Monday, July 03, 2006

spinachdip's guide to the 2006 World Cup: This goes out to the teams that ain't here no more

Mes amis, I am in pain. And not just because of a spirited 2 vs 2 in Fort Greene Park last night, where I played like the strikers for Japan, missing sitters, not taking shots when available and missing the open man in front of goal. The game left my knees, neither of which is in the shape it should be for someone my age, with all the stability of IKEA furniture two years after its half-hearted assembly.

I am in pain because this is the second day in a row without soccer, and I am oh too well aware that this would be the norm for the next four years. That fucking sucks. What do I look forward to? What do I talk about with my friends? What do I blog about? At least now, there is the anticipation of the semi-finals and the final, but what about a random day in October or an early-February Sunday? Surely I am not expected to simply go about the business of the day without the reward of futbol waiting at the end (or beginning, as the case often is) of the day. (there's club soccer, dumbass -ed.)

But this post isn't about me. It is about the 28 teams that weren't quite good enough, never belonged in the first place, or got screwed over (Australia, you can sit down - I'm not talking about you).

  • First, R-r-r-r-r-o-o-naldo-oooooo, and Br-r-r-r-r-a-a-siiiiiiil. Ah, the burden of being the favorite is heavy enough without the "best ever Brazil team" tag. That's like taking a girl home and as you're clumsily searching about the dark for contraceptives, she whispers, "Paris told me you were, like, the best ever. Giggles." Let me tell you from experience - no matter how confident you are in your abilities, that level of expectations can turn play into chore.

    Which is exactly what happened to Brazil, it seems like. Ronaldinho was still smiling, but it was more of the "Welcome to Sheraton Minneapolis, how may I help you today?" smile, not the "My joga is so fucking bonito" smile.

    And benching Adriano? I don't care if that made more sense tactically (it didn't), if you're the best team, you dictate the matchups and force your opponents to respond.

    But as it is, Ronaldo has (probably) played his last World Cup match and Brazil is out. But the way they've played this tournament, they hardly looked like Braaaaaaasil, but instead, just plain old Brazil. Good riddance.

  • Oh, what was I thinking picking England to win on penalties? That never happens. If there were hordes of angry English fans (English fans, angry and violent? Never!) waiting at Heathrow, their tomatoes should be aimed at two people - Wayne Rooney and Sven Goran Eriksson. Roonaldo for his stupid, stupid, stupid stamp on Ricardo Carvalho's nether region, and Sven for his horrible, horrible, horrible player selection.

    Let's just say this about Shrek Rooney - incredibly talented, probably the best player to come out of in a couple of generations, but a complete dick and a dumbass. If he can work on the latter, England has a future. So England's future is kinda bleak.

    Sven - like Brazil, good riddance. So he has Wayne Rooney coming back from an injury, and even if he wasn't, he's a hothead and you want insurance. Then you have Michael Owen, who's also coming back from injury and generally fragile. Peter Crouch is under-appreciated, but he can't play by himself. So as the fourth striker, he picks a 17-year-old who hasn't appeared in a real game for his club team. And he paid for the decision dearly in the late stages of England vs Portugal when England kept kicking the ball up to the giraffe-like Crouch, who couldn't do much once he got the ball.

    Still, let us now praise Owen Hargreaves, who was pretty much everywhere on the field Saturday. He was everything that other England players weren't. And he actually made his penalty, which none of his teammates could do. Greatest Canadian soccer player, ever.

    Oh, and it's nice to read Michael Davies criticizing ESPN employees on ESPN's website. Well, it's nice to read Michael Davies, period.

  • They say in soccer, form is temporary, class is permanent, and what a bunch of classless fucks Argentina turned out to be. To think I enjoyed watching them play. But they completely fell apart after Germany scored. And taking off your best player (Riquelme) and leaving two of the most dangerous attackers in the tournament (Messi and Saviola) probably wasn't the best idea.

  • Ukraine - blah.

  • Ghana was my favorite team (well, other than Japan and the US) in the tournament, and they held their own against Brazil even without their best player and midfield lynchpin, Michael Essien. Stephen Appiah needs to play in England - why hasn't Manchester United offered a contract? He's exactly the kind of player they need. And hey, there's that 17-year-old Freddy Adu, who's still eligible to play for his native country. Of course, they'll probably miss the World Cup in 2010, as the best African teams often do.

  • I like Australia, but as I mentioned already, Italy deserved to go through. Controlling the match mean nothing if you don't try to score or make silly mistakes in your own penalty area.

  • Netherlands - so, so disappointing. But that's how they roll. Spain, likewise.

  • Switzerland is out without conceding a single goal. Seems appropriate.

  • Finally, Japan - this pretty much sum things up. Japan's World Cup was over when the first Australian goal went in, so good fucking riddance. Thank god Zico is gone. And if Hidetoshi Nakata does not play another game for his country, I will be very very happy (oops, careful what you wish for). Likewise for Alex, Takahara and Yanagisawa. Time to bring on the new generation.

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