I enjoy sports on TV, but not enough (usually) to plan ahead on watching them; but we’ve been making an exception for the World Cup. This weekend, I stuck my head in the boy’s room both days and said “eight o’clock” and we watched the quarter-finals together while the girls slept upstairs. [Oops, I wrote this last weekend but apparently never posted it.]
The game of soccer doesn’t have the nail-grinding tension of the late innings in a baseball game that really matters, and it doesn’t have the full-impact testosterone rush of football or hockey, and it doesn’t have the highlight-a-minute scoring avalanche of basketball. But it’s got emotion and improvisation and physical intelligence a-plenty.
Unfortunately, it also has really bad, pro-wrestling level histrionics. Paul Romanuk nails it in Down about diving. The stretchers should come equipped with apparatus for administering a powerful electric shock to malingerers, to be given based on a secret signal from the referee to to the bearers. This would be powerful incentive to those merely faking it to hop to their feet, to be greeted by an automatic yellow card.
Tail End of the Round Robin · I was working pretty hard this week and only caught a couple of games, plus highlight-reel bits and pieces. Item: Sorry, America. Ghana is a better team this time around. Learn to score. Item: It’s a pity France made it out of the first round. Item: Switzerland might be for real.
Germany 2 Sweden 0 · If you absolutely must play boring static European big-country soccer, you ought to play it the way the Germans do, with some genuinely creative forwards (well, they’re transplanted Poles, but let’s not quibble). Still, that formation passing and midfield ball movement are impressive to watch (if not actually entertaining). I understand the bookies still have Brazil and Argentina favored over Germany. That’s crazy.
Argentina 2 Mexico 1 · Wow, what a wonderful game; in particular the first half and the overtime; both sides let up a little in the second half. Either could have won, but nobody could call the result an injustice. Still (see previous section) I suspect the Argentines don’t get past Germany.
England 1 Ecuador 0, Portugal 1 Netherlands 0 · Bah humbug. Feh. Two goals (total) in two games. England (as usual) did the minimum necessary. Portugal hacked and dived. Holland likewise, only with more diving. Have these people no self-respect? So it’ll be the hackers against the slackers, the time-wasters against the leg-choppers. God help the referee. At least Maniche’s goal showed a flash of brilliance against the dark backdrop of unsportsmanlike infamy.
On the other half of that half: Brazil, Ghana, Spain, and France. I suppose Spain chews up and spits out France, while Brazil tragically ends the beautiful Ghanaian run. That quarter’s winner will make short work of either the hackers or the slackers.