Before I sign off for this World Cup, I want to thank the blogmeister, John, for giving me the opportunity to post my thoughts on the World Cup. I also want to thank those of you who contributed, debated, argued and shared your thoughts. I know that some of you probably didn’t agree with me, but I hope you appreciate our shared love of the sport. Here’s why I love this game:
I will never forget 1974 in Kaiserslautern, Germany. It was the year I graduated from high school and it was the first of two occasions in which I lived in a country in which the World Cup was taking place. I can remember looking out of my third floor bedroom window (I had the maid’s room while everyone else in my family lived on the first floor) on Blutackerstrasse and seeing the top of the Betzenberg Stadium (now Fritz Walter Stadium) and wishing the organizers had scheduled a game there. I was thirty-two years too soon: Kaiserslautern was one of the twelve venues in the 2006 World Cup.
I fell in love with the game then. I was stunned to see how deep the love for the game lay in the hearts of the fans of the 16 nations participating. The off the field aspects of the game amused me. I wwas alternately intrigued and repulsed reading how the vile kleptocrat Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire gave each of his nation’s players a new Volkswagen for being the only African nation to qualify and then took them back after they flopped out without scoring a goal and surrendering 14. I will never forget the image of Luis Pereira, as he was leaving the field having been sent off, being booed by the Dutch fans in Brazil’s semi-final loss to the Netherlands and responding by holding three fingers, signifying Brazil’s three World Cup titles at that time. I suffered when my admiration of the Netherlands’s total football style of play was met with defeat in the championship, but my love of the game was just getting started.
What has always inspired me about the game is how dear it is to everyone’s hearts who really loves the game. Yes there are those who engage in hooliganism, but there are also a great number of fans who really love the game and pull peacefully for their club team and nation. I will never forget my visit to the Nou Camp stadium when I visited Barcelona in November 2000. The pageantry, the spirit of the fans, the peaceful stroll down the hill to the stadium and the sad trudge back to the subway after the team lost that night remain very vivid.
What I also love is how you can break the ice with just about anyone from another country by talking about football. I was on a flight once from Austin, TX to Dallas, TX and was seated next to a young woman from Scotland. We were talking to pass the time and I asked her where she was from. She replied Edinburgh. I then asked her “Hearts or Hibs?”, the names of the two Scottish Premier League teams in Edinburgh. She seemed stunned for a second and replied “Hearts” with a warm smile. [Ed. note: If someone is from Glasgow, don’t talk about football. If I had asked this woman “Rangers or Celtic?”, I would have essentially been asking her if she were Protestant (Rangers) or Catholic (Celtic). You want to make friends, not offend someone.] I’ve been in cabs where the driver is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and asked “Boca or River” and been immediately regaled about his wonderful experiences in La Bombonera, Boca Juniors stadium.
My wife has told me that when she was growing up, if the kids in the neighborhood didn’t have a ball to play with, they would go to the butcher shop. If a pig had been freshly slaughtered, the butcher would clean the bladder and inflate for the kids to play with. If that didn’t work, they’d go to a tailor and get the unusable trimmings of clothing to stuff in a bag and play with it until it gave out. I can remember visiting Três Corações, Pelé’s hometown and looking at the hills where he used to play and realizing why he had become such a great player: it was such a long way down the hill if you didn’t control the ball.
I’ve seen fewer moments in New York more joyous than 46th street in Manhattan (Little Brazil) when Brazil won the Cup in 1994 and 2002. I’ve also seen fewer places sadder than when they lost in 1998. I hope I’ve at least made the game interesting to some of you reading who may not love the game as much as I do. I’ll be in a slight funk for a week or so after the final, but looking forward to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Here, by the way is where I may have a small claim to fame. If all goes according to plan, my wife and I will be living in Brazil well before 2014. That would mean I would have lived in three different countries on three different continents in a nation where the World Cup is taking place. Sweet!
Thanks for everything. You made a wonderful contribution to the blog and we’ll miss you and the game. Seriously. Good stuff!
I was pulling for The Netherlands, but Spain proved they could score when it counted. Great game! Two worthy teams. See you in 2014, here or elsewhere. Let’s see if Brazil can put it away on their home turf.
Nice post. Thanks for all of your posts about the World Cup.
