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World Cup: Best and Worst bits

7th July 2006

The FIFA World Cup is almost over, bar the Third-Place Play-Off and the Final.

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In the hope that these two remaining games produces footballing magic the likes of which we could never imagine, I have compiled my Top 10 Best, and my Top 10 Worst moments. In other words, the final is usually so dull that it is sure to be incredible now that I have declared my best bits.

If you are Portuguese, I beg you to go easy on me. Alternatively, cry wolf, start protesting because everything isn’t going your way, and pretend you got a kick in the bollocks…

The 10 Best Bits
  1. The beginning, when I still believe England are the best team and am full of optimism.
  2. The Italian team’s performance in the semi-final. I’m used to seeing them defending a slender lead and killing games, so to witness their determination, sleek passing and grit against the Germans was special. Kudos to both teams for a brilliant display of sportsmanship in that game also.
  3. Joe Cole’s ridiculously good goal against Sweden. Ashley and Joe Cole, Ferdinand, Terry, Lennon bright sparks in an otherwise shite England team.
  4. That Argentina goal: Cambiasso’s finish after 24 passes. Slickest move of the tournament.
  5. The Australians. Finally scored a World Cup goal, and then caught fire. Played with spirit, and were unlucky to go out to a late Italian penalty.
  6. Zinedine Zidane’s virtuoso performance against the underwhelming Brazilians.
  7. Argentina again: The Maxi Rodriguez chest and volley against Mexico. A wonder-goal in a truly fantastic game.
  8. Portugal’s Deco and Holland’s Van Bronckhorst sitting with each other as the game neared it’s end, trying to work out how they got sent off in the ugly second-round tie.
  9. The German population. Finally comfortable with celebrating their nationality through flag-waving. Quite right too. A great World Cup needs a great atmosphere and great organisation, and the hosts need to make traveling fans welcome. The Germans did this with style.
  10. BBC TV and web coverage. Still the best.
The 10 Worst Bits
  1. 90 minutes after England kick-off, when I realise that they are still shit.
  2. Racism. It is a crime to be black, apparently. Football fans are still thick as pigshit.
  3. Holland Vs. Portugal. A dirty, ill-fought game refereed by a madman called Valentin Ivanov, who handed out a record 16 yellow and 4 red cards. Piss-poor.
  4. Inconsistent refereeing as a whole, and way too many red/yellow cards. Sort it out, FIFA.
  5. The Ivory Coast failing to progress despite playing some of the best football of the whole tournament (tough group).
  6. Thierry Henry pretending to have been struck in the face. Atypical behavior and not good to see.
  7. Cristiano Ronaldo ensuring the referee sent Wayne Rooney to an early bath. At least 60,000 people booed him in the semi-final. Good luck for the new Premiership season, Cristiano…
  8. Graham Poll’s inability to count, giving three yellow cards to one player. How can England win the World Cup if we don’t even know the rules.
  9. “Team” USA. Worked hard, but had no invention. Unlucky against Italy, and victims of some gruesome challenges. Big shame for the Yanks who made the quarter-finals in 2002.
  10. ITV coverage. Still the worst, especially for pundits. Jay-Jay Okocha Vs. paint drying? I’ll take the paint.
Finally…

How much does Big Phil Scolari (left) look like Gene Hackman (right)?

Lookylikey

Come on then, tell me I’m wrong…

Responses

# Nick Toye responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Ok, May I add.

The Worse moment for me of the World Cup was the reality that Sven was still the England manager and yes he is the most negative man in football, who can’t seem to get the best out of the best. 

The Best moment for me was knowing that the BBCi channel had the option of not listening to Mick McCarthy if you didn’t want to.  Thank christ for that.

May I also say that saying that England are a shit team is a bit of a sweeping statement.  Everyone of those players are seen as world class (apart from Crouch), its how the coach knits them together, a task he seems to have painfully failed at.

# Steve responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Best part: Watching the surprise teams. (Well there was one that wasn’t so enjoyable at the time but then they deserved the win more than we did.)

Worst part: Only being a spectator.
(After being forced to quit because of injuries and then later watching my daughters play in high school and college I realized that the hmost difficult postion in soccer is being on the sidelines.)

# Stuart Frisby responded on 7th July 2006 with...

I’ll give you my number ones:

Best:
BBC Coverage, as you rightly say - still the best. I thought the coverage, both Televised and Online was spectacular, and ought to set a standard for other broadcasters (ITV, SKy I’m looking at you). The BBC went beyond simply showing game,s and let people like me - people sat in sweaty living rooms in England - genuinely enjoy the world cup as a spectator.

Worst:
Portugal. Yes I’m English, yes I’m bitter - but even putting aside the England game, they brought the game into disrepute with some of their antics. I can’t wait to see how long Ronaldo lasts in England, but mostly I’m just glad that most of them don’t play in the Premier league. I expect more from a side managed and captained by greats of the game.

