Retrospective: 2014 World Cup: Two

15th June Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1

 
7.23pm
“World Cup-ing it like a mother-effer. None more World Cup than this World Cup. Make the next one six months long, please.”
15th June France 3 Honduras 0
 
10.05pm
“This is a simply stupendous, goal-drunk, World Cup. No matter how how many times Fred dives, Brazil are the hosts and, de facto, can’t be the disturber of the peace (their citizens will do that instead and good on them) so the call went up for some team to play ‘the bad guy’ and the Honduras squad, as one, said: “That’s us!”. The only thing we’d been short of was a team who gave out some (great term) “afters” and Honduras did the business tonight with some brutal élan. With Honduras’ violence, the French team’s superb discipline, and the goal technology selling a dummy before finally telling us the right decision, all human life is here. After this tournament ends, I hope that I’ll be able to find a channel on my Free View box that keeps showing these games ‘as live’ on an endless loop.”
10.09pm
“Karim Benzema reminds me of U.S. investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. Maybe Scahill could do a match report about the Honduras’ players tonight and add it to the DVD of his film ‘Dirty Wars’?”.
15th June Argentina 2 Bosnia Herzegovia 1
 
1.03am 16th June
“Get your money on Argentina because ‘the race doesn’t always go to the swift’ and the Netherlands will fade as they always tend to do (although that game was more Spain’s comedy implosion rather than Holland’s magnificence, I thought.). Bosnia should be kicking themselves; Argentina were there to be pushed over in the first forty-five.

I don’t understand the ‘claiming’ of goals. I haven’t seen the angle of the ‘Messi goal’ yet to see if the deflection altered the course of the ball. It hit the post and went in; without the deflection, would it have hit the post and stayed out? Also, if it had gone past the post, Argentina would have definitely appealed for, and received, a corner. If there is some non-nebulous process for ‘claiming’ goals, I’d claim it if I was the defender in question, just to ‘bust the balls’ of one of the greatest players ever.”.

16th June: Feature about Phil Neville’s co-commentary for the Italy game

1.03pm

“I thought that Phil Neville was just different to the normal rather than worthy of the all-pile-on criticism that tends to be the Twitter way. Lawrenson, though, is really tiresome. His ersatz Larry David/Jack Dee shtick really gets on my nerves.

You’re trying your best to ingest all the live football, you know that you’re going to feel knackered tomorrow and progressively more knackered for the next few days as there just isn’t enough time in the day for recovery but, hey, you love football and there’s this git who is being paid to watch Argentina play in the Maracana, in this brilliant World Cup, whining about this not being a game to keep people from going to bed. If Lawrenson doesn’t want to be there, let someone else be there in his stead; someone who does want the chance to take in the beauty of life. Lawrenson’s gittery needs to stop somehow.”

16th June: Feature about England/Italy television audience

1.55pm

“”Match attracts an average of 14.4 million viewers”

14,400,001 including Wayne Rooney.

 

16th June: Germany 4 Portugal 0

7.29pm

“Some honesty/moral bankruptcy from Patrick Viera on ITV. The fault, seemingly, isn’t players like Thomas Muller pretending that they’ve been smashed in the face, but the referees for believing grown men when they claim that they’ve been smashed in the face. Maybe there’s a reason why referees sometimes treat players like infants…it’s because they act like infants. Shamefully, though, it was that ludicrous knobend Pepe who was the victim of Muller’s chicanery and most of the world would have been making that hand signal of ‘playing the world’s smallest violin’ as Pepe got the hook.”

7.58pm

“Oh sure, of course he had to go and I did widen it out, talking about ‘players like’ Thomas Muller: the discussion was more about cheating in general rather than that specific act of cheating specifically. I should have written that better so, yes, fair point, Pepe had to go but these outbursts don’t really come about without some grown man initially acting like an accidental hit in the face is the equivalent to a full blown punch. If the real world was like a football pitch then the crushing hustle and bustle of rush hour on the tube in London would see a carpet of writhing bodies on the stairs and platforms as people hit the deck having had people – gasp! – bump into them.”

 

16th June Nigeria 0 Iran 0

10.19pm

“Ah, that’s more like it; that’s more like a World Cup game: a misfiring, choking team against a woefully defensive side, not opening its eyes to realise that a win was there for the taking. It was hammeringly boring to watch. Still, this World Cup has been a great gig so far, and even great gigs like to give the drummer a rest and play the shitty slow one so that you can get more beer; go for a slash or go and edge your way outside to smoke a roll-up. When you come back and the music starts getting interesting and up-tempo again, you appreciate it all the more.”

 

17th June Feature about US, Iran and ISIS

12.34am

“Judging from watching Iran in the World Cup earlier today, maybe Iran can bore Isis to death?”

17th June USA 2 Ghana 1

1.13am

“I’m not convinced by Jurgen Klinsmann as a manager at all. He plays the media like a violin so he always gets an easy ride from them but he bullshits his way through football. Ghana always flatter to deceive and were there for the taking but Klinsmann evidently told his USA side to drop deeper and deeper thus allowing Ghana to finally build some pressure and score a goal that was a long time coming. If you drop back, you make it easy for the team who needs to score, you give them nothing to think about but to attack. Yet, if you keep attacking when you’re ahead, you keep the other side thinking; you put doubt in their minds; and how are they going to put it in your net if you’ve got the ball in their half of the field?

