Summer Blog Post Five
Summer Blog Post Five
Dear readers of my blog,
writing up on ongoing football events, while professional obligations – picking up the loose threads at the end of the school year as well as awarding prizes or waiting for possible oral exams – concern certain administrative tasks – is not an easy job when the main topic is supposed to be Oscar Wilde. All the same, you can always try to think about the Irishman's work in terms of current events. On Whit Monday, for example, I tried to rethink the ending of my preface to the essay “The Soul of Man under Socialism” in the sense of Irish history from Wilde's lifetime to the present day crisis. This is all the more useful as the current crisis of the United Kingdom touches both Ireland as a whole and the European Union. I like to play with figure, so that the very last sentence I noted runs as follows: “It is since 2016 at the very latest that the Irish know why they once joined the EU, and facing twenty-six other European states united behind the Republic of Ireland, British politicians should have learned by now that this situation is highly symbolic of what is going to happen sooner or later: the twenty-six counties of Ireland will one day be re-united!” If you don't think in terms of both history and geography, and if you don't care for what your neighbours say, think or feel, you will never come up with such an idea, an example of lateral thinking rather than pure logic. Whether you are talking of and about individuals or countries with their complicated history, it is always necessary to make sure you know enough about them and yourself before taking any decisions.
Tuesday, 11th June 2019
Exchanging views on yesterday’s match, I find some who deem the second half completely boring, whereas others contend that it was just that, slowing down and accelerating at will which is asked for in that climate and at that time of day. Moreover, on the lucky side with the penalty and the red card for Pepe also in their favour, the Germans had succeeded in pulling off a feat of adaptation and adaptability most observers wouldn’t have expected after their recent failures since 2002 to win the decisive match, meaning either the semi-final or the final in all but one tournament, 2004, that is, when they didn’t even survive the group stage.
The man with the wooden spoon in our prediction contest, a senior teacher of physical education, today needed to laugh off good-humoured mockery on the part of the amateurs. By contrast, the initiators still have a long way to go before winning the first & second cash prizes, as they had winked in their announcement of the competition. In the classroom I was in today, seven countries had found favour with the students: Potential winners are: Belgium, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Tuesday, 17th June 2014, on the train to Emden
It’s marking time at the end of both the scholastic and academic years, which also means watching the World Cup is relegated to certain days around the weekend. Today, however, I am listening to Dutch radio and their broadcast of the Australia vs. Netherlands match which sounds the laborious affair I had predicted with the names of the Socceroos appearing much more often in the reporters’ discourse than those of the Elftal. At least this is my impression of the first ten minutes or so.
A mixture of Dutch, English, and German, the language I’m trying to grasp sometimes sinks in easily when the two journalists mention the time or the score or those players whose names I am already aware of through watching the first two matches of that group last Friday/Saturday. The first corner on the part of the Australians after 16 minutes followed a dangerous attack finished off by Bresciano, which I would later see in a TV digest of the match.
The first chance for the Dutch, a solo run by Arjen Robben, ends by the one nil.
When I did eventually see it, I must admit never to have imagined it like this. He simply accelerated, and nobody was able to follow him. Of course, as he didn’t have to outplay anyone, the Dutch reporters failed to mention other names. Nor did I understand them saying he had been outrunning everybody else.
Enthusiastically celebrating this feat, the two reporters pay no attention to the progress of the game immediately afterwards, and Cahill makes his second of the tournament to equalize less than a minute later. Like van Persie, he will miss match three after being shown his second yellow card.
Things seem to calm down once again at Porto Alegre, as the voices slow down once more. Leckie, too, misses a chance for the Australians, and there is a lot of possession for the outsiders. The reporters concede the Elftal are not playing well at the moment. The main problem seems to be that the Dutch players find their own game with difficulty. Looking again and again at the list of players printed in my World Cup guide, I have still problems to identify some of the 22 since they were not mentioned or hardly at all throughout the first half. This is not only due to the fact that the guide was issued before the final 23 players had been nominated.
The game is such a disappointment that the two speakers don’t even mention explicitly that the whistle had gone for half-time. Fans quoted live concur easily.
Dutch adverts broadcast in the interval are much easier to understand, which is perhaps due to better articulation on the part of the actors.
The second half doesn’t augur well as the reporter continues to demand more activity on the part of the Elftal. A penalty for having handled the ball is awarded to the Socceroos, to be taken by Jedinak who also converts it. This is only one name that hadn’t cropped up at all. It’s two to one for the outsider. Then there is another great chance for Australia, a near miss.
