The reign of Spain drives viewers insane

July 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm 8 comments

For the last month, I’ve led a near perfect existence, doing minimal work, watching all the World Cup matches with wide-eyed excitement, obsessing over my fantasy football team, celebrating goals like a madman, getting into heated arguments over tactics, and above all, consuming a lot of beer. Bliss. Now, all of a sudden, my days are emptier than Louisiana’s beach resorts.

After getting off to a rather slow start (the group stage produced approximately three goals), the World Cup picked up steam in the knock-out stages and thundered into one major controversy after another until finally, on Sunday night, Spain defeated the Netherlands in a match reminscent of the climactic battle from ‘Braveheart’. And amidst the joyous scenes of Spanish celebrations, fans all over the world were asking the same questions: “That was IT? That was the best football in the WORLD? Are you f*cking kidding me??”

To be fair, I can see their point. Everyone expected more from the first world cup to be held on the African continent – more passion, more goals, and more spectators stabbed on street corners. As it turned out, the biggest crime that took place in South Africa involved German coach Joachim Low’s personal hygiene. However, inspite of all the mediocrity on show, the tournament still had its moments. Now if you missed the World Cup for some reason, such as being dead, here is a quick day-by-day recap of the highlights:

June 11: The World Cup kicked off with a surreal opening ceremony that involved a giant dung beetle walking around the field. Thankfully, Sepp Blatter went back to his seat before the start of the opening game. South Africa’s ‘wily’ old manager Carlos Pereira had got them through qualifying by cleverly bidding to host the tournament and claimed that their tactics at the finals would reflect South African culture. Pundits suggested that the players would probably attack in a bold 2-2-6 formation, kidnap Nelson Mandela and demand the trophy as ransom.

June 12: South Korea beat Greece 2-0 thanks to a header from the centreback Kim Yong-Lee and a splendid strike from right-winger Lee Yong-Kim, both assisted by the playmaker Yong Lee-Kim. Their coach, Kim, claimed afterwards, “Lee can lead us to the final” leaving the pundits none the wiser. Meanwhile, England provided the World Cup with its first shock result by not losing to the U.S.A. The jabulani ball took the blame for the result, as it had fooled English keeper Robert Green by feinting to the left and inexplicably continuing to go left. The highlight of the day was no doubt the impromptu dance performance of ‘Y.M.C.A’ by charismatic Argentina manager Diego Maradona and his coaching team.

June 13: Ghana beat Serbia, the only team to have taken part in seven different world cups under seven different names, while Germany thrashed Australia 4-0 to show their title credentials and raise fresh doubts in the minds of the pundits: “How do you pronounce the name Oezil?”, being one of them.

June 14: Japan’s star striker K. Honda (full name: Kinetic Honda) scored to give them a narrow victory over Cameroon, who included in their line-up the evergreen Rigobert Song, 79, playing in his 11th straight World Cup. Elsewhere, defending champions Italy somehow managed to scrape a draw after Paraguay had gone ahead through Antolin Alcaraz. This played right into the hands of all the pun-crazy tabloid headline writers who promptly came up with ‘Italy escape from Antolin’.

June 15: Brazil played North Korea, the most mysterious team at the World Cup and all the pundits were taken by surprise when they turned out to be not so crap after all. (The North Korean team, that is, not the pundits, who were most definitely crap). News later emerged that the North Korean coach was getting tactical advice directly from Kim Jong-il (full name: Kim Jong Mentally-il) using mobile phones that are not visible to the naked eye, a technology developed by Jong-il himself. (I’m not even kidding.)

June 16: Spain, the tournament favourites, faced Switzerland in an intriguing tactical contest which hinged on which team could put the other to sleep quicker. The Spanish strategy was to pass, pass, pass and then when the opponent was lulled into a false sense of security, pass some more. The Swiss strategy was, well, to be Swiss. It was gripping stuff. Spain were the first to crack when their goalkeeper Iker Casillas tried to grab some shut-eye and Switzerland scored to go 1 up. At the 70th minute, both teams just decided to lay out some picnic mats and eat some sandwiches while television viewers switched to something more interesting, like the weather channel.

June 17: France slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Mexico while Argentina qualified for the knockout stages after thumping South Korea 4-1 and charismatic manager Diego Maradona was in a giddy mood at the ensuing press conference. The journalists kept asking him his opinions on the other teams at the world cup and he regaled them with his sparkling wit: “Greece?”, “Yes, vairy naice film. Travolta great great dancer.”, “Uruguay?”, “What?! NO!! You’re the gay!”.

June 18: The biggest news of the day was that after the defeat to Mexico, French star Nicolas Anelka had verbally abused the coach Raymond Domenech and had been sent home as a result. To make up for the loss of their star striker, the rest of the players went on strike. Tabloid headline writers came up with “Many people are not too fond of Raymond”.

