keresaspa: (Percy Sugden)
It has often been stated that, had it not been for the 1964 betting scandal, Nobby Stiles would not have played in the 1966 World Cup but rather his place as the hard-tackling midfield destroyer would have been taken by Everton's Tony Kay, one of those to be banned in the aftermath of the gambling-based naughtiness. Well, having seen them all first-hand I can guarantee that there was no Nobby Stiles amongst their number, but it's still something of a shock that the five men suspended in local football's latest betting scandal are all known to me personally, having been five of the seemingly never-ending slew of players to have made the move from Donegal Celtic to Crewe United these last few years. Ciaran Burns, a talented defender with an eye for a goal, bug-eyed full back Paddy Fox, one of the heroes of that last-day survival job at Loughgall, Ciaran Carson, a stocky ball-of-rage and regular captain in midfield (and probably the most Stiles-like of them all), Pearse Devine, a midfield maestro who still follows me on Twitter and Michael Henderson, about whom I admittedly remember very little, all banned for betting against their own team in what was probably the biggest match in Crewe United's history. Silly boys and a terrible waste for five players who still had plenty to contribute. Fortunately it was after they had all left DC so it will have no impact on our ultimately failed attempt to gain promotion but it's a real shame and further evidence of what a fundamentally destructive gambling really is.
keresaspa: (Brigitte Bardot)
Despite appearances to the contrary I remain very much alive, just rather too involved to update much on here due to a combination of the continuing World Cup (which has unfortunately tailed off a bit after a blistering opening round), a return to live matches and a recent visit from [livejournal.com profile] queenmartina who came bearing cake made by [livejournal.com profile] burkesworks, renovation projects and arse whippings at Trivial Pursuit. Jolly fun all round, barring the continuing success of the Dutch at the World Cup as they have quite possibly edged ahead of England to become my most hated of all the national teams.

In the interim I have allowed the formalisation of a new unification between mainstream unionism and illegal loyalist paramilitarism, the possible collapse of the Assembly, more genocide against the Palestinians, the end of Rolf Harris and the possible beginning of the end of a cadre of perverts at the heart of the establishment to pass without comment. So to correct those oversights I'll just say hardly a surprise with the legacy of Edward Carson, Ian Paisley and Ulster Resistance but the two-facedness of the whole "Sinn Fein/IRA" shite is exposed for the hypocrisy it is, it'll never happen as Robbo and Martie love the money too much but by God am I glad I'm getting out of this shitehole over the Twelfth, as ever the world will fiddle whilst Palestine burns, slap it into you ya nonce and Knox Cunningham holds the key.

That's me bang up to date then. Nothing to this blogging lark.
keresaspa: (Evil Timbo)
And thus ends another World Cup group stage for another four years. And it is no word of a lie to say that spills and thrills were provided throughout, with fun for the whole family (the WHOLE family, mind) freely and readily available.

In Group A Brazil spluttered along for much of the time, showing mere flashes of their much-promised brilliance. In Neymar they have the top scorer so far but the Croats proved stout opposition before being downed and Mexico were their match. Indeed the Mexicans might well have been worthy group winners had their lack of attacking vigour against a woeful Cameroon side not proved their undoing. Despite all that I still reckon it's Brazil's to lose.

I had half expected Spain to recover from their awful start in Group B but in the end, of course, they didn't and the illustrious era ended in ignominy and the gall of bitterness will run for some time there. The Dutch are bound to go far unfortunately and Chile will be no pushovers for Brazil. Australia were a gritty bunch of battlers but, Tim Cahill apart, were outmatched throughout. Still, they gave a decent account of themselves in two matches and can go home feeling smart enough.

Colombia owned Group C from start to finish and Japan weren't at the races in what proved a disastrous World Cup for the Asian contingent. The main battle was between the Greeks and the Ivorians for second place and I got right behind the African side in the deciding clash. As such they inevitably lost. A shame really but Yaya Toure had a poor tournament by his standards and Drogba, despite his might, just can't do it for a whole match any more. Greece are something of a grim watch at times but the never say die spirit runs through them like the word "Morecambe" throughout a piece of hard, sugar-filled confectionery sold on the Lancashire coast and they could yet pull off one or two more shocks before konx ompax.

