11 Jul 2010

World Cup Reflection

So it's over for another 4 years, but it's the first World Cup where I've paid so much attention, & one which I have followed almost every game & as such enjoyed it most of all.

Firstly let's get over the disappointing teams: France & Italy - said about Italy, but they have just been limp & France were just terrible (a fiasco!)

However, as an Englishman (well I consider myself an Earthling/European in all honesty) the disappointment of watching my national squad of highly paid professionals play like a Sunday league pub football team was very frustrating. So a huge, epic, frankly pathetic 3 goal tally was not what was needed or expected by the nation (Australia scored the same amount ffs!) who were so behind the team & hopeful of progress with the likes of Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Stevie Gerrard, Frank Lampard, & the on-fire Jermaine Defoe, & the in-the-form-of-his-life Rooney.

However, here's what happened; the first game against the USA was blotted by an unforced error by Bobby Green, which left a 1-1 draw. But this was nothing, in comparison to the second game which was the worst I have ever seen England play - resulting in a 0-0 draw with Algeria?...yes Algeria! I have never felt so let down, especially against the lowest ranked team in the group - we all expected a wooping...but it never came! Then finally a win in the final group game, but it was still not exactly impressive. The final game for England in the 2010 world cup was a serious wooping...by Germany! All-in-all the most forgettable tournament (apart from Euro 2008, which they didn't even qualify for!), but they were not the only ones.

So Brazil & Argentina - although they didn't get that far, for former champions on multiple occasions, were still very exciting to watch & every match I saw, I did want them to score & some great goals they scored. I really did respect their efforts, with some of the greatest stars around at the moment & both managed by former world champions (Maradona & Dunga of course). They both scored really great goals, but were disappointing after the group stage & were knocked out by the Dutch & the Germans. But the excitement when Elano, Kaka, Messi, Higuain & Tevez got the ball was palpable.

The jabulani ball has been full of controversy, but for me, it's just a newly designed football. Therefore, (surely) sportsmen who are paid often millions of pounds annually should be able to cope with any ball, as the principals should apply to any ball, regardless of design changes - I think they're just making excuses!

But it has not exactly all been disappointing, there have been some serious success stories, namely the squads from Australia & especially New Zealand who drew all their games & were only 1 point from going into the next round. The most impressive displays have been from Germany, but for sheer heart & belief - it has to be the host nation - South Africa - they may not have the best squad, but they gave it everything they had & only went out on goal difference, but they were great value to watch.

In terms of extra curricular activities, I have already blogged about the fail of ITV's website, but the Fifa website had a really complete fantasy world cup league & a brilliant virtual sticker album. This has kept my department both entertained, but also engrossed in all the matches - not just rooting for  England.

Finally, looking forward to the wake of the final between Netherlands & Spain, Spain having never progressed to a final, but on the back of a Euro victory, meet a team they have never faced before, with neither of them having been crowned world champions before - an epic match should be ahead!

My reflection is simply that it has been full of great moments & superb goals, frustration that some world-class players didn't live up to their expectation (Ronaldo, Torres, Rooney, Kaka & Messi a little bit) but utterly exhillarating overall.

...we continue

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