Spain 2-0 Honduras, or, The Day The Underdog Got Kicked

Posted: June 21, 2010 in Pubs, World Cup
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Try and find a Honduran bar in London. Go on, just try. Arguably the only nation harder to find a national pub for than Uruguay, due to its population and the fact that it’s freaking miles away, this one presented a bit of a challenge and as such I decided that the only way to do it was to do it tenuously.

So here’s me outside the Honduran Embassy.

That’s not my real face, by the way, but it is an accurate reflection of my emotions at this point.

Turns out the Honduran Embassy is just opposite Marylebone Station and thus about 2 minutes walk from where I work. It’s so close that it’s almost worth getting off at Marylebone every day just so’s I can walk past and pay homage.

Anyway, the hopes of my 8 million spiritual brethren suitably channeled, I wandered around Regents Park for a bit watching herons before retiring to the just-round-the-corner Thornbury Castle, still officially the best “place you would be proud to call your local” in all of London and one of the closest pubs to the Honduran Embassy. Predictably there were just the two of us plus the landlord in the place at 7pm on a sunny Monday night, but hey, I tried.

On to the game then, and while the heroes of Honduras competed for the first 20 minutes so (actually that’s unfair; they competed for the whole game but they were just vastly inferior to their opponents) the resistance was broken by a frankly brilliant goal by David Villa. I don’t really like Villa. The only word that springs to mind whenever I see him is “scrote”. He looks like the kind of guy I would happily glass, if I were a violent sort of person. But he is clearly a very good striker, demonstrated here by incredibly quick feet to squeeze past two defenders, a tidy turn inside and then a marvellous off-balance finish just as it looked as the ball had got away. The keeper went slightly late and got his fingertip to it but it was the kind of skill that deserved a goal.

His second was fortuitous and certainly not deserving of the lavish praise heaped upon it by Clive/Peter. At least Beglin had the grace to try and inject some realism to the situation by pointing out the decisive deflection. Then he went and messed up his penalty, dallied over another chance, and his hat-trick slipped away.

Pissing about in front of goal was the story of Spain’s night. I know England would gladly take a 2-0 win over a supposed minnow right now (for what it’s worth, Honduras are ranked 38th in the current FIFA rankings with Sweden in 37th and, er, Denmark in 36th) but I can’t believe that Del Bosque and his blokes will be much more than satisfied with their night’s work. In a group that will very likely end with three teams on 6 points, this was a big chance to make headway in the goal difference column and they did the bare minimum – one fewer and by my reckoning Spain would’ve gone into the final game with Chile needing to win by two goals whereas now any sort of win should do.

Missing chances is both a worry and a comfort. I believe it was Dave Bassett who said “you have to miss them to score them some times”, which is a slightly more appealing statement than “he went down more easily than my daughter”, which he also said.

(Incidentally, talking of “going down”, the Honduran bloke who got a slap from Villa and then spent 10 seconds wondering whether to fall over, has pinched Ivory Coast’s Keita’s award for Biggest Prat so far. Although I do have to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if Villa got a ban for that. It was pretty stupid.)

It sounds stupid but I get what Bassett is saying (about chances, not his daughter) – if you’ve not won a game, the biggest positive you can take out of a game is that really you probably should have won it, and if the game was replayed you probably would win it.

This is fine in league football but it will seriously fuck you up in the knockout game, particularly the biggest knockout game of all. Spain have already had one lesson in finishing from Switzerland which, though billed back home as a disaster, was at least conveniently timed with opportunity to recover which I’m confident they’ll do with a win over Chile. But watching Torres, who looks more like a 12-year-old boy than ever with his new do, ass up chance after chance is not encouraging for their long-term hopes.

This was Spain on medium-setting though rather than cranked all the way up. Busquets (another tit) deputised impressively for the injured Iniesta and once again showed just how many freaking awesome central midfielders the lucky bastards can call on. Him and Xavi kept things ticking nicely and Villa and Torres’ movement was top-notch, with Hey Zeus Navas flitting about all over the place, even if his delivery was not hot. It was good enough to brush aside Honduras, even when they had Georgie Welcome (another candidate for Best Name XI) on the pitch.

Chile 1-0 Switzerland; Portugal 7-0 North Korea

I’m falling a little in love with the idea of Chile, and their mystical 3-3-1-3 formation. I’ve seen little of them but in my head they are the most incredible side to watch, their fluid formation enabling them to whizz about the pitch like a swarm of locusts. The fact that they’ve won 1-0 against Honduras and by the same scoreline against 10-man Switzerland suggests otherwise. It would be fiercely unlucky to win your opening two games and go out but I honestly think that’s what will happen; Spain to beat Chile and Switzerland to beat Honduras in the final round, leaving all three on 6 points but Chile with the worst goal difference of the trio.

Which would be really annoying because I want to get a good look at them before they go, but I’ll be supporting Switzerland next week. Sorry Honduras.

North Korea’s disintegration against Portugal was surprising. I watched the first half and although Portugal scored a very good goal and then were on top for the remaining 15 mins of the first period, it had been an even game up to that and North Korea looked the most likely team with Hong Yong-Jo impressive. They were really going for the win in this one, no mistake about it. Unfortunately a second goal arrived early in the second half and unlike most of world football they just seemed to take more risks with every goal conceded. By the end even Ronaldo had scored and despite the slow start WC2010 has almost caught up with WC2006 in goals scored. Weird.

This win also effectively eliminates the Ivory Coast, who now need a swing of Election 2010 proportions in the goal difference column to get through, and that’s assuming Brazil don’t field a second string against Portugal and give up a point or 3. Which makes my point about the Portugal v Ivory Coast game seem all the more pertinent; I could not believe that both teams were willing to settle for a point and then take a risk on one being able to outscore the other in a shootout against North Korea. Cronaldo’s boys have set down a hell of a marker in that respect; over to you Didier.

  1. Robert Burkhill says:

    Haha, I find your blog quite amusing. I also find it pretty impressive you found the Honduran embassy.

    Other than the first England match the Portugal – NK match was the only match I’ve caught out here and, I might stop watching England and watch matches where goals actually occur.

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