June 19: England stuttered to another boring draw against Algeria. Pundits blamed Wayne Rooney, who had more shots than Lindsay Lohan during happy hour and still failed to get a goal. Meanwhile, Germany suffered a shock loss to Serbia and some surreal news later emerged that back in Germany, a psychic octopus named Paul had predicted the result a day earlier. Paul had also recommended that the team name begin with the letter ‘K’ for better luck in the following games.

June 20: Defence-minded Ivory Coast manager Sven Goran Sony Ericsson W580i lined his team up in an 8-2-0 formation to counter the attacking threat of Brazil, and it very nearly worked. Brazil got lucky when the Jabulani being used in the Slovakia-Paraguay clash decided to take the late flight from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg and snuggle up in the Ivory Coast goal.

June 21: Before the highly anticipated match against Portual, North Korean striker Jong Tae-Se was spotted crying his heart out during the national anthems. Pundits agreed that this was because either (a) North Korea did not actually have a national anthem per se and the organisers were playing Harisankar’s “Silsila Hai Silsila” instead or (b) Jong had just discovered that the world’s press had nicknamed him the ‘Asian Wayne Rooney’.

June 22: Spain won 2-0 against the Honduras, with both goals being scored by David Villa. Tabloid headline writers immediately jumped on this and came up with “Where there is a david, there is a way”. Elsewhere, the first half of Argentina vs. Greece game turned out to be so boring that Diego Maradona was forced to use the Hand of God to entertain himself.

June 23: The newly rechristened Kgermany beat Ghana 1-0 to get into the knock-out stages where they would face England, who got past Slovenia after lengthy negotiations during which they managed to convince the Slovenians that no one really cared whether Slovenia did well or not. France vs. South Africa turned out to be a proper old-school blood and guts encounter after the South Africans stabbed the French substitutes and kidnapped Raymond Domenech. Suddenly inspired, France managed to score a goal but it wasn’t enough as they lost 2-1. Paul the psychic octopus predicted that their return flight would be delayed by three hours.

June 24: In a result that shocked the footballing world, reigning world champions Italy were dumped out of the cup by unfancied Slovakia. In a touching moment, Fabio Quaglierella slumped to the field in a flood of tears and was consoled by his captain Fabio Cannavaro, who hugged and kissed his fallen soldier passionately for three whole minutes. “Paraguay!” said the Tamilian spectator in the stands, to his friend. “Uruguay?”, Cannavaro was asked by a journalist in the post-match press conference.

June 25: In a tragic turn of events, North Korea lost their do-or-die clash against Ivory Coast 3-0, and were promptly sentenced to death by their great leader Kim Jong-Il. Realizing he was about to die, Jong Tae-Se burst into tears again, and was immediately hugged and kissed by Fabio Cannavaro.

June 26: Tension gripped the football world as the knock-out stages finally began. Uruguay overwhelmed South Korea by yelling random phrases, such as “Pass it to Kim”, “Pass it to Lee”, and “Roast Dog, Yummy!” every now and then to confuse the Korean players. Inspired by this strategy, Asamoah Gyan yelled “Look! WMDs!” and scored the winner for Ghana against the U.S.A. An enraged Barack Obama shook his fist vehemently and delivered an eloquent speech.

June 27: Kgermany pounded minnows England 4-1 but the game was marred by a massive controversy, when an English player actually appeared to score a goal. “This is unbelievable!”, the pundits all exclaimed, calling for video technology to be introduced to verify that this epochal event had actually occurred. Elsewhere, Argentina beat Mexico 3-0 and Maradona celebrated with some indian dance.

June 28: The Netherlands continued their steady progress when they beat Slovakia thanks to a goal from their star winger Arjen Robben Island and set up a quarterfinal clash with Brazil, who dismissed Chile 3-0. Paul the psychic octopus stunned the bookies by predicting that one of the two teams would qualify for the semi-final.

June 29: Spain faced Portugal and Paraguay faced Japan on a day that will be remembered as ‘the day football died’, or to be more accurate, ‘the day football fell down a flight of stairs, suffered total body paralysis and existed as a vegetable for several years before its life support system was finally turned off’. Ugh. No one even remembered which teams won.

June 30: What a day of drama and controversy this was! Well, actually it was a rest day before the quarter-final stage but in comparison to the previous day, it seemed positively thrill-a-minute.

July 2: After the calm came the storm, the favourites Brazil were shocked by the Netherlands and Ghana were beaten by Uruguay in a game that featured more twists than a 1960s music video. This is how it all went down: In the last minute of extra time, the score was 1-1 and Ghana were handed a penalty after Luis Suarez handled the ball on the goal-line. As the tension mounted, Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty after the Jabulani, while approaching the top corner, was distracted by a female Jabulani on the sidelines and went after her instead. Five of Gyan’s enraged team mates pounded him to death right there on the pitch and were immediately arrested. The team was disqualified for having too few players, sending Uruguay through to the semi-finals.