How very cosmopolitan.
Oh, I kid. Mostly.
@Svensker: Not to worry. Per John’s request, I’m going to be making occasional posts on league play, possibly focusing on La Liga, the EPL, Bundesliga and Serie A with occasional forays into some other leagues.
Thanks immensely, you’ve been a wonderful guide. I was privileged enough to be in Japan for the 2002 Cup, and it was an amazing experience. The international experience around the event is just incredible.
These days, I live in Vancouver, and the atmosphere around the Olympics was just as much fun. It makes me wonder if anything else is on the level of the World Cup and the Olympics, though. No other championships seem to come close.
The World Cup is great because Iker Casillas just straight up kissed his journalist girlfriend on Spanish TV, who was not expecting it and was somewhat embarrassed afterwards!
I have loved your posts and so appreciate that John is open to this sport as so many Americans are not.
My beloved England lost (as always) but the best team truly won and I was thrilled for them. What fun this was as always and I can’t wait for Brazil!
Congrats to you on your impending move and best of luck. Thanks for hosting the conversations and for the insight :)
@wrye: Vancouver, I’m envious. Spent a week there in 1998 after a convention in Seattle and decided that if I was ever rich enough to summer in one place and winter in another, I would summer in Vancouver.
Thanks for the kind words.
Make sure your place in Brazil has plenty of room for Balloon Juicers to spread out sleeping bags. You may have a lot of company.
Thanks for all your posts, I’ve really enjoyed them and I’ve enjoyed the lively debates as well :)
I know very little about soccer but I have really enjoyed these posts. I watched the final today and almost felt like I knew what was going on. Danke, Randinho!
I know I’m inviting flames, but as a non-fan who watches this game every four years because it’s a huge event, I have to ask: is it usual for players to act like they’ve been shot every time they collide with a guy? I know it must hurt, but most of those replays showed almost no leg contact. Of course the asshole who karate-kicked his opponent could have killed him and should have been tossed. And do they all bitch and moan and gesture and yell at the ref, all the time? Or just in the big games? Is it to ‘work the refs’ or are they just acting out? I know there are about three-four actual scoring chances a game and even the royal families were nodding off, but I also realize I don’t know anything about the subtleties and strategies of play, and therefore don’t appreciate them. But … the bitching and screaming is just really stupid.
@burnspbesq: Come on down!
Unfortunately, though, none of the 2014 games are venued less than a seven hour drive from where I’ll be living, the closest being Rio and Belo Horizonte, but I’ll be happy to provide tips to anyone coming down for the games.
It’s a big country.
@Nick: No need to worry about being flamed. Most of us probably agree with you. It’s probably to hoodwink the refs.
Hey, I used to live near K-Town.
@Randinho: I think we’ll definitely take you up on those travel tips, I’m already plotting a bit myself…
Haven’t commented much on the games but I’ve been following assiduously — and as someone who has thought Casillas was great since he pretty much started his Real Madrid appearances in the main team a decade ago, seeing him hoist that trophy high with everyone around him was only right and proper. Would’ve been just plain wrong if he never got that chance.
And yeah, the girlfriend kiss too!
Thanks again for bringing the World Cup to BJ, Randinho. I played soccer in high school for two years 20 years ago when it was a brand-new sport for our district and really loved it, but before now I never managed to become much of an engaged spectator. The big leagues and international competitions can be rather inaccessible to someone coming in with no context, no fellow fans to engage with, and no TV. You inspired me to make an effort to get engaged this year and I ended up watching all of the knock-outs and all but a few of the group-round games. Now I’m psyched to follow the Bundesliga season starting in August.
Thanks again (since I just thanked you in the last thread)!
Any commentary on the Brasileirão and the defending champion losing their goalie because he’s been arrested for murder? The flamenguistas have been strangely silent the past few weeks…
Sempre queria visitar Espírito Santo (ainda não tive chance). Pode me passar algumas dicas sobre lugares para visitar, coisas para fazer, etc.
I first started paying attention to soccer in 1990 when I happened to be visiting Germany while the Cup was going on. What a fun time and a crazy experience. I’ve been a fan ever since.
Question that’s bugging me a little. Am I understanding the distinction correctly, that the “World Cup final” is the championship match and the “World Cup finals” are the overall South Africa event just completed (as distinguished from the qualification rounds, I suppose)?
