There is little doubt Miguel Herrera has been the star of the cup so far.
South Africa 2010 was a weird-balled-vuvuzala-d-goal-free mess really.
Luckily Brazil 2014 seems to be the antidote. We’ve had fantastic goals, like Van Persie’s rainbow header and Tim Cahill’s left foot thunderbolt, tremendous discipline-related incidents and some fantasy results.
From the moment the Official FIFA app spoilt the Netherlands v Spain second-half result I was MySkying to Germany cheerfully and efficiently ruining Ronaldo’s plans for himself at this tournament to Chile putting Spain out, it’s been absolutely tremendous.
Except for Spain – I feel sorry for them, after they went to all the trouble of redefining modern football into something that was oh so pretty to watch, they’ve been made to look less clever than a man trying to drive a wheelie bin down the highway. Football moves pretty fast, but I don’t think anyone expected it to go this fast.
Brazil have looked like, um, the All Blacks trying to negotiate pool play in 2011 as hosts and favourites with all that that entails. I think they’ll be fine, usual ‘never listen to sportreview.net.nz on matters sport’ rules apply.
USA! USA! definitely have the cutest team and fans. When John Brooks’ winner hit the back of the net you knew there was going to be some serious backwards-baseball-hat-wearin’ and back-of-a-pickup-hollerin’. Then their fans, each of whom look like they play in a gnarly blog-rock combo, got a harsh lesson in hopes raised and dreams shattered (see also: England) against Portugal. Admittedly, I silently think ‘bless’ to myself anytime an American does anything to do with football, but fair play, they have an infectious corn-fed exuberance, and they made a lot of people I follow on Twitter very excited so bless good on them.
England have been England basically. Moments of great promise – check. Awkward actual results – check. Pantomime villain in the opposition – check. Deafening bloodletting when they go out – check. I feel a bit bad for them. This was a team of young promise and bright prospects after Roy Hodgson resisted the temptation of giving the olden generation another wheeling out.
Most importantly they were largely emotional-baggage-free and going out in a fairly dignified fashion (as long as nothing idiotic happens v Costa Rica) means they should stay that way, until qualification for the Euros at least.
This isn’t just a Tui Sneak, it’s the full Souls Of Your Vanquished Nemesi Burning For All Eternity In The Pot Of Doom sneak. Top work.
If ever there was a sporting event the States would send VPOTUS to, it’s the football world cup. Screw them, Joe’s getting heaps better photo ops than the President right now.
If Apocalypse Now had wanted something truly terrifying at the end of the river, they should have replaced Kurtz with this guy. Those carrots aren’t making it home safe.
The best bits for me have been Germany v Ghana, both the USA’s matches, England v Uraguay and Spain v Netherlands, and some of the comical fouls – Alex Song tried hard to make himself the villain of the tournament so far, but looked more like a poor masseuse to me. My early calls for the title are Netherlands, France and Germany (yes, still) – and Argentina and Brazil, the local teams who’re yet to get underway really. Columbia and Chile and Uruguay are doing their bits too, we’re in for some cracking Clash Of Styles-style matches when we reach the knockout rounds.
Everyone seems to be getting into it most cheerfully according to office chat, bus chat and sidelines-at-the-kids-games chat. The viewing hours are rilly user-friendly (when they’re not clashing with TEST CRICKET *cough*), and local media are giving the World’s Most Fuck-Off Sporting Event due care, attention and coverage.
I’ve slipped so easily into the rhythm of waking, checking the early-morning result on my phone, watching the 7am and 10am matches, tweeting away merrily in a kind of all-day cheerful football party and watching the highlights every night that it’s going to be awfully jarring when this is World Cup Cloud City is over. Enjoy it team. It’s been magic so far, but it’s going to get much better from here.
There’s no doubt there’s the twin whiffs of a deathly unimpressed host nation and murkier-than-usual FIFA corruption hovering over this World Cup. Brazil seems as enthusiastic about hosting the tournament as hosting an attack of boils – watch John Oliver for an entertaining / depressing run down, or this photo essay gives you an idea. It’s not great, and the folly of building stadiums like the Arena Amazonia stadium in Manaus (with a pitch that’s a bit shit) in a country where new hospitals would be handier, seems like, well, folly.
I’ll leave the pat explanations there. Reality is, once we get underway tomorrow morning, most football fans will be too busy finding ways to manage work, family and responsibility in general to be in front of televisions or posting animated GIFs of tremendous goals and fouls on Twitter to worry.
That’s because, with respect to the other World Cups, this is *the* World Cup. Football, as we’re allowed to call it, brings the whole world together to play a game that’s easy to understand and, when done right, can move you to tears. I mean Arjen Robben, who plays with hipster-football-fan’s-choice Holland, can dive about like the best, but he can also do this. Let’s face it, hating the villains is as much fun as appreciating the heroes. That’s, well, sport. And life really, innit?
For my sins, I will support England, as per usual. The golden generation is managing, modelling and boring people on the telly these days, so now we have a team that most people haven’t heard of, Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard aside. It could go really well, as the crushing pressure *should* be less. It’ll go right back up again if they get to the knockouts though, of course.
I know this is hipster-football territory, but if I can support a player, it’ll be Pirlo. My soft spot for passing midfielders with time on the ball is deep (one, two), and Pirlo is the current master. Pour a nice chianti and wallow:
sportsfreak.co.nz has had comprehensive previews of all the groups, and will cover the tournament no doubt
Kiwi freelancer Ben Stanley is over in Rio, he’ll be worth following
Hadyn Green came out of semi-retirement to write a sort of anti-World Cup World Cup preview
If you’re feeling generous, the Ockers are our closest to taking part – here’s a typically awesome guide to watching the cup in our timezone with @rustyjacko
FiveThirtyEight says Brazil will win. I think it may be Spain or Argentina, but 538 is much smarter than sportreview, in fairness