Friday, 18 June 2010

Friday 18 June 2010 – WORLD CUP DAY EIGHT


Time for everyone in England to jump back on the football bandwagon. Sometimes I can really understand why other nations dislike us because of our football supporters.

Today is Fabio Capello’s 64th birthday. With this in mind it gets highlighted to me that if he wins this World Cup it would make him both the first foreign manager and the oldest to ever win the competition/tournament.

From here the remainder of the morning flies by. I get informed that Sebastian Horsley has died of a heroin overdose as outside an overcast day take various opportunities to drizzle.

GERMANY v SERBIA
After the manner in which they dismantled Australia last Sunday much is expected of the Germans today, not least after Serbia lost to Ghana the same day. Today Joachim Low continues scoring in the fashion stakes wearing a rather natty/fetching cardigan which is a look his assistant also appears to be rocking. Is he his bitch? They were matching on Sunday as well. It begins a physical and solid encounter and before the long the referee becomes slightly card happy. With Serbia more than holding their own the contest is all but killed in the 36th minute when the referee issues a harsh second yellow card to Klose for a trip from behind. When Klose gets sent off it is almost a Gazza moment. The foul is not a million miles away from Italia 90 and now it would seem the referee’s decision is something of a dream smasher for Klose, destroying any final hopes of him registering the all time world cup top scorer record. He doesn’t cry though, he just refuses for a while to return to the dressing room. From here it barely takes Serbia two minutes to take the advantage as Jovanovic scores a goal with a flying stretch. As the first half comes to an end a scramble sees Khedira ram the ball against the bar for the Germans. The second half begins with Germany pressing Serbia in search of an equalizer. In the 56th minute Podolski makes a good run but ultimately only comes close with a decent effort. Then only minutes later he fires the ball into the side netting. A second turning point in the game occurs in the 59th minute when Vidic performs a crazy handball in the penalty box. Fortunately for him however Stojkovic in the Serb goal saves the spot kick, which is ironic for a national with such a legacy of proficiency at penalties. From here Serbia regain some kind of confidence as Jovanovic comes close again in the 66th as he hits the post while in the 73rd minute Zigic skims the bar for them. Eventually the game ends at 1-0 to Serbia. So much for the conspiracy theory of the Germans playing with the advantage of a season using the Jabulani ball.

SLOVENIA v USA
Once more today the Slovenian players are in good voice during their national anthem, half Arnie half Borat. As the strains of the American anthem rains out it just reminds me of patriotic wrestlers. When the camera pans across the faces of the players arm in arm over shoulders at the point I see Tim Howard I can’t help but wonder whatever happened to his tourettes syndrome. Within seventeen seconds of kick off Clint Dempsey floors a Slovenian with his elbow. In the 12th minute Slovenia take the lead through a spectacular long range effort from Birsa. From here the half calms down, even to the point that at the 33 minute mark the commentator is pointing out there is something of a resemblance between USA coach Bob Bradley and Hannibal Lecter. Yes, this game is that exciting. A few minutes later Torres brings a good save out of the Serbia goalkeeper from a free kick. With momentum behind them the USA continue to press for the remainder of the first half until on the 41st minute Slovenia break on the counter and Ljubijankic adds a second. During the game I find myself getting a couple of phone calls, aren’t people getting into the World Cup, I think we need to get behind this thing. At halftime the USA make two changes bringing on Edu and Feilhaber and there is an air of immediate change as two minutes after the restart Landon Donovan rams the ball into the roof of the Serbia net as he runs in from the side. The goal is a defiant gesture, a shot that appears to frighten goalkeeper Handanovic into hiding behind the post. From here throughout the second half American begin to pile on the pressure as they endeavour to come back into the game while all the time Altidore appears to spend the majority of the game falling over. Late on the excellently named Herculez Gomez gets introduced for the USA. In the 81st minute they finally get their equalizer as Michael Bradley scores one for his dad as the fruit of a very direct move. Nepotism rules. Late on Edu then puts the ball in from a cross as a schmoz occurs in the Serbian penalty box. The goal does not stand as it gets disallowed although there were a number of incidents/occurrences for both sides during the move that could have equated to a foul. You could/might say they were robbed, not least when the whistle blows soon afterwards ending the game 2-2. It’s a pretty good result from the perspective of England.

ENGLAND v ALGERIA
So finally after another crazy build up England’s second game arrives with a sense of anticlimax. When the team news comes in I am genuinely surprised to hear that Capello has gone with James over Green. Bad call. Otherwise Carragher for King, Barry for Milner and sticking with Heskey are pretty predictable decisions. Elsewhere it would seem that Algeria have changed their goalkeeper too as M’Bolhi comes in. This is a goalkeeper with a star tattooed behind his left ear. This is a man.

The game kicks off and it doesn’t take long to notice that Algeria is getting stuck in a manner that England is not. Suddenly the game exits the realms of enjoyment and soon begins to suggest another lacklustre performance. It is over the course of the first half that the words of Bill Hicks begin to resonate with me. Years ago he commented on the first Gulf War that he was “for the war but against the troops” and I sense now that people are up for the World Cup but sick of the actual players (the English ones). Things have become so removed from sport now it would seem, the build up is too glitzy and while the players spend so much time shilling perhaps this would be time better spent concentrating on the football.

On the field Glen Johnson looks the weakest link as he repeatedly gets burned making Boudeboz looks perhaps more skillful and dangerous than he actually is. Also a couple of times early on James does not necessarily look safe. As time moves on to their credit Algeria actually begin to rough England up, not least in the 18th minute when Heskey takes a particularly nasty shot to the head. Ten minutes and they actually have Terry down on the floor. From here it takes England almost 30 minutes to find a shot on goal and when it comes it is weak and tepid. When the game reaches halftime we remain mystified. Into the second half Matmour (the Algerian Jason Biggs lookalike) continues being a pain to England. Eventually Capello makes a change and it is Wright-Phillips for Lennon, a straight switch of the impotent. The sophisticated right now are suggesting that the problem is with the tactical makeup of England but I think it runs deeper, they just don’t look into the game. The control exhibited is not that of the greatest and most skilful players on the planet. When Rooney moves it is painfully sluggish and Lampard just looks invisible. For a second a spark is hinted when Defoe replaces Heskey but soon it feels snuffed out as the Algerians continue to crowd the English players. I guess it is possible that they have potentially played half the games of the English players but I’m not convinced of this as a reason. With less than ten minutes to go Crouch comes on for the drab Barry which whiffs of desperation. By now Rooney is barely moving, often seldom moving beyond the centre circle. The game ends with the England players seemingly unable to take corner kicks. Late on when the Algerians have a free kick that they send into the penalty box is creates a degree of panic that none of the England set pieces ever exhibited. Finally the game gets put out of its misery at 0-0 and a result England should not have stooped to.

In the end the game is another disaster. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. There are things that are plainly wrong with the players and/or the setup. We can only guess at what it is right now but none of the team are playing within an inch of the quality that justifies their lifestyle and existence. How have things with Capello turned so sour so fast?

At one point during the game a person on Twitter puts it all into perspective by pointing out: “FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF IS ON FILM 4 RIGHT NOW!!!”

I rush home in order to see the latest car crash episode of James Corden’s World Cup. Put a positive spin on that shambles you fucking chimp.

Finally a terrible night ends badly as the pretty Beyonce lookalike Rachel is the first person to get voted out of the Big Brother this year. Disaster all around.

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