Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Maxi Rodrigues for Argentina (v Mexico), 24 June 2006

In a no way derivative manner, I think it is time for a review of the World Cup.


Goal of the Tournament

I tell you what, it isn't that daft Argentinian one that the BBC gave it to, that's for sure. Oh look! They can pass it to each other a few times and then someone can sidefoot it in from 10 yards! Wahey!

I did consider Joe Cole's against Sweden, but on balance, I'll hand it to the genius chest and left foot volley Maxi Rodrigues effort that saw Argentina to a second round win over Mexico.

Biggest Underperformance

Frankly, there are candidates galore here. How about the Czech Republic who went into the tournament as FIFA's second best team in the world. Or how about the USA, the fifth best team in the world? Both failed to make it out of the group stages. What about Holland who disappeared without trace early on? Brazil who flattered for a while and then went out without much of a fight?

Or there are plenty of individual candidates. Ronaldinho. Henry. Gerrard. Lampard. Raul. van Nistelrooy. Adriano.

On balance, and with the best will in the world, it has got to be us, hasn't it? Did we play well at any point? Maybe the first half against Sweden. We got to the quarter finals of the World Cup by beating Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago and Ecuador. I reckon I could have managed us that far, and on a fraction of Svennis' salary.

Oh My Word How Our Opinion Of You has Changed

Dort nur kann ein möglicher Kandidat hier, und deshalb eine riesige Anfeuerung für Deutschland sein.

We used to hate them, didn't we? They are our bitterest football enemy. The country is ugly and full of miserable humourless hairy women called Helga.

Firstly, the tournament was fantastic. Having been fortunate to go, I can;t priase the hosting of the matches enough in terms of organisation, entertainment and fun. The stadia were packed out, the support tremendous. And, furthermore, they were so unbelievably hospitable. If a load of foreigners descneded on England, I think our hoteliers and restauranteurs would pull their face and complain. Not so our German friends who welcomed everyone with open arms. So much so that I am planning on heading back to the country again soon.

Worst Game Of The Tournament

I am going to argue to toss here as I was at Switzerland v Ukraine, and I didn't find it as dull as everyone else seemed to. I'd go for France v Switzerland which was dire, but purely because the gap between expectation and reality was so great, I am going to go for Holland v Argentina. Absolute pap.

Give Up Now And Don't Waste Any More Money

ITV. Apparently the BBC had five times the viewers of ITV for the final, and I am frankly not surprised. ITV is clearly hamstrung by its advertising, but my word is their punditry non-existent. Their commentary is pretty ropey, Steve Rider would clearly rather be watching the golf and if I hear "Where Do They Get Their Energy From?" again or see Gabriel Clarke skulking outside an England team hotel, I shall scream.

They were also responsible for "Rio Ferdinand's World Cup Wind-Ups", lest we forget. I had better stop now before I get merc-ed.

Player of the Tournament

For me, it was the little fella who had the honour of picking up the trophy. Clearly FIFA can't give a Golden Ball award to a defender, as that would be silly (look at the World Player Of The Year Awards and find anyone but someone who scores a lot of goals amongst them) but I'd give it to Fabio Cannavaro without hesitation.

Team of the Tournament

It would be tempting here to suggest the Italians might be a candidate seeing as they ended up winning the thing, but I think I would rather pick another side.

For sheer enthusiasm, and keeping the competition entertaining right up to the final week, and demonstrating that it is possible to play some nice attacking football rather than eight holding midfielders and one lanky striker, I'd like to give the Germans the nod. And going back to my point above, when did you ever think you might be cheering the Germans on in a football tournament, eh?

Person Least Likely To Be Welcomed Back To England With Open Arms

3. Victoria Beckham

2. Sven Goran Eriksson

1. This cock

Game of the Tournament

I am not sure there was one outstanding match. I enjoyed Australia v Croatia, but that would have been nowhere near as entertaining a spectacle without Graham Poll's intervention. Argentina v Ivory Coast and Portugal v Holland (for lots of wrong reasons) were also great, but on balance, and because it was the semi-final and the stakes were so high, I think my Game of the Tournament was Germany v Italy.

Daftest Thing To Do In The Last Ten Minutes Of A Glittering Career


Best Person To Meet In A Cologne Pub Who Buys You Drinks And You Only Later Realise He Is A Huge Celebrity

Gisbert Baltes. Bought us a beer whilst we were watching France v Spain, had a good chat with us about where we had come from, the tournament, our work etc, disappeared off home and then the following day we realised he presents a TV football show.

General Rants About Football At The World Cup In General

This whole "two yellow cards and suspended" thing needs looking at to save reserve team outings in group games. Going back to my point earlier, Holland v Argentina suffered big time on that basis.

Players should be retrospectively banned for blatant diving.

Portugal should be forced to play a striker for 90 minutes in a game.

England Are Not And Have Never Really Been (Lets Face It) A World Class Footballing Outfit

General Cheers About Football At The World Cup In General

The whole thing was ace. Particularly the group stages which were, on the whole, tremendous.

The Germans (see above).

Steve Wilson and Jonathan Pearce. Quality at work.


So, it's all done for another four years, and we are forced to get our football fix by getting interested in whether Michele Di Piedi will sign for Yeovil Town and how effective Soel Ki-Hyon will be for Reading in the Premiership. I, for one, always enjoy the World Cup and this has been no exception. I think it has been a fantastic and intriguing tournament with no one outstanding team.

The final word goes to me, from this very blog several weeks ago:

".....We touched on tournament betting last week, and Italy were my pre-tournament tips to win the World Cup. Why? Because despite everything, the World Cup is invariably won by a team on their own continent (only Brazil have done otherwise) and almost always by a previous winner. That rationale leaves Germany (I think they have no chance), England (we will blow it), France (aging) and the Italians. I got 12-1 on them, and with probably the best centre half pairing in the tournament, some talented strikers (Luca Toni was the first player in 51 years to score over 30 goals in Serie A last season) and the creativity of the likes of Pirlo, Totti, Camaronesi and Perrotta in midfield, I think they have an excellent chance of going all the way...."

Stick with me, folks, stick with me.


swisslet said...

yeah? and how about a predictions update so we can see who's really the king of the world?


adem said...

Really good summary there LB, and I'd probably agree with you on most things.

I did the Fanstasy Premier League International game, where by you selected your weekly World Cup Dream Team solely on players based in the Premiership. Friends made a mini-league and I Won!!

We are all winners here.

weenie said...

Anyone still wanting to swap Panini stickers????

El Tel said...

No, swisstoni, in honour of the mother and sister of Zinedine Zidane, the World Cup predictions results (final phase only) have been discounted, thus, king of the world is based on the previous table. So that means, er, ... Oh!

swisslet said...

el tel - nice try!

weenie - yes! I still need 58 stickers or something, so I'm still very much in the market (and have a nice big pile of swaps)..... post to follow!


Statue John said...

Hi weenie

With the help of the forums on this marvellous website I was able to complete my Panini album quite recently. Wuhoo! I also have a big pile left though, so if you post up your needs and I'll see what I can send to you...


weenie said...

I still need around 200 odd I think so too big a list, but I'll see what you're after, ST when you post your wants list and I'll check out that site, SJ!

Me said...

Great summary of the tournament, LB. Bring on South Africa 2010!

Flash said...

I think I agree with every single word you've said.