Tuesday, July 1, 2014

world cup football

I enjoy it. As a casual fan, i have a few random thoughts:

Yesterday's victory by Germany may have saved lives, and certainly property. France beat Nigeria. If Germany lost, France and Algeria would have played; and no matter what that outcome would have been, there would probably have been civil disturbances in Marseilles and other French cities with North African communities.

The US -- Belgium game: i had fully expected the Belgians to win. The hype was getting thick about how good the US team was, and how Belgium skated through their group. Even when the United States has talent, and good athletes (in any sport), the bragging disturbs the rest of the world; the achievement does not live up to the mouth. Belgium was 3-0, the US 1-1-1. Against Germany, Omar Gonzalez as a defending fullback made a couple great saves. Belgium pounded the American goalie, Tim Howard, with a record number of shots. As good as he was, it was only a matter of when something got by him. The team that attacks, and leads in corner kicks, and shots on goal and on target is usually the winner. Sometimes, you need a great goalie; but if you must have a great goalie you are in trouble.

Lionel Messi really impresses me (and most of the world as the best). He is the star on his team, and he passes to his brothers. He made two very beautiful goals: one, a 91st minute winner against a fully horizontal goalie of a great defensive Iranian team (possession 24%), and then against Nigeria with a free kick over the wall of men and into the net.

There is a continental, and hemispheric advantage to be seen.  Argentina has the Pope, why not the World Cup?

The world outside the Americas and Korea has not before seen the referees with shaving cream to mark off the positions for free kicks--funny, and effective. The dance the wall of cheaters have done is now gone. The foam demarcates better than a line in the sand. The only thing that compares, visually, is the wee whisk broom umpires clean home with.

"The beautiful game" is propaganda, it is more like human pinball. The jostling on corner kicks still stinks, but this stupid free kick encroachment has stopped. There is still the fake injuries to gain yellow cards on opponents.

Uniforms: people have come to enjoy and expect to see a country's team in their favorite colors. I have two quibbles (alright three): the referees ought to adopt a standard uniform (like American football's zebra/convict stripes; the same with goalies (perhaps if the team is green, then white or black with a green stripe); and a team should have all have the same shoes, and not that glow in the dark yellow/green.

O, and 0 is 'zero', not 'nil'. Another reason why Univision is better viewing, the Spanish say 'cero'. It is annoying when Americans ape Britishisms. And why does American English coverage hire Englishmen? And the fewer commentaristas, the better.
postscriptum: What is also great about the football is the clock. The clock goes on. A futbolista is being bandaged on the field, the clock goes on; somersaults, hugs, dances and the clock goes on, and no penalties. If time is wasted on all this, extra time is announced and tacked on; but "4" minutes of extra time is an approximation, it could be 3.52, or 4.23, or 5.15. This is so much better than basketball, where the last two minutes are lucky to be completed in thirty.

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