Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sunday 20 June 2010 – WORLD CUP DAY TEN


Today is Father’s Day. I’m not sure if this is the case the world over but certainly it is here in England. My own father packed off on holiday to Ibiza with my mother in the early hours yesterday so annoyingly when my gift of a Millwall away shirt arrived with the post a few hours later I was unable to hand it to him. Elsewhere today is also the sixth birthday in eleven days for me. Once more: what’s the deal with birthdays in June (or rather conception in September/October)?

It’s a gloomy Sunday. The man that “stormed” the England dressing room after the Algeria game has whored himself to the Sunday newspapers. The guy’s name is Pavlos Joseph, surely with a name like that he was half in the wrong dressing room. When asked about it Beckham laughs it off, he laughs everything off, this is quite the jolly for him, hanging out with the princes and everything. Have we discovered our Gillian Duffy of the World Cup campaign?

News of fun and games continues to emerge from the France camp as it would appear that Nicolas Anelka has been sent home. Later word comes through that the trainer has also been ordered to pack his bags after rumours abound of the team refusing to train for him. What on earth is going on with that crumbling squad?

At halftime during the first game as a precursor to tomorrow’s North Korea v Portugal match the BBC shows a clipped version of The Game Of Their Lives documentary. The World Cup in 1966 has never looked brighter prompting a real sense of nostalgia for a less commercialized tournament and rose tinted better times. The grass most definitely looks greener. Here’s hoping that North Korea will be leading 3-0 tomorrow too.

PARAGUAY v SLOVAKIA
In another game that realistically fails to spark the imagination Paraguay seemingly enthused from their draw with Italy on Monday take hold of this game immediately with a close effort from Santa Cruz after 3 minutes. From here Paraguay dominate the Slovakians with impressive force and it feels only a matter of time before the goal that comes in the 27th minute from Vera as he dinks the ball into the net from a neat move from Barrios. With this goal Paraguay maintain momentum and pace almost permanently threatening to add a second, not least Santa Cruz who always looks a danger, especially when he breaks through in the 38th minute. Somehow Slovakia makes it to halftime with the score at just 1-0. In the second half Slovakia pull themselves together but Paraguay are generally on song today and with Santa Cruz a persistent nuisance they eventually seal the game in the 84th minute when Riveros adds a second to make the final score 2-0 to Paraguay making them good for a second round encounter against a Group E opponent.

ITALY v NEW ZEALAND
When did Bobby Heenan take over as manager of Italy? I don’t think that it is actually the real him because “The Weasel” would never allow the Italians to play as bad as this. Heenan managed Andre The Giant to a World Championship and a World Tag Team Championship. Perhaps Lippi could take some cues. In theory New Zealand should not pose any obstacle today as their late equalizer against Slovakia last Tuesday was more from luck than endeavour. On that note their good fortune appears to continue when after only seven minutes their former AFC Wimbledon striker Shane Smeltz scores with a fortunate tap in at the far post which looks technically offside. With a player that looks like a young Woody Allen (Simon Elliott) in tow New Zealand proceed to hold tight. From here the game gets a bit tetchy with Rory Fallon particularly pushing his (especially during an incident after only 23 minutes). As Italy begin to press at the 26 minute mark Montolivo hits the post and then a minute later Smith fouls De Rossi in the box for a penalty which Iaquinta promptly fires home giving birth to a strange vuvuzuela cum blowjob celebration. With the equalizer under their belt it feels like it is only a matter of time before Italy proceeds to run up a high score. Surprisingly though New Zealand stand tall and make it to halftime with the score at only 1-1. As the game continues into the second half it soon becomes apparent that New Zealand are destined to get physical and up their game while Italy continue to flail. This is not the Italy of old, not the team that won the tournament four years ago. In the end the second half turns out to be a real scrap of watching New Zealand get defensive and fight to hold onto the draw, which they eventually accomplish. I guess they went ugly early.

BRAZIL v IVORY COAST
Yes! Yes! Yes! Prior to the tournament this was one of the matches that I put into my iPhone diary as a fixture destined to provide a good time and potentially something of a World Cup classic. In the build up as Garth Crooks interviews some poor guy that I should be recognizing Crooks looks like he wants a fight. Tonight Drogba in the starting lineup complete with captaincy. The game is immediately exciting as Mos Def lookalike Robinho has a decent pop within a minute. Facing him however is a capable Wesley Snipes lookalike in the form of Boubacar Barry in the Ivory Coast goal. Also at the risk of pushing the lookalike thing too far Kaka really looks like Vincent Chase from Entourage. Tonight this is very much Brazil’s game as the Ivory Coast really do not appear equipped to deal with Brazil as Drogba looks lost upfront lacking any kind of service from his teammates. On the 25 minute mark the inevitable occurs as Fabiano breaks away and proceeds to smash the ball into the roof of the net as he drives through the Ivory Coast defense. As the game enters into the second half it takes only five minutes for Fabiano to add a second as he tips the ball over three players to score a goal similar to Gascoigne against Scotland at Euro 96. There is a hint of handball but this is overridden by the manner in which he bulldozed the ball past Barry and into the goal. Quite frankly tonight the Ivory Coast do not look like they have turned up as they play generally quite defense seemingly scared and in awe of the Brazilians. This fact is further pushed home as Elano slots in from a nice cross on the 62nd minute mark. Brimming with confidence Robinho attempts to get in on the act as he does what we refer to at Millwall as a “mad man run” as he tears through the Ivory Coast. Miraculously towards the end the Ivory Coast find some steam and in the 79th minute Drogba arrives on the World Cup stage with a slick glancing heading to make the game 3-1 although by this point a comeback looks far beyond their capabilities. Towards the end things begin to get very tetchy between the teams which comes to a head in the 88th minute when Kaka nudges Keita who responds by holding his face as if bitchslapped. This results in Kaka’s second yellow card and an unfortunate moment of ugliness that almost serves to taint the game. Dunga becomes visibly livid. Beyond this the final few minutes get played out until Brazil registers a 3-1 win. They’re looking good.

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