Trumping the disappointments (England/Italy), scandals (Su^#$z), and silly boots (what’s wrong with black, you fools?) is the parity among teams (though I make the exception of Greece, who have no business in the second round). In the last two weeks I’ve grown used to each game being more likely to yield a well-contested 90 minutes than a dull, negative draw. A pleasant surprise over tournaments past.
God help you if you have a contract to wear Puma’s pink and blue boots this year. And you’re in worse shape still if you had anything at all to do with this abhorrent fluff. This mismatched colour scheme’s only mitigating aspect is Gigi Buffon sporting the complementary set of mitts, but this shouldn’t surprise you. Why? Because Buffon is an august, golden legend of international football (and, arguably, match-fixing) deserving of a home on the highest of mountains, that’s why.
…an over-hyped, almost entirely terrible club. They deserve to go home, and they will. This aside, Ronaldo's brain surgery homage haircut, if it’s to believed, is class indeed.
…an under-hyped, very good club. I expect they’ll do well against Brasil. Related: I erred into a field full of sour grapes with a Chilean friend of mine on FB. He was annoyed about Holland parking the bus against them, which is an admittedly terrible tactical direction unless you see it as a viable way to, um, win. In sum: quit your bleating and beat Brasil. You’re already deeper in this tournament than most expected.
The Nigerian Attack...
...looks like it could come from anyone, even me. They’re so disorganized; they feel like a college team. But they always feel threatening. Maybe it’s their athleticism, or their drive? Who knows. They’re sloppy as hell, but a lot of fun. It does sound like college, doesn’t it?
My favourite match of the first round: it just gave and gave and gave. I love that the Aussies didn’t back down; I loved every goal; I loved that Cahill ended his World Cup career with that wild left hook of his. Nice moves, kid, and a mega goal to boot.
…is a disgusting goalkeeper. He’s kept his country in the tournament and deserves high praise for his longevity and commitment to improving his game. He also looks like he eats a bottle of children every morning for breakfast: just a slab of a dude right now.
Nigel De Jong…
…is an animal. He’s the engine of the Dutch midfield and would two-foot your nan in the parking lot of a Safeway if it meant that his team regained possession. He pissed off a Chilean team which, let's face it, aren't exactly spic and span when it comes to their disciplinary record. Also, remember this? Nigel D. settles scores, son.
…may finally be coming into his own as the juggernaut I feared he was at Europe 2012: just a big, athletic guy with a rocket of a shot and a strong work rate. His disallowed goal at the end of the Switzerland game was magic. I’m curious to see what he comes up with in the knockout rounds. I’m also interested to learn if anyone in the French camp has the temerity to suggest he shave that embarrassing beard.
Extremely disappointing, but not even remotely surprising.
Someone in the @AmericanOutlaws copywriting department really sang for their supper, here. Even in its overwrought, only-in-the-US earnestness, this image shows that America, possibly the most self-serious nation in the world after Iran, can still laugh at itself on occasion. While I’m not clear on why Abe Lincoln is riding a bear or holding a machine gun, I suspect this is part of the fun.
Argentine referee at the helm for the USA/Portugal game is an ENORMOUS ox of a man. Everything about him is scary: the combover; the shades-of-Meola physique; the sheer, projected menace. I imagine the stench of fresh carrion on his breath colliding with your senses like a hurled anvil as he writes your name in his infractions book and instructs you to “Stand back ten yards, please.” You would. I would, too.
How the HELL did Greece advance? My next-door neighbour, Chris, is part Greek. He drives a big white van for work, and to his credit, he keeps things pretty subdued. But seconds, literally SECONDS after Greece beat the Ivory Coast with that sham of a penalty call, he’d installed flags on the van’s hood and out the sides of its windows, just like the rest of Toronto’s Greek population. I thought Greece, and its community’s tearful support for its notion of football, was done for, but no: the bandwagon doth roll, and I suspect that Chris may be at its helm.