Also, one of the ESPN Radio commentators was saying (if I heard correctly) that it was only since the ’90s that penalty cards were issued in the championship match? Is this true?
Though not a fan, I always appreciate passion and hard work, and you sure have had both posting about this event here at BJ..
Hey, Cole, you need someone to front page on the ins and outs when the Browns kick some Stiller butt this fall?
@SLKRR: The Serra Capixaba is quite beautiful. Domingos Martins is like an alpine town, while Pedra Azul is stunning. I figure with you’re being in Pernambuco, the beaches in ES would probably leave you jaded.
Santa Teresa has a hummingbird reserve and is a great place to visit. Anchieta has some good beaches without the crowds of Guarapari. We’ll be living in Barra do Jucu, right on the edge of Vila Velha a popular surfing destination.
I detest Flamengo. They’re the Man U of Brazil.
@Fax Paladin: Yes on the final/finals dichotomy, although I use Championship game to keep the distinction clear.
I saw cards given in games in the 1970’s so I don’t think they’re right.
Gordon, The Big Express Engine
@Nick: we were talking about this at the bar today and I came to the realization that most of the complaints about soccer (uneven officiating, players going for calls instead of playing, bitching at the refs) happen to some degree in every major sport.
The bitching at the refs happens in all sports. I think it is partly gamesmanship, but I think there is something else going on. The players HAVE to know by now, given the heights to which they have ascended professioniallly and the sheer number of games they have played, that refs don’t change their calls because they get bitched at. The viewer at home looks at this and thinks “What are these guys doing jawing with the refs?” Having watched a lot of sports, I think it is large egos more than anything else. Every professional athlete has been better then everyone else for so long that their “greatness” entitles them to bitch at their lessers, in this case the refs. NBA players do it. Baseball players do it. (Some) tennis players do it (famously). And soccer players do it.
Well, it seems the party’s finally breaking up….
What a carnival it’s been and I enjoyed it immensely! Before shuffling off to reacquaint myself with the other parts of my life, I’d like to express my appreciation to the many fine folk with whom I’ve shared this occasion.
To John Cole, the paterfamilias of this website, for his trustful willingness to welcome in football hooligans who might have wrecked the place.
To those posters whose detailed knowledge, shrewd analysis, and stimulating commentary enhanced immeasurably my own understanding and love for this sport and this tournament. Special doffs of the hat to Calouste, Bill Murray, MattR, cmorenc, Paula, SLKRR, Mark S. and Bootlegger.
To those kind enough (or irritated enough) to respond to my own posts. JenJen, YouDon’tSay, Paula, Therese, Opoponax, J.W.Hamer: my warmest thanks and best wishes!
And now let all of us zestfully blow our vuvuzelas in resounding praise of our peerless host, Randinho. Your creativity, scholarship, cordiality and commitment made this World Cup a delightful and memorable experience for so many people.
I look forward to keeping up with a number of you on other Balloon Juice threads. Though pet-less myself, it’s a community that seems to welcome strays. Should any readers in the New York City area wish to watch a match together sometime, feel free to contact me, [email protected]. It would be a pleasure.
Meus amigos, vejo voces no Brasil em 2014!
Thanks for the tips. Someday I’ll get down that way. I really miss the mountains living up here in PE.
Haha… I feel the same about Flamengo. As most pernambucanos will tell you, Sport was champion in 1987.
Gordon, The Big Express Engine
@Gordon, The Big Express Engine: Also – some guy at the bar in extra time yelled, “Come on Syracuse!” then followed that up with “Come on Vander Sloot!”
Well, on top of all the things I’ll miss about the World Cup (including following w/ you people), I’ll miss hearing Ian Darke. Will always remember him trying to teach us Americans about the Group of Death and wailing on Cristiano Ronaldo.
I know ESPN is getting Martin Tyler back for 2014. But any word on Darke, Ekoku, et al? [Oddly enough, I got little to no exposure to any of the other commentators.]
oooh, how nice to be included here, but maybe not deserved. “Hey, maybe they need to run faster/hold the ball more” is the most genius observation I can muster.
There is more to soccer than the world cup, just as there is MUCH more to life than politics. Please keep us posted.
