Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Wildfire threatens town near Athens

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Authorities say a raging wildfire southeast of Greece's capital has burned down at least one house and threatened several others.


Food, fun central to Greek Festival

Food, fun central to Greek come out here for gambling or rides or anything like that, you're in the wrong place,'' he said. "Basically, we treat this like a street party, with a live band and food and drink for everybody, and that's about it. ... It's like good Greek sauce ...


Yotam Ottolenghi's A to Z of summer veg, with recipes to match

Eat your Ps and Qs: an A-Z of seasonal treats to make summer truly scrumptious

There's an allotment at the end of my street in north London. It's not a real allotment, but it does bring together the community, and offers a choice of fruit and vegetables that would be otherwise unavailable in this urban environment. The opening of Parkway Greens, my local greengrocer, earlier this year is one of the best things that's happened to me since I moved to London 20 years ago. Being able to walk to the end of my street each morning and return with a bag spilling over with fruit and vegetables for the day ahead reminds me of how we used to shop back at home in Jerusalem.

I write this A-Z on Parkway Greens alone: Asian mooli, British pink tomatoes, Colombian tamarillos, Dutch portobello mushrooms, English marrow, French wet garlic, Greek olive oil this little shop is as good as it gets. I'd like to dedicate this celebration of ideas for summer cooking to all greengrocers: you make your customers happy to shop, inspired to cook and delighted to eat.

Continue reading...


What Eat on Your Cheat Day: Healthy Greek Comfort Food

What do toasted bread and the world’s first cookbook have in common? They were both invented by Greeks! Just like in all nations, food plays an important role in shaping the Greek culture. In fact, chefs are so well-celebrated in Greece that they can ...


Two migrants dead, 22 missing off Samos

KathimeriniTwo migrants dead, 22 missing off SamosKathimerini“The frequent rescues and loss of life at sea confirms the fears that have been expressed by the Merchant Marine Ministry within Greece and abroad regarding the increase in such incidents, which make it urgent that immigration policy within Europe be ...Two die as immigrant boat sinksThe Courierall 15 news articles »


26th Annual Greek Fest Kicks Off

YourErie26th Annual Greek Fest Kicks OffYourErieJuly 11, 2014 - It's a major fundraiser for the Greek Orthodox Church, and a 26-year long popular tradition in the Erie community: the Panegyri Greek Festival. Hundreds of people stopped by the festival today to enjoy the tastes, sights, and sounds of ...


Germany v Argentina: buildup to the 2014 World Cup final live!

Download the latest World Cup podcast hereCheck out the latest brick-by-brick videosLatest results, schedule and fixturesGolden Boot tableEmail:

4.04pm BST

Some more info on the Toni Kroos to Real Madrid transfer, with reports suggesting the Germany midfielder has penned a six-year deal and Bayern Munich receiving a fee of about £19.9m.

Real Madrid has signed Toni Kroos for 25m on a 6 year contract. He'll earn 6m per year. (ABC)

3.55pm BST

Dominic Fifield has been visiting one of Rio's favelas, and has offered this little titbit. So much hope ended in so much despair for the hosts.

Staircase in Pavao Pavaozinho favela, Rio de Janeiro, with the team #BRA hoped would run out at the Maracana...

3.49pm BST

If you thought some of the stuff on this World Cup blog was silly, you obviously haven't heard of Alex Pratchett and his wife Sian. They are attempting to recreate every World Cup Panini sticker with their fair hands, and seeing as they have praised us, I am happy to publish this email from them:

Hello there Rob. You wonderful Guardian live-blogging lot have, over the past month, repeatedly blessed with your patronage my wife and I's ongoing silly/thrifty quest to draw Every Single World Cup 2014 Panini Sticker. Just wanted to say many many thanks to you all for that and for your peerless coverage, and that if you're (still?) interested, we've got through 611 stickers since Marcelo bobbled that own-goal in for Croatia, meaning 29 still to draw before the final whistle blows tomorrow. I suspect it's going to be very close... oh, and have a Fred, ready for this evening.

3.41pm BST

Nick earlier alluded to the fact that Arsenal won the World Cup for France in 1998, and Bruce Kozarsky has got in touch to suggest Pep Guardiola can stake claim to a very special double if Germany win the final tomorrow night.

