…there are two ways of looking at Ghana’s terrific 2-0 win —- a result that could’ve been 4 or 5-nil were it not for Petr Cech’s desperate work — over the Czech Republic this afternoon :
1) if you’re paid by ESPN to scream into a microphone, the Czech Republic being run off the pitch by a faster, younger Ghana side provides the U.S. national team with all kinds of confidence heading into this afternoon’s Group E clash with Italy.
2) If you’re actually paying attention and watching the relative attributes of the teams on display, it is easier than ever to envision the U.S. losing all 3 group matches.
It’s also doing my hangover wonders to be reminded that Ghana’s victory “is the biggest upset of this World Cup so far.” As opposed to the only upset of the tournament so far.
The Independent’s Brian Viner takes on the considered view that Ronaldo should be happy to lose the Battle Of The Bulge ; it’ll only make him more beloved.
For by scoffing too many doughnuts or whatever, by getting fatter rather than fitter, he has effectively shown that – give or take an ability to juggle a football 20 times on each foot before volleying it through a hoop 30 yards away – he’s just like the rest of us.
It is for this uncomplicated reason that the fattest sportsmen have always been the most popular. Even on the oche it’s not those who struggle to touch their toes whom the crowds adore, but the real blobs, such as Jocky Wilson and more recently Andy Fordham, who struggle to touch their knees. And in more strenuous sports we feel admiration, even awe, for the guys with the six packs, but affection, even affinity, for the guys with the Party Sevens.
If they manage to overcome a tendency to lardiness, like Andrew Flintoff, then so much the better. But if they stay lardy, like John Daly, then we love them anyway. Indeed, golf exemplifies this phenomenon better than most sports. In the fit corner, Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo; in the fat corner, Daly and Darren Clarke. The first two have an incomparably greater tally of major championships, but the latter pair have a much greater claim on our affections.
There is, naturally, the small issue of John Daly’s chosen field of expertise not requiring him to run around for 45 minutes without a break.
Much the way Vince Coleman blamed Shea Stadium’s groundskeepers for keeping him out of the Hall Of Fame, France are grumbling about sticky grass during last week’s scoreless draw with Switzerland.
Noting the crazy level of creature comfort afforded England’s team, the Guardian’s Richard Williams mocks Erickson’s Eleven as “a bunch of tourists, travelling first class.”
As the England squad made their way to a final training session in Nuremberg on the eve of their match against Trinidad & Tobago, their coach was escorted by eight police motorcycle outsiders, six police cars and one helicopter. At each road junction a couple of policemen held up the traffic for a full five minutes before the coach passed through, creating a cacophony of horn-blowing from irritated motorists whose lawful progress had been delayed by the transportation of what currently appears to be the most overrated and underperforming team at this World Cup.
That is the sort of bubble in which the England party exists. Goodness knows how much the Football Association has spent on providing the ultimate in de luxe quarters, transportation and security for the 23 players, the platoon of wives and girlfriends, and the battalion of support staff. The media, too, are the grateful beneficiaries of the FA’s lavish attention to detail, welcomed each day to a vast purpose-built centre next to the training pitch and featuring air conditioning, wireless internet access, TV screens, comfortable sofas and a plentiful supply of excellent food.
The contrast with other nations is extreme. At Argentina’s hotel, for instance, the daily press conferences are conducted in a medium-size room equipped with three trestle tables and a dozen or so bottles of mineral water.
Their coach, when it arrives from training, is accompanied by one police motorcyclist and one police car. You would never know that Argentina have won the World Cup twice to England’s once and are rather more likely, on current form, to win it again. What does this have to do with football?