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Semi-daily footie update

Posted by Charles P. Pierce  June 28, 2010 10:51 AM

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  • If there's one anomaly I want to continue throughout the World Cup, it's that I want to see Lionel Messi of Argentina go all the way through to the final game and continue to dominate play without scoring a goal. Wayne Gretzky used to do something like it, but Gretzky also scored 92 goals one year. Messi utterly controls the play, and he does so by dribbling and passing. It's one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen.
  • I think Chile could have gummed up Brazil this afternoon and made a real game of it, if the two teams were playing at full strength. That said, Brazil gets three starters back and Chile has to do without three of its own, at least two of whom are out because of dubious calls in their game against Spain last Friday. Looks ugly from here.
  • It hurt me deeply to see brother Shaughnessy line up on the anti-vuvuzela side last week.
  • One thing that's struck me over the past few days is the almost perfect equanimity with which FIFA deals with the fact that the referees in its quadrennial showpiece have, by and large, been useless lumps of potato salad. When your major complaint about having missed an obvious goal is that the real mistake was showing the replay in the stadium -- Dudes, they also showed it on TV, to a couple of billion people worldwide. Cat's pretty much out of the bag there. -- then you've shown that you may have learned your media strategy from Gordon Liddy. If the prospect of hauling your sport boldly into the 1990's frightens you so much that you don't want to use video replay, fine. Then why not hire goal judges? Have them sit in an elevated position not far behind the goal line. Give them a red light.
  • That said, I want to give the various British commentators high marks for their merciless cowtailing of their home team for its luridly awful performance against Germany. The pejorative of choice was "schoolchildren," as in: "These are defensive mistakes that schoolchildren make," or worse. I was especially fond of ESPN's Steve McManaman (ed. note -- thanks to commenter PogueMahone for the spelling update!), whose Hard-Day's-Night accent made it sound like the Brits were being ripped by all four Beatles at once. Were this American television, and were this an American side, we'd have heard all about some midfielder's plucky aunt back home whose desperate battle against Lhasa fever inspired her nephew to make the World Cup squad, and how that was really reward enough. The Brits, on the other hand, would point out that Auntie's incompetent nephew looked as though he were running in treacle and should be left behind in Durban to forage for food. Of course, the standards for sports-journalist invective over there are pretty damn high: 

 

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