If Germany wins on Sunday, it will be Pep Guardiola's second World Cup in a row. After all, he had seven players starting for Spain four years ago, and six players starting most games in this World Cup. (Seven if Götze starts in place of Klose on Sunday.) Coincidence? I think not.

3.37pm BST

Argentina's players are summoning inspiration from Diego Maradona as they prepare for their country's most important match for a generation. Sergio Romero, who was the hero of the hour in the penalty shootout against Holland in the semi-final, says the team is determined to join those who made history in 1978 and 1986. The Monaco keeper says the chance to join the icons of the Maradona-inspired team of 1986, and that which triumphed on home soil eight years before, is driving this generation of players on.

The most important thing is that our team and our country provide the best image in the eyes of the world, that the world will speak well of Argentina. We will remember what the champions of 1978 and 1986 achieved but by we will also try to achieve glory by the fight and heart of this team," he said in Argentina newspaper Clarin. Maybe for many people it is not the dream final, because they wanted us to play Brazil, but it will be a fantastic game. They will be very tough opponents, they scored seven goals in the semi-final and they did not have to go to extra time so they have been able to save some energy for the final."

3.28pm BST

In very tenuous breaking World Cup transfer news, West Brom have signed the Belgium defender Sébastien Pocognoli from Hannover. OK, so he might not have actually been in the Red Devils' squad for Brazil, but he was in the provisional 30 and he has 12 caps for Europe's most up-and-coming nation, football wise if not politically. Most importantly, though, he completes a quite brilliant Guardian-selected team of Belgians playing in the Premier League:

1. Mignolet (Liverpool)2. Pocognoli (West Brom)3. Vertonghen (Spurs)4. Fellaini (Man Utd)5. Vermaelen (Arsenal)6. Kompany (Man City)7. Mirallas (Everton)8. Dembele (Spurs)9. Benteke (Aston Villa)10. Hazard (Chelsea)11. Lukaku (Chelsea)

3.09pm BST

Thank you Nick and I return with Owen Gibson's World Cup diary tucked neatly under my arm. If you ever wondered how a football journalist covering the greatest tournament on earth spends his days, wonder no more...

Salvador The previous day the Oranje had taken over the main square in Pelourinho old town, once the grim centre of Salvadors slave trade and now a carefully tended cultural hub and tourist magnet. As at other tournaments, the Dutch FA brought a sort of travelling DJ booth, from which an overenthusiastic MC leads increasingly boozy sing-alongs of Hi Ho Silver Lining and YMCA. Local families enjoying a Sunday afternoon stroll through Pelourinhos vibrant, pretty cobbled streets are mildly perplexed, but queue up regardless to have their pictures taken with the Holland fans in the most outlandish orange outfits.

3.02pm BST

Revolving subs today, folks. Rob will see you safely through the rest of the day, so don't go anywhere fast. 'Til next time....

2.52pm BST

'Oomph' replies to the below with something interesting:

"Germany are a bit unusual in that the "superstar", the "name", of their team has always been Löw. None of the players. (This possibly reflects that we are a gerontocratic nation, he's more our average age)."

2.41pm BST

'ShadowWarrior' eats some humble pie below the line. "I'll put my hands up: I said before the tournament - and in conversation with a German poster on here - that Germany hadn't a chance: that Low's Germany were serial losers, and whether or not his contract was due to expire or not he'd be replaced after the tournament if he failed to win it, if for no other reason than that Germany needed to try something new," says he/she.

In some ways they've summed up the vicissitudes of tournament football, too. Lauded post-Portugal, doubted post-Ghana, giving rise to a media contretemps with Per Mertesacker post-Algeria. And now tantalisingly close to, in popular perception, being just about untouchable.

2.35pm BST

And here's more to get your teeth into from one of our own World Cup squad. Paul Wilson argues persuasively that none of us will forget Brazil 2014.

People have been talking about football for all the right reasons, memories have been planted that will easily last a lifetime. What more could reasonably be asked? Where 2014 stands in the history of World Cups is ultimately for history to decide, for the present a much simpler question will suffice. Did the tournament feel like an unwelcome extension to an already long season, or was it a treat that rekindled enthusiasm and appetite for the resumption of domestic competition? After Sunday night there will be a hole in everyones personal schedules where the football used to be.

2.32pm BST

More third place play-off fun! They used to have them at the Euros too although this, played in front of 6,000 at a gloriously drab-looking Maksimir Stadium, was the penultimate one.

