Tuesday, June 27, 2006

World Cup Diary IX: Ukraine-Switzerland, Australia-Italy and Round 2 Final Predictions

Here's hoping that Human Rights Watch groups around the world took due notice of the sufferings of millions who watched the tie between Ukraine and Switzerland.

Was it the worst game played in this World Cup ? Absolutely.

Was the tortuous play demeaning and dehumanizing to the audience? No question about it.

The better game of the day thus belonged to the Azzurri and the Socceroos by default. Our own Natalie Bennett has already provided us with her eloquent and quintessentially British account of it.

The game was memorable in at least one way--never before have I seen a match conclude with a penalty. Sadly for the Aussies, a fatal defending error from Lucas Neill in the final seconds cost them a possible trip to the final eight.

As many of you have already rightly observed, it was another screw up by the Spanish referee adding to what has become a Hall of Shame of outrageous calls made in this world cup. I know referee bashing helps, but there are few other things worth noting:

1. The fault lies as much with Bresciano, who should have never allowed Fabio Grasso to dribble past him -- why not tackle him when he was still lurking around the corner flag? Why allow him to get inside the box? Inexplicable.

2. Neill should have known that a sliding tackle inside the box is usually the last option by a defender. He could have stayed his ground and forced Grasso to maneuver his way around him, thereby killing precious seconds. His suicidal plunge simply allowed Grasso, who grabbed the opportunity with both hands, to execute a well-timed flop. The penalty, no matter how unfortunate, was a culmination of a sequence of defensive lapses and gamesmanship of highest order.

Of course Grasso's flop was still nowhere close to the classic Michael Owen from the 1998 World Cup match between Argentina and England, still the benchmark of all wishful cheaters around the world.

Here is something that you would enjoy. When my buddy Jon learned about my ravishing praise of Owen, he promptly came up with the following reply:

" before you praise Michael Owen too highly, check out some of the competition here."

And you should too.

Tomorrow's picks:

Brazil over Ghana

Does anyone think otherwise?

Spain over France

Shouldn't the French team be vacationing in a nice, quiet old age home on the shores of Mediterranean? By Wednesday, they will be.



At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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