Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Shell shocked Brazilians and Sexy North Koreans

Well no one saw that one coming. Not even the most cautions pundit or reckless crystal ball gazer. Closest we came was a bit of sarcasm . Sarcasm by the way is the only way to get through most of the arid excitement free matches we've been subjected to. Between the vuvuzelas and the ubber cautious teams afraid to commit to anything beyond a draw, football fans have had to wait and wait and wait for the first signs of healthy competitive aggression.  My first WC memories are from the 70's , and from that time to this , I don't think I've ever had to endure quite as many uninspired performances as this World Cup. I expected fire works from Portugal, I also expected shin kicking, bad tackles an loads of diving. While the later was in abundance, goals were not. Cote D'Ivoire, not a team to be taken lightly, played hard and defended well, but considering the talent and fire power on the Portuguese bench, it's obvious they were not willing to try force the game. It was like watching Arsenal play Chelsea minus the killer instinct of Didier Drogba who was inexplicably made a sub. My one highlight of  Svenn v Ronaldo as ITV put it, was seeing Christiano Ronaldo getting booked early and hard. I cannot tell with what passion I loathe the greasy stain that used to play at Man U, his smugness and lack of gratitude towards Alex Ferguson is shocking beyond belief. Clearly since he's left Old Trafford, his old and very bad habits have returned with a vengeance. As for Svenn Goren Useless, I could not believe we needed a primer on the career of this most recent in a string of rubbish England managers, perhaps a few in depth reports on Ivorian players not in already in the top flight might have been in order. I suspect however that the real problem is that most of the build up is geared to tourists, people who join the football addicted in the family for a few matches every 2 years. Just yesterday, the BBC spent most of it's time apologising for the lack of goals. Like a fellow obsessive pointed out in the nerd cave, real supporters are used to nil nil or 1-0 results. Real football is more than a scoreline. I've seen more exciting draws on derby days than you can shake a stick at. Something I haven't done much lately as I was told I could put somebody's eye out. The skill in a well made save or the spectacle of a defence that strips opponents effortlessly of the ball is a pleasure to behold.  Goals aren't everything, we do need them but they aren't everything.

The match where all those skills were on display, was North Korea v Brazil. It was a master class in premiership quality football. If I'm honest, I was expecting a bloodbath, a humiliating exercise reminiscent of the 8-0 punishment Saudi Arabia suffered a few World Cups ago. Instead we had a nil nil first half where we realised the plucky ( I hate that word) but it applies here, team from Glorious Leader land weren't just a bunch of political prisoners living on gruel and fear. The fact they held off a frankly scary good Brazilian side is testament  to the skill and determination of these players to show they are for real. I never thought in a million years that I'd find myself cheering for a bloodthirsty dictatorship, but there you are. The other thing to take from today's result is simple, even if Brazil managed a 2-1 result, it hides the fact that they were  not as good as Germany in a similarly one sided fixture were far more successful in crushing their minnow opponents. Kaka and his samba boys are not to be taken lightly, but hardly the immovable force that will trip up Germany. At one pont, Bazilians were seen to be openly appealing to God. Surely this means they will be easily rattled by more efficient less emotional sides.Both Chile and Spain play today. Perhaps one of those two will show the form required to challenge for the final or they will join the other also rans who are fighting for the privilege to be taken out last by the eventual finalists. One other element needs pointing out is the rain. Been terribly English  and will benefit teams with players who practice their club football in the Premiership and fizzy pop.

So how am I bearing up to the schedule? I've made a concious decision to not miss a single match if I can. This means that I have become used to eating and taking care of  non footie related life stuff between the 2nd and final match of the day. I take a long nap, ok I sleep for 5 hours shortly after the evening final whistle and have started passing on a so called "normal" timetable. You need to know something, my wife and I are writers, consequently getting up earlier than 10 am or even noon on a Saturday is against our religion, so you would think  the World Cup would be a dawdle. Problem is, this world cup has proven a bit more of a challenge. You need life affirming food and drink, or the dull matches will destroy any chance you have of staying awake. If I'm not careful, next time I nod off, I might stay asleep for 8 hours straight. Before sitting down to write this, I spent the last three hours doing dishes, sorting laundry and cleaning the cat toilet. If we had waited any longer , the house would be worthy of a teenagers pit or a dorm room after a particularly good party.  Non footie associates  know better than to ring me for the next month about anything remotely time consuming, our telly has been reduced to football with breaks to keep our eyes from dropping out of their sockets. It' all about discipline and not forgetting to eat and pee. So far so good, looks like we'll make Marathon without dropping dead right after delivering the message.

Apologies to those of you waiting for purple prose praising Father and Son or prime picks of premium musical promotion ( say that 10 times fast). Until the opening group stages settle down, I'm afraid there will be little else. I'm not completely addled, Doctor Who has my full attention and  I'm gagging to make a giant vat of  beef and barley soup. Beat Surrender still fuels the brain cells when writing these blog posts and I hope you are taking the opportunity to listen.  Also NE Pride, I know for a fact has had some listens as well. so , keep it up dear readers and give the programmes and stations listed on the side, they deserve you support and will not disappoint, regardless of your personal taste in music.

Kick off in a few hours, so best get some food prepared  and gird our loins for the coming day of sitting on our arse. Match of the day if you only watch one , is Spain v Switzerland.  Have fun and support a good side.  These teams are not the entire nation they are collections of talented humans, May the best ones make the final.

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