The story of Group D was the brilliant performances by England, whose fans rightly cheered their gallant efforts in finishing bottom of the group. Imagine if Svennis or Capello had done that - they would've been hanged from the yardarm but Woy's status as bona fide English means he is forgiven. I suppose they didn't play that terribly but they just weren't at the races, a niddering lot afraid to go near the ball, and Hodgson's obsession with the future has worn a bit thin. Tomorrow never comes and if you ignore the present then what price the future? That and basing your hopes on Phil Jones and Chris Smalling is sure to end in tears, whilst the celebrated Adam Lallana, who single-handedly (with several others) brought Southampton to the giddy heights of upper mid-table, looked very ordinary during his appearances. Pretty much the standard of Graham Taylor's 1994 side really (who would also have qualified if the World Cup was 32 teams in those days) and to an outside observer the obsession with Steven Gerrard, who has accomplished pretty much nothing in his 114 appearances, is mystifying. At least his Italian equivalent, Andrea Pirlo, is a skilled god of football who won the World Cup, although he was marked out of this series and Balotelli was in "can't be arsed" mode so their elimination was inevitable. The less said about Suarez the better - he is a vile pig who doesn't belong in the game and should be facing a year's ban for his latest outrage. I wouldn't be surprised if Uruguay made the semi finals again to be honest, even without him as the Devil looks after his own. Oh and Costa Rica, good on them, well done, pat on the head, patronise etc.

France took Group E by storm, showing an attacking prowess that few felt them capable of showing. The odd defensive lapse and a weak squad may well catch up with them but it will be fun while it lasts nonetheless. Fair play to Switzerland too, who finally look like they can attack a bit too rather than their old trick of having ten in defence. About time M. Colin-Tampon did something half decent at the World Cup. Despite my earlier claims Ecuador weren't too bad in the end. There was a lack of skill but they played their socks off and were rather unfortunate to go out. Honduras had the odd moment here and there but were making up the numbers really.

You can't really fault Argentina in Group F. Bosnia had a right good go at them and Iran ran themselves ragged but in the end Messi finally started to show what he is capable of in a World Cup. Bully for him. Despite the presence of the odious Odemwingie I got behind Nigeria in this group and was glad to see them qualify. In Victor Enyeama they have a fine keeper who has enjoyed his second consecutive solid World Cup whilst Ahmed Musa is surely set for a glittering future after his harassment of Argentina.

Portugal's bundling out of Group G was hardly a shock given their opening drubbing by Germany and their failure to get the better of Germany Junior. Despite the blip against Ghana the Germans looked comfortable enough although their defence is decidedly un-Teutonic and will prevent them from going all the way. GerJu are lacking in any real skill but for commitment and gritty determination there are few who come close and if they grind their way into the quarter finals I won't be astounded. Seeing the poseur Portuguese go after the first round is always good but I was disappointed at how far Ghana had slid since four years ago and as usual Muntari had to make it all about him. Oh, and whatever became of Freddy Adu?

As we've established, Group H was the poorest crop of all. Belgium were effective and got the job done although the notion of them being outsiders for the title seems fanciful after they made fairly heavy weather of a very weak group. I found myself rooting for Algeria in this one on the strength of their crazy performance against South Korea, a team who haven't looked so poor since the early '90s. Next time the AFC try to agitate for extra places in the World Cup then they should be reminded of this World Cup. It's been abject for the continent from start to finish. But anyway, glad Algeria made it ahead of a shockingly dull Russia side.

Looking ahead to the second round I'll don my fatidical hat and predict wins for Brazil, Uruguay, France, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Argentina and USA. When I did this four years ago I got all eight correct so if you want to put your house on it do so. You might well lose the house, of course, but if you want to then go right ahead.
keresaspa: (Piggy Banks)
It will come as little surprise that my knowledge of the genre of music entitled "liquid funk" is minimal to say the least. As such when I heard about a scandal involving a sexual video by Wilkinson my immediate thought was "nobody needs to see that, Howard." But as for the rest of this little bit of silly season frippery, the players are very well-known to me.

The Good Shepherd Church is but a two minute stroll from where I live and, whilst I wasn't baptised there (that happened here) both the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation were administered to me within those walls. Equally well-known to me is the parish priest, for in another life Father McKenna was the head honcho (or President as he insisted upon) of my secondary school. In the role of President, McKenna was virtually invisible for much of the year, only to emerge every so often when some function or other was held during the day at the school. Inevitably certain parents would be invited to said functions and McKenna would spend much of them sucking up to the invitees. Equally inevitably the invitees would be those with the most money, brought in to have their arses kissed in return for throwing a little green in McKenna's direction. Given my experience of the man and his worldly ways I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have ensured the famous Wilkinson laid down a bill-fold before undertaking any of his nefarious practices. "Women, priests and poultry have never enough" they once said. A slur on all three as each group is a mixed bag but as I remember McKenna the President he always wanted more. Still, it gets him in the news at least and might bung a few hundred on the plate next week. And equally those of us who had never heard of Wilkinson now have, so all publicity is good publicity in both cases. And all money.

