Come back, Portugal, all is forgiven

I can’t do it: despite my threats, I can’t actively support England after Portugal’s display against Holland. In truth the egregious Figo is no reason to turn my back on years of tradition, and the rest of the Portuguese team were in reality no worse than the Dutch.

Even the Russian ref thought so, and who could be a more reliable witness than that?

Ivanov said he was taken by surprise by the rough tactics of Dutch players.

‘You would expect some dirty tricks from the Portuguese. They are known for time-wasting or hitting from behind,’ he said. ‘But I was unpleasantly surprised by seeing such things from the Dutch. More so, they were the instigators.’

I shall remain steadfastly neutral, safe in the knowledge that the English will bumble through a game where they are outplayed and then win anyway. They are as Germany was in 2002; plainly something mysterious in the alignment of the universe is afoot here.

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