Gordon, The Big Express Engine
@Paula: One of them (Darke or Tyler) did almost every game with John Harkes – the American voice you were hearing doing color…
@Gordon, The Big Express Engine:
I don’t think it’s ego; I think it’s passion. Professional athletes are, above all else, hypercompetitive; they want to win more than anything. When a call goes against them, especially in a big game, their emotions take over. Even if they rationally know that the won’t get the refs to change their call, they just can’t help themselves.
@Randinho: That would be wonderful. I’m trying to figure out how to follow some of this stuff with no TV.
Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people)
Thanks for all your World Cup posts – definitely appreciated here.
Sweet indeed. I’ll be down there too with my nephew who has already decided it will be his high school graduation present. That will be my third World Cup.
Thanks for the threads and respectful discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Well, perhaps that’s where it starts, but from what I read there’s rather a bit more sophistication in your observations of the game.
Oh, also, in the spirit of end-of-party confessionals, your remark the other day, “I fucking hate pointy-headed academic liberal elitists” comes perilously close to describing moi. We can still be football friends, right?
Middle-aged Englishman here commenting for the first time on this blog. You did a fantastic job over the World Cup, you really know your stuff. You really explained the whole thing well for an American audience. Really very good indeed. BTW Hearts and Hibs are Protestant and Catholic too. :)
Many thanks, Randinho, for your posts, and thanks also to the knowledgeable commenters in the threads. I have no expertise in, but much respect for, the game of soccer, and the postings here provided a great guide through the tournament. Randinho, don’t be a stranger. Keep us posted on the goings-on in the world of soccer, and best of luck with the big move.
Thanks for your posts, Randinho. I’ve really enjoyed the posts and threads. And I still maintain that wearing white was a bad idea for most teams playing in this World Cup.
Many thanks for your posts and especially your enthusiasm. The love of the game. That says it all.
I’d only add: Go Liverpool!
And Bremen, and Barca…….
Randinho, thank you for what you have done. I’ve been following along here (these are basically the only posts that I have commented on here at BJ) and even when I’m out at a bar watching the game, I come back to check out the comment threads and see what people are saying.
I think that if you started your own soccer blog (and convinced John to let you promote it a bit here) that you would get a sizable audience. I, for one, would put it under my “sports” folder on my bookmarks right next to ESPN, Sports Illustrated and MLB.
Thanks to you and all the great commenters who made the World Cup more enjoyable. Well, except for the England-Algeria game. Nothing could make that piece of crap enjoyable.
Randinho, appreciated the coverage here. I, too, was in Germany in ’74 (US Army- Bamberg). I was in Munchen Bahnhof for the last part of the game- when Mannschft won it, the whole place went nuts! I enjoyed the game before, but that convinced me to embrace it wholeheartedly. It was the only time I saw the trains run late all the time I was in Germany. The ’90 final was the last sports bet I ever put down (yeah, I won!). Watching it in the States in ’94 (I lived in DC at the time), we took over the customer lounge and watched it on Univision (best coverage & camera shots), the customers were bitching that it was in Spanish. One of the sales guys (Korean or Iranian, I don’t remember which) said, ‘the game has no language’. Indeed, it does not.
Last year I went to see the South African singing group Ladysmith Black Mombazo and one of its members invited the audience to his house to watch the World Cup. He and we knew that we wouldn’t take him up on his offer but it was an amusing and quite ingratiating moment.
We may not look you up in Brazil four years from now, Randinho, but we would love to get together again for another online football fest.
Thank you for your posts and thanks to John Cole for incorporating them into this blog.
I lived in Cambridge, Ma in ’94 and when Brazil won, the horns in East Cambridge started honking and there were caravans of Brazilians with flags driving all over town and across the river to Boston. the celebration went on all night! One of the doormen in my building was a Brazilian grad student at MIT, he gave me a Brazilian bike hat in the team colors…he was sooooo hung over the next day!
After an extended post-finale nap….
Randinho, this World Cup series of posts is the epitome of what sports blogging can and should be: Passionately written, yet coolly analytical; candid and courteous in conversation with both the neophytes and know-it-alls; humorous yet quick to show the door to the detractors.
