The Taggs

Friday Favourites

Posted by and on July 21st, 2014 in Things We Love
  1. Cold Brew Coffee
    At first, this sounded like another iced coffee fad (is anyone really going to drink a Mocha Coconut drink), but after an article in the Evening Standard mentioned our local coffee shop, Dee figured it was worth trying one. Traditional iced coffees are made with hot water and beans which are then cooled – cold brew is made by leaving the granules overnight in cold water – the result is a completely different taste, but still with that essential coffee buzz!
  2. Books about Town
    Every few years in London, there seems to be a public art exhibit, it started with the Cow Parade, and Egg Hunt, our favourite was the Elephant Parade (you can see our photos here), this summer the  National Literacy Trust have commissioned several book benches around London. There seems to be four “trails” around the city – personally, we are on the hunt for the Paddington and Poirot benches.
  3. Commonwealth Games
    Wednesday see the start of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It may not be the Olympics and so doesn’t seem to have been heralded as much as previous Commonwealth games in this country have but for the next 10 days we will become experts in the Men’s Hockey team and know the cycling team as well as we know our own family, before they slip back into the obscurity of minority sports.The timing of this event makes it perfect for waking up in the morning and getting straight into the games if you are lucky enough to do that and the big finals will take place after you have arrived home from work if you are unlucky enough to be working.Personally I will be looking forward to the Rugby Sevens, one of the few sports where the best in the world will still be taking part as all the best Rugby teams are in the Commonwealth. I always enjoy the Boxing and of course the Athletics. The cycling was great fun at the Olympics so hopefully it will be again this time around.Let the Games Commence.

World Cup 2014-The Final

Posted by on July 16th, 2014 in Football

The Final

So the World Cup is finally over. 64 matches in 31 days, if only it could always be like this. Congratulations go to Germany who on the whole thoroughly deserved their victory although Argentina really should have scored in normal time at least once to make the game interesting. The final as predicted was a fairly dour affair. Not 1990 World Cup final dour when Germany and Argentina served up a real dog-fest of a game, but nothing like the quality of 1986 World Cup final with goals galore and end to end play. No this game was somewhere in the middle of the two.

I had said earlier that the team that wins will come stronger and stronger into the tournament once the knockout stage begins and apart from the first half against Algeria in the Round of 16 Germany were never really troubled. France promised much but never delivered and Brazil were swept aside ruthlessly. It took extra time for Germany to make the breakthrough, the third time in a row the World Cup Final has gone to extra time but the winner by Mario Gotze was worth waiting for with the quality of the finish.

And what about Argentina? You had to feel a bit sorry for Lionel Messi with so much pressure on his shoulders. Has there been a more pressured to win player at a tournament? Can’t think of one. He looked absolutely dejected when he went up to collect his player of the tournament award, thanks in no small part to his sponsors Adidas for giving him that award when there were a number of better players in the tournament. That said Argentina had the chances to make it so different. Higuain with the great one on one in the first half and Messi at the start of the second, these are chances players of that quality dream of and to not hit the target just suggested it was going to be Germany’s night. When Palacio missed another one on one in extra time you felt the writing was on the walls. I thought that Schweinsteiger was probably man of the match with Hummels a close second and Mascherano easily being the best Argentina player on the pitch.

We have to wait another 4 years for the next World Cup carnival to come around although as it is in Russia it is not something I am going to get too excited about. It’s hardly Brazil is it? For those who are thinking what they will do to get their football fix now, rest assured I had the same worries and then noticed that Liverpool’s first pre-season game is on BT Sport 1 on Wednesday. If Liverpool isn’t your thing I am sure they won’t just show Liverpool pre-season games, so football really is the gift that keeps giving. The Charity Shield is just 25 days away.

World Cup 2014-Semi Finals

Posted by on July 12th, 2014 in Football

After the Semi-Finals

We now have our final two and although I predicted the two finalists and in Argentina my initial pick is in the final I don’t think anyone who said that Germany will squeeze past Brazil in a close one should be able to take any credit from that pick. If however you said Germany will annihilate Brazil then well done. The two games were chalk and cheese with brilliant flowing football at least from one side in the first game and a dour defensive stalemate in the other.