Two all, Robin van Persie equalizes, and the reporter’s voice is on top again. Oranje boven! Thus each team has taken the lead and come back once. Twice the joy hadn’t died down when the other side had already reacted. Yet again the Elftal are lucky when the Socceroos miss a chance before the reporter exults about Memphis Depay who seems to have scored their third before Cahill is substituted. The young man may have scored his first for the Dutch team with twenty minutes to go. A free kick is awarded to the Elftal. Will it lead to another goal? No, Ryan saves the ball. Clearly, the Dutch are in the driving-seat now, looking for the winning fourth goal – which would also add another point to my tally.
They didn’t make it, after all, which I learn in the town centre of Leer where, surprisingly, they also show the Dutch matches on a large screen but, a man remarks, this hadn’t been mentioned in the local paper.
Wednesday, 18th and Thursday, 19th June 2014
P.S. It is only on watching the match digest about ten days later that I realize how controversial the penalty was since it seems in retrospect, seeing the Australian players congratulating their teammate for having hit the Dutchman’s hand, as if there had been some purpose in that action. What I hadn’t noticed either was that Depay had also prepared van Persie’s equalizer before venturing a straight shot at goal from about thirty yards out.
Later that evening, Spain is eliminated by Chile, as I had predicted, though the results of that group were reversed in reality, so I earned six points on the day.
What the matches played today will lead to, it seems hard to foresee, as a first news flash from the afternoon clash between Colombia and the Ivory Coast reveals that neither team appears to be able to create any goalmouth chances at all. On the way out, the Spanish team will have to face Australia who but for the fact that this is a tag usually applied to the Scots might be called Bravehearts. My idea is that they will go for and achieve a historic win over Spain.
The last time the Roja (la Selección española) left the tournament that early was in 1998 when they lost their opening game and drew with Paraguay before defeating Bulgaria. They couldn’t, however, qualify for the knockout stages because Nigeria lost their final match, so that Paraguay moved in second place following two goalless draws. In a brief post-match interview, Xabi Alonso looks back to many successful years, while the journalists comment on the necessity for a sea-change in and around la Roja for a revival of their fortunes to occur in time for the Euro in France 2016.
Holders to the last day of this year’s World Cup, Spain after France and Italy in 2002 and 2010 is the third winner to go home after the group stage. The Italians, winners in 1934 and 1938, had already done so in 1950, while Brazil would do the same in 1966 after having equally won two cups in a row. Interestingly, it was only these two countries to have managed successfully to defend their title, first won in 1934 and 1958 respectively. The Italians, however, like the English, the Germans, the Argentinians, and the French have also managed to win their home World Cup, being the first held in their respective country, which Brazil are still trying to do this year.
In groups B and C, two South American sides have already qualified for the next round, Chile and Colombia, that is, earning me eight points so far. Admittedly, I had not deemed Colombia strong enough to beat Greece, nor did I think the Ivory Coast would defeat Japan. Now I hope Japan be one better than Greece to win me at least seven points today.
Meanwhile both Suárez and Rooney could have been overheard speaking of a victory in their second group match. The English striker, who is still without a goal in his third World Cup, spoke in monosyllables, while Suárez evoked Saturday’s match, saying that England would be difficult to beat if they played as they had done at Manaus. Well, tonight The Three Lions are my personal favourites, given that I hold the Celeste to be weakened after their surprise defeat at the hands of outsiders Costa Rica.
After a handball on the edge of the Uruguayan area, Rooney misses the free kick. The reporters of BBC Five Live reiterate that he’s never scored in a World Cup tie. It’s the two teams’ third clash on this level. In 1954, England lost in the quarter-finals, and in 1966, there was a dull goalless game in the opening match attended by Queen Elizabeth II, but not by a capacity crowd since most people before the competition hadn’t expected a successful English World Cup campaign.
The match today, rather than being eventful, is quite a bore, if it wasn’t for the miserable reception of BBC Five Live. In the 38th minute, Uruguay take the lead, and the English reporters soberly and seriously describe as well as analyse what they call a terrific goal, scored by Luiz Suárez. England try to strike back immediately but fail, with a corner taken by Gerrard. A second corner, now kicked by Rooney, produces a third. Suddenly England are putting Uruguay under pressure, but without success so far.
In the final analysis of the first half, the expert admits Uruguay to having played far better and more efficiently than England.
The start of the second half finds Uruguay more active than before and England heading for an early exit from the World Cup. Suárez in particular misses twice. Rooney also misses a great chance. Suárez scoring once more with Rooney finally also successful, it is Uruguay two England one at full time. The German reporter considers it one of the best games of the World Cup paying “good old England” his compliments. They may well have to go home early.
Thursday, 19th June 2014