Anyone in close proximity to me (in either a physical or online sense) will probably have been flattened in a tidal wave of schoolboy excitement by now. Yes, the World Cup is underway, and I’m finding it hard not to burble continuously about it. That old lady in the checkout queue? Of COURSE she’s interested in how the Italians’ ability to pass the ball out of defence will be affected by the absence of Grosso and Pirlo.
A decent chunk of posts on this blog are from my match-by-match accounts of Euro 2008 and World Cup 2006, but I’m not one for routines, so I’ll be giving that a miss this time. Instead, let’s all play a game of WORLD CUP I-SPY!
Here are some well-worn football clichés. See how many you can spot during the tournament…
1. Graceful Mexico ultimately lacking firepower
2. 10-man Uruguay
3. “One of football’s gentlemen, it seems somehow worse to see this behaviour from Thierry Henry.”
4. Plucky England
5. Hapless England
6. “As he steps up to the spot, the hopes of England rest on this young man’s shoulders”
7. Brilliant Dutch team falls apart by being too intellectual and having own opinions
8. Italy wins every game 1-0
9. USA win over England in 1950 interpreted to mean anything. At all.
10. North Korea win over Italy in 1966 interpreted to mean anything. At all.
11. Stodgy Switzerland
12. African teams described as “playing with such unbridled joy”.
13. Commentators assuming Brazil is EVERYONE’S default 2nd team.
14. Pundits confusing Slovakia and Slovenia.
15. Cristiano Ronaldo diving.
16. Cristiano Ronaldo crying.
17. Cristiano Ronaldo telling tales to the referee.
18. “You can never write off the Germans…”
19. Commentators sounding surprised that Brazil have a fantastic defence nowadays.
20. Commentators sounding surprised that Argentina don’t have a fantastic defence nowadays.
Of course, as I’m writing this after the first day’s play, we can already tick off the first three. Mexico were stunning on the ball, but a 1-1 draw with South Africa is really not impressive. Uruguay are helping me in my prediction that they’ll have the worst disciplinary record in the group stage, and Henry nearly exploded in a ball of pure irony when he screamed indignantly at a supposed handball and then tried to take a (possibly unjustified) free kick from the wrong place.