Whether you are in the camp that says Germany were brilliant or Brazil were rubbish the game had everything in it except perhaps for a tight game. For me it was a bit of both as Germany ruthlessly exposed a team that was overrated by many. They undoubtedly missed Thiago Silva at the back, the defenders that did play looked like they had never met each other before. Neymar being missing was also huge, but it seemed to have taken on biblical proportions for his teammates. Stories of them needed psychological help to get over him being out of the game sounded like they were going to struggle to come to terms with playing without him. All in all it sounded before the game like the Germans had the upper hand and boy did they take advantage. The mistakes were obvious but the passing, movement and finishing from Germany was the best of the tournament by a long way. I said before that the winners of the tournament would likely save their best football for the latter stages, and this may well have been what I was waiting for. This makes Germany favourites to lift the cup now.

That said it will not be easy. Argentina v Holland may have been a dog with fleas as far as a the game went. The groan from the crowd when it dawned on them that they would have to watch another 30 minutes of extra time was audible. One thing it did show however is that Argentina will not be caught with their pants down getting a good paddling by Germans. Unlike Brazil they can
do the dour resolute stuff and although you struggled to find an attacking player performing to expected levels on Wednesday the likes of Mascherano, Garay, Zabaleta and Co will make it a whole lot harder to break through the defence.

Hopefully for Argentina, Messi will have a better game, he looked like Stuart Downing crossing the ball straight to the keeper or out for a goal kick from direct free kicks. It was horrible to watch at times. They could really do with another creative force to take some of the pressure of Messi. I don’t know if Di Maria will be fit for the final but he was missed.

This Sunday is likely to be a tense and tight affair as two teams feel each other out and don’t want to make too many mistakes. Only one finals since 1986 had 3 or more goals in it and the last two went to extra time. I am still going to pick Argentina as I picked them at the start but Germany have got to start favourites with the form they showed in the Semi’s.

World Cup 2014-Quarter Finals

Posted by on July 8th, 2014 in Football

After the Quarter Finals
In a flash the Quarter Finals are over and we bid a fond adieu to Colombia, France, Belgium and Costa Rica. Colombia my tip having
watched them in the early rounds were looking great but sadly like Chile fell under the spell of playing Brazil in the Brazil World Cup and rather froze in the spot light. A game rather devoid of some of the great football we had seen will be remembered more for the rough house treatment of James Rodriquez of Colombia and the injury to Neymar that has left a country mourning the loss of a messiah. Great goal by David Luiz aside the game which a little disappointing for the neutrals and even though Brazil win and move on to the Semi Finals the cost of losing Neymar to injury and Thiago Silva to suspension is a high cost to pay.

The promise that France showed like with Colombia also failed to materialise against Germany in the second game. Germany scored early on and seemed to control the game fairly easily as France never really got going and couldn’t up their game when they needed to. Disappointing from France but they are young and will be better next time.

High hopes were though of for Belgium but for me they remind me of England in about 2000. A golden generation of players for Belgium (Where have I heard that term before), but they flattered to deceive against Argentina and rarely threatened to meekly go out. Finally Costa Rica the brave succumbed to The Netherlands but only after a penalty shootout. Tough break for them as Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal took the plaudits for taking the unusual move of substituting the keeper at the end of extra time so that he could face the penalties. I’ve seen players be brought on to take a penalty but not a keeper to save them. Tim Krul did admirably, saving two penalties whilst his team mates were perfect and the Dutch were through.

So the Semi Finals are complete and four strong teams left in it. Brazil v Germany is intriguing. I feel some teams have frozen against Brazil but you can’t see that happening to Germany. Also the effects of losing Neymar have had the team seeking psychological counselling. Missing Captain Thiago Silva is also a big blow. Basically all things point to a Germany win which is my pick but you can’t help but think that a kind world would give Brazil’s fans the final they desire so much especially if it is against Argentina.

The second game is wide open. Argentina v Netherlands, looks a great game and brings back memories of that brilliant Bergkamp goal in France 1998. Sadly there is no Bergkamp playing but there is plenty of attacking talent on display and the hope is an early goal and then both teams unleash their Messi’s, Higuain’s, Robben’s and Van Persie’s in an end to end slugfest. As great as the attacking talent on both sides is and the defences have been a little weak on occasions this is a semi-final of the World Cup so don’t expect either game to be end to end, more cagey, slow boilers.

I’m picking Germany v Argentina in the final, but what do I know.

Pop-Up-Gabbi’s Head

Posted by on July 6th, 2014 in Daily Musings,Football,London

Gabbi's Head - Benefit Bar

Obviously, we have been loving the World Cup. As well as getting a month’s worth of fantastic football, it’s also a great excuse to get together with friends and have a few drinks.

