Monday, June 26, 2006

Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight!

Portugal 1-0 Holland

Go on. Admit it. There'll be plenty of talk over the next couple of days about the "disgrace" that this match has brought upon this World Cup, but... it was great, wasn't it? There's nothing quite like multiple red cards to get the heart racing, and tonight we saw four of them. Four! A new record. Forget The So-Called Battle Of Santiago (the infamous match in 1962 when Italy and Chile quite literally kicked and punched lumps out of each other), this was where it was at. All the better that all of the suspensions being accumulated were having a beneficial effect on England, too. It's a good job for Portugal that FIFA has an amnesty on yellow cards at the end of the group stage. They'd have been struggling to raise a team for next Saturday otherwise. We also have the advantage that Portugal will now be being watched like hawks. No more diving around and clutching your face like you've just gone three rounds with Mike Tyson for you, Mr Figo. And there's still a chance, considering the near headbutt on a Dutch player in the second half, that he might not be lining up against England next Saturday at all. There's also a reasonable chance that Cristiano Ronaldo will be out too. He did something to his leg in the first half that caused his substitution, and he went off with the look on his face of someone that kind of knew that he wouldn't be taking any further part in this World Cup. You'd have some sympathy for Sir Alex Ferguson, if he wasn't such a strawberry-nosed buffoon.

There was, almost apologetically, a football match going on here somewhere amongst the yellow and red snow-storm. Maniche scored the only goal - the only player that looked likely to threaten England next weekend. Cocu hit the underside of the bar at the start of the second half... and, apart from a couple of long range shots that were comfortably parried by Ricardo and one good reaction save from Van Der Saar, that was about it. Strip away the drama of the sendings off and the complete collapse of discipline that both teams suffered, and this was not a great deal better than England-Ecuador this afternoon.

So, Holland are off home, and a lot earlier than most people expected. Where did it go wrong? Well... a tough draw didn't help, and neither did a lack of experience in major tournaments. Once again, they also managed to have a massive falling-out. Van Basten and Old Horse Face aren't on talking terms, which can't have helped much. Maybe Marco isn't the genius young coach that we had all been led to believe that he was after all. Ultimately, it was in front of goal that they suffered the most. They were in a tough group, but they only managed to score three goals in four matches. That's just not good enough, regardless of who your opponents are. Even poor old England have scored twice as many as that.

I'll give you my considered opinion on Portugal later in the week.


freemanintoonie said...

Great blog, have come back a few times...just thought you might want to know the blog title says Poland instead of Portugal.


Blog Goliard said...

Ran across you on the Grauniad World Cup site, and have enjoyed keeping an eye on your blog as we've gotten into the business end of the World Cup.

You are absolutely right about this glorious mess we witnessed Sunday evening. A shocking disgrace...and I loved every minute of it. It had that can't-look-away quality of a really spectacular car wreck. I couldn't contain myself and had to call my brother--who was on call this weekend and missed it, poor fellow!--to debrief right afterwards.

Oh, and the fact I was watching on Univision (the American Spanish-language broadcaster) made everything seem just that much more dramatic. At one point, the announcers jokingly reassured the viewers that they weren't tuned into the wrong channel--this was not, in fact, the lucha libre over on Galavision, however much it might seem like it at first glance.

I just hope Cristian Ronaldo can return to action soon. My sympathies were with my Dutch friends in this match, but even so I couldn't help notice the shameful way they hacked away at him from the opening whistle.

(Oh, and is it just me, or does he look for all the world like a long-lost Osmond brother? Could there be some shocking secret the family never told Donny and Marie...?)

twohundredpercent said...

Freeman: The clue over that would be in the time that it was posted :)

Thanks for pointing it out though - I'll amend it accordingly!

Andrew said...

Also, in the 'Dutch Courage' post, you've headlined it 'Serbia 3-2 Ivory Coast' - although in the body of the text you write the correct score.

twohundredpercent said...

I was almost certainly drunk.

(Actually, I had a bit of difficulty with the fonts after I dicked around with the CSS, and actually ended up having to sort them out after I'd spent about 5 hours staring at line after line after line of code - it's not a particularly good excuse, but it's the truth)

Moore said...

You forget to mention the bit about your spacky monkey paws.

twohundredpercent said...

Obviously, not having opposable thumbs is a hindrance in this respect.

Ed said...

I'm sure someone can do better than 4 red cards. It's just a matter of application.

Blog Goliard said...

Personally I find that CSS makes much more sense when drunk.

(As, incidentally, does Nietzsche. Just a little tip there from my undergraduate days.)

Packles said...

Woo- i remembered my old blogger password (I'm not EMO enough to have a regular blog)

I thought that the referee has got some pretty bad press this morning about the game- if anything he was too lenient. I thought there should have been at least two more reds (Figo and Boulahrouz) and probably some more yellows too (Robben and Kuyt for some olimpic quality diving). It is about time FIFA stopped fannying around and brought in a retrospective disciplinary panel to punish the cheats. Sep Blatter should stop showboating and sort out the mess he has made by insisting that every minor infraction is punished by a yellow card. we either need a new system so minor offences recieve a lesser punishment (sin-bin, green card?) or lessen the impact of a yellow card.

If things continue as they are then we will soon see the first abandoned match due to insufficient players on the pitch.

carlos said...

I absolutely loved this game. The bad blood between the two teams was scintillating. I look forward to watching them play again in the near future. It is truly the continuation of what started in Euro2004.

As for Portugal's future, I think they would have had a real chance with England but the two missing players (plus possibly Cristiano Ronaldo) may prove to be too much of an obstacle.

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