Welcome to Christmas week! We’ve got an adjusted schedule as tie up some stories ahead of the new year. Today, it’s the first of two visits to Portugal for the Wonderkids. Over to Andrew…
Champions of Europe, has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? Now to conquer the world. It’s been a long time since Portugal could say that. But here we are World Cup 2002 in our sights. If you missed our Euro 2000 escapade as we danced through the group of death like Jarvis Cocker in a brown suede suit you can catch up here. A reminder of our challenge:
Yugoslavia, Austria and Greece all have some cracking attacking players (Mijatovic, Purk, Mahlas). Our first game leaves us without a Taxi and our captain out injured.
I need not have worried. Martins on fire for goals 34 and 35 of his international career and still 22 years old. Here’s a reminder of this beautiful tactic:
Litos and Taxi might have to accept a place on the bench as it stands. That said, there’s always an injury curse just round the corner…
We just can’t get a handle on slippery Greece as their ‘keeper plays a blinder.
Naturally as another striker shows signs of form, he’s taken away from us as sure as the earth goes round the sun.
Déjà vu against Austria as Manninger is playing a blinder despite our seasoning of the Austrian goal for an hour, but tempers flare and the door opens. Austria end the game with a striker in goal.
Purks of playing against 9 men as we snatch 3 late goals in a 6-minute spell. That’s goals 36 and 37 for Ricky,
she bangs…them in! Mal-tease us with a first half show then a second half of show-boating but no goal-boating.
Next up, we have some more minnows licked…but not quite to 5 goals.
For some reason, Yugoslavia are playing their home games in Brazil…
It’s a third game without a goal for Ricky and he goes off injured. Maybe it will do him some good to have a rest. Since de la Sagra has partnered him up top, he can’t get a look in. This formation (that I am here by christening ‘The Rocket’) is really keeping the opposition attack quiet.
The Greeks hold us to a poor draw, we left our shooting boots at home as their ‘keeper again plays a blinder.
Just over halfway and the group is looking very much ours for the taking, 2nd place, well, we’ll leave them to thrash it out.
It really has been a defensive masterclass:
Here’s a reminder of our what should be now famous ‘Rocket’ formation:
Three to go, hopefully Ricky can get to 40 goals soon.
Did someone say 5-0?
Next up we carry on our usual feat of providing the minnows with goals from their only shots on target. We have a serious sympathy complex.
Beto luck next time. He’ll miss the first game of the World Cup next year. Martins hits the big 40, the Rocket is something else.
We’ll be celebrating by licking more than ten steins! What an unbelievable qualifying journey.
That’s almost 4 goals per game average and 0.2 against per game. The World Cup will put this to a much sturdier test than the Euro’s or qualifying. Hopefully we can hold off on the injuries as we head to the final test for these international minus men. We’ll be back next week to prepare for the main event and see just how far we can get with our rocket power.
You can follow Andrew on twitter: @KingOfTheRooks