2.24pm BST

Algeria's coach unveiled

Christian Gourcuff should be formally announced as Algeria's new coach on July 19th. In exactly a week.

2.16pm BST

Sixteen years ago today, Arsenal France won the World Cup. This piece from Alex Bellos, written for us back in 2002 on the eve of that year's final, is worth revisiting: it's an extraordinary account of what happened before, during and after a game remembered for the furore surrounding Ronaldo.

Zagallo told congress: "If you invert the situation and I didn't put Ronaldo on and then Brazil lost 3-0, people would say 'Zagallo is stubborn, he had to put him on, Ronaldo was the best player in the world'. So I think I would do the same again." Lidio Toledo, the team doctor, stressed the pressure he was under to let Ronaldo play. "Imagine if I stopped him playing and Brazil lost. At that moment I'd have to go and live on the North Pole."

2.07pm BST

Trust in Zaba.

That is all.

This is a fair point, too, if we're looking at potential matchwinners tomorrow. Zabaleta and Rojo, at right- and left-back, were outstanding for Argentina against the Dutch. Neither got forward all that much but nor did either really miss a beat; Rojo in particular has a stride that really eats up the ground and makes him hard to evade. Defensively, they've probably been the best full-backs in the tournament. And if they haven't, tell me who has....

2.01pm BST

And as for Boateng, he's been quite good hasn't he? Germany have looked a lot better since moving him inside and Lahm to right-back, even if it's effectively entailed a major shake-up of both defence and midfield. Their squad is, when you look at it from front to back, extraordinary versatile and capable.

1.59pm BST

This is nice.

My Childhood dream #WorldCupFinal #GERARG #livingadream #RT your #childhooddream

1.54pm BST

No third-place play-off has seen fewer than three goals since Poland 1-0 Brazil in 1974. Another reason to go nowhere tonight. This will be the night of Fred's hat-trick.

1.46pm BST

Here's a third/fourth place play-off memory for you, and allow me to direct your attention to the opening seconds of the clip. Hilarious mistake by Shilton and that kind of this was pretty rare before the back-pass rule came in but WHAT a dive by Baggio. Check it out on the replay!

1.43pm BST

"The fact that lots of people are watching is a bigger incentive that the jaded pundit will acknowledge," emails Jason Murphy. Tired of the World Cup, tired of life.

1.37pm BST

'OpiumEater' on that third-place incentivisation argument:

"It's ludicrous to include an "extra incentive" for the third place play-off. If players don't want to play in it, then they shouldn't be at the World Cup in the first place.The difference from Quarter Finals (five matches) to Semi-Finals (guaranteed seven matches) is huge. It gives players an extra opportunity to improve their personal World Cup record (goals scored, assists, games played etc...), to increase their team's overall historic standing in World Cup finals, and is simply a huge honour to another World Cup match - something only few players will do very few times in their careers."

1.32pm BST

Are the kits alright?

There's been a lot of talk about kits during the last couple of World Cup rest days. Arsenal's kit. Manchester United's kit. If you're not launching a kit in stunningly overwrought fashion, you ain't nobody. This, from Palermo, is far more like it:

Palermo's kit launch is fantastic. Great scenery. Classy, aspirational

1.24pm BST

The point about collective brilliance is an interesting one. Early in this competition it seemed as if star individuals might rule the roost: think those goals from Van Persie and Robben against Spain; think Messi's winners against Bosnia and Iran for a turgid Argentina; think Müller's hat-trick against Portugal. The big names had come to the party. It hasn't quite turned out like that eventually, even if we'll come out of this tournament with a few names, like James Rodriguez, etched even more deeply into the mind than they already were. Wouldn't a triumph of the collective would be most refreshing in an era where individuals need barely draw breath to be feted, elevated and transformed into celebrities?

1.19pm BST

More reading for you here. It's Barney Ronay on this World Cup's triumph of the collective and it is, as ever, brilliant.

1.14pm BST

What else could be up for grabs tonight?

Especially there are now 32 teams, why not make the top 3 qualify for the next World Cup? Would make tonight's game a fraction more interesting?

It's not going to make a huge difference as those teams would probably qualify anyway.

1.11pm BST

In case you missed it last night, here's Zico on the World Cup final. He was furious about Brazil the other day; he's positively sanguine about Germany. And Messi.