I’ve followed every World Cup since 1982, and this is the most I’ve ever enjoyed the tournament, due in large part to you and the commentors at Balloon Juice. I’m reminded of the final month of the 1987 baseball season, when my Tigers were in a race for the division title with the Blue Jays: I made a lot of friends watching those games at the same pub at which I watched todays game- but the friends I’ve made during this competition were via your posts. Thank you for facilitating the camaraderie.
Nice job. See you again in 4 years!
You’re in luck.
Thank you all for the kind words.
…you love the game because of how many people love the game. Cool.
I was hoping to read a reason or two not to think the game is often settled arbitrarily and randomly. Thanks anyhow.
I lived in Brazil during the 2002 World Cup.
The funniest scene I remember was when Germany sent on Gerald Asamoah. The bar erupted with screams, chairs flying through the air. “HE’S NOT GERMAN!”
The Brazilians were convinced that Germany was so desperate they were sending on a ringer.
A word to the wise, Randinho… I can see from pictures of you on the net that you’re as white as I am…. you probably know already that “Alemão” (German) is slang for “white” in Brazil…
Buy the Brazilian jersey before the game.
Unless you’re a really good talker and a really good drinker, (because after you explain to every single person you meet that no, you’re not German, heck, you hate the Germans, your country fought two wars with the Germans, how could you possibly like Germans, let alone root for them… every single person you meet will insist you have a drink with them) you stand a good chance of getting your ass kicked otherwise.
And because if you go to the store and buy the jersey after the game, then even the cashier at Carrefour will harass you. “Ô, muito esperto, seu Alemão, não pode disfarçar-se de brasileiro agora!”
@Tancrudo: Pois é.
One of my wife’s cousins is sandy-haired with green eyes. Everyone calls him Alemão.
@So…..: To each his or her own.
Chiming in with all the others to thank you for these posts! I watched quite a bit of soccer when I studied abroad in Spain 10 years ago – my host father was a big Real Madrid fan – and I really enjoyed it. (I also developed an enormous crush on Casillas, who was 19 and was still switching off with Cañizares as keeper.)
I didn’t keep up with it after I came back to the States – like other people said, it’s hard when it’s not on TV and there are really no fans.
These last few weeks though have been great – it’s been so much fun to get to watch the game again, and the commentary here has really given me a better understanding of what happens on the pitch. It’s also reawakened my imaginary love affair with Iker :) Though even I can’t begrudge his girlfriend that kiss – what a sweet moment!
I do hope you keep posting soccer updates. I’d like to try to follow La Liga, even though I don’t have cable TV.
Anyway, thanks Randinho and all the commenters! I haven’t posted on the threads but I’ve read and enjoyed all of them.
Viva España! Campeones del mundo!
I need to add my huge thanks to the lot. This is my first time watching the WC and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve been trying to figure out why I liked it, in part because yesterday my baseball-loving father sat next to me during the final and made cracks about a scoreless game after 100 minutes, etc. etc. He was just teasing-sort of–but I sent him out of the room anyway. I definitely caught the bug and it has a lot to do with watching my son play at a more competitive level this past year and learning about the game from his coach, etc.
I think what made the WC fun for me was a) learning so much from the pre-, during and post-commentary here and b) the fact that the tournament is nation against nation. It’s fun to see people backing the countries of their heritage. And I think it makes it more accessible too. I’ve never been a huge Olympics watcher because there are just so many darn events and it’s more of a time commitment than I can usually make to get really into it. At least here they are all playing the same game. Once you watch a few you can see the teams’ different styles and get your bearings.
Enough rambling! I hope I can keep up the interest between now and 2012. I need a small-scale way to follow it because I’ll never be able to make sense off all the different clubs. (Will check out all the recommendations made to me on previous threads.) First order of business is to take my sons to an MLS game this Saturday, which we’ve never done before. Fun!
@EmmATX: You aren’t the only one. I posted this yesterday. Utter silliness on my part. http://www.pieceofcakekitchen.com My cousin lives in Spain. I am more motivated than ever to schedule a visit.
Ha! Great letter. You may want to check out this post on soccer fangirl gossip site kickette.com. I certainly won’t deny that the incredible, off-the-charts levels of hotness of many of the players, shall we say, heightens my enjoyment of the sport :) BTW, just to let you know, I am about 10 years ahead of you in line for Iker’s affections, so you will have to wait your turn!
