Germany 2006 – Is a Little Entertainment too Much to Ask?

After the Netherlands’ match last Sunday, I commented that the Dutch team played poorly and resolutely hoped that their performance will somehow be lifted when they face either Argentina or Cote’ d’Ivoire soon. Then further matches had other national teams playing akin to those kinda robots those certain Japanese tech nerds invent to simulate a lame soccer game. At times during any random match this World Cup, playing a short game of PES/Winning 11 does not seem such a bad idea at all. 
Having looked at Brazil’s performance against Croatia barely 24 hours ago confirmed the 2006 World Cup as having flushed down the actual WC. And Korea? What happened to those heroes of 2002? When Lee Chun Soo hoofed a backpass to a compatriot (I can’t be bothered to find out who it was) during a delectable freekick position (which he can try to score,man just try!) in order to defend a slim 2-1 lead against Togo (must keep position rite?!), I thought that football had died and gone to hell. Korea was rightly booed throughout the time they took their deserved lead for playing blasphemously -ve football. Thanks for confirming my optimism that this World Cup’s entertainment factor has gone due south since France 1998. And don’t talk about France v. Switzerland match yesterday. Was Thierry Henry on the pitch? Well, I thought he rendered the ‘La Marseillaise’ anthem like a true Frenchman though. Abreuve nos sillons!  
Actually, Group A did pretty well entertain a little. Germany ain’t that bad as imagined. Ecuador still plays poorly but Poland was no better. Costa Rica had a prefix strategy. Paulo Wanchope x90 minutes. That PW scored for the Ticos meant that Germany was indeed trying to play attacking football. Remember the doctrine of guns and butter that an attacking team is a vulnerable team but I do love and appreciate attacking football. Who cares about the 2 goals conceded? To win is to dare! Los,los,los Deutschland!
So far, England has not scored a goal off an Englishman. Was it predestined? All the hype did a world of bad,than good? I’m never a supporter of the ‘Drei Lowen’, so no comments. At least not under the management of the certain oversexed Swede with a huge forehead and the guts to ask for another married man’s wife in marriage over the conventional practice of ‘let’s do lunch and talk it over’. For 3 million pounds a year salary, he did bring the goods for the team though. See the trend? How about T&T? Well, if getting a point off one of the former world’s best sides, Sweden…it’s not too bad. Just that Sweden was already poor to start with, ha!
Another entertaining set of teams, Argentina and Ivory Coast did do the World Cup some justice by playing some memorable football for large sections of the match. The Dutch did not play well, but it’s hard to tell if their entertaining football of the past is still there. Where are the Orange Lions? Why have they and their legacy gone? To rely on Robben solely is ok but if he gets shot down by the hard-tackling Argentina defence or the sturdy africans, it’s ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Niederland!’.
Portugal did play exceptional soccer in the first 30 minutes against Angola, scored a goal via the incomparable Pauleta of PSG and then went to sleep against their former colony. The rest is an insomnia cure. Why the trend? Because Angola did not warrant due respect? Why did the Portuguese not realise that the chance of obliterating their opponents in a dash of goals would have raised their prestige and do their talents no harm at all. Felipao might have told his charges to play cautiously in anticipation of a tough encounter with Mexico. Iran, on the other match played brilliant football against the Mexicans and it was a cracker of a game. Brilliant stuff that. And it’s not because it was a 3-1 scoreline as the Iranians forced Oswaldo Sanchez to his goalkeeping limits more than the English even try to snuff out the equally poor Paraguayan partisans.
I think the Group of Death be the Italy’s and the Czechs’. US and Ghana did not roll over but they did fold under well-thought out passes and crosses. Not their undoing at all. They may do well later.
But I’ll ffwd to the France Switzerland match. The game had its moments. Barthez spilling a Gygax header after an Alex Frei header pounding the French goalpost. Nothing was on the French side. I wanted Henry to do well but all his attacks were for naught. The Swiss did all the running and Monsieur Zidane and co were not in their element. Not that I expected them to be. Under Raymond Domenech? Next to nil.
The Saudi oil fahds, Spanish armada, tuna fishes and Chicken ala Kievs play next. Keep fingers crossed for entertainment and good old football alongside the usual fare of boring hour or so worth of backpasses and sideways crosses. It’s well understood that managers are cautious about injuries to key players but there are times when the need is to go for the jugular, key players shirk the challenge and opt to fight it out in the last 2 matches. Case in point- the Koreans and the Dutch. Still, we have Germany, Argentina, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Iran, and the Czechs to thank for their dedication to football as entertainment. There may be hope yet.

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