Germany are certainly more complete, more well-adjusted and have more alternatives to deal with varied match situations. But Argentina have got Messi and I wont buy the criticism of him. Messi has been fundamental for Argentina in this tournament and even when he doesnt play that well he still keeps the opposition fretting. Germany as a team are formidable and the way you see players exchanging passes and switching positions is amazing. But they do not have a player like Messi. Even Müller is not that guy.

1.05pm BST

Is it just me or does there seem to be more scorn poured on the third-place play-off than ever this year? Maybe it's just Twitter; everyone's pretty chatty nowadays and there has to be An Issue everywhere. But there's a surprising level of snarkiness to my tiny mind. Does it really matter? Can't we enjoy another game of football and quite possibly at least one still-developing storyline in what has been an engrossing World Cup? Life's too short to be too clever about it, no?

12.59pm BST

"Brazilian players used to be a bit special. Now every Premiership, Ligue or Liga team seems to have one." So says '2012 AD' down below. Did you know that, last year, 515 Brazilians played in UEFA's 31 leagues? That's nearly double any other exported nationality. It's actually rather interesting: do clubs just pick Brazilians up indiscriminately? Are they fetishised by the perception we have of them? Or is the pool of talent indeed staggeringly vast, with bad coaching/overcoaching/bad luck preventing them from making good in the national team?

12.52pm BST

Johan Torne has emailed a Swedish perspective of tonight's shenanigans.

"There is a lot of slagging off the game for 3rd place in the UK media today. As a Swede, remembering the summer of 1994 as the greatest summer of all time, and every player in that Swedish team as a medal winning national hero, I would like to offer a different perspective.

"When qualifying for Russia 2018 starts in two years all countries except for maybe 10 know that they are not going to play in the final or win the tournament. In fact in 2018 only 6 teams will have played in the final for the past 50 years. BUT if you look at the teams that have won the bronze medal (Sweden, Croatia and Turkey) only in the past can dare to dream of a world cup medal.

"I would even argue that, if the stars align, it is possible for England to get a bronze medal."

12.46pm BST

Here's some telly for you! The World Cup Show has landed, with Nat Coombs joined by the good man Julien Laurens. They're talking all things Germany v Argentina, and it's the best 8min 48sec you'll spend this lunchtime.

12.42pm BST

Its a thankless task for both teams today. One should consider, if it makes sense to play off the 3rd place at all. #BRANED

Should make some kind of 'schadenfreude' joke here, but that aside....can't he just let them have their fun and wait until tomorrow?

12.39pm BST

Maybe this could be Argentina's, you know. Tuesday night has to go out of the window when we think about tomorrow, I reckon. These two will be wound up very, very tightly. And I keep thinking about Lionel Messi's face. Yes, Lionel Messi's face after that winning penalty was converted. He didn't care how it was being won. He didn't care that he'd been forced to wade through treacle for most of the 120 minutes. He didn't care that there'd been no chance whatsoever to recreate his heroics against Iran. It was pure joy, pure emotion. Argentina aren't as attractive as Germany but they seem just as together. I don't think they're necessarily the outsiders they're being posited as.

12.29pm BST

Germany or Lobanovskyi's Dynamo Kiev?

Argentina, tomorrow is your day of destiny. Your mission is to halt the march of industrial football. Efficiency, discipline, organisation, balance, these are your enemies for these are the enemies of creativity and beauty. Philistines will argue that these characteristics can be wonderful to behold but they know nothing about the beauty we can produce when we are spontaneous, reckless, daring and flawed.

Their game-plan will be generated by software, their algorithm tells them what you're going to do before you do it. Their formula will show them how to exploit your weaknesses but you are unable to respond because they have no weaknesses, but history shows that this will be their downfall. Do your duty, rid us of this Teutonic nightmare or it's ze cooler for you all.

12.24pm BST

Scolari is defiant and Van Gaal is angry. Here is some more preview material pertaining to the third-place game. Perhaps the touchlines will be where the action's at, with these two facing each other down. You see what Van Gaal means, though. Germany's 7-1 win on Tuesday was, to me at least, as shocking for its interruption of what seemed an inevitable grind to glory on Brazil's part. One or two of the cards had seemed to lie in their favour.

12.18pm BST

A reminder that Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer may play hard, but they party harder...

12.14pm BST

On the 'toughest managers' question, we have an email from David Wall.

