WC2014 Russia 1 – 1 South Korea

You. There. Now. Naughty Step. Bad Goalkeeper.

You. There. Now. Naughty Step. Bad Goalkeeper.

A Coup Too Far

What is it that former Don turned Kremlin Field Kommander Fabio Capello does to his goalkeepers? There has to be some kind of heinous training regime or hazing ritual he throws on them to ensure they are ready for a World Cup of Total Humiliation! (yes with capital letters and an exclamation mark, that kind of Total Humiliation!). First, poor Rob Green somehow spoons a simple USA shot into his own net in 2010, now, four years on and with an entirely different country lining his pockets, he has formerly solid Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev bloop the ball into his own goal.  It must be something really special as Capello remains the best paid international manager in the world.  You genuinely can’t buy that kind of talent for less than £6mil pa.

It’s clear that Capello belongs in another era. An older time, when keepers could happily launch the ball into their own goals without nary a care or mention. Leeds in the 1970s say, when Gary Sprake was having his heyday. You feel that like the Russian military hierarchy, Capello stands resolutely for a past that yearns to be forgotten. For the defensive solidity of 101 billion kilotons of nuclear power with brain addled 80 year-olds’ hands on the kill switches. For a standing army of millions, a wall of flesh ready to defend the motherland to their last breath.  For stagnant midfield orthodoxy that stands apart from the true defensive genius of Mourinho and the tikki taka pressy pressy of Guardiola.

And Russia is a team in his image, far more than Engerland ever were. Dour, unambitious, leaden, they bore their way through matches like a malignant slowworm. Their bus parking is like their country’s transport infrastructure, ill balanced and falling apart.

Korea, though better, weren’t that ambitious either. Unlike almost every other coach in the World Cup, the Korean’s deliberately left the handbrake on, believing that not-losing was the single most important result to get. No surprise then that his team should go to pieces having taken the lead, completely unsure how to proceed.  As a result the remainder of the game was played out in and around their penalty area until Russia, inevitably, equalised.

As this, the final game of the first round of the Group phase, spluttered to its score draw conclusion it seemed as if both teams’ ambitions would soon be realised. They will both play their remaining games with handbrake on persistence before being beaten by both Belgium and Algeria and sent home in disgrace.

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