiss; Vieira looked spent, Wiltord looked out of his depth and young superstar Ribery failed to make any impact. With French qualification hanging by a thread, Toulouse is not an option. The French have Thierry Henry, they will win. Help yourself to a piece of the 4/9.
On the outright front, it`s not too late to get on Argentina, Italy or the Czech Republic, but I would still advise against a bet on Germany. Although I have to admit that the Germans do have potential for improvement, Ballack is getting fitter, Klose looks sharp and Frings can only get better.
Portugal v Iran Saturday 17th June 14.00
Get on: Portugal
"Paul a fast one" - Pauleta to score in the first half 7/2
Czech Rep v Ghana Saturday 17th June 17.00
Czech Rep 4/6
Get on: Czech Rep
"Tom cruise" - Rosicky to score from outside the area 7/1
Italy v USA Saturday 17th June 20.00
Get on: Italy
"Heads Tone" - Luca Toni to score with a header 4/1
Japan v Croatia Sunday 18th June 14.00
Get on: Croatia
"Hot Stuff" - Srna to score two or more goals 20/1
Brazil v Australia Sunday 18th June 17.00
Get on: Draw
"All hands to the plump" - Ronaldo to score the first goal 4/1
France v South Korea Sunday 18th June 20.00
South Korea 8/1
Get on: France
"What an Eiffel" - Henry to score from outside the area 4/1