- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2006

Poor Sven-Goran Eriksson. He just can’t satisfy the critics.

Eriksson put his England team into the quarterfinals, but he can’t catch a break with the bash-happy British press.

Eriksson was preparing his squad to face Portugal tomorrow when he had to face one more complaint: England is not playing an attractive enough brand of soccer.

“Ghana plays wonderful football. Holland, Spain. And where are they now?” Eriksson asked. “They are home. … They don’t give you a premium for beautiful football.”

Even Brazil is taking flak for not playing the “beautiful” game, and fans are demanding coach Carlos Alberto Parreira show more passion on the sideline. Maybe coaches should take a lesson from German coach Juergen Klinsmann; he knows how to go wild when his team scores.

• It’s hard to believe four years ago outsiders such as South Korea, Senegal, Turkey and, yes, even the United States, were alive in the quarterfinals. As we go into that stage today, Portugal and Ukraine are the only upstarts still standing alongside the traditional superpowers of the sport.

• Some of the statistics coming out of these finals really go overboard: Italy’s players take the most dives (25), French players throw the most tantrums (16) — duh — and Paraguay fakes the most injuries (12).

And I was trying to figure out who took the most water breaks on the sidelines.

John Haydon

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