"A less obvious suggestion would be Joachim Loew, but hear me out...He's obviously not the stereotypical bruiser like some of the others, but rather a Henry Fonzarelli figure. Tough enough not to need to show it, but you wouldn't want to bad-mouth Mrs C. within his earshot. Why do you think no one bullies choir-boy Mueller, because they know they'll have to answer to Jogi.

"And perhaps more sinister, he's created a side, and football culture, that reflects the qualities on Seven's John Doe: 'meticulous, exacting and, worst of all, patient'. No wonder Sabella thinks that Loew has the upper-hand."

12.12pm BST

"Forget the FA Cup 3rd place playoff. We need a LEAGUE CUP 3rd place playoff. Just for the morbid fascination of seeing Sky trying to hype it," quoth 'imp44791' beneath the line. Hell with it, what about a play-offs third-place play-off?

12.08pm BST

Bringing things back to this weekend, here is some excellent reading from Dominic Fifield on why Gonzalo Higuaín has to come to tomorrow's party.

Now they will lean on him more than ever. In the showpiece he must occupy Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels, close down Philipp Lahm and Benedikt Höwedes, as well as attempting to disrupt Bastian Schweinsteiger as he seeks to shackle Messi. If that was not enough, his country crave him rediscovering that scoring knack by playing Jorge Valdano to Messis Diego Maradona.

12.03pm BST

In fact and has this been nagging at you too? here's a picture of Pekerman in his younger years.

11.53am BST

Here's a good poser from Below The Line....

Who is the toughest manager at the World Cup?

Luis Suarez, anyone who can control that Honduras team must be able to handle himself in a fight.

11.46am BST

Unknown stars. Picking up on Rob's question from earlier, very keen to hear who's come from left field and smacked you between the chops. I'm going with Enner Valencia, mainly because I can't get enough of his leap. Pretty sure Sam Allardyce will share that sentiment. Anyway, you've seen him in action for Ecuador but this is a pretty handy precis of his work for Mexican side Pachuca. I see a touch of Faustino Asprilla; do you?

11.38am BST

Did you know that the FA Cup used to have a third/fourth place play-off too? It was a short-lived endeavour, lasting from 1970 to 1974, bringing us such set-tos as Stoke v Everton and Birmingham v Leicester. It was, shall we say, not exactly popular: only 6,458 turned to to Filbert Street for the final one. Who'd have been game for Wigan v Sheffield United at the DW Arena this year? Anyone?

11.31am BST

On which note, let me remind you of this from Scott Murray.

Despite its fundamentally flawed premise, this unloved fixture has delivered time and again, cementing a couple of legends, breaking a record or two, setting the scene for one of the greatest goals of all time and even providing a little succour to bruised souls.

11.27am BST

Hard to raise the blood pressure for tonight, I know, but couldn't it be worse? There is a bit of a weird, morbid curiosity in how Brazil recover if Brazil recover from Tuesday's humiliation, while the Dutch might just cut loose and play the kind of stuff they turned out in the group stage. If it's just a watered-down version of the final to keep us honest for tomorrow then that's fine, right?

11.21am BST

Are we looking forward to more of this tonight?

11.16am BST

Right, that's it from me, temporarily at least, and maybe forever. Thanks for your time and I'll leave you in the trusty goalkeeping gloves of Nick Ames.

11.11am BST

So who was your unknown star of Brazil 2014? Was it the marauding USA right-back Fabian Johnson or his fearless understudy DeAndre Yedlin? How about all-action midfielders Charles Aránguiz of Chile, Muhamed Besic of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Mexico's Hector Herrera. Those with a penchant for goalkeepers might plump for Keylor Navas of Costa Rico or Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico. And the more forward thinking among you may look to Belgium's Divock Origi, Algeria's Yacine Brahimi or Enner Valencia of Ecuador. Let us know your thoughts below the line.

10.54am BST

World Cup final weekend is upon us and Nat Coombs has highlighted 10 things to watch to get us in the mood. Will Lionel Messi finally perform to his full potential? Who will win the battle of the midfield? And Sabella v Löw: who has more tactical nous?

10.47am BST

Move over Clive Tyldsley - here's how they describe goals in Costa Rica, Greece, Mexico, Portugal, Uruguay and, er, Belgium. This fantastic audio feature offers a taste of World Cup commentary from around the globe, and poor Phil Neville is nowhere to be heard.

