WC2014 Holland 0 – 0 Argentina

The World mourns as the actual Death of Football is confirmed

The World mourns as the actual Death of Football is confirmed

Zombie Football – How Long Must This Suffering Continue?

Rumours of the apparent resurrection of the World Cup continue to shock and traumatise millions around the world. “The main feeling is a sense of disorientation and confusion,” said one parish priest as thousands gathered to express their concern for football’s misshapen, char-grilled corpse, which was last seen stumbling aimlessly around a pitch desperately trying to play out a turgid, incident free semi final.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” declared one unfortunate spectator. “They were just stumbling around, giving the ball away and hoofing it all over the place. It was like watching a really bad episode of Monday Night Football between Sunderland and Aston Villa. Nothing happened. Then they made us watch extra time and nothing happened for another 30 minutes. It was like sticking your head in a barrel of pig sick for a month and when you finally come up for air they tell you Ron Vlaar was man of the match. And all that time you’ve been forced to listen to commentary from Andy Townshend. I tell you this hell can’t continue.”


WC2014 Argentina 2 – 1 Bosnia Herzegovina

Messi finally wakes up and scores his first World Cup goal since 2006

Messi finally wakes up and scores his first World Cup goal since 2006

A Strangely Subdued Experience

Whodathunkit? Everyone expected this to be an absolute cracker. Certainly all the matches we’d seen so far had put pressure on this one to deliver. And yet. And yet. And yet this really failed to get going for so long. If you wanted to produce a highlights package, you could comfortably have cut from minute 3 to the middle of the second half it was that nondescript. At the end it felt like things had just gotten started. And by then it was over.


What We Learned From Germany vs Argentina (4-0)

Football, Bloody Hell – Game Of The Tournament

If ever there was a completely convincing argument for World Cups being won by teams rather than individuals, this was it. You have Argentina, who have the apparently best player in the world in Messi (although he hasn’t scored any goals and really hasn’t significantly influenced any games here) and possibly the James Brown of international football (the hardest working man in showbiz) in Carlos Tevez, not to mention Mascherano and Di Maria, who are managed by the Pimp Superstar Diego Maradona and yet, and yet, they’re utterly, comprehensively, totally stuffed by a team whose biggest name is still sitting out his FA Cup injury wondering when (more like if Michael) he’ll ever get back in this team.

Germany don’t play like a bunch of talented individuals who’ve been lumped together in pampered luxury and told to play a few games of footy together while on holiday. But enough about Engerland. I only mention them to say that I think Argentina got an even bigger stuffing tonight. Germany were outstanding in every way. Their defence totally annihilated the threat of Argentina’s strikers – remember Diego brought six with him – restricting them to one chance and even then they were offside (all four of them). Their midfield ran the match, Schweinsteiger, Ozil and Khadira (who was playing in that Michael Ballack position, which he won’t be giving back) just cut out any threat while building attack after attack primarily down the left hand side. While Klose and Mueller, the latter especially, worked endlessly to punish  the Argies at every opportunity.

Unlike Engerland, the Argies weren’t quite stupid enough to fall for the long ball right up the middle in between the two apparently best central defenders your country has to offer. But they were quite stupid enough to fall for the same goal three or four times in a row. All the attacking danger came down the German’s left, crossing the ball deep into the box for one of a host of attackers to tip, tap, scramble or lash into the net. Chances are the Argentinian right back won’t be playing many more games for his country. He’s already checked into a psychiatric institution to try to get his sanity back.

Out Go The Pimps

Maradona has been an interesting manager. At a time when many nations are simply buying job lots of these carbon copy international football svengalis (spot the difference between Paul Le Guen, Sven, Carlos Perierra and the various chain smoking Eastern European gents) Argentina chose to appoint their former best player (and notorious football cheat and drug abuser) to the post. He was roundly criticised for using approximately 100 different players during their qualifying campaign and for not getting the best out of Messi. His team selection was apparently “Mascherano and 10 others”. But he has managed to successfully halt the decline of Argentinian football and has pulled together a team that, the Germans aside, shows perhaps the greatest degree of cohesion and togetherness we’ve seen here. Sure they have had their arses soundly beaten, but it would be a shame if they decided to get rid of the PimpMeister General. Again, it’s a bit like Engerland, if they get rid of this manager, who are they going to appoint who is better?