The USA always to come across like an English based team in that they play with so much heart and never give in until the final whistle. It wasn’t a great surprise that they came back to win but they seemed to make it much more difficult for themselves than it should have been. The USA have the firepower and the talent, they should have more faith in their ability to put teams away rather than clown around with ‘received wisdom’ bullshit about ‘holding what you have’ and ‘closing the game out’ and that must have come from their head man.”

 

17th June Feature about the television pundits

12.14pm

Thierry Henry’s been smooth, interesting and often witty. I’d give Gary Lineker 9 out of 10 too.”

 

17th June Brazil 0 Mexico 0

10.12pm

“Marcelo’s working on his speech right now for when he later receives the Fred award for scumbaggery. What a tosspot. He was about the only Brazil player who looked vaguely awake but that dive at the end, while looking at the ref, was a total loss of dignity in front of the world television audience. Well done him.

Brazil look creatively bankrupt: they need a collaboration with Brian Eno, post haste. Hats off to Mexico’s Hector Herrera: both for his play and for looking like Serge Gainsbourg. Ochoa is an extremely fine goalkeeper but that late save from the header was more Silva’s shame than Ochoa’s glory. Five yards out, a free header and Silva misses by heading straight at the keeper but Silva plays for Brazil and so, de facto, he doesn’t get hammered for his slackness.”

 

18th June Feature about World Cup talking points

08.59am

“I wonder if Capello will again be tossed ‘underarm’ questions by a country’s media hacks, trying to rationalise the team’s anemic play and goalkeeping slapstick in light of the fact that Capello’s pocketing millions of $$$$$ so he must be good, mustn’t he, and not a bluffing grifter?”

 

18th June Feature about World Cup talking points

11.17am

“After such a painfully blah performance, Scolari had no choice than to go the blustery, blowhard, Fergatollah route to try to deflect attention from his e-mailing-it-in players.”.

 

18th June The Netherlands 2 Australia 1

07.27pm

“Yet another utterly outstanding game. The football’s getting me so amorous and over excited that I have to stop myself doing that gross, revolting, tongue-between-two-fingers gesture at the television. The Netherlands will get found out pretty soon. Their flash-in-the-pan-ness is all over them like a cheap suit. The ITV commentator as Australia scored their scandalously awarded penalty (defenders; do like David Luiz and hold your arms behind your back when defending in the penalty area) to go 2-1 up: “Who saw this coming?”. Quite a few people, I think. Spain 1 The Netherlands 5 wasn’t the ‘Robben & van Persie show’, it was the ‘Iker Casillas Slapstick Comedy Revue’. The Brazilian TV network probably considered hiring some bloke to play an upright piano behind Casillas’ goal tonight and then wheel it on its casters to the other end at half time. Hats off to Matt Ryan, though, for trying to engender Casillas’ spirit into the game. He saw the Depay shot clearly all the way but he fell victim to not trying to catch a ball. When you try to catch, you aim to get both hands behind the ball; Ryan aimed to push it around the post so he tried merely to get his one hand only half behind the ball to leverage it past the post.

Robin van Persie’s two months off 31 but he’s still got the bratty temperament of a very spoilt 8 year old: defenders who subscribe to the ‘dark arts’ might be able to trigger a van Persie sending off later in the competition. When we have a figurative ticker tape parade of all of the tournament’s divers, please don’t let the sterling efforts of Fred and Marcelo make you forget about the laugh-out-loud comedy of Mathew Leckie today.”

 

18th June Spain 0 Chile 2

10.29pm

“Punching idiocy from both goalkeepers: stop with that shit. Catch the thing – give your defence a rest and stop the flow of the attacking team – or put the ball *out* of danger rather than back into danger. Commentators, spouting received wisdom, often pronounce the punch or the ‘bat away’ as being pragmatic or safe but it’s often a goalie just not taking responsibility or, more cynically, playing for the cameras and thinking that it looks good.

The shock isn’t that Spain went out, the shock is that so many thought that they’d come roaring back, especially against such a tough, go-for-the-throat side like Chile. So much of football, so much of anything, is in the mind and it wasn’t the result against the Netherlands so much as the humiliating manner of it. You don’t come back from that kind of psychological debris and damage. Spain’s confidence and morale would have been gatling-gunned to pieces by the almost surreal acts of folly by Casillas against the Netherlands.

I’ve never really warmed to Spain and their tiki-taka shtick but even I found it a bit painful to see such a successful side in such chaos and shambles. it was like some boxer getting back in the ring and thinking of the money as they got knocked around the ring. Viva Chile, though. I’ve loved them from the last World Cup, when you suspected that here was a team who trained to the sound of System of a Down’s song ‘Attack’.

An interesting point was made by Danny Murphy in the commentary when he expressed sympathy for Chile that they might get Brazil in the next round. I doubt that Chile give a damn about facing a leaden Brazil or any other side.”

