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MARTIN AT THE WORLD CUP

Posted on 12 June 2006  - 12:00

Martin Jol gives us his thoughts on the World Cup so far after England and Holland opened with wins...

Martin Jol gives us his thoughts on the World Cup so far after England and Holland opened with wins...

I THOUGHT England made an unbelievable start but it still needed an own goal to beat Paraguay. It was a bit disappointing but Paraguay only created one half-chance. England still defended in their own half. However, it was like a frying pan out there and perhaps that was a factor – it was the same for Holland as well on Sunday and a few of the Dutch players were suffering with cramp – and I’m confident England will only grow in this tournament. They also have that added threat from set-pieces and in the last World Cup, 48 per cent of goals were scored from set-pieces.

HOLLAND were also a bit disappointing because the only difference against Serbia & Montenegro was Arjen Robben, perhaps if he wasn’t playing we might not have beaten them. Holland lack experience and only Cocu, Van Nistelrooy and Van Der Sar have played in major tournaments. The big difference between England and Holland here is the groups – Serbia & Montenegro are the fourth seed in Holland’s group and I think they are probably better than Paraguay, so it’s difficult.

LOOKING at the tournament as a whole so far, one surprise was Ecuador, although they were third in the South American qualifying, so therefore better than Paraguay. But Poland were so confident beforehand and that was an interesting result. Germany also surprised me because they pressurised for the whole match and scored four goals. They looked vulnerable at the back because they didn’t defend together and Costa Rica scored two goals, even though it was Paulo Wanchope. That tells you about their weakness.

I DIDN'T see the Mexico game because I was travelling but I thought Portugal started well and I was surprised they didn’t go on to score more. They found it difficult to finish off Angola and I don’t think Angola are the strongest. Ivory Coast impressed me against Argentina and in the second half I thought to myself ‘this is a strong team’. That is why it was so important Holland started with a win and it’s the same with England as well.

I AM BASED in Berlin and doing some work for BBC Radio Five Live. I’ll be co-commentating on four matches and that started with Holland against Serbia on Sunday. I will also be able to go and see Brazil train before covering the Brazil v Croatia game on Tuesday, so that will be interesting. I’m on the other side of the microphone and it’s a different experience because I'm usually the one answering questions at a press conference – I’m learning about it all the time and enjoying it.

THE atmosphere is fantastic over here. The stadiums are full and the cities packed with people all celebrating together. The motto for the tournament is ‘a time to make friends’ and that is happening.