@Therese: Oh, what the hell. As long as I’m shamelessly ogling, I might as well link this. I restrained myself from posting it on any of the earlier threads, but if you appreciate the, um, athleticism of the players, you should check it out. (Slightly NSFW!)
Oh look, Sneijder just picked up a yellow.
@EmmATX: LOL! I had the kickette site already open in another window. Thanks for the other link too. I had been there before but am glad to see it again now that I know the players better.
Yes, you should have him first if you’ve already pined for him for 10 years. But I’m guessing I’m older…and I have a shelf life. My expiration date is way sooner than yours!
a nice end to Spain’s run:
Iker Casillas Kissing Sara Carbonero !!
If you don’t get that after all his posts and all the discussion here, you probably never will. Not your fault – football isn’t for everyone – but the failure isn’t with Randhino.
Chiming in late to add my compliments for a great job by Randinho. Thanks for these posts and threads. They’ve been a lot of fun.
Thanks to John for introducing Randinho to a wider audience. Re-posting this lengthy post from the thread below as it is more on point IMHO:
“As far as dissent goes, for anyone who has played the game at any kind of level, when you get crap referees, you tend to argue with them and take the yellow card like a man when you do it – being “dirty” is not necessarily equal to obtaining yellow cards. [All of this is part of the game and anyone who has played knows this to be the case, despite all the johnny-come-lately bandwagon jumpers that the sport has attracted]
I am certainly glad of all the attention soccer is getting in this country, but some of the discussions from the pundits and/or the radio talk show hosts on ESPN Radio and/or XM have been asinine and have been a clear indication of people who have actually never played the game. They are, in no particular order:
1) Refs make bad calls, sometimes they happen in important games. I realize that we are obsessed with “getting the call right” in this country but I believe that calls over the long term even each other out. The English usually tend to have a very healthy attitude about it. Pundits that say that there should be more than one ref, stoppage of the game for video replay, or other such adjustments, do not understand that these things have already been experimented with or will fundamentally change the game in the first place. The beauty of football is that it tries to eliminate too many complex rules. The other football that gets played with big guys with their hands gets tinkered with so many times (and, on top of that, has totally different “amateur” than professional rules) that the game itself does not resemble anything like the game that was played 10-15 years ago.
2) Luis Suarez did what a lot of other players would have done in the same instance. Furthermore, and this goes to the “intent” that a lot of people seem to discern, when the game is going 100 miles an hour and/or you are tired, like in that goal line situation with Uruguay you might stick your hand out there even though you don’t mean to. If Asimoah Gyan had simply slotted that ball away, just like he did in the ensuing PK shootout 5 minutes later, we would not be having this conversation.
3) There is a difference in playing to win or playing while trying not to lose and nicking a win. You can say what you want about Holland not playing the beautiful game (and people are forgetting that Neeskens, Suurbier, Rinus Israel or Arie Haan were certainly not afraid to dish it out when necessary either), but Holland plays to win, while, say, this edition of Brazil, Paraguay or Portugal played not to lose and they got burned for it. In the past Greece in Euro 2004 or Argentina in 1990, to name 2 OTOH, did get their rewards. Actually most of the teams that played to win were rewarded in this World Cup and that’s a positive development.
4) Defensive midfielders are part of the game; they don’t get talked about at all, but you need good ones to win. The great ones, such as, say, Roy Keane, are able to contribute to the offense as well. Argentina and England were done in by the fact that they did not have one. (In Argentina’s case, one that showed up in the Germany game, to be precise, and Maradona had no sub for him) Mark Van Bommel, love him or hate him had an outstanding tournament and noticeably backed off once he got that yellow in the final. The Spanish, between Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Busquets did a masterful job in shutting Snyder down. In the modern game, you need players that are willing to do the dirty work, work hard and win tackles so that the creative players can be creative. They rarely, if ever, get named to “teams of the tournament”, but they are just as important as, say, a good set up man in baseball to a winning team.