Now if you'll excuse me I must go as this Algeria-South Korea match is proving to be a lot more interesting than I anticipated and I would like to give it a little more attention. Mon the Fennec Foxes!
keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
And so it came to pass that the World Cup has reached that most auspicious of stages, where every team has been played and we can now gave a half-arsed opinion of all of them. So permit me to do just that:

Cut for you football-hating numpties out there )

Volte-face

Jun. 16th, 2014 01:25 am
keresaspa: (Cynthia of Witching Hour fame)
Well that was unexpected. My distaste at the waste of money in an impoverished country remains (not quite as bad as neo-liberals blowing billions on pointless crap like the Olympics or, worst of all, the Commonwealth bloody games, but I digress) but an absolutely blistering start has made this World Cup difficult not to like. There have been gripes obviously - Brazil being nursed to victory, a thumping win for my second least favourite team in the Netherlands, a lacklustre performance from Argentina, boring old Switzerland looking nailed on to advance, Adrian Chiles. But despite all that there has been more to enjoy, be it the triumph of France over brutal Stoke City clones Honduras, the delightful battle between the ever so orderly Japanese and the gung-ho crazy Ivory Coast during which the very existence of Didier Drogba seemed to both inspire his team and scare the hell out of the opposition despite his doing nothing of note and, of course, champions elect England getting slapped down by a spectacularly virile Italian side. Fun for the whole family with plenty of delights left in store. A really good World Cup is long overdue and if this one can continue in the vein in which it has started then it can finally be delivered.

My solidarity with the protesters remains as ever but my threatened lack of interest has evaporated as I'm now being carried along with the visual glamour on the pitch. Well what can I say, I face a season of gloom and misery under the single most underwhelming appointment in Albion history Alan Irvine, I have to take my fun where I can get it.
keresaspa: (Miki Sugimoto)
A World Cup descends on us tomorrow and I suppose I really should be excited. And yet I'm not. I mean, I'll watch and all but I just don't have that sense of anticipation that I normally get round this time. I'm blaming this on a sort of fatigue with high-level football as a whole as well as the increasingly unappealing nature of the World Cup as an event.

Just how much the Brazilian people have had to suffer to make it happen when they didn't even ask for it and their furious opposition throughout makes the thought of it all rather uncomfortable. The Brazilian protesters have certainly goth-served the forelock-tugging Londoners when it comes to showing disdain for a cuts-hungry government wasting billions on silly little sports tournaments (and the ConDem junta make Dilma Rousseff seem like Maurice Bishop) but I'll leave that thought incomplete as criticising the precious Olympics to an Englishman is a waste of time. Nevertheless when something as simple as a football tournament is built on death and destruction as this World Cup has been it does rather leave a bad taste in the mouth.

There's also the issue that the World Cup has become just such an exercise in marketing and PR that the actual tournament in almost incidental. Brand-positioning and all that sort of crap is the order of the day to the extent that what goes on on the pitch is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Given that it has bloated out to 32 teams, many of whom have no business being there, just to increase visibility it almost makes the first round miss-able now, something no part of a World Cup should ever be. That and it's Sepp Blatter's baby and his combination of naked corruption and his stranglehold on the world game is really starting to overshadow things.

My devotion to the local game has slowly started to erode my devotion to the wider game, as the cynical aspects of the top levels are so obvious compared to the little guys whilst just watching a match on TV has lost some of its appeal now that I'm more used to the live arena. Certainly there are few more sanitised versions of the game than that presented at the World Cup, putting the whole thing in an increasingly divorced reality when compared to the grass-roots game.

As I said, I'm sure I'll end up watching it but I can't imagine I'll be going too far out of my way this time compared to some of the previous tournaments. As a slightly silly, four-yearly entertainment extravaganza I suppose it still has some value (provided you can avoid all the hype surrounding England - congratulations in advance on winning the World Cup by the way) but as the pinnacle of world football, its crown is looking decidedly tarnished.

Lawks, if I'm still alive in eight years I dread to think how I'll react to the Qatar version!
keresaspa: (Cynthia of Witching Hour fame)
After spending the last three Saturdays in Poleglass, Rathcoole and Sydenham respectively my hopes of finally returning to DC were scuppered by the success of next opponents Limavady United in the William Craig Memorial Cup, an intermediate competition in the north-west, and the enforced postponement of the league game so as they can play their quarter final (I think). Still, "never mind" I thinks to myself, "as the east coast equivalent, the Steel & Sons Cup, is having its quarter finals at the same time and I quite fancy a return to Paisley Park for Albert Foundry's clash with Crumlin Star". Except that's gone west as well as, in the sort of cock-up between club and IFA that DC supporters are well used to, Foundry are out of the cup, their replacements are the erstwhile Ulster Poly team and the match is in the depths of Newtownabbey on Friday night. A real shame as Foundry-Star would have been a ding-dong (and is potentially an Irish League rivalry in waiting) and I always hate to see a team excluded from a competition for any off-field reason. It also means that come Saturday I am left with a straight choice between Iveagh United out in Twinbrook or one of the Newtownabbey pair of Mossley or 18th Newtownabbey O.B., all in Division 1C of the Amateur League. Don't let it be said I don't lead a glamorous life!

