Archive for June 11th, 2010

What We Learned From France vs Uruguay (0-0)

I Agree With Hanson

As always BBC Pundit Hanson tells it like it is. “I blame the French,” he states. The cheat-eating surrender monkeys as Donald Rumsfeld might describe them did nothing to try to actually win the game. Mind you, a couple of moments from Diego Forlorn aside, neither did the Uruguayans.

Will Someone Please Attack

We can’t really make blanket judgements based on two really pretty shit matches, but it doesn’t look like anyone has the confidence in themselves to actually try and win anything rather than try desperately not to lose. A while back I was talking about actual quality football (something that has still to make an appearance here), and was comparing the ‘frolicking football’ of Arsenal, Barcelona and Spain with the ‘defend and break’ of Inter and, fundamentally, Dunga’s Brazil. None of the teams on view today displayed anything like as coherent a footballing philosophy. All dragged back 9 or 10 men behind the ball once they lost possession and none seem to have the balls to take the game to their opponents. All teams now seem to be perfectly content to sacrifice the space between their own halfway line and the space in front of their own box in favour of building a defensive wall at the 20 – 25 yard line.  As yet no one has shown the guile necessary to break through this space. In contrast to World Cup 2006, where the Group games got off to a flying start, with teams more anxious to get 3 points than worried about losing them, this time it looks like the conservatism of Euro 2004 (won by the tedious Greeks) has come to the fore.

This Group Is Shit

Any of the four can now make it. Neither Mexico nor South Africa are out of this. And none of these teams look like being anything to worry about. However, once they get out of the Group, these teams have a pretty easy draw, so there is the terrifying risk of repeating the French experience of 2006, which would be a real travesty.

2 Down 62 To Go

Archive for June 11th, 2010

What We Learned From South Africa vs Mexico (1 – 1)

Initial Prophecies Were Inaccurate

Thank fucking Christ we don’t spend all our time internet spread betting or we’d be double super poorer. The ITV commentary team didn’t even wait til the match started before they apologised for the sound of the vuvuzelas. It won’t be the first. As usual the in-house ITV team are craptastic.

I also said I’d watch every minute. However, some of the first half was so thoroughly tedious I was compelled to watch it through closed eyelids in a state of somewhat unconsciousness. When I was actually awake, it did reek of a classic Blackburn/Bolton confrontation where you simply lose the will to live and quality football seems like an optional extra. It says something that the BBC highlights of this game didn’t start until the 50th minute.

The Vuvuzela Is A Rubbish Instrument

It looks like a poor quality plumbing product and it sounds like a broken kazoo, but the real failing of the vuvuzela is that it doesn’t leave you with anywhere to go. And as Shakespeare says (admittedly in Shakespeare In Love and not in any of his real works), “Where are you going to go when you meet the love of your life?” In the case of the vuvuzela your only real option is to shut the fuck up.

South Africa Should Have Been Braver

In the one good move of the entire match (all of three passes), South Africa gutted the mexicans and scored a genuinely class, smashed straight into the back of the net type goal. If only they’d have spent a little more time being a bit more ambitious and actually attacking Mexico, they would surely have won. Drawing this game won’t help them get through the Group stages. It looks like grabbing the game is the only acceptable strategy.

Mexico Are Lightweights

Like most of their boxers, Mexico are small, nippy lightweights. To succeed in football, they have to move the ball fast and with great control. South Africa didn’t give them the space behind the back four to run into and Mexico simply ran out of ideas. If South Africa hadn’t totally slept out the Mexican’s corner, they’d never have got back into the game.

Neither Of These Two Are Going Through

I can’t see either of these two getting past France or Uruguay, unless those two really fuck the pootch (which isn’t totally inconceivable).

One Down 63 To Go

Archive for June 11th, 2010

Game On Brothers And Sisters, Game On

What We Will Learn From The World Cup This Week

It’s finally here, the Festival of Football, second only to the Spectacle du Tranpoline in the many things I must see this year. And I can hardly wait I am that excited. Not obviously about Engerland’s chances, because they’re about as likely to win as a blind Hackney Marshes pub team, but about the whole mind busting brilliance of the thing. It’s like counting down to Christmas when you’re six or so and you just know that the fat man is going to massively mess you up with sackloads of good stuff and you’re trying to stay awake so as not to miss anything, but somehow you fall asleep fully clothed hiding behind the door armed only with a cricket bat at 2am because you are that excited. It’s like we’re on the pre-flight check list and the co-pilot is mumbling his numbers to the captain, “Wheels” (“Check”), “Panini sticker album” (“Check”), “Including the incredibly rare picture of the Russian goalie with the red top” (“Check”), “And the now-deleted super-rare picture of Theo Wallchart” (“Check”). “OK we’re good”. And with that Kerpow! we’re off. And I aim to watch EVERY BLOODY MINUTE (although if Switzerland play as badly as they did last time against Ukraine, I reserve the right to play my joker and bunk off that one).

So this week is really about establishing the patterns. We will sit, like James Bond in Casino Royale, glaring at our screen, daring the players to outsmart us and play well without giving away their ‘tells’ and hoping they don’t spike our drinks with that datura lizard poison shit that paralyses in seconds. We’ll see who’s good, who’s bad, who’s on form, who’s not. For a whole week. After that, maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to address the key questions,  Could the French do worse than they did in 2002? (please), Which team will be the first to implode? (Cameroon, France), Will Maradona last a week before spazzing out at the media? (hard to imagine) Could ITV mouthpiece Adrian Chiles be more irritating? (harder to imagine) How long will the first match last before the commentary team apologise for the noise of the vuvulelas? (10 minutes). By the time the opening ceremony is over I will have completed my World Cup Wallchart based on nothing more than utter biased speculation and occasional random guesses. And then we will discover What We Have Learned after each match.

I can hardly wait.

On the subject of being six, there’s a weird apocryphal bit of social science for boys that states that the first FA Cup you remember will come “around about” your sixth year. You can therefore surreptitiously deduce a man’s age by asking him the first FA Cup he remembers, consulting your FA Cup Book For Boys and adding “around six”. Works every time.