Finally, I have heard that that final game was bad, boring and/or unwatchable, but I have to say that I enjoyed it thoroughly as it was a game where the defenses were absolutely stellar, especially Van Bronkhorst, Mathysen and Heitinga (VandeWiel was just OK) on the Dutch side and Puyol, Capdevilla and Sergio Ramos on the Spanish side. There were a great number of fantastic clean tackles and or great interference on head balls – no absolute clear headers like in the Germany game (Sergio Ramos was slightly impeded as was Mathysen on their goal scoring opps). A defensive battle, admittedly, is something that a lay person would not appreciate, just like a casual baseball fan not appreciating a 1-0 game either.
Both teams could have knocked it around the back slowly, but they were all clearly trying to score or go forward whenever possible.
One final note: there were a lot of stories in the media, especially about 6 months prior to the WC about South Africa not being ready to host, etc., etc. Whatever happened with that? ”
Finally for everyone suffering withdrawal – the EPL starts in 5 weeks and the prelims for the Champions League in a little more than 2.
@Paula: Well, on top of all the things I’ll miss about the World Cup (including following w/ you people), I’ll miss hearing Ian Darke. Will always remember him trying to teach us Americans about the Group of Death and wailing on Cristiano Ronaldo.
I know ESPN is getting Martin Tyler back for 2014. But any word on Darke, Ekoku, et al? [Oddly enough, I got little to no exposure to any of the other commentators.]
You will be able to hear all three of these guys either on Fox Soccer Channel or ESPN 2 when the ESPN starts up again.
As an aside, I had a totally different picture of Efan Ekoku until they showed him on the TV before the final. I expected him to be much bigger (think Emile Heskey or Michael Strahan) than he actually was.
I’m so bummed. Really suffering post WC depression today.
So!! Let’s make a list! JenJen’s Favorite WC Moments:
– The Nike Ad. Kick-ass, stupendous ad! But every single star in the ad was a loser, save for Kobe f’n Bryant.
– Paul the Octopus!!
– Landon Donovan’s heart-stopping golden goal against Algeria in injury time
– Green the Goalkeeping Goat of England, flubbing the ball and giving USA a tie against England in their opening match
– Germany just WAILING on Argentina. Honorary Mention? Kicking England’s ass, despite the goal by Lampard that should’ve been good
– Diego Maradona is hilarious.
– Shitty refs!! Shitty refs!! Shitty refs!!
– Every. Single. Goal made by David Villa for Spain. He might have taken a back seat during the semi’s and final, but without him, they wouldn’t be there. He is the reason why they kept winning 1-0 in all of their matches.
– Tschbalabala’s Opening Goal for South Africa. First goal of the 2010 World Cup, on the African continent, made by an African!
– VUVUZELAS!! Hated them at first. By mid-tournament, I didn’t even notice them anymore, but I sure would’ve missed their absence.
– Von Brockhorst’s amazing long-range goal for NED against Uruguay that put Holland in the final.
– The French Meltdown. Hilarious to watch!! Hey, we’re going to go eat cheese instead of practicing. Because we’re France, and that’s how we roll.
– New Zealand kicked some ass, didn’t they? Fun team to watch. Also, they look nice shirtless. ;-)
– Lampard’s goal for England against Germany being called no good. Shitty Refs!! Whatever. Germany still kicked their asses.
– The young German team! Lahm! Ozil! Mueller!!
– The Hand of Suarez, the heartbreaking PK miss by Gyan that followed, and the tragic PK final that sent Uruguay in and Ghana home. Probably the most compelling match of the entire World Cup.
– Kaka who? So fucking awesome when Netherlands knocked Brazil out. Speaking of Kaka….
– Kaka unfairly sent off against Ivory Coast flopper. One of the best examples of SHITTY WORLD CUP REFFING.
– Jogi Loew’s stanky blue sweater for Germany. Wash that shit!! Jesus. Who do you think you are, Paul the Octopus?
– North Korea gave Brazil a run for their money in their first match, you know.
– Puyol’s header against Germany that sent Espana to the Final. Also, his hair. Captain Caveman!!
– Iniesta’s game-winning goal against Netherlands. And his beautiful teammate tribute to fallen Spanish Captain Daniel Jarque that followed. Sob. :-(
– The Kiss of Spain!! Casillas smooches his girlfriend.
Those are mine. And yours? :-)
Loved sharing this with all of you, and again, Randinho, thank you, thank you, thank you!!