As for Roy Hodgson's joke I'll not say much as too much has been written about it already but my own take is that it wasn't intended as racist but it was a daft choice of metaphor by an otherwise intelligent man. But, on the positive side, it has overshadowed the inevitable slew of "we can win this" rhetoric from the press and the more deluded members of the England support. Oh, when will they ever learn?! And I should probably declare now that, given my usual side Paraguay have failed to make the cut (finishing rock bottom of the CONMEBOL standings no less), my support at the next World Cup will be given to Bosnia. Why not?
keresaspa: (Bhishma (Mukesh Khanna))
The recent draw for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Europe threw up some interesting stuff, he said euphemistically. Interesting not least because once again it demonstrated what a farce the FIFA ranking system actually is. Normally I would raise an eyebrow at the notion that England are apparently the fourth best team in the continent but compared to some of the other placements that FIFA decreed that looks positively sensible. Norway last qualified for a finals tournament in 2000 yet somehow they are ranked amongst the best in Europe, along with other no-marks like Greece and Croatia. Montenegro have enjoyed a decent start to life as an independent football entity but so far they have accomplished precisely nowt and as such their position in the second tier looks dodgy to say the least, especially given that perennial qualifiers Switzerland are ranked with the third lot. A pity too for poor old Wales being dumped amongst the pocket handkerchief mob as they may be sinking into the mire under the hapless Gary Speed but they would still have the likes of Azerbaijan and Moldova any day of the week and really should have been in Pot 5.

Still the FIFA rankings being screwed up is about as much news as a politician being a liar so what of the groups themselves? Has there ever been a group weaker than Group A? As they stand at the minute none of this rabble should be at a World Cup. Still the boneheads that make up large sections of the support of both Croatia and Serbia should have two field days re-enacting the Yugoslavian civil war when these two meet. Did nobody think to fix the draw to avoid this sort of occurrence? B,C and D look straight forward with the top seeds winning easily and the second and third seeds the only ones really in contention for runners-up spots. Group E is another one packed with nobodies and for the previously aggrieved Swiss redemption of sorts can be had by the fact none of their opponents look much of a threat to their top spot. Mind you for the purists a pair of matches featuring Switzerland and Norway will be grim to say the least. Group F looks slightly more interesting as, although Portugal and Russia will most likely take the top two spots, either of them could win and they both have a history of making qualification as difficult as possible meaning I wouldn't be surprised if Israel took a shock second place. No chance for the Province as usual, unless they have 11 good players who have yet to make their debuts of course. Group G is another of those rubbish efforts packed with mediocre teams who all look like first round fodder and it will be a shame if we lose a grand old team like France just so as Greece can play out a couple of 0-0 draws before going home. England have effectively been given a walk-over in Group H and whoever is in charge then should find no problem winning the group. Unless, of course, they put some eejit like Ian Holloway in charge in which case who knows?! Finally Group I demonstrates what is wrong with the system as Spain and France should both be going to the World Cup finals. They still might of course but there is a good chance that only one of them will and that is firmly the fault of the morons at FIFA and their daft rankings.

All of this won't be starting for a year, of course, so it's far too early to make any firm predictions. But nonetheless FIFA are idiots and some of the just daft groups that they have produced prove it even further. Norway the best in Europe, my arse!
keresaspa: (Colonel Blink)
The snow came back this morning which was a good thing in many ways. I may not be a big fan of snow as I have previously stated but it is preferable to the sheet of ice that we have had to endure these last few days as at least it is crunchy rather than slippery. Walking in snow is hard work but, given that it never lies deep in Belfast, there is no danger of the embarrassing fall-de-rees and fall-de-roos that ice invariably engenders. Still the fall we had was quite picturesque and, as I always do when this happens...

...this is what it looked like )

So an actual proper covering of snow has arrived and so in the spirit of the season (and for the first time in probably 25 years or more) I decided there was only one thing to do - build a snowman.

Two raisins and a hole )

There, now aren't you glad you got to see that? Oh.

EDIT: And go here to read an assessment of the whole England World Cup fiasco that is pretty much in step with my own opinions. A rare triumph for the Grauniad these days.
keresaspa: (Harry Cross)
Snow has, of course, been the thing that is getting everybody hot and bothered this last week or so. Now, we did get some nigh on a week ago round these parts but by and large that was it. No seven foot drifts, no winter wonderland, no canitude or any such nonsense. Nope, the snow was over after little more than two days last week but, this being Belfast, it hasn't gone away you know. Instead the snow has turned into ice and has lay ever since, making the street I live in and the surrounding environs about as treacherous as wearing Lady Gaga's meat dress on a midnight raid in Battersea dog's home. The inevitable trip to the hospital yesterday to give away my life blood like so much cheap wine resulted in more near pratfalls than an uninsured Norman Wisdom and made dignity an impossible commodity to come by. The hatches have now been battened down although penarious concerns mean that it must be braved again tomorrow, lest I am reduced to eating tins of celery hearts topped with cat food for supper and even I draw the limit at that. Probably.

