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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

England defence crumble in German masterclass

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England coach Fabio Capello would do well to take a transcript copy of Germany coach Joachim Loew’s post-match press conference – because in it he would find all the simple reasons why his side were trounced 4-1 and sent packing from the World Cup on Sunday.

In it, Loew rather clinically explained to the international press sat before him that his side were instructed to target John Terry, pull him out of position and pretty much walk into the huge gaps created in England’s snail-paced central rearguard.

It worked. England will forever talk about the Frank Lampard ‘goal’ that, quite incredibly, was not given despite bouncing a full yard over the German goal line with the score balanced at 2-1, but even if they had equalised, the final result would not have waivered.

Germany were breathtaking at times, able to break at will with electrifying pace and switch the play seamlessly from left to right to leave the England defenders in a state of dizziness and goalkeeper David James no chance between the sticks.

Best of Britain: England pride

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This week’s Best of Britain photos show the many different angles of people’s pride in England.

With the World Cup in full swing, one photo shows a house wrapped with fabric in the shape of St. George’s Cross ahead of the match against the United States.  While another shows a man with a British flag being held back by police during a counter-protest.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

More World Cup questions than answers for England’s Capello

SOCCER-WORLD/A muted send-off and a manager wanting more perhaps told the true story of England’s 3-1 friendly victory over Mexico at Wembley on Monday in which Fabio Capello was left with more questions than answers over his World Cup squad selection.

On the plus side, goalkeepers Joe Hart and in particular Robert Green would have given the Italian confidence in a position that poses a problem for fans with first-choice stopper David James still susceptible to a clanger.

from Left field:

What are the odds on getting the Six Nations winner right?

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Picking the winner of the Six Nations championship is always a tricky task as the vagaries of form and the fixture list ensure that no two seasons are the same.

France, who finished third last season, are rated 6/4 favourites by Ladbrokes while grand slam champions Ireland are only second-best at 9/4.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Could Beckham really play right back?

RTR28E2S[1]BECKSDavid Beckham has returned for his second loan spell at AC Milan where he has an outside chance of playing right back.

Massimo Oddo is injured while left back Marek Jankulovski has been hit by fitness and form problems so Gianluca Zambrotta has been operating on the left of the defence rather than the right.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Beckham’s return to AC Milan confirmed

David Beckham will tread a familiar path once the MLS season is over, joining AC Milan on loan again for a five-month loan spell from January.

Milan have just announced the deal on their website (just in Italian for now), meaning any lingering hopes Premier League clubs had of changing the England midfielder's mind have finally been dashed.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

You can still watch Ukraine v England on TV … you just have to come to Croatia

A quick look around the blogosphere suggests that for many England fans the idea of watching the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in front of a computer screen at the mercy of an ISP, or at a crammed cinema, sounds about as appealing as making the long trip to Dnipropetrovsk.

But do not despair, England fans, because there is an option for those of you determined to watch it on telly.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

England sail through, but how are their World Cup chances?

So, once again, England qualify in style. The garages can start stocking up on plastic flags of St George, the breweries can breathe a sigh of relief and the tabloids can start their gradual shift from cautious support to the crescendo of expectation that will accompany Fabio Capello and his squad to South Africa next year.

But is there any evidence that "this time, more than any other time, they'll do it right"?

from Left field:

And so the search for a new Flintoff begins…

In the wake of England’s Ashes triumph over Australia, a huge question awaits...can England find a replacement for Andrew Flintoff?

He has been the scourge of the opposition for so long. His importance was underlined in this series where despite being half-fit he managed to knock over the tourists at Lord’s to claim five wickets and even ran out Australian captain Ricky Ponting at the Oval (which he said on Monday was probably the first time he’s ever run somebody out).

from Left field:

England regain the Ashes — your views

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England have regained the Ashes after beating Australia by 197 runs at the Oval to seal a 2-1 series victory.

How important was Andrew Flintoff's run out of Ricky Ponting when the Australia captain looked well set? Flintoff did little with bat or ball in his last test before retiring but still made sure he grabbed the headlines.

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