Day: July 10, 2010

World Cup 2010: Germany 3-2 Uruguay

“Let’s make this a celebration,” intones ITV commentator Peter Drury, before kick-off, and millions of people, all at once, think, “yeah, lose your voice.” Uruguay’s national anthem is what Billy Connolly had in mind all those years ago when he suggested replacing ‘God Save the Queen’ with the theme tune to ‘The Archers.’ It’s one of the things from this World Cup that I’ll remember, and I’ll miss it now it’s gone, for four years at least. La Celeste are wearing blue shorts for no obvious reason – Germany are in their change kit equally inexplicably, have Wednesday’s shirts not come back from the laundry? – and they look more like Coventry City with each misplaced pass. Germany full-back Dennis Aogo’s World Cup is nearly over before it’s begun as an early studs-up challenge nearly snaps Diego Perez’s leg in two. But as Adrian Chiles rightly points out, Perez is either made of girders or rubber. I still wish he’d come up against Javier Mascherano in this tournament, then we’d have seen who was the proper midfield enforcer and who was the West Ham reject. It’s all Germany for a bit, though. “The first team to bring expansive football to World Cup 2010,” claims Drury, clean forgetting Argentina the day before Germany kicked-off. While Drury’s at the mic, it seems like it’s been a long World Cup. He’s certainly...

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The Beautiful War – Rinus Michels & The Reinvention Of Dutch Football

One of the more surprising requirements made of the Dutch team playing in this week’s World Cup final is that it is not enough for them merely to win the tournament. They are still widely expected to win it with style, and this level of expectation is largely the responsibility of one man – Rinus Michels. Never mind the fact that the Netherlands has a population that is one-third that of England, or that they didn’t even qualify for the finals of the competition between 1938 and 1974. The Dutch team that Michels built inspired such awe that the burden of expectation continues to cast its long shadow more than three and a half decades after it made its debut. The Dutch teams of the 1974 and 1978 World Cups have come to be regarded as almost ideological. For some, they are the footballing equivalent of hippydom, free-flowing, long-haired and bedecked in rosary beads, they sum up the decade during which they flowered more closely than any team before or since. They are regarded by some, not just as the greatest team to never win a World Cup, but as the greatest time of all time. While it is easy to get carried away with the Focus soundtrack (the yodelling, Dutch prog-rock band hit their commercial zenith as Michels’ team was approaching its full stride) and the luxuriant sideburns,...

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