Loew And His Monkey Are Like Batman And Robin

Holy Tactics Batman! I think we just did them again. What I like best about German manager Jochim Loew is not his obviously excellent grasp of tactics (although the tactic of ‘waiting until Engerland shot themselves in the foot’ is one that many, many teams have applied successfully before), it’s not even his bepringled comfy Leisuresuit Larry look. No, what I like best is that he forces his little Monkey to wear exactly the same garbacious clothing as he is. Not even Fab has forced Stuart Pierce into a blue, Lycra stretch pullover and waiters jacket. No Loew is obviously a man who wears the trousers round his way and ensures that everyone else wears ones that look exactly the same.

59 Down 5 To Go 5 Teams Remaining

What We Learned From Argentina vs Mexico (3-1)

Say Hello To My Leetle Friend

One of the more entertaining elements of the tournament has been the class acts that are the managers. Obviously most of them are tedious, rather serious looking rich dudes like the Fab or, less so in your international manager, tracksuited twats who’ve lucked out on some foreign dosh. But some are stars. like the various Eastern European looking, chain-smoking, corpses who haunt the African and Central American sides or Mr Disco the Portuguese manager, who has his open shirt and vaguely hairy chest and desperately, desperately needs one of those solid gold chains like P Diddy to complete his world or the Sartorially Ineligant Twin Managers of Germany, Jochim Loew and his dynamic ward Robin, whose matching outfits would be the pinnicle of bad taste if only West Ham’s David Sullivan didn’t have a penchant for kinky militarywear or that Brazillian toff Dunga hadn’t nailed the storestaff and got hold of all the pukka jackets. But best of all, top of the managerial shitpile are the entire oiled, bequiffed, pompadoured managerial staff of Argentina, who bestride the touchline like collosal gangmaster football pimps. Chief among them Mr Hand of God Maradona. He is great. Plump, fantastically well-oiled and suited in the kind of garish class act whoremeister-wear you’d expect someone in Dallas or CSI:Miami, Diego is top drawer. Just like his lovely boys.

Here is Leetle Carlito. He is good. Runs very fast. Very, how you say, agile. Very squirmy. Can find hees way through even the smallest cracks in your defence. Yes, you will lov Leetle  Carlito. Even when he is completely offside, the linesman, he makes no complaints because Leetle Carlito, he knows joost how the linesman likes it. And if it peeses off a few Mehicos, well, that’s just part of Leetle Carlito’s charm.

And then there’s Higuin. He is a big boy. Likes to lead from the front, always pulling about those defenders. They just can’t keep him under control. First it’s one side, then it’s the other, then your centre back has no idea where he is and, hoop-la, it’s in the back of the net. And if that confuses those Mexicanos a leetle more, then that’s fine.

And Leetle Carlito, you will love him so much, he just doesn’t stop. Always taunting, always teasing, he is like a leetle minx, if you have minx wherever you come from, if not, well, he is always taunting. And those defenders, they are like putty in his hands. He pulls them one way, he pulls them the other, just like Higuin, just like the big boys do, but Leetle Carlito, he is not so big, he has to work so much harder than Higuin to pull those defenders about. But when he does, Blam! Oh the goal is open for just a second, maybe only a half a second, the blink of an eye, but Leetle Carlito can tell that the goal is winking at him, the goal is a cheeky bad girl who wants Leetle Carlito. She wants him so much. Leetle Carlito, he cannot resist. 20 yards, 30 yards, who knows, who cares, Leetle Carlito he shoots and like great explosion the ball is in the net.

Only Pepito Messi is a problem. He dances, he sleeps and slides, but he cannot score. Oncle Diego is going to have to teach Pepito Messi how to behave or Pepito Messi is going to have a long talk with Oncle Diego’s leetle best friend. And that wouldn’t be good for Pepito.

Sure those pesky Mexican kids fight back, like they did against Engerland in the friendlies, like they did against the South Africans. And sure that kid Hernandez is interesting, but against Diego’s boys he isn’t much. Mexicans ptah! Breeng on the Germans.

52 Down 12 To Go 12 Teams Remaining

Extra Extra What About Them Second Rounds Then

Group Of Ease

Yeah, so one of Uruguay, South Korea, USA or Ghana is going to a World Cup semi-final. And, let’s face it, that should have been Engerland not USA in that list. Out of these I give the Koreans little or no chance, for while they have a great team with a couple of decent players, they’re up against Uruguay, who have the excellent Diego Forlorn, who seems to be one of the very few players not to have been overwhelmed by the scale of the World Cup and has actually seized control of and dominated games. I see Uruguay going right the way through to the semi. USA have a great team with a never say die attitude, but attitude aside all they really have to offer is Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey and I’m not convinced. Ghana are a great strong passing side, who haven’t managed to score goals other than penalties so far. You can see them riding the wave of African euphoria, but they’re going to have trouble when they come up against a quality side.

