Argentina 2-0 Greece, South Africa 2-1 France

Posted: June 22, 2010 in World Cup
Tags: , , ,

I’m writing this while watching the Greece v Argentina game, not as part of some live-blog experiment but simply because I’d like to get an early night tonight as tomorrow’s a big one. First I get to watch England’s 1-1 draw with Slovenia and then, depending on how risqué I’m feeling, I’ll be off to either a Serbian place or a somewhat more neutral place.

Ah South Korea have taken the lead against Nigeria, which means that even if Greece win they won’t go through. To say I’m happy with that arrangement is like saying that I enjoy the occasional nap. For some reason I’ve seen almost every minute of Greece’s World Cup and all but about 10 of them have been fucking awful. They are the least adventurous side here, I know that worked in 2004 but the Euros don’t have Argentina and Brazil involved. This is just dire, one of the blandest games I’ve seen to date.

I’ve also seen a lot of Argentina, and impressive though they are, they look vulnerable. South Korea really should have equalised from 2-0 down in their second group game and Nigeria created several good chances despite being so obviously inferior to the South Americans. They have, to my mind, the best attack in this tournament but at the back? Not sure. If they can keep Guiterrez away from the first team, that’d be a start. Someone like Robinho would destroy him.

France! Jesus. What the hell have they been playing at, an absolute disgrace to all involved and if they hadn’t won two major international competitions in the last 12 years I’d actually feel sorry for their fans. As it is they can go eat a baguette and dine out on 1998 and 2000.

They’re the only side making bigger tits of themselves than England, an almost commendable achievement. It’s as though they’ve been trying to make themselves look stupid, every day something new. When Adrian Chiles teased us during the Italy v New Zealand game on Sunday with “extraordinary news from the French camp”, the mind boggled – what is “extraordinary” any more to the French team? Had Thierry Henry proposed to Raymond Domenech? Had they all just given up and gone home? Had William Gallas hospitalised Patrice Evra for nicking the captain’s armband? None of these seemed in the slightest bit implausible.

This is such a bad game. Oh hello, Nigeria have equalised. I was just about to switch to the cricket but that could potentially liven things up. Well I say that, but Greece have been so frigging defensive that I’m not sure they’ll ever get into the Argentina box. Samaras had a chance after about an hour where he was in, had his first shot blocked and then blasted his second left-footed shot wide, but that really is it.

Back to France; I do wonder what Irish fans make of their performance. Ok well I don’t really, I’m sure they’re all over the moon at the shambles on show. To the extent where the FFF should really have renamed themselves “the French Federation of Soccer”. Think about it.

Yet I wonder if there are any Irish out there who look at the French fuck-ups and feel a pang of regret. As in, “yes we lost in controversial circumstances but holy shit these guys are bad”. I wonder if there’s a touch of sadness mixed in with the usual jealousy, that the “Irish place” at the World Cup has been wasted by a squad of players and a manager who seem to have no real desire to be there, in fact look as though they’d rather be anywhere else apart from wherever the rest of the squad of players and the manager happens to be at that moment.

It’s easy to say this in retrospect, but given the down feelings about Domenech, the clear factions in the squad and all the moody bastards therein, and the fact that Domenech’s reign was coming to an end anyway, it would have made way more sense for the FFS to have got Raymond out the way and put his successor Laurent Blanc in place early. Said to Blanc, “look mate, we don’t care how you do in this World Cup, all we care about is Euro 2012 and Brazil 2014. Go out there, get to know your squad, and get some tournament experience”.

It would never have happened, I know, but I thought it was a nice idea. In hindsight.

Argentina have won 2-0, 36 year-old Martin Palermo scoring the final goal which is a hell of a story in itself. Maradona’s had it pretty easy so far but he’s starting to look as though he might have the golden touch. And they are good to watch.

Final word on South Africa. Not to sound patronising, but I’ve found their support highly endearing despite the vuvuzelas. Even during matches where RSA aren’t playing, all the Saffas in the crowd are dancing about enjoying themselves. It has made me think of cricket in the Caribbean on more than one occasion. I’m delighted that they were able to sign-off with a win, even if it probably felt slightly anticlimactic given that they had a sniff of an unlikely qualification for the second round at one point, with Mphela hitting the post when they would have gone 3-0 up and, at least temporarily, into second spot behind Uruguay.

Okay, that’s enough for now – it’s been a fairly bland day drama-wise (apart from France) so I’m predicting something altogether more explosive tomorrow from groups C and D. My heart says England will get through but my head says they won’t. But my head can fuck off for now, so England to win 2-0 and win the group ahead of USA, who will beat Algeria.

Or I’ll be on here tomorrow night, very, very angry. Again.

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