Paraguay 1-1 Italy

Posted: June 14, 2010 in World Cup
Tags: ,

Before I begin, a few things:

THE FACTS

1) So far, no team has come from behind to win a game.

2) So far, no game has been won, where both teams have scored a goal. Ie all the wins have come by some goals to nil.

3) There have been three score draws, all of which have been by a scoreline of 1-1

4) I have watched four games in nationally-themed London pubs, all of which have been draws.

5) There have been four draws in the entire tournament.

THE CONCLUSIONS

1) This World Cup is, thus far, tighter than a Yorkshireman’s wallet

2) I am unlucky.

TODAY’S OTHER GAMES

Ah the perils of working through a World Cup. Through a combination of our office telly being conked, and ITV not showing their games in any obvious fashion on their website, viewing of today’s first two games was limited to say the least to the extent where I saw the goals but not enough from which to draw conclusions.

Lucky then, for this thoroughly awesome website, ZonalMarking.net, which, on the basis of about 24 hours of awareness, looks like being compulsive reading for anyone with slightly more than a smidgen of interest in the game. Fantastic stuff, the kind of sports writing that any football pundit should aspire to. Look forward to reading their analysis of Denmark v Holland and Japan v Cameroon far more than any newspaper’s match report.

AND FINALLY

Following in the footsteps of Alan Pardew, Graeme Souness uses the word “rape” during RTE’s coverage in a far more considered way than Pardew’s spontaneous slip-up. How does it go again Graeme? “I mean he got…[considered pause] raped by… [another considered pause] sorry… taken apart by… [looks desperately at other pundit for salvation]”.

Enough of that, as Graeme probably wishes his internal voice had said, and onto tonight’s game, watched in the much-recommend and probably only Paraguayan place in London, Nueva Costa Dorada off Tottenham Court Road. Nominally a Spanish tapas bar, it has a Paraguayan owner and celebrates the nation’s independence day every May (at least that’s what it says here).

It was a surprisingly nice venue (given its proximity to TCR), certainly somewhere you could enjoy a pleasant meal for two or with a bigger group. And, unlike many international restaurants I’ve eyed up for this World Cup, it does football pretty damn well. A big tv by the bar, and a large projector screen in the main dining area – plus the commentary booming out of speakers. It was very much “a place to watch the match whilst having tapas” rather than “a restaurant that also happens to be showing the match”.

There was a good number of Paraguayans in too, as well as the owners; plenty of red and white and quite a few English cheering on the underdogs. I have to say that Paraguay’s shirt is fantastic, red and white always goes down well in my opinion but the Paraguayans have got it spot on in terms of the shade of red and thickness of the stripes. Trust me, I’ve seen some terrible Blades shirts, I know good red-and-white when I see it. Really considering getting one, it’s that or the Uruguayan side so far for Shirts Of The Tournament (the Uruguayans have a neat watermarked sun graphic from their national flag).

Anyway, the match. Italy begin quite strongly but were so defensively-minded that they never looked in control. The only time they looke dangerous was when the broke from deep with De Rossi and Pepe charging forward, but despite this they couldn’t create anything. In fact it was a pretty shoddy game all round with Paraguay utterly failing to keep possession, but then the rain started to hammer down and the unthinkable happened: the Italians conceded from a set-play.

It was a beauty as well, Aureliano Torres fizzing in a devilish cross and Alcatraz, sorry, Alcaraz, manning-up to stick his head where it hurts and perhaps fortuitously glancing it inside the far corner. Goal! Dorada erupted, cheering and clapping and chanting “Pa-ra-guay, Pa-ra-guay!” (20% more original than “Ing-er-land”). The shock was on – but Paraguay never really buckled down to hold on for it, instead fizzing the ball around on the newly-slicked surface and sliding into some crunching tackles.

Italy looked troubled. They had created nothing, Buffon had been withdrawn at half-time in apparent shame at conceding from a freekick, their forwards were isolated and the midfielders were struggling to keep the ball. How irritating then that the champions should score from a set-piece of their own, and fortuitously too. Pepe swirled in a corner from the left which should have been dealt with, but the goalkeeper Villar completely missed his punch and De Rossi was able to wrestle away from his marker to stab into an empty net. The Italians celebrated (even one in Dorado), although it was a little odd watching the entire team and subs join in a mass man-hug when they’d basically scored such a jammy goal.

On such jammy goals are World Cups won though, I suppose. Presumably you don’t need reminding that Italy were highly uninspiring in drawing 1-1 with USA in 2006, and we all know where that ended.

There was one comedy moment where the projector had obviously begun to time out – an enormous box appeared on the screen that read “DO YOU WANT TO TURN POWER OFF? YES/NO”. To which everyone roared “noooooooo!”

Unfortunately the match rather petered out after that; despite the introduction of Roque Banter Cruz, Paraguay clearly recognised that the Italians were in the ascendancy and attempted to shut up shop as the boys in blue poured forward. To their credit they held on well; only a long-distance effort from Montolivio posing any real danger as Villar did well to turn it aside. At the final whistle applause broke out at a minor surprise in WC2010.

I’d definitely recommend Nueva Costa Dorada, as a half-metre of tapas came in at a pretty reasonable price given that there were 3 of us – however a word of advice, keep an eye on where you order your drinks as bottled beer was 80p cheaper at the bar than table service – definitely worth walking those extra 10 yards to get it yourself, in other words.

As we left there were red-and-white clad people hugging. It might have been another draw but plenty of people were pretty damn happy with it.

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Comments
  1. Matt says:

    Zonalmarking.net is one of the best websites out there. It makes every pundit on TV sound like a complete idiot. Not that they really need much help with that. I will lend my copy of Inverting the Pyramid, and I have just finished reading Jonathan Wilson’s new book, the Anatomy of England. He looks at ten England games through their history and looks at what lessons there are.

    Turns out throughout history according to the press England have been rubbish ‘because they don’t care enough’, and that we should get stuck in more.

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