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Friday, July 07, 2006

A World Cup Review

Well, it's been a fascinating, infuriating, exhiliarating month of football in the land of bratwurst and sauerkraut. The 3rd place game is tomorrow between the energetic Germans and the collection of grifters masquerading as the Portugese National Team. Then, on Sunday, Italia versus France. I shall be rooting for France, because they have the preponderance of Arsenal players, and because I'm still vexed about that late penatly for Italy against Australia, although the Italians have played well overall, fighting for the football like it was the last meatball on the Donner Party expedition.

Even though the Cup is not over yet, now is about the usual time that the media starts offering retrospectives of the tournament, usually rife with myopic, ignorant, self-satisfied commentary, and that's just Sports Illustrated's Gabriele Marcotti, who stupidly claimed that "CONCACAF stinks" (Even though it's a CONCACAF side that is the only one to breach Italy's goal -albeit on an Italian own goal, and a CONCACAF side were the only ones, prior to Italy, to find the back of the German net more than once, and that CONCACAF put as many sides in the round of 16 as the African confederation, but African football is so much better than CONCACAF's version).

This is typical Marcotti, BTW. Form an opinion based on one's own deep-seated prejudices about the overwhelmingly superiority of European football, because of course Europe puts more teams into the second round, forgetting the simple math that Europe gets more teams into the tournament than any other confederation to begin with. Then back it up with childish invective. He must have been a joy on the playground as a youth, provided his current style isn't the result of brain damage from all the beating he surely took as a youth.

Actually, I agree with him about merging CONCACAF with CONMEBOL the South American confederation. If Marcotti were a less snotty writer, he wouldn't be half bad sometimes. Of course, if he were funny at all, he could write for this blog. (Note to readers: You can skip the e-mails with the line, "And so could you, Earl." I'm on to you.)

All right, too serious. Where was I? Ah, yes... retrospectives. Here's my own. Introducting the First Fando World Cup Awards, a tradition that promises to be as dubious as a Cristiano Ronaldo appeal for a penalty.

  • Most peculiar looking player - Peter Crouch, England. Someone once described six-foot-five-inch John Cleese as an enormous stick insect. Crouch is six-foot-seven-inches, meaning that he is technically a gigantic stick insect. Also, he has about -3% body fat, which means he has to wear a small container of butterfat, intravenously delivered, just to stay alive during matches. Crouch is good in the air due to his height and the fact that England players can fling him one-handed at crosses. However, he's severly tested in matches accompanied by a substantial breeze.
  • Angriest player - Wayne Rooney, England. Rooney looks like the guy you cut off in traffic at a biker rally with the "Momma Hates Me" tattoo. He snarls like someone who just bit into a bit of fried fish with a hook still in it, and liked it. He was sent off in the Portugal match for stamping on someone's groin.
    In a fair fight, Rooney would eat the second placed player in this category (Jens Lehmann) the way a Sperm Whale could devour a TicTac. I don't mean rhetorically, I mean Austin Powers-Fat Bastard, "Get... in... my... belly!" eaten. The hands down winner.
  • Most confused looking player - Fabein Barthez, France. Barthez plays with the air of a man who is constantly trying to remember if his shoes are tied or not. A very talented keeper at his best, he has moments where you'd think the ball was radioactive and he was playing with actual lead gloves. He reportedly admitted to smoking marijuana regularly at one point earlier in his career, and had several instances where he played as though he were in a cloud of the stuff and couldn't see the ball. (...mostly for Man United. Good times, good times.)
  • Biggest Crybaby - Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal. Who else? This is a player who ran half the pitch to complain to the official about Rooney's foul and then winked to the bench afterwards. This is a bloke who complained that anyone who "loved soccer" could see that the referee was unfair against him for not giving a penalty when he flopped forward like a beached carp in the box against France (I lost count of how many times). There was one incident where a French player briefly grabbed CR's shoulder, but I assumed this was to keep him from falling over, since he had already begun to fall forward of his own dramatic initiative. Apparently, the kind of soccer Cristiano thinks people love is the kind where William Shatner or Alex Baldwin would be a star player, able to command fouls and penalties at will. He's going to have a lovely time at Old Trafford this fall weeping as the fans sing his name in embarrassing ditties associating him and certain sexual practices.
  • Most annoying coach - Tie: Luis Felipe Scolari, Portugal and Sven Goran Erikkson, England. Scolari is a good coach, but his constant jumping up and down on the sidelines, berating officials, and giving Cristiano Ronaldo acting tips (and not very good ones at that) made one want to slip him a Thorozine Frappucino. Erikkson? He has a messy affair with an FA secretary, who then tells all to the media, he falls for a fake shiekh scam set up by one of the British tabloids, spilling all manner of embarassing details to them, and then he only brings 3 healthy forwards to the World Cup, including a 17 year old who has yet to play for his current Premier club and wasn't used at all in the Cup. That, and he has a habit of staring at the pitch the way a pubcrawler stares at their 7th pint. He seems to coach that way, too.
  • Worst referee - Sepp Blatter, FIFA. It's been an awful mess. Yes Graham Poll gave 3 yellows to a Croatian player, and the Russian referee made a mess of the Holland/Portugal match, but they've all been really bad. So, in honor of FIFA's overblown regulation changes and directives, I'd like to give them all red cards, but to have Sepp Blatter actually complaining about the officiating after officials implemented the directives Blatter's own committees issued? Wayne Rooney, dinner is served.


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