Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Germany 2006 World Cup (1)

In the summer of 2006, I vowed to watch and write about every World Cup match. I more or less succeeded, although I failed to write about the final, which in retrospect was quite an omission. Instead of having 50 posts I'm condensing them into 5, in the unlikely event that someone still wants to read them!

Germany 4 - 2 Costa Rica

1) FIFA are investigating claims that the referee chosen for this match was 'not incompetent enough'. One German player, who does not wish to be named, said, "The referee got almost every decision correct, had complete control of the game, and didn't reward cheating and diving. This isn't football as we know it."

2) England fast bowler Simon Jones says he wants England to use the new World Cup FlyAway ball in next year's Ashes. "Look at the way it swerves randomly! The Australian batting would collapse like a 6ft German midfielder."

Poland 0 - 2 Ecuador

Ecuador spent the first 20 minutes of this match convincing me they were the worst team in the World Cup. Their goalkeeper is hapless, their players all seem gangly and random, and the only way they could stop Poland was to literally throw the Poles to the ground.

Then they scored a goal and were a different team. Suddenly they were as impregnable as an old tin of paint. Their counter-attacks were as free-flowing and smooth as the paint in a new tin of paint. Their second goal was well-deserved - as deserved as a tea break and smoke for a hard-working painter.

Poland may lose all 3 games...

England 1 - 0 Paraguay

An oily referee was the most entertaining feature of a drab game. In this photo you can see the dapper Mexican dripping oil into Joe Cole's mouth to try to restore him to health.

England's second round and quarter-final matches will kick off at 4pm - let's hope it rains so we don't have to watch supposedly ultra-fit professionals toil in the sun like demotivated farmers.

Trinidad Tobago 0 - 0 Sweden

1) The problem with watching all 64 World Cup matches is that I will get emotionally involved in most of the games, and invariably support the underdog. Which means I'll usually be backing the losing team.
2) Trinidad seemed hopelessly outclassed in this game, but gave Sweden a contest in the first half. Second half, first minute, red card. But Trinidad held on for five minutes, then a few minutes more, and suddenly there were only ten minutes left and Sweden looked desperate. Trinidad even hit the crossbar.

Another great game - that makes 3 out of 4 for the World Cup so far, and 3 out of 4 referees have been good. I have run out of food, though, and will watch the Argentina vs. Ivory Coast game eating squares of cheese.
3) I can't stand the commentators on the BBC or ITV - it's hard to say which are worse - so I will be watching the rest of the World Cup on mute.

Argentina 2 - 1 Ivory Coast

1) "We lost, but this was a moral victory," blubbed Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba, "Our diving was far more rehearsed and elaborate, and our grumpy expressions were far more masculine. Riquelme tried looking grumpy a few times, but when you are floating around the pitch like a beautiful ghost, it doesn't work."

2) "I'm happy with our performance," said the Ivory Coast team manager, "Our players collapsed to the floor on average once every two minutes; that really puts them in the shop window for big-money moves to southern European clubs."

3) "Obviously I'm relieved," said Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze, "I haven't played for 9 months and I came through 90 minutes without aggravating my injury. I'm very pleased that most fans in England wanted Argentina to win today. It helps that the most hated player in Britain, Drog-boo, was on the other team. But maybe they will start off hating our opponents, and finish by admiring our fluid passing and lovingly crafted attacks."

Serbia Monty 0 - 1 Holland

Serbia started this game overawed by their Dutch opponents. "In our culture, the Dutch are traditionally seen as 'more than human'," said giant Serb striker Nikola Zigic, "Our most ancient writings describe the arrival in Belgrade of a Dutch adventurer, who claimed to be one thousand years old. He taught us a specific kind of seven-line poem. Perhaps that is why we were so meek in the first half. At half-time we talked and realised this was the worst Dutch team for 40 years, and in the second half we were much better. Our defeat tastes bitter in our mouths. That's the first line of a new poem I'm writing. I must write six lines more."

Mexico 3 - 1 Iran

Another hugely entertaining game. FIFA's instructions to referees are really working - goalkeepers are kicking the ball out of their hand quickly, throw-ins are not long-drawn out affairs, lunging tackles are immediately punished even if the player won the ball, time-wasters get yellow cards, and corners no longer look like rugby scrums.

As a result, most teams have realised that cheating is no longer a guarantee of victory, and they are playing football instead. Wunderbar! Best World Cup ever...?

Angola 0 - 1 Portugal

"Plucky Angola are playing their hearts out against their former colonial masters," whined the chap on ITV, "What drama we are seeing here on ITV, the only channel to bring you ALL the World Cup adverts. Directly after this match, turn over to ITV 4 where we have an hour of beer commercials. Digital viewers press the red button now to see sportswear and soft drink adverts. Plucky Angola are still holding their own against their former colonial masters, and we must be careful not to patronise them. Tomorrow on ITV you can see the Group K match between Palestine and Taiwan. Live coverage of England vs. Brazil and France vs. Italy are on another channel, but we aren't going to tell you about that."

Australia 3 - 1 Japan 
Japan blew it

USA 0 - 3 Czech Republic 
CR looked great but Koller's injury is a blow

Italy 2- 0 Ghana 
Italy are ghana win the World Cup

South Korea 2 - 1 Togo

"I'm Togo's best player by far," whelped ugly Togo forward Emmanuel Adebayor, "So I don't need to run." Adebayor was speaking after Togo's defeat to South Korea, a game in which Adebayor ran a total of 1.4km. In contrast, referee Graham Poll ran 9km, Korea's Ji-Sung Park ran 13km, and even Togo's goalkeeper Kossi Agassa ran more than 5km.

"Adebayor is a hero to young people in Togo," said his agent in response to criticism of Abebayor's selfish, petulant display. "The youngsters in the streets of Lome have read of Adebayor's 50,000 pounds a week wage, and they all want to be like him. In a few years, nobody in Togo will run, even to catch a bus. He is a great inspiration and role model."

France 0 - 0 Switzerland

"Welcome to France versus Switzerland," shrieked Radio 5 Live's commentator Alan Green, "Today's referee is the best in Europe."

15 minutes
"The referee has shown the Swiss goalkeeper the yellow card - because he wasn't counting loud enough! That's a strange decision."

36 minutes
"The referee - who is one of the best in Europe - has shown Vogel the yellow card. For shooting on the half-volley..."

55 minutes
"Viera's shot has gone MILES over the bar. Terrible. And what's this? The referee has told Viera to go in net! It's Heads and Volleys rules. In the World Cup! Extraordinary. I always said this referee was unfit for a major tournament."


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