Meanwhile I present this quote from a Mr. D Beckham, referring to a Panorama investigation into widespread corruption in FIFA and after a meeting with Jack Warner, a man who personally made millions illegally selling his federation's allocation of World Cup tickets - "I think what we made clear to him, and what he already knows, is that, if we were to get the World Cup in our country in 2018, our media will be right behind it". Good stuff. Now I attach no blame to Beckham for this statement, cast as he is in his usual role of pawn in big boy's games, but doesn't it give a fine insight into the mind of our esteemed leader David William Donald Cameron that he is happy to ignore glaring corruption in order to grub a bit of money from FIFA and is even prepared to manipulate a supposedly free press in order to have his way. Heck, the whole bid wasn't even his idea in the first place and should surely have been one of the first wastes of money culled by his cuts-happy government given the unlikelihood of it actually succeeding. Still, if World Cups were awarded for brown-nosing I'm sure Call Me Dave's schmooze-fest in Zurich over the last few days would have won it hands down. As a spectacle I always enjoy the World Cup but, let's face it, the whole thing is as bent as a nine-bob note and seeing the supposed great and the good effectively saying that they don't give a rat's arse about corruption as long as they can get their snouts in the trough is about as sickening a sight as I have ever seen.

And finally I was wondering if anybody else was having an issue with goat-acting by livejournal these last few days, specifically with regards to fonts. All the words on the various pages seem to have changed font to something decidedly bland and I am now left to wonder if it is just my laptop being its usual gittish self or if it is rather livejournal being its usual gittish self. Rotten lot.
keresaspa: (Yargh)
50 facts about the 2010 World Cup )

I promise I will find something else to write about eventually. God, I hate the close season!
keresaspa: (Fran Drescher)

Justice. The defining theme of this World Cup final will always be just that to my eyes. The Dutch might bleat about an imagined foul in the build-up to Spain's winning goal but the horrendous treatment that they meted out in the first half should have seen De Jong and that bully van Bommel sent off so it is a case of sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander. Our own Howard Webb certainly has a case to answer over why he let such thuggish behaviour go unchecked but that is for another day. There was clearly only one team that actually cared about winning that game and that was Spain. The Dutch on the other hand were happy to ruin it as a spectacle despite boasting some real talent in attack and as such they deserved defeat. Over the course of the tournament (with the exception of their first match) the Spanish were the best team on show, taking on top class opposition and dominating them and for there to be any winner other than them in this match would have been a travesty. It was fitting too that Iniesta, a man who has been challenged only by Villa and Xavi for the title of Spain's best player, should strike the goal that delivered the title. I would have expected that Nelson Mandela would have done the honours in presenting the World Cup given that it was largely his doing that South Africa hosted the event but in the end it was down to Jacob Zuma and his shadow Sepp Blatter to do the honours. I happened to mention at the start of this tournament that I reckoned Mandela would die as soon it was over and I now wonder if he has and they have decided to cover it up. Tomorrow a bunch of disgusting human beings bedecked in orange will parade around triumphantly in celebration of a victory in which they played no part but tonight another group in orange won't be able to. All in all the tournament itself was far from a classic as there were a few too many dull games, a few too many no-hoper teams and a few too many top players just not trying but with a deserved win for a great team some redemption has been salvaged. Justice indeed.

But rather than leave it there and disappoint the millions of you for whom my inordinately in-depth coverage has been essential reading I will take this final opportunity to indulge myself by examining the performance of each team in turn. So strap yourself in because here we go:

Team by team )

So that's the end of that chapter. What the bloody hell will I talk about now?!
keresaspa: (Nina Wadia)
I'm sure there is somebody somewhere that grasps the purpose of the match for third place. FIFA clearly think it is a good idea (a fact that almost guarantees that it is not) but beyond them I reckon it's pretty unanimous that there is no reason this match. Were Miroslav Klose fit he might have proved the one dissenting voice as, at 32, it was probably his last chance to take the all-time World Cup scoring record but, of course, he wasn't and therefore the search for a purpose goes on. Nonetheless in the end the two sides served up a fine hour and a half's entertainment, despite the futility of the whole exercise. Germany just about shaded it and as such were worthy of their bronze medals but the Uruguayans certainly made a fist of things and once again Forlan played like an all-time great. For me he has been the individual star of the tournament and deserves to take the Golden Ball but I rather suspect that Uruguay's semi-final loss will cost him that particular honour. A shame but inevitable. Overall the fact that it was not a life or death game allowed both teams to relax a bit and make a real game of it and there were some well-taken strikes that helped to us say a fond farewell to two teams that have both in their own way made this World Cup memorable. A Uruguay win would have pleased me more as I rather took to the Charrúas despite their billing as the villains of the piece (for the last time Suarez was punished for the handball and it was Gyan's fault for missing the penalty) but them's the breaks. I stand by what I said about this game being pointless but as pointless games go this was one of the better ones!

