The Setup – Editors’ Cultural Editorials
French reaction after their loss.
John: Wow. Upsets were the name of the game in the group stage of the World Cup. And, I have to say, it has become clear that global football power has shifted from Europe to Latin America. The Azzurri’s tearful departure at the hands of Slovakia and the French spiral into horrible, embarrassing disaster, when coupled with the exceptional above-their-potential play of Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile reflects what the football/soccer pundits from around the world are chatting about: European Football is under performing at this World Cup. England, Germania, Portugal, and Spain have yet to hit their stride. Ironically, it is the perennial underachieving Dutch who went 9-for-9 on points in the first round.
Also, vevuzulas aren’t really that annoying – perhaps people just weren’t too prepared for the all-game-long trumpeting of these notorious South African instruments. Do you know what is annoying? Diving. Clearly, members of the Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian, Argentine, and Chilean teams have graduated with honours from The Pele Soccer and Acting School in Rio de Janeiro. Seriously, it ruins the beautiful game and totally sets off my Jerk Alarm.
To conclude this intro, I’d just like to say that our friend and soon-to-be-profiled community-builder, Brenton, has a much, much awesomer blog about the tournament. Not sure where he gets the time, but whatever…
Actually, don’t even read the rest of this article. Go to Brenton’s blog instead. It’s that good.
Kurt: Yes John, Brenton does have a better World Cup blog than us – the guy is actually predicting (with some amount of accuracy) many of the matches. That being said, if you do decide to continue reading our blog, I’ll chime in that I’ve also been pretty impressed with the South American/Latin American teams. Particularly teams like Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, (the favored) Argentina and even Mexico who’ve done remarkably well.
As for the Europeans, well it is kind of hilarious. I have to admit, watching the French mutiny and then crumble had my German heart smiling a little. And when Italy flamed out (recent Cup champions no less) I was surprised to say the least. Even more surprised was I that on returning to my home that night (located smack dab in the middle of Vancouver’s little Italy) my apartment building was still standing. Chalk that up to either the mild temperament of Italian fans or the fact cappuccinos don’t fuel riots nearly as well as beer and whiskey. Finally the ultimate battle – England vs Germany this Sunday. My God, could it get more tense than this? To sum it up from a Eurocentric standpoint I’d like to quote a little verse sent to me by our dear correspondent Godfrey, who is reporting live for the Gumboot from South Africa:
This World Cup has turned out like WW2; the French surrender early, the US arrive at the last minute and English are left to fight Germans.
An African Moment…
John: AFRICA SUCKS! Just kidding. But not really. South Africa broke a record in a terrible, terrible way: they are the first host country to not make it through to the elimination round in, like, four centuries. It’s embarrassing and you’ve gotta feel for the team, the country and the continent. Especially since two of the African teams didn’t really show up to the tournament and the other one was placed in a terribly difficult group.
And then there’s Ghana. In many ways – whether it’s democracy, economics or social services – Ghana has “gone right” when it comes to being a nation. A recent article in The Walrus paints a very interesting, and rightfully tumultuous, story of what is arguably Africa’s most well-put-together country. Whether or not that translates into their team winning, well, remains to be seen.
Kurt: John, you are right that its unfortunate that the South Africans didn’t make it through. But for a team that was ranked incredibly low going into the tournament, they certainly did alright. Especially considering they won one, drew one and lost one – it could be worse (ahem… France). They certainly put on a good show and didn’t get walked over in all/most of their games. Maybe the vuvuzelas helped? And then there’s Ghana, talk about a team in fine form. Sure I was cheering for their destruction last match with the Fatherland. But to be honest, they kept me and about 80 million other Germans on the edge of our seat.
It’s certainly a raw deal for the Ivory Coast to fall in with Portugal and Brazil. I feel for them – especially since they lost one of their best players before the tournament even started to get going. As for the rest of them, none really leap to mind and its too bad as Cameroon seems to have a reputation for usually fielding a very decent team.
Predictions – Round of 16
John: This blog is delayed because I had a lot riding on Spain and needed to see them win before I made ridiculous predictions. And they looked good, so I’ll stick with them going through. I like Uruguay a lot – they’re workers who recognize that they don’t have the skill to just coast and that they’ll be on borrowed time after they beat the Koreans. Speaking of borrowed time, one of my favourites from the group stage is the USA – the world is against them and they’ll be getting no love from the refs or the fans going up against Ghana. to my African friends and family, please forgive me for what I’m about to say: GO USA! I’ll pick England just to piss Kurt off – and, even if they win, Germany ain’t going any farther. Brazil vs. the Netherlands in the quarter finals will be epic. I’m picking Japan for the upset. So there it is.
Kurt: Japan looked in fine form. I’ll never forget while living over there and playing soccer, watching those guys dart around on the field and just plane hustle. Portugal’s ability to play Brazil to a draw today was impressive and the Spanish game was equally impressive – though the Chileans certainly held their feet to the fire. Plus the Chileans get bonus points for having such fanatically spirited friends. Then there’s the old favorites. I see Brazil getting far, but not taking the Cup. Argentina looks pretty strong tying the Dutch with 9 points. But in the end the reality is no one is going to beat the “Machine”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – despite a minor Serbian “incident” in the past, the German national team looks strong capable and solid. Schweinsteiger is playing terrific mid-field and despite lacking Ballack, the team’s really managed to look impressive. And then there’s Lam – I love that defense man.
[INSERT TRASH TALK HERE]
John: [INSERT INAPPROPRIATE WWII COMMENT HERE]. Kurt, your countrymen look like they’ve indulged a little too much in beers and brats. And, unlike the Spanish and Portuguese, they’re not particularly good looking enough to, you know, make up for it in the “overall-sense” and, well, not suck at life. That’s right. Germany sucks at life…not just soccer football.
Kurt: I know you’ve got Spain making it through to the end. The problem with this logic is that as the current economic troubles in Europe demonstrate, the Spanish are short term thinkers – eager to borrow and have “fancy” fun living beyond their means/talents. In the end they are a team/country teetering on the precipice of ruin. For all their soft passes and the fancy footwork of Torres, in the end they shall be defeated by the raw, undeterred determination of Germany.