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(June 06, 2002)

World Cup Days 6 and 7

Sorry I never posted last night, but I had a bit of an annoying afternoon. I went to the dentist’s for a filling, unpleasant in itself, and then when I came out someone had nicked the saddle off my bike. I managed not to notice until I tried to sit on it and came down on the pole, which is less fun than it sounds.

So, 2 days of football fun, and a bad-tempered business it’s been at times. Russia beat Tunisia 2-0, in a game that must have been gripping for everyone from Russia or Tunisia.

Then the USA beat Portugal 3-2, arguably a bigger shock than France. Never mind Axis of Evil, after the Portuguese rolled over and surrendered like that they must now meet the American definition of an ally.

I’m not going to mock the Springsteenites, though, as they played very well and deserved their win. Also, it made a nice change to see 11 Americans and not one of them obese.

The final match yesterday was Germany v Ireland (1-1), a cracking game with a sting in the tail. Robbie Keane banged in a well-taken equaliser right at the end, thus breaking the iron rule that all Leeds players must be a constant embarrassment to their poor long-suffering fans. The best moment was the Irish fans afterwards all saying "Roy who? There's only one Keene we know". The other Keene must have been so disappointed.

On to Thursday, and we kicked off with Denmark v Senegal (1-1), a rather tetchy game enlivened by one of those rare goals that start at the opposite penalty area and involve a succession of 5 or 6 entirely correct things in a row. 1 thuggish tackle in a row got goalscorer Salif Diao sent off near the end.

My personal view on violence on the football field is that it enlivens a dull game but tarnishes a good one. This was certainly true of France v Uruguay, the first goalless draw in the tournament, with 2 talented teams frankly losing the plot a bit. Dario Silva of Uruguay is the epitome of the talented player who's never quite happy with a good result fairly won, which must be why his name is an anagram of "is a Rivaldo".

The upshot of these 2 games is that France must beat Denmark by 2 clear goals to go through, and Uruguay must do the same against Senegal. It matter to England because if they go through they play a team from this group next (Warning: if you ask me to explain the permutations of this you are in great danger of finding out at some length).

Also approaching resolution is the Irish group, where in today's other game Cameroon beat Saudi Arabia by (only) one goal to nil. This now means that the Irish must beat Saudi Arabia to go through. If they beat the Arabians by 2 or more clear goals, they definitely go through. If they beat them by one goal, they definitely go through unless Germany and Cameroon draw. If they beat them by one goal and Germany and Cameroon do draw, it gets complicated (hooray!).

Tomorrow, England v Argentina. It's a good thing I'm not getting involved, otherwise I'd be very scared.

posted by Jon 23:09
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