Tomorrow, of course, is when it all matters. I personally don't expect a classic as the Dutch have been a gritty bunch of buggers whilst Spain's promised flowing football has been more about keeping possession in midfield than scoring hatfuls of goals. On top of that the news from the Dutch camp seems to be that they intend to frustrate Spain's attacking efforts which does not augur well for the spectacle. Still, the fingers will be crossed for a good match and a Spanish victory. Until tomorrow and the crowning of a brand new champion, good evening.
keresaspa: (Daffney)
Finally, at this very late stage, Spain look like living up to their potential. There can be little doubt that the Spanish have been below par in this World Cup but tonight's win against Germany was a fine piece of work. Both teams have quality to burn in midfield but it is very much to the credit of Spain that they won that particular battle handily, with even the mighty Bastian Schweinsteiger being made to look somewhat ordinary. Unusual to say the least that the goal should come from Carles Puyol but they all count and if anybody deserves an individual moment of glory it's surely Barcelona's unsung hero and Cannibal Corpse's biggest fan Puyol. In the end, rather like the European final two years ago, 1-0 flattered the Germans a bit as were David Villa a few inches taller and a Fernando Torres a bit less crap it could have been three. Given the football lessons already handed out by this Germany team that is no mean feat and it makes Spain look strong going into the finals. As for Germany they put in some truly great performances in this World Cup and for my part I thought their name was on it but as it turned out Spain are as good as they were built up to be and so the Germans must depart, confident at least that they have a strong generation of players most of whom will be around for a good while to come. I look forward to Sunday when I shall be right behind the Spanish to get the win over my best friends the Netherlands ;D
keresaspa: (Tiger Jeet Singh)
Absolutely bloody gutted! After the end of my own interest in this World Cup I really got behind Uruguay's unlikely bid for glory and then that turns around and happens. Between the persistent (and mystifyingly unpunished) fouling of Van Bommel, the pouting crapulence of van Persie and the diving and cheating of Robben I really cannot abide this Dutch team and to see them go into the final is a complete choker. I have no doubt that they will now go on and win the blasted thing just to annoy me. The game itself was enjoyable at the time but that has passed as I just feel terribly bloody fed-up at the result now. Oranje barstewards!

My only hope now is that whoever wins tomorrow will give this shower of gits the whipping that they have coming but, as I've said, I can feel it in my water that it won't happen. The Dutch are clearly a team with weaknesses, what with the defence being no great shakes and their main striker decidedly goal-shy, but so far nobody has exposed them and it doesn't look like anybody will. It's times like this I wish I had a cat as I could really do with something to kick. Flaming useless Uruguay!
keresaspa: (Jose Luis Chilavert)
That was a bit surprising, was it not? Clearly Germany looked a good team but I certainly didn't expect them to so comprehensively spank Argentina. Not that I was aware that it was to be the case as, for the 7,358th time since this World Cup started, I missed the opening goal. Still the Germans definitely looked good value for it as early on there was no obvious sign of any weakness in the team and none materialised as the game went on. Argentina's offside goal was unlucky but the call was a right one and it became clear from there that nothing was going to happen for them in general and for Lionel Messi in particular, who has disappointed to an extent in this tournament but who was completely shackled by the Germans here. At times Neuer looked a bit shaky but such a criticism would be grasping at straws as the team looked great throughout and in Khedira, Özil, Müller and above all the imperious Schweinsteiger had the sort of midfield that you can only dream about. Before long Klose hit a deserved second, providing a good photo opportunity for the fragrant Angela Merkel (resplendent in the sort of red jacket that Billy Butlin would be proud of and looking every inch the confused mother who knows her son just did osmething important but isn't quite sure what), and it became clear that there was no way back for Argentina, no matter how much the little gladiator Tevez tried to go it alone. The Argentinean defence was never at the races, with Otamendi in particular having a nightmare, but even when he left things didn't improve as Schweinsteiger danced his way through to make the third goal. A breakaway fourth of the type that did for England late on was taken with aplomb by the talismanic Klose and Germany deserved it as they were streets ahead of Argentina in this encounter. In the end Argentina went out with a whimper and Diego Maradona slunk away a broken man in what must surely be his last action in a World Cup. Indeed if I'm being honest I'm not convinced that I will ever see Argentina win the World Cup again in my life. As for Germany if we didn't just witness the next world champions in action then I'm a Dutchman! This team has it all and I have no doubt that come bonfire night I will be watching images of Philipp Lahm lifting Silvio Gazzaniga's trophy after a 2-0 win over the Netherlands.

