The Road to Brazil starts…in Trinidad

ONE DOWN...831 to go. Belize 5, Monserrat 2 (att 150) was never going to knock Alex McLeish or Luka Modric off the back pages but the game was significant as it was the first 2014 World Cup qualifier.

The road to Brazil started at the Ato Bolden stadium in Trinidad because there is no suitable venue in Monserrat, an island near Antigua which was almost destroyed by the 1995 reawakening of La Soufrière volcano. Deon McCauley claimed a small slice of history with the first hat-trick of the 2014 campaign.

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Who could England face at Euro 2012?

WILL ENGLAND QUALIFY?
Well, despite their mediocre display against England should reach the Euro 2012 finals one way or the other.

ONE WAY OR THE OTHER...?
The nine group winners qualify automatically plus the best runner-up. As things stand Montenegro, second in Group G behind England on goal-difference, would qualify as the ‘fastest losers.’

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Barcelona since 2008

On the field – 10/10

In the transfer market: 5 hits, 7 misses

Total loss: £206.6m

By CHRISTOPHER DAVIES

PEP GUARDIOLA is hailed as the best young manager in world football. No one can doubt his Barcelona Dream Team are one of the greatest of all time.

Yet Barcelona’s dealings in the transfer market in the three years since he was appointed have proved much less successful than Guardiola’s on-field triumphs.

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Joining the Enemy

HERE ARE a couple of exclusives. Sir Alex Ferguson will take over from Roberto Mancini at the noisy neighbours and Kenny Dalglish will be appointed manager of Everton.

No, I haven’t been at the wine gums again. But the news that the [soon to be] former Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is in line for the Aston Villa job raised eyebrows to a new height. English football, particularly at the top level, is not littered with managers joining the enemy.

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Refereeing the managers

THE SCENARIO may make football writers break out in a cold sweat while those in charge of Sky Sports would have nightmares about the possibility. Imagine managers, coaches and players being banned from talking about match officials. It would change the face of football reporting dramatically and that's putting it mildly.

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FA must use new FIFA powers

IT WAS good to see the Football Association finally admit that they CAN take retrospective action against players.

Footballwriters.co.uk pointed out last week that there was no FIFA regulation preventing the FA from upgrading a yellow card to a red to rectify an obvious error by the referee.

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Spanish FA to help Euro contenders

The Spanish Football Federation are willing to help Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia if they reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League by allowing them to play on the Friday before the European showdowns.

The trio face Arsenal, Lyon and Schalke 04 in the second leg of the round of 16. The successful clubs will be given a minimum of four days to prepare for their Champions League quarter-finals ties – of course there could be an all-Spanish class as there is no country ‘seeding’ at the quarter-finals stage.

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Football crime can’t pay

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION maintain they cannot take action against a player if the referee has seen the incident even if his decision at the time seems obviously wrong.

FIFA, the FA say, do not allow this course of action so Wayne Rooney escaped disciplinary action for what most observers believed was an act of violent conduct on Wigan's James McCarthy.

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