Day: June 10, 2006


Ecuador 2-0 Poland This was an important match. These two teams were, according to the pre-tournament hype, giong to be battling it out for second place, so neither could afford to fall three points behind the other with only two matches left to rectify the damage. Before the action even started, though, there were other things to consider. The Ecuador flag deserves a special mention. It was everywhere. It is horizontal stripes in yellow, blue and red, but the dimensions of it exactly match someone wearing yellow shirts, blue shorts and red socks, so, from the television camera angle, it looked as if Poland were playing eleven flags. Their goalkeeper, Mora, even had it painted on his cheeks. Expect sales of white and red “Snazaroo” face paint to sky-rocket over the next couple of weeks. The badge in the middle of it also warrants attention – it appears to be a scene from “Seven Days In Tibet”, with a boat on a river overlooked by a mountain. The whole thing is topped off with a giant, angry eagle. Well, I say giant… it’s bigger than the mountain underneath it. Ecuador looked organised and workmanlike. The Poles looked strangely lethargic. Both goals were well-worked, though the second came about (again) as a result of a flat-footed defence that appeared to think that it’s primary job was to point out any...

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A Host Of Problems

Germany 4-2 Costa Rica Normally, of course, the World Cup starts with a match that makes everybody wonder what all the fuss was about. Four years ago, a singularly charmless Senegal team touched down in Japan and won an abysmal game against France by a single goal. It was living proof that everyone plays the European way now. Maybe the players just used to get dizzied and blinded by the opening ceremonies: the dancing, the ribbons and the speeches. Not this time, though. The Germans had provided us with an opening ceremony to be proud of. For once, it was kept relatively low-key – children in the kits of the previous winners being led around holding signs reminiscent of the the sign that Eric Morecambe held up in aa episode of Morecambe & Wise with “LUTON FC” written on it. We were singularly unimpressed by Sepp Blatter’s decision to hold a minute’s silence for “everyone in the football world that can’t be here today”, but fortunately, the referee seemed to agree with me. It lasted barely fifteen seconds before we kicked off. Well, you all watched it, so I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say that I never thought I’d see a German side playing in the style of Holland 74 or Brazil 70, but there they were, attacking all-out, even with the lead precariously balanced at 3-2....

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