Thursday, June 29, 2006

World Cup Miscellany

Not sure how everyone else out there is holding up, but it's been a hard 48 hours for me without any fresh World Cup matches. To keep the blood flowing, mind sharp, and the body relaxed in case a major Cup withdrawal blindsides me for good and I find myself crossing the touch line into an unrelenting footie-less seizure, I've been rewatching some matches (France v Spain; Brazil v Ghana; Italy v U.S.A.) to prevent going cleats up into the Big Pitch. I've also been watching a few episodes of the excellent documentary series The History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game, narrated by Toby Dammit himself, Terence Stamp. Splendid stuff and if you haven't seen it, you really should race out and do yourself a favor . . . once the Cup is over, of course.

And I've also been counting the hours until tomorrow's can't miss match between a newly inspired Germany and my pick to take the FIFA World Cup Trophy, Argentina. They have a long history with one another (please, no Nazi jokes) and I know the match has already been hyped to death, but it still threatens to be the match of the Cup so far. Though you didn't hear that from me if it ends up being decided on penalty kicks. Italy and the Ukraine are also playing, and though I'll watch it later in the evening, I can't really get excited by such a one-sided confrontation. Here are some links regarding the Germany v Argentina match:

Spain losing to France was such a gorgeous, exciting match, even though it broke my heart to see them go down yet again. Still, it was beyond brilliant watching the French (newcomer Ribery and old man Zidane most of all) find new life, soul, and imagination, playing again like the world class Team Fantastique that we thought was so 1998. Not sure if France can take it to Brazil in quite the same manner as they did back when they won the Cup, and there's Zidane's health to worry about, but I'll certainly be hoping for the best. Would be nice, no?

Don't expect my man Puyol to be rooting for them though. The FC Barcelona armored saint is more than a little pissed that Thierry "Guess I am a woman" Henry took that dive which subsequently directly led to the Patrick Vieira header that put France on top. Not to be outdone, French coach Raymond Domenech is likewise pissed at some of the Spanish lot lice that heckled his players with racial epithets and the sadly ubiquitous pantomimes.

Over at the World Cup Blog they're discussing who some of the big losers of the tournament are. Can't disagree with any of the unfortunate line-up, though I might toss Mexico and Japan into the bunch since I thought both teams would perform much better than they did.

And lastly, Paul Doyle of The Guardian thinks there are simply too many teams in the Cup and that FIFA needs to strip it back down to sixteen of the world's best. Food for thought, though I think it's a daft idea and reeks of entitlement. Okay, nix the food for thought bit--I think he's full of shit. Next!

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