Group Of Death

Forget any previous pussy, lame Groups of Death, this is the real thing. Germany, Engerland, Argentina and, well there’s always one, Mexico. For Engerland to get to the semis, we’re going to have to beat both the Germans and the Argies. If we get that far life will be very sweet indeed and we’ll probably only have to beat Spain and Brazil to win the big lump of gold. So no pressure there boys. If we want to win it, we’re going to have to do it the hard way. Heart says we go through and win, rational analysis says it’ll be the bloody Argies (again).

Group Of Football

With both Holland and Brazil, this should be a group of total football. Holland, I suspect have been playing a very cagey game and not really over-exerting themselves. Straight wins throughout their First Round matches means that they haven’t really been tested yet and I don’t see the conquerors of Italy, Slovakia, giving them any trouble at all. I think the Dutch will open with their wingmen and then we’ll see some football. Brazil and Chile should play off a great South American cup tie, but given Chile’s attack only policy and Brazil’s excellent defence I see Brazil wiping the floor with Chile’s poor quality defending. Brazil v Holland will be a cracking quarter final, which will provide Brazil with a really serious test, but this Brazil side is pretty formidable and, like the Dutch, just beginning to find their form. I see this as Brazil’s group.

Group Of Unexpected

Ideally, Spain and Chile should have switched groups, but they didn’t so this group has the Tweedledumb and Tweedledumberer match up of Spain and Portugal, in some ways it hardly matters which one of them comes through. Spain will have a tough game, they seem to have lost their way mentally and don’t know which direction to go in. Now true World Cup Champions always undergo some kind of transformation during the tournament, but the transformation Spain are undergoing is tortuous. Will they sacrifice the beautiful game that got them here for a pragmatic hoof and wingplay game we saw them trying before Chile gifted them the game? Portugal will be a hard test, they have a rock solid defence and are really hard to play against and when they’re in flow as they were against North Korea, they can’t half knock in the goals. I see Portugal going through. Paraguay and Japan will be a fantastic, open game, the Japanese will not give in and Paraguay are a decent team. This match should be a cracker and I see Portugal going out of this group.

The Semis

I see these being

Uruguay vs Engerland

Brazil vs Portugal

Can’t help being optimistic eh?

What We Learned From Group B Eliminators

Football, That’s Messi – Argentina 2 – 0 Greece

Happy, happy, joy, joy as Ren & Stimpy would say. We couldn’t be happier if, say, the entire French team imploded, went on strike and left South Africa in ignominy. Messi and his band of merry chaps (none merrier than Cheat of the Year 1986 Maradona on the 24th Anniversary of both the Best Goal Ever Scored In A World Cup and the Hand of God), spent the best part of 90 minutes teaching the Greeks an object lesson in footballing technique. Set up to deliberately frustrate and stifle the Argies, the Greeks were the abject personification of the Mourinho Discipline. They man-marked Messi, set up their two banks of four as their most attacking option, two banks of five being their defensive version, and generally showed all the ambition the Swiss and Ukrainians did in their Round of 16 at the last World Cup. Yet all that did was allow Veron to shine. He was outstanding and basically ruled the pitch for the entire first half.

Ultimately, the Greeks had to fold and once the Argies had scored it was game over. Then Maradona introduced his latest talisman, his sixth (yes sixth) striker, the 36 year-old Martin Palermo, whose international career had been over for 10 years before Maradona brought him back to face Peru in the Qualifications, where he scored a vital goal. Here he played in Messi’s second serious attempt on goal and he couldn’t have been happier. “Hey Greeks,” he seemed to be saying, “I haven’t played international football for a decade and I’m still better than you are.” We just enjoyed the suffering of the Greeks. They were super shit and paid the price. Argentina will face Mexico in the next round.

South Korea 2 – 2 Nigeria

South Korea got the luck and Nigeria paid the price for their indiscipline and useless performance against Greece. You have to admire the adventure and spirit of the Koreans, just as you have to expect their early exit in the next round against Uruguay, because for all their adventure, they are woeful at the back, kind of the opposite of the Mourinho Discipline.

So Bye-Bye Greece And Nigeria

You were too useless, too cautious, too miserably defensive or too inept to continue. Your planes await you. Good to know all our Group A and Group B predictions have come true. Here’s to the impending calamity that is the Engerland Slovenia match. God help us all.

36 Down 28 To Go 25 Teams Remaining