World Cup Day 5 – thoughts

Posted: June 15, 2010 in World Cup
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’m having a couple of nights off from pubbing here, to go easy on the wallet/waistline. Mexico v France on Thursday is the first one back.


On the face of it, another underwhelming day today as the World Cup still stubbornly refuses to “take off”. Five days in and we’re still waiting for excitement that matches Tshabalala’s thunderbolt for the hosts last Friday, although Rob Green still runs it close I suppose.

I promise that’s the last cheap gag I make at Rob Green’s expense. I’m better than that.

Fortunately it’s in tight games that “the underdog” comes into its own. New Zealand’s equaliser, with 40 seconds of stoppage time remaining, was probably the best thing to happen since that South Africa goal. For a side listed at 5,000/1 to win the World Cup, and probably expecting to get a mashing in each of their three games, scoring a goal was a big achievement and to secure a point in the doing so was extra-special. You could see from the way they celebrated, this was such a massive moment for a nation that normally has less to do with football than the Yanks or the Aussies. Great stuff.

The best moments so far have all been as a result of the underdog upsetting the odds – although there hasn’t been a major shock yet. Japan beating Cameroon is about the most surprising victory so far, but South Africa, Paraguay and now New Zealand have all recorded extremely creditable draws and a lot of happiness from their fans as a result. So far World Cup 2010 is the World Cup Of The Mildly Surprising Draw.

And, after it became apparent that Brazil were not going to demolish North Korea as most pundits would have predicted (cough), surely every non-Brazilian must have been cheering them on. Yes their Dear Leader is Kim-Jong Il, yes their manager got a bit prickly at a journo who dared to refer to them as “North Korea” during a press conference, rather than the wonderfully ironic “Korean Democratic People’s Republic”, but Jong Tae-Se was in floods of tears during the national anthem in a frankly quite touching display of emotion. The little bugger worked his Communist socks off as well, firing off potshots every time he got near goal and making mugs out of some of the world’s best defenders on occasion. And his side scored a damn good goal too.

Brazil were pretty boring. But we were warned that they would be. There’s no real aura about them, particularly as an Englishman. I look at their side and go “Gilberto Silva, Robinho, Elano – didn’t they all turn out to be rubbish?” Of course they’re not rubbish but this lot are hardly Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho. They do have more steel than a Sheffield factory though and even though North Korea hit the net they will surely be a difficult team to beat, if not a great one to watch.


Most had probably earmarked this as the game to lift this opening round of fixtures from its slumber – two teams in a tough group with a big chance to take a step towards the last 16. So much for that; there was plenty of pace and power on show but ultimately nothing happened.

All that played perfectly into the hands of probably the two most posturing tits in the game, Ronaldo and Drogba, united on the pitch in glorious matrimony with 20 minutes or so to go. Neither really did anything; Ronaldo’s sole contribution was a 30-yard swerver that smacked a post whereas Drogba found himself bearing down on goal and managed to wrap his foot round the ball so much that it went backwards. Impressive. But both were on camera a hell of a lot, particularly Drogba who was at his usual histrionic best on the bench (who’s managing that team, him or Sven?), so I’m sure they’ll be pretty chuffed.

Surprised that neither team really looked like they wanted to win this. They must both expect to lose to Brazil, realistically, which means that it’ll probably come down to a goal-difference shootout in their respective matches with North Korea. Weird attitude.

So the World Cup’s still not got going yet, really. Tomorrow it probably will, to an extent, as Spain play. I don’t see Spain being as meanderingly one-paced as Brazil did tonight, in fact I see them doing their usual 90% pinging possession and weaving pretty patterns thing until the commentators explode with excitement. They’ll probably win by a few beautifully-crafted goals to nil as well.

I don’t really like Spain as you can probably tell. I especially don’t like their “love me love me love me” smarmfest attitude, and the fact that they mince about with their fifteen million immaculate central midfielders. The bastards really have it all. They’re like that really annoying kid at school who was really popular, good at sport and smart. They are the Zac Efron of world football. Hopefully someone knocks the fuckers out at some point. Out of the tournament, I mean. Not in a Chris Morgan kind of way. I am, by the way, trying to get as many mentions of Chris Morgan into this blog as possible. Notice how I’ve managed not to mention The Brazilian Chris Morgan™ so far?


I actually have quite enjoyed ITV’s coverage of the World Cup so far. It was a pretty even contest, but then they seem intent on doing some of the most unintentionally hilarious broadcasting fails in recent memory which has fucked them up somewhat. Off the back of all the HD viewers missing the England goal, there’s now the wonderful tale of Robbie Earle having his contract ripped up for passing off complimentary tickets. Not just to anyone either, but to a bunch of Dutch birds to use in an “ambush marketing” stunt, which is a red rag to FIFA’s bull.

Following that was the massive spaz-off over the first Brazilian goal tonight. NO CLIVE/PETER HE DID NOT SHOOT, HE FUCKING CROSSED YOU CAN TELL FROM THE WAY HE COMPLETELY MISCUED HIS KICK AND HAD A SNEAKY GLANCE AT THE SIX YARD BOX BEFORE DOING SO. No, it would not have a been a brilliant, outrageous goal, even if he had meant it. It would have been fucking awful goalkeeping. Stop trying to inject some “samba brilliance” into this Brazilian side. Anyone with half a brain could tell that this wasn’t deliberate. Dickheads.

What’s worse is that I realised that after about 15 years of watching football on ITV, I still can’t tell Clive Tyldesley and Peter Drury apart. All the BBC commentators are slightly distinctive, but the ITV ones? I mean, Clive’s the pompous overblown one, and Peter is the…yes, the pompous overblown one.

The BBC aren’t exactly shit-free either though. What were they playing at during the coverage of Slovenia v Algeria. Yes it was a bollocks game but it was two teams in England’s group, they could have drummed up a bit of interest, got an angle going based on that. But instead we had Alan Hansen whinging “oh I can’t believe I’m here covering this game, and on my birthday as well, thanks very much, I’d much rather be enjoying my day on the golf course at the license-fee payer’s expense instead of being paid to sit in this comfy chair talking about the World Cup”. Have some fucking consideration Hansen, every football fan in the country would gladly swap with you, even for the “boring” games.

And as for Lineker’s assertion that “Slovenia haven’t been playing football for long, so we don’t really know that much about them” – do you not have the internet Gary? Lazy motherfucker. They were at Wembley about 6 months ago for christ’s sake, we all had a good look at them. I could have told you that they were defensively solid and keep the ball pretty well, trying to ping things through Koren and they have a couple of good strikers. They had a really stupid penalty given against them at Wembley which Frank Lampard scored. England won 2-1 after they nicked a late goal through a Glen Johnson balls-up. See? It’s not that hard. I didn’t even have to look that up. Should’ve taken me instead of Hansen, the UK golf courses are bound to be a bit warmer at this time of year than in South Africa anyway.

Jeez it’s five to midnight. I could quite happily sit here ranting about ITV and BBC all night but I’d best get to bed or I will fall asleep during Spain’s passpasspasspass stuff tomorrow. Or worse, South Africa v Uruguay which I’m very much looking forward to, particularly as it’s the first of the “second round” games so hopefully teams will be out of their shells a bit more.



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