10.39am BST

Is Toni Kroos to Real Madrid a done deal? Sky Sports journalist Fabrizio Romano thinks as much, claiming Bayern Munich's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer has confirmed the sale. Great signing if true, and could it mean his Germany team-mate Sami Khedira is on his way to the Premier League?

Franz Beckenbauer confirmed: "Toni #Kroos has decided, he will be new Real Madrid player. We're going to lose a champion"

10.27am BST

A Neymar dive, a Luis Suárez bite, and a collection of Tim Howards, it must be The gifs that keep on giving. Check out this World Cup special with Tour de France slips, a halfhearted slam dunk and a new challenge for high jumpers thrown in.

10.18am BST

Philipp Lahm is a quiet leader standing on the brink of greatness, according to the Guardian's football editor and all-round European footy expert Marcus Christenson. While Germany's captain and Lionel Messi are both complete footballers only one of them has been described by Pep Guardiola as the most intelligent player he has ever coached. And it is not Messi

Philipp Lahm was 11 years old when he joined Bayern Munich. He arrived at Säbener Strasse full of enthusiasm and with the diminutive attacking midfielder Mehmet Scholl as his hero. The only problem was that Lahm soon found himself playing at full-back. The youngster had to rethink, he had to adapt. I quickly realised that I couldnt have Mehmet as my role model any more, he said, so I changed it to Paolo Maldini instead.

Quick-thinking and versatile; Lahm at 11 and Lahm at 30. Nothing and everything has changed. His ability to adapt remains but whereas back then he was an ambitious young man, today he stands on the verge of greatness. All that he needs is a victory against Argentina on Sunday at the Maracanã and he is there.

10.08am BST

Interesting news from Italy now, where the World Cup post mortem has led some to suggest more Italian players must leave Serie A in order to improve. Eight years on from their glorious victory in Germany, the Azzurri have now suffered back-to-back first-round exits in the World Cup for the first time since the 1950s. Demetrio Albertini, the legendary Milan midfielder who is now vice president of the Italian Football Federation, says it's time to move in a new direction:

"We have to ask ourselves why we have gone out twice in the first round of a World Cup. In the 1990s we were the best in the world and everyone looked at us. Now we have remained behind while others have built their future. Sport needs to go back to being the main focus and not the administrative end, which has given the results we have seen in European club competition. We need to ask ourselves if our football should only be a transition point for top players."

9.58am BST

Who said linesman aren't cool? Still love the reaction of this official after he was snubbed for a handshake before the Spain v Chile game. We've all been there but how man of us can say we handled the humiliation so well?

9.40am BST

Slightly worrying for all of us hoping for a classic final is Sergio Agüero's assertion that Argentina must deny Germany space in order to win the World Cup. As Arsène Wenger would say, come on Argentina, release the handbrake and give this tournament the final it deserves.

9.34am BST

When the Guardian's Raphael Honigstein writes about Germany you sit up and take notice, and he's produced another wonderful piece about his home country's journey from a nation which hated midfield to a team of complete midfielders.

Unbeatable for years to come. That was Franz Beckenbauers confident vision for a soon-to-be reunited Germany after leading them a World Cup triumph in Rome in 1990. It did not quite work out that way. The legions of East German players who would provide even more guile and firepower to the Nationalmannschaft in The Kaisers grand vision trickled down to a handful before too long, and a football nation punch drunk on winning Euro 1996 with an antiquated sweeper system failed to realise that the train heading towards modernity had left the station without them.

Only two years later, the national coach, Berti Vogts, was rummaging through the family tree of the Brazilian striker Paulo Rink, a journeyman from Bayer Leverkusen, in an desperate and successful attempt to unearth a German grandmother. The South Africa-born forward Sean Dundee (later a regular non-scorer at Liverpool) was hastily naturalised with the help of the government, despite not having any German ancestry whatsoever. Where had all the players gone?

9.28am BST

After yesterday's revelations that Lionel Messi has run less than Fred in this tournament, Gary Lineker believes something is not right with the brilliant Argentinian. The BBC presenter compared Messi's impact in Brazil unfavourably to Maradona's World Cup exploits:

I love Messi and he is the most wonderfully gifted player I have seen since Maradona. But I have been marginally disappointed. There is something not right. He has become very static. I went to the semi-final [against Holland] in São Paulo and watched him closely and there is so little movement now. I saw a quote from his father saying that hes exhausted and his legs weigh 100kg and it looks a bit like that. He looks jaded.