  Gabbi's Head - Benefit Bar   Gabbi's Head - Benefit Bar

When we heard about Benefit Cosmetics pop-up football bar – we wanted to pop along – unfortunately, we couldn’t get there to watch a match so instead we had to make do with some tennis.

Gabbi's Head - Benefit Bar

Gabbi’s Head – named after the companies glamourous icon – offers an environment for women (and men) to enjoy the football, a few cocktails in a very pretty setting. The first thing to state was it was very pink – in fact Jason was put off by the amount of pink… but when he had a cocktail in his hand he soon forgot.

Gabbi's Head - Benefit Bar

The pub is really geared towards women – the walls are decorated with photos of hunky footballers, a pink foosball table and make up stations ready (to get a makeover or buy cosmetics) – with cocktails starting at £7.50 it’s a great unique place to watch the football or just hang out with the girls.

Open until the 13th July at 150-151 Dury Lane, Covent Garden, London.

Gabbi's Head - Benefit Bar

World Cup 2014-Round 2

Posted by on July 2nd, 2014 in Football

World Cup Week 2 Round-Up

The Second Round is complete and despite the lack of goals the excitement was in plentiful supply. First up on Saturday was Brazil edging past Chile on penalties. The tears were flowing after the game and that was just from the winning side. There is a theory that the tournament will descend into chaos if Brazil get knocked out early with protesters and demonstrations at the ready because of the cost of the World Cup, so the organisers must have shed a tear as well as Chile’s final penalty hit the post. Did anyone also see the Chile player who got a tattoo of his missed chance at the end of extra time when he hit the crossbar? Why would you want a reminder of what you nearly did?

Columbia eased past a toothless Uruguay who showed no bite without Suarez (Okay I will stop the puns) in the easiest win of the round whilst there were late wins for Netherlands who come from 1-0 down with three minutes to go to beat Mexico, France who finally edged past Nigeria, Germany who needed extra time to beat a spirited Algeria and Argentina who scored three minutes from the end of extra time to beat Belgium.

Special mentions should go to Costa Rica who down to ten men managed to beat Greece on penalties. That is Costa Rica who were supposed to be the whipping boys in England’s group. In the final game and probably game of the tournament so far Belgium beat Team USA in a great match. Belgium’s great individual talent against USA’s great team effort. Backed by a belligerent Tim Howard, Team USA held out for so long and then when all seemed lost they came back and almost tied it up. It was a thrill a minute game and along with Costa Rica just shows up England as being total underachievers as you don’t need a World Class set of individuals to be a good World Cup team. Just bottle the team spirit and work ethic and feed it to England’s players and we might stay in the next competition longer than five days. The whole of America can now go back to not caring about the World Cup but their team did them proud.

The goals have dried up a bit in the knockout stages as well. Perhaps teams don’t want to make mistakes so much now but if I were a betting man (which I am) the fact the last six knock out games ended 0-0 at half time would be of great interest to me. I can’t decide which one of the quarter finals I am mostly looking forward to. All of the games have their strengths and weaknesses but I think Brazil v Colombia is the game of the round. Just because I am now totally on board the Colombia bandwagon. Brazil are beatable and Colombia have some great players. They just need to keep Neymar quiet.

World Cup 2014-Week Three

Posted by on June 27th, 2014 in Football

World Cup Week 2 Round-Up

What do you mean there is no football today? I’ve overdosed over the last two weeks. I have to have my fix. I can’t wait till Saturday. It is true football fans. We have come to the end of the group stage and have a twenty –four hour break before we can delve back into the World Cup again. It is probably a good thing that we give ourselves a chance to breathe and take in all that has happened. This World Cup has not disappointed so far (Unless you are an England fan), goals, goals and more goals, and if you like your controversy Luis Suarez shaped you have been given a treat.

Poster on Copacabana Beach where fans line up to get "bitten"

Poster on Copacabana Beach where fans line up to get “bitten”

What was he thinking? After an astonishing effort against England he sullies himself by biting Giorgio Chiellini shoulder. As a Liverpool fan I have only resorted to defending biting as being a disgusting act but on a par with spitting and not as bad as deliberate elbowing or leg breaking challenges. I know if I was on the receiving end of one of those acts as a footballer two of them can ruin my career and two of them can be wiped off with a cloth. FIFA come down on him like a ton of bricks (Although they don’t fine him as much as someone who wore the wrong type of underpants at a game) but it remains to be seen whether they will stand by their decision during the appeals. I love controversy in games but this one has left me a bit sad. I wanted to enjoy his genius but he has taken that away from us again.