Just a pity that Paraguay won't be there to help them on their way. Bloody Spain! Throughout the first half the boys did themselves proud, frustrating even the great Villa (as well as the bloody awful Torres) with a fine display of defensive power. As if that wasn't enough there was even the odd bit of attacking verve from Nelson Valdez, who would have been rewarded with a deserved goal were it not for the jump of that snotbag Cardozo. A second-half penalty gave hope that the shock might but once again Cardozo, who was clearly passing a brick whilst waiting to shoot, only went and missed. A retake should have been ordered due to encroachment but at least the ref made the right decision when he made Xabi Alonso retake after the Spanish won a penalty immediately afterwards. Well done to Villar on saving the second effort, even if he did foul Fabregas in doing so, but the feeling was always there that Paraguay's penalty would have had to be converted to have any chance of winning. So it proved when Villa inevitably scored late on, although the defender on the line might have followed Suarez's lead and handled to save as Villar's dander was up by that point and he might have stopped a penalty. Roque Santa Cruz could have levelled it late on but we'll give him a pass as he clearly was not match-fit in this tournament. No such pass for Cardozo however who denied Valdez his goal and then missed a penalty. It beggars belief that this little shit scored 26 goals for Benfica in the league and yet couldn't hit the side of a barn for Paraguay. But apart from him a great effort by the lads in achieving a record finish, even if it is tinged with feelings of what might have been. For my part I will now transfer my allegiances to Uruguay for the semi-finals and then Spain if the Uruguayans are eliminated on Tuesday. As such I'm certainly not relishing the inevitable Germany-Netherlands final. Bloody Cardozo!!!
keresaspa: (Mister Magoo)
It was a nice idea in theory to start the Brazil-Netherlands game with some speeches from the captains against racism. A shame that the execution proved so toe-curling as Lucio and van Bronckhorst read the things like Rodney Trotter giving evidence and no sod could hear a bloody word over the vuvuzelas. Brazil took an early lead that was well deserved as they had the wit of the Dutch in the early exchanges and the Dutch defence, including Blackburn Rovers reject Andre Ooijer, 72, for some reason, looked ropey to say the least. Kaka had a fine shot on the half hour but really there has been much too little of that from him in this World Cup. Certainly the days when he was included in any debate about the world's top player are long over as he seems to have followed the path of his countrymen Ronaldo and Ronaldinho in losing his talent very early. For the Dutch their only real contribution to the first half was a comedic attempt at a corner by Arjen Robben which will no doubt become a staple of Rhod Gilbert-narrated clip shows for years to come. All change in the second half though as the Dutch improved immeasurably although I was disappointed to see that Robben is still doing his Greg Louganis impression by jumping in the air every time somebody breathes on him. The equaliser was clearly the fault of Julio Cesar who, despite all the praise justifiably lavished on him for his performances at Inter, has looked a bit shaky at this World Cup. Sneijder's goal was a deserved as he has been excellent although again poor defending played a big role. A shockingly bobbly pitch ruined the game somewhat, although there can be no excuse for the way Brazil fell apart and the boy Melo needs a good slap for his moronic red card. As I've hinted before I don't particularly like the Dutch team and as such it is a bit of a stinker for me that they now look practically nailed on to make the final. Brazil, however, never looked totally convincing despite some good moments and it is not as great a shock as some are making out to see them eliminated. Yet another case of a man in Dunga who got a manger's job because of who he was a player and then proved not to be as good at management as he was playing. Always the way (unless you're Franz Beckenbauer, of course).