9.11am BST

So tonight Brazil will somehow have to drag themselves from their despair to face Holland in the third-place play-off, and they'd be advised not to heed the words of that old rogue Oliver Kahn. Speaking after the humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat, the former Germany goalkeeper and specialist in stern words said:

"We witnessed a collective implosion of Brazil. A total collapse of their team. I don't know what the lads from Brazil were carrying on their shoulders. They weren't able to come to terms with that. In these pictures you keep seeing them crying, before the match or after the match. This team didn't have enough experience to come to terms with the pressure of a big tournament like this in their own country. They fell apart emotionally today, completely."

8.57am BST

Good morning all from a grey but unusually calm London on the day before the big one. So Nicola Rizzoli has been chosen to referee the World Cup final on Sunday, scuppering our very own Howard Webb's chances of the ultimate officiating double.

Nicola Rizzoli will be the 3rd Italian to referee a #WorldCup Final #GERARG -

8.30am BST

One final thought, courtesy of the frankly incomparable Richard Keys, before I bid you adieu and put you in the capable hands of Rob Bleaney.

"It's like reinventing the wheel; it's always going to be round.You can put different hubcaps on it, redesign, but its always going to be round.

8.20am BST

I dont want to be a cry baby but I noticed the referee never gives fouls against Argentina.

Ouch, that could be awkward, given the referee in question, Nicola Rizzoli, has now been given the final to officiate.

7.54am BST

7.37am BST

Question: when is a 7-1 mauling of the host nation in the World Cup semi-final not enough for the vainqueurs? Answer: when the winning team is Germany and the man telling you it isnt enough is Per Mertesacker.

The Germany defender, with his consummate pro head firmly screwed onto his Teutonic shoulders, wants more when his side meet Argentina tomorrow, even though he admitted they were nearly at 100 per cent against Brazil. Perhaps hes looking to even break through that barrier and reach the giddy heights of the footballers favourite cliche, 110 per cent? That really would be something to behold.

7.24am BST

Messi is, not without surprise, one of 10 players named on Fifas Golden Ball short list. The two finalists provide seven of the nominees, with the other three players equally predictable additions.

Golden Ball

This GIF is insane. Tim Howard saves everything

7.14am BST

Back to serious matters for a moment, matters of the World Cup final kind, and Barney Ronay has put in a strong contender for quote of the day in his latest piece from Brazil.

There is no i in Deutsche Fussballmannschaft, but there is a me in Messi.

7.09am BST

A good point from Sionnaich below the line. Ayyy!

6.59am BST

Anyway, for those afflicted with FOMO (a form of social anxiety, according to Wikipedia, which makes it sound a far more medically recognised affliction than it should be), dont worry. Guardian writers have been busy chronicling the World Cup in an easily digestible diary-type thing, from the moment Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez awkwardly opened the tournament to the conclusion of the semi-finals, via the dethroning of the champions, goals, some brilliant goalkeeping, goals, an English damp squib, goals, a bite, Brazils Mineiraço and a whole lot more.

6.43am BST

Thanks for kicking off todays discussion below the line, electricrussell. Russ reckons Brazil will redeem themselves later today, but Im glad you added a bit, since redemption is a long, long way off for this Brazil team. Flags burned, team booed, tears shed (lots of them), a nation in mourning... beating the Dutch to secure third place just isn't going to heal such deep scars overnight.

I know its a much smaller dream than we all wanted but we have to honour the shirt of the national team.

6.27am BST

Understandably the main focus is on tomorrows battle royale between Argentina and Germany, but there is a game today, even if there's not many who are too bothered about it.

Third place play-off: Brazil v Netherlands, 2100 (UK time), Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília

6.09am BST

Lets kick off with todays brilliant Guardian Sport front page, boasting a distinct Tolkienian theme.

Saturday's Guardian Sport - "One game to rule them all" #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers #WorldCup #GER #ARG

6.08am BST

Greetings from Sydney. Thirty days gone, just two to go. Has it really been a month already? Thats a rhetorical question, but please do get in touch should you have something to get off your chest, either below the line underneath, or on the email address above. Even on Twitter, if you feel you can limit yourself to 140 characters.

6.03am BST

Welcome to Saturday's coverage of the World Cup, featuring all the breaking news from Brazil and reaction to the latest results, injury news, squad stories and fan reaction.

Continue reading...


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