And don’t get me started on the pictures of the Ghana players kissing the wads of cash having threatened to not play and having two players thrown for various offences. Way to keep the World Cup spirit guys.

Outside of Suarez, 16 teams are heading home and 16 teams go into this weekend’s fixtures full of hope. I will now be cheering on Team USA USA. I love their enthusiasm for a sport I am not sure they quite get totally. Following some of the sports reporters on Twitter is immensely entertaining as they scratch their heads as the action takes place. They are trying though and the effort is greatly appreciated, plus they seem to have an enormous contingent at the games. They need songs now, something to chant other than the obvious, USA, USA.

Of the 8 games I am most looking forward to Brazil v Chile and Argentina v Switzerland. Brazil are going to get a real test from Chile. This is the time when the Champions start to flex their muscles so look for some improved performances from the contenders. Nobody as yet has stood out as head and shoulders better than the others but they might after this round.

World Cup 2014-Week Two

Posted by on June 25th, 2014 in Football

World Cup Week 2 Round-Up

The Second Round of group games has come to an end and some teams have sadly left us after only a week. England being one of those teams. No doubt the repercussions will start in the press but I am not sure that there was anymore the team and management could do. They narrowly lost two tough games, on another day England take their chances and win one or both of them. Even Sepp Blatter said that England were unlucky, which roughly translated means they should have bribed FIFA and got a win.

Spain are also out. Who saw that coming? Not me that is for sure. I didn’t see them winning the lot but thought they would make the Semi’s. It is not uncommon for the Champions to go out in the first round as it has happened in three of the last four tournaments, but this Spain side have been so dominant. Quite the shock.

The surprise package of the tournament has to be Costa Rica. Already qualified from a group they were expected to be the whipping boys in. Congrats to them.

Team that looks the best so far, I would choose Columbia so far. They have been very impressive. I always say that the winners will start the tournament slow and start to impress in the knock out games, so look for the like of Germany, Chile, Argentina and the rest to start to ramp it up in the coming weeks.

Watching the England Game

World Cup 2014-Week One

Posted by on June 18th, 2014 in Football

World Cup Week 1 Round-Up

The first round of the World Cup Group Stage is over, how are we enjoying it so far? For goals and entertainment this makes South Africa 2010 look like a funeral procession. So many good games so far let’s hope it continues. Here are my highlights and thoughts on what we have seen so far.

Brazil are what I thought they would be. Fairly resolute overall but they lack the flair of previous teams and if Neymar doesn’t get the job done they struggle to score. They were fortunate against Croatia scoring two soft goals and getting a very dubious penalty, and have since gone on to play a 0-0 with Mexico.

Highlight of the first round of games has to be the shellacking Spain took at the hands of the Dutch. No need to panic Spain as you lost the first game in 2010 and went on to win the finals but 5-1? How slow and ponderous were Pique and Ramos. This is fast becoming a tournament with few good defenders and lots of good attackers so it may be a case that Spain need to score plenty of goals in order to compete. Not sure they are set up for that. Certainly their match against Chile is huge now.

Germany do what Germany do in tournaments. The 4-0 score line was a surprise but not flattering at all despite playing against ten men (Seriously Pepe is a total liability for whichever team he is on). Team USA, USA must be licking their lips at tacking on Portugal with a real chance of qualifying for the next round having exorcised the ghosts of their last two World Cups were Ghana knocked them out both times.

Finally England lost. Not wholly unexpected and certainly the performance suggest that whilst work is needed on some things like helping the full backs in defence the attack looks like it will trouble most. Play the same way and I think they are well capable of wins against Uruguay and Costa Rica. We shall see anyway.

Let the next round roll

Happy World Cup Month!

Posted by on June 12th, 2014 in Football
Eng Vs Kaz

Us at the England v Kazakhstan Game, October 2008

Happy World Cup month people. It is here, finally, all the anticipation all the excitement and no doubt all the let down as well. The World Cup kicks off tonight in Sao Paulo with host nations Brazil taking on Croatia.

Should be a good game. Croatia are no pushovers and this Brazil team for me are not the Samba style Brazil teams of yesteryear. They are more resolute and dogged with a certain amount of style in the form of Neymar, but if he fails to deliver, I am not sure where the creativity comes from.

We shall see how they perform at 8pm tonight and we will be sending regular post during the tournament so that we can wow at the great teams and moan about England. Or will it be the other way around?

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