(ETA: Sorry for singling out Brazil so much, Randinho! But it is what it is.)
I played the game in grade school and high school. but I did not fall in love with it until I came across a pick-up game in Cd. Rio Verde, Mexico. The passion they played with set my heart on fire, and I wanted nothing more than to join them (but it was a poor barrio and I was a gringo and there were plenty of suspicious looks thrown my way)
It is still my fondest football memory.
@handsmile: To the Mighty Handsmile, a hearty vuvuzela bwaaaaammmmoooooogrrrrr for you!
Oh, are we playing this? :)
An excuse to take a break from drone-work:
Ian Darke’s commentary.
Alexi Lalas, shit-stirrer extraordinaire or genuine douchebag?
Asamoah Gyan’s missed PK and the frustration of the subsequent missed Pks by the Ghanaian team.
NZ being the only unbeaten team.
Mesut Oezil and Diego Forlan
Luis Fabiano’s f$&*^%%$$$&%#$#*g handball against Ivory Coast.
Pre England-USA trash-talk.
The Swiss beating Spain.
Paul the Octopus Oracle of Oberhausen.
Vincent Enyeama vs. Argentina.
Paraguayan player Cardozo being consoled by Spanish players after his team’s defeat.
Post-Algeria USA celebratory dogpiles.
And yes: San Iker and Sara Pastasauce on Spanish TV.
@ JenJen, @ Paula
Lists are good. They help one cope with anxiety and depression. Making them also serves to distract one from more pressing chores and concerns.
Here then are some of my, if not necessarily favorite, most indelible, moments of the 2010 World Cup:
-Oh yes, Tshabalala’s auspicious strike to open scoring in the World Cup hosted by his own nation! It still gets my vote for the goal of the tournament. And a name so much fun to say!
-The tears streaming down the face of North Korean forward Tae-se Jong during his country’s national anthem played before the team’s first match. (Randinho has a theory about this…)
-The now immortal riposte of France’s Nicolas Anelka to coach Raymond Domenech at half-time in their game with Mexico: “Go fuck yourself, you son of a whore.” Must be the Continental way of saying, “take this job and shove it.”
-Minnows devouring whales: New Zealand’s draw with Italy; Slovakia’s victory over the 2006 World Cup champions; Switzerland’s victory over the eventual 2010 World Cup champions.
-Introduction to the broadcast work of the BBC’s Efan Ekoku. Serving as match analyst for ESPN/ABC, he was a beacon of insight, incisive commentary, and resistance to the personal twaddle that so often debases sports programs.
-The rictus of disbelief and disgust on the faces of two of football’s most celebrated players of the past decade, Italy’s Fabio Cannavaro and Brazil’s Lucio, at their respective teams’ elimination from the tournament and the end of their own World Cup careers.
-Celebrating victory with hundreds of delirious Spaniards at a tapas restaurant during the Round of 16’s Battle for Iberian Supremacy. Each and every time Cristiano’s face appeared on screen, derision erupted.
-Shrieking in defeat with devastated Africans of many nations at a South African restaurant during Ghana’s tragic denouement with Uruguay. Unforgettable moments of whiplash emotions.
-Germany’s 4-0 quarterfinal dismantling of Argentina, one of the two teams (the other being Spain, TYVM) I thought most likely to hoist the Coupe Mondial. Tangential to this, I believe that Lionel Messi deserves far greater credit for his performance in South Africa. Notwithstanding his failure to score, his playmaking in the midfield was easily on a par with Sneijder and Schweinsteiger until La Albiceleste met die Mannschaft. Even without Messi on the score-sheet, Argentina’s goal count was 10/2 at that point.
-Listening each night to the Guardian’s “World Cup Daily” podcast. Sheer comic genius combined with first-rate football analysis. Absolutely delicious!
-My beloved Iniesta’s strike in the 116th minute to secure World Cup victory for Spain and, more importantly, sparing hundreds of millions around the world the agony of penalty kicks.
Well, thanks: this turned out to be quite a fun game! Let’s hope others will choose to play too.
(FYI: the Guardian’s football correspondents have each compiled their own best/worst lists on the paper’s website, “guardian.co.uk/football.” As always, worth a read. And contrary to appearances, I’m really not a PR flack for that newspaper.)