July 3: In a result that was a shock to everyone except Paul the psychic octopus, Kgermany thrashed Argentina 4-0 with Miroslav Klose (full name: Miroslav Klose Encounters of the 3rd Kind) scoring two goals to take his total world cup tally to 23 million. The rest of the world breathed a sigh of relief as this meant pundits would no longer be able to use their standard analysis for all Argentina matches: “Ah! Messi.. (orgasmic noises)”. Elsewhere, Spain pipped Paraguay in yet another borefest.

July 4: The footballing world was plunged into mourning at the thought that Diego Maradona would no longer be at the World Cup. So here is a quick quiz for all of you: Which of the following Maradona facts is true? (a) He picked a nobody named Ariel Garce in the squad because he saw him in a dream, or (b) He grew his beard because he tried to kiss his dog and it bit his face, or (c) He declared that he wanted to keep Jose Mourinho on his bedside table.

July 5: The correct answer is secret option (d) all of the above. Legend.

July 6: The first semi-final turned out to be a cracking encounter. Midway through the first half, the Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst fired a rocket into the Uruguayan goal and the referee yellow carded him for violent conduct. Enraged by the decision, Gio put his launcher away and then scored a brilliant goal to put the Netherlands ahead. The Dutch cantered to a comfortable victory and booked their place in the grand final.

July 7: The second semi-final was not even played, seeing as Paul the psychic octopus had predicted a Spain victory and neither team wanted to pick up any unnecessary injuries or suspensions. “Innovative strategy from Spain”, opined the pundits, while the Germans mourned their exit. Tabloid headline writers came up with “Klose but no cigarette”.

July 8:The hostilities between Spain and the Netherlands intensified over the rest period as the teams engaged in a series of ‘mind-games’ with each other, including one in which Cesc Fabregas asked Dirk Kuyt to think of a number between 2 and 10, multiply it by 28, then add 2, then multiply by 537 and then subtract 3. Dirk Kuyt missed training the next day because he was still doing the maths.

July 10: The World Cup third place play-off was played between Kgermany and Uruguay at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which was named after that living legend – Michael Bay. After a see-saw battle, followed by a merry-go-round battle, and then finally a giant slide battle, Kgermany finally emerged the winners. There was a heart-stopping moment in the final seconds of the game when Diego Forlan hit the bar, and ordered 27 beers.

July 11: It was finally here. The World Cup final. It was the first big meeting between Spain and the Netherlands since the Eighty Years’ War and we all know how THAT turned out. (Well, actually some of us don’t because we were playing book cricket during history classes, but let’s just pretend we do.) Pundits opined that it would be a clash of cultures, a conflict of ideologies, an intriguing contest between the well-drilled Dutch defence, nicknamed the ‘Clockwork Oranje’, and the Spanish attack, nicknamed ‘Xabi Alonso and the seven dwarves’. The Spanish stuck to their trusted eleven while the Dutch went for a more cerebral approach than usual, including renowned indian quizmaster Siddhartha Basu in midfield. This strategy backfired spectacularly because Basu ignored all of Sneijder’s passes and said he’d come back to them in the end if there was any time remaining. The match itself was a nasty, bruising encounter and it was finally decided four minutes from the end when Andres Iniesta scored to make it 1-0, triggering raucous scenes of celebrations in Madrid and the rest of the world, where revellers basked in the blissful sensation of knowing they didn’t have to watch Spain play again for some time. Meanwhile, the Dutch returned home to a reception weaker than that of the iPhone 4.

And just like that, the 2010 FIFA World Cup came to an end, leaving us with a raft of memories – tshabalala, vuvuzela, jabulani, maradona, tiki-taka, waka-waka… We will retain these memories forever, and remember them fondly from time to time, some (waka-waka) more often than the others because they involved Shakira.

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Entry filed under: Football, News, Opinion.

Alas, the Cup runneth over Barnet vs. Arsenal – Here we go again!

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kelly :)  |  July 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Ughh, you make me miss the World Cup šŸ˜¦ I even wrote something about missing the World Cup today! This didn’t help šŸ˜›
    But Spain was great! The fact that they play possession football may have been one of the reasons nobody realized the actual skill involved in their skill.
    I think this first African World Cup created enough surprises of its own šŸ™‚ All the ‘shock’ defeats, the awards, and I suppose the defensive playing that seemed to be dominant can be a surprise within itself.
    It’s good to reminisce on the World Cup! Thanks for allowing me to do that šŸ˜‰

    Reply
  • 2. Vinod  |  July 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks, Kelly. Yeah, the post was more of an effort to just keep in mind all the quirky things I loved about this world cup. Can’t believe the wait is now four more years. šŸ˜¦

    Reply
    • 3. Kelly :)  |  July 19, 2010 at 5:14 am

      Ugh, I know right…4 years is way too long to have to wait. But we have Euro 2012 to look forward to now šŸ™‚

      Reply
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This blog was previously published at http://vinodg.blogspot.com.

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