More fun was had in the match for fourth place that followed between Ghana and Uruguay. Unkind of me to dub it that of course but, let's be honest, this was always the battle of the two teams making up the numbers. In the end though it turned out to be an exciting match between two equally talented sides in which either would have been a worthy winner. The goals by Muntari, who still has a lot to do to make up for his little strop earlier in the tournament, and the excellent Forlan were both wonder strikes and the commitment and brimstone on display made the prospect of extra time one to be relished. The Uruguayans are certainly a pragmatic bunch and the decision by Suarez to sacrifice himself at the end with the handball on the line was vindicated by the penalty miss. It was hard luck on Asamoah Gyan, who has been in excellent form leading the line on his own, but I must say that when he stepped up to take the penalty I called that he would miss. The penalty shootout itself featured more than enough rotten attempts, including one that Kingson should have saved but didn't and it was an unfortunate way to end a cracking game but it has to end somehow and until somebody comes up with a better solution then penalties it shall remain. It's a shame to see Ghana go as they have done themselves proud with some strong showings but they have rode their luck a bit and a quarter finals is a good achievement. As for Uruguay they are a well-marshalled side who can mix it with the best and just might give the Dutch a real run for their money...in an alternate universe. Nope, after this odyssey I think the dull Europeans are practically guaranteed a spot in the final. Shame really as a Guay versus Guay final would have been the most. Ah well.
keresaspa: (A bit fishy)
Qualification for a historical quarter finals has been gained but what a blooming way to go about it! However after witnessing the nervy start it seemed clear that Paraguay-Japan was going to end in penalties. The changes in attack did not inspire confidence that goals would come whilst the Japanese retreated into the side they were at the start of the tournament meaning that as a spectacle the match was a bit of a dead loss. There were near misses, as Barrios was unlucky not score after a great save by Kawashima whilst Matsui nearly struck one immediately after. Vera was a dynamo in the early stages, bombing down the right one minute then filling in at left back the next but he faded badly as the game wore and the main source of attack became Morel who covered some ground but was weak at crossing. Da Silva was a menhir at the back but Nakazawa was equally adroit for Japan whilst Santa Cruz was nowhere in attack but made a useful contribution as a defender! Chest of drawers lookalike Ortigoza also threw in some good tackles as Japan turned the screws late on but in the end neither team was good enough to win and penalties were inevitable. Once Komano missed I knew Paraguay would win it, although Cardozo still needs to do a lot more than just score the winner in a penalty shootout to prove himself. Great to get through but a lot more effort will be needed to avoid humiliation in the quarter-finals. A shame for Japan but they abandoned their attacking style and so can have no complaints.

Another poor spectacle followed and it was entirely the fault of the Portuguese. They have a supposed claimant to the best player in the world title in Cristiano Ronaldo yet Carlos Queiroz, whom I previously denounced as a bad manager, decided to leave him isolated and alone up front and instead concentrate on all-out defending. To be fair him it worked for long enough but by the time Villa struck the only goal of the game it was too late for the pretty boy to make any impact as he had long since descended into sulky mode. The better, more progressive team won and I'm not sorry to see the back of the bunch of sods representing Portugal this time. Spain on the other hand were the better team but they still don't look anywhere near as great as they were expected to be and if Paraguay could summon a top-class performance from somewhere they do look beatable. That's a pretty big if given today's showing but you never know!
keresaspa: (Türkan Şoray)
There would no doubt be open rebellion amongst my masses of readers were I to ignore Mexico-Argentina so I'll say that the best team won, even if Tevez's first goal should not have stood. Of course his second was a thing of beauty and whilst Hernandez also scored a peach, overall the Mexicans tried too hard to match Argentina in the pretty attacking football stakes even though the Argentineans are clearly better at it. So calm down you raging hordes.

Onto today's bill of fayre. Not too much for me to get excited about in Slovakia-Netherlands as I have little affection for either side. Robben's goal was typical of the man's current output but there is little in the way of Total Football about this blandly effective and almost Germanic Dutch side. When the highlight of a half, apart from the goal, is a linesman changing his flag you know it's not a classic. Slovakia on the other hand didn't really have a sniff of action as they failed to cope with a frustrating Netherlands side. To their credit both teams made a blistering start to the second half as chances flew in at both ends. Robben could have had at least two more but credit to Stoch and Vittek for having a real go with both almost scoring. Van Persie had a bit of a mare and his replacement by Huntelaar hinted at better things. In the end though it was to be Sneijder who struck the killer blow after Mucha made a rare arse of things in an otherwise strong performance. The penalty looked a dive (Slovakia were prone to a bit of gamesmanship) and the goal for Vittek did give the appearance of the match being closer than it actually was. So the Netherlands are through despite being a totally different side to what one might expect whilst for Slovakia the Italy game was their crowning achievement and it they never looked like repeating that here. The Dutch were worthy winners over 90 minutes but they do not look world-beaters whilst the Slovaks have played their hearts out and done better than expected even though their cheating will not be missed.

Brazil-Chile ended things off and, though I had hoped that the Chileans might make a fist of it, they were overwhelmed by a superior Brazilian side who exposed their weaknesses with some finely taken goals. Despite the usual even start that has been the hallmark of this round Brazil were soon on top and more than worthy of their 3-0 win. It would be something of a leap to suggest that Brazil are nailed on as favourites but it will take a heck of a team to beat them after that performance against Chile. The Chileans had been an entertaining bunch with their unusual formations and their combination of attack (in the football sense) and attack (in the fist to face sense) but they just weren't at the races in this game. Even when Brazil weren't dominating the game you always felt that it was only a matter of time until they got more goals and indeed only slightly profligate finishing prevented them from whipping the Chileans. Still a bit to go and anything can happen, of course, but this team could well be champions. That's them out in the next round then!

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