 

19th June Build-up talk to Uruguay/England

10.56am

“”… I reckon Australia would be worth a punt to beat Spain in the final group game.”.

Very much agreed. Australia have played so well and got no points so one would think/hope that they’d get some kind of reward for their efforts while Spain are playing like a group of zombies from a George Romero film. Then again, football can be very unfair and I think that Tim Cahill is suspended but I hope that Australia get the victory.”

 

19th June Look back at Spain’s exit

12.41pm

I liked Danny Murphy on the BBC last night. Everyone knows that Xabi Alonso is a great player, and Murphy is probably a good mate of Alonso’s, but Alonso was so unaccountably terrible in the first half that Murphy had nowhere else to go but to give Alonso a verbal hammering over and over again. Although it probably pained Murphy to do so, Murphy had no option but to tell it like it was, without trying to rationalise or spin what was dreadful display from Alonso.”

12.44pm

“”…this ‘end of tiki taka’ is clickbait nonsense….”.

Welcome to the internet.”

14.53pm

“”… as an honest man and friend, he had to tell it as he saw it…..”.

Exactly; that’s what I was fumbling for. It was a sign of professional and personal respect for Alonso that Murphy simply had to let him have it. Alonso must be all too aware that he had a nightmare last night and he himself would realise that for Murphy to try to spin it otherwise would have been for Murphy to patronise a normally magnificent player.”

19th June Urugray 2 England 1

10.09pm

“Britannia Stadium football! From both sides. Schoolboys the country wide were going ‘Tsk’ and shaking their heads at England’s excuse for a defence and Joe Hart ducking out of way of a shot, erm. When the players turn to the camera and fold their arms before the Costa Rica game, I’ll expect to see Hart duck out of the way.

Luis Suárez and that bloke on the bench: get a room.”

20th June 08.29am
 
“Go Les! Hit Les!…..Faaaaaaaaaakin’ ‘ell!”.”
20th June 7.08pm
“LOL. Most teams suffer a wave of disgust when they make an early exit from the World Cup, but England will face a tsunami of disgust: ‘England are virtually out’….*water starts to go back out to the sea*….’England are definitely out’. Of course, there might be a third hit after Costa Rica put them to the sword but that might be the skirt that England hides behind: “Well, they beat Uruguay and Italy too, you know!?.”. Yes, and Italy and Uruguay both beat England.
20th June Italy 0 Costa Rica 1
7.21pm
“Costa Rica won with some ease. Speaking of which, I think that the England game’s on Tuesday. It might be interesting to see what kind of reception England get. Usually, it’s a shrug of the shoulders: people are on holiday, after all but, especially if England don’t play well or lose, the world might be treated to the first team to get an almighty bollocking from their own fans. We’ll be able to watch it back here through the super slow motion cameras too.”
20th June England out
 
7.48pm
“Are BBC and/or ITV obligated to have to show England’s game of shame against Costa Rica? Surely any football fan with a brain in their head would much rather prefer to see Italy and Uruguay duke it out? Wouldn’t that be funny: Lineker/Chiles: “Anyway, there was another game today. Let’s see the highlights of England against Costa Rica.”.

Do companies ever consider the damage that their (horrible word) “brand” can take if England stink the place out but they’re still trying contractually to pimp their product with an England player as their shill?”

 

21st June Honduras 1 Ecuador 2 reaction

11.02am

“Blimey, what a entertaining game; that 90 minutes seemed like half an hour. Kick-and-rush nirvana and then you had players nicknamed ‘The Pitbull’; “reducer” tackles and Carlo Costly wearing (what seemed to me like at least part of) a gum shield. Supposedly, Tupac once took a bullet to his testicles but checked out of the hospital later the same night and ITV said that Honduras’ Claros once took a gun shot to his dome, when someone tried to jack his car, but he then drove himself to hospital. (When Hillary Clinton runs for President in 2016, she needs to be asked about the 2009 military coup that she and Obama waved on through. Honduras is supposed to be one of, if not the, murder capitals of the world now.)

In amongst the slight sniffiness about the supposed lack of technical quality of the game, it look until the free kick that beautifully set up Valencia’s second goal for the tiresome Lee Dixon to stop looking down his nose and give credit for the delivery of set plays. Some free kicks were ludicrously fired into the wall from forty yards but quite a number of corners were smashed, yet bent, in very accurately. None of this ‘dink’ ball nonsense. Dink balls were not how these teams rolled.

Victor Bernardez is a centre back but he’s got a mighty shot on him, as has the Honduras right back. Sometimes you hear an English commentator express surprise that a centre back can do anything other than stop a striker from playing (I remember a Gerard Piqué goal for Barcelona that made Mark Lawrenson exclaim, with amazement, that he was a centre back too!).. Football’s left some people behind. For all the alleged lack of ‘quality’ about the game, (and, yes, they did like to launch the ball forward too) everyone seemed to like to have the ball at their feet. England: take note.

A massively enjoyable game. This World Cup ‘runneth over’, truly.”

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