As for England, everything changes, but somehow everything stays exactly the same. We have the same complaints, the same shortcomings now that we have for the last twenty years. This was a great opportunity, but in the spirit and tradition of English football, it was an opportunity missed. Made worse by being beaten by the afore mentioned Portuguese.

Heres to a few weeks without football, before the pain stats all over again, as a Coventry City fan, you’d think I was immune to footballing disappointment by now. If only.

# Simon Collison responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Nick: I didn’t mean that England are shit individually. I meant that they are a shit team, so agree with you entirely that it is down to the manager. I say it as an Englander, and therefore out of anger, so apologies if it is a bit strong, but you know how I feel.

Also agree about Mick McCarthy. “Thiv gorra get ball in’t net orrelse thil loaz” etc…

Steve: Agreed. What I’d have given to be on the end of some of those Beckham crosses. I’ve still got it!

# Martin responded on 7th July 2006 with...

This is not a best or worst moment, but Bartez spooning the Ronaldo shot has to be one of those WTF moments! France can only hope he gets dropped for the final (not much chance amazingly). Italy in semi mode were fantastic, never thought I’d say that! Please let them not be Italy and do the same in the final.

# Simon Collison responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Stuart: I know how you feel as a Cov fan - I’m a Notts County fan, so the World Cup is my one shot at knowing what winning feels like. Incidentally, I used to go out with the daughter of a Coventry City scout, so I saw plenty of Sky Blues games as a younger man. Good times. Brian Kilkline was my hero (ex-Notts of course).

Martin: Ha! What was Barthez thinking?! That was definitely one of the funniest moments. And yes, lets hope Italy and France turn it on…

# Christian Machmeier responded on 7th July 2006 with...

In a word: Good!

I, myself, was surprised by us. We should do this more often, it’s fun!

# Jay responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Best parts

The glorious feeling at 5pm on June 9th as the first game kicked off and the realisation dawned that for 30 days (hopefully) your life was football.

The hope and belief of being an Englishman and convinced that this is your year, this is your World Cup to go and win.  Right up to the point where the dirty little Portuguese cheat (DLPC) ran up to take his final penalty.

The look on the DLPC’s face when he realised that his dream of a World Cup final was over after the semi.

Zizou’s glorious trademarked spin during the Brazil game as he evaded a tackle.

Worst parts?

Inevitably the sinking feeling of realising you are out and that it’s over for another 4 years.

The incessant gamesmanship from the Portuguese (in particular from the DLPC and his ridiculous semi final dive)

The sad sight of Thierry Henry succumbing to the plague of gamesmanship to “win” a free kick for the French against Spain.

The fact that the DLPC looks like he is Madrid-bound.  We all want him back so we get to watch JT and Stevie G kick lumps out of him in their games against Man U this season… not getting this small slice of justice would be an even greater travesty…

# Ross Bruniges responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Jay Jay was one of my favourite moments!!! Want to see him behind the mic more.

# Simon responded on 7th July 2006 with...

You’re right, as a Bolton fan, I can’t for the life of me think why they got Jay Jay as a pundit… but Bolton weren’t paying him to talk for a living, I think ITV are scraping the barrel. To be honest, I only saw one match with Jay Jay on it, the Beeb is the only coverage I like watching, although Shearer and Ian Wright were a bit over the top - I thought Wrighty was going to start trashing the studio when England got knocked out!

My own worst moment was watching arguably the greatest football player in the Premiership (Henry) going down like a sack of spuds, clutching his face when the reply showed nothing of the sort - he doesn’t need to do that, it’s a shame.

Great part of the tournament - total new-found respect for Owen Hargreaves’ contribution to the England squad. Far and away our best player. I never thought I’d say that a month ago!

# David Horn responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Best Part: Definitely the atmosphere / German people / tournament.  It was (is) just wonderful.  The absence of widespread violence (esp. involving Engerrland) was such a boon.  I was dreading this aspect of it ... Germany, due to it’s location, is really easy to get inside of, and I was just dreading a bunch of drunken England fans meeting up with a bunch of drunken Polish, Dutch, German fans, and the whole thing kicking off.  So glad it didn’t happen.  Germany should be shockingly proud of the tournament they’ve just put on.

Worst Parts:

- The realisation that England don’t have a team, just a collection of fine individuals.  Coupled with the realisation that our coach had no means of turning that around. 

- Frustration trebling with the realisation that the incoming coach will have an only marginally greater chance of achieving that.

- the further realisation that the best way ahead for England may be to drop one of the worlds better midfielders (Lampard) to make the rest of them function better.

Good luck Macca!

# Anthony Casey responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Although that game between Portugal and Holland wasn’t a great advert for football - it was very entertaining… as was Poll showing the world what most Premiership fans already knew about him…

Yeah England once again failed to live up to the expectations of the nation. As you said they weren’t a team, but a collection of great players forced to play together by inept management.

Lampard was crap throughout yet was kept in his ‘best’ position no matter what.

Yet Stevie was posted out to all areas of the pitch.

Yet he still managed to be Englands top scorer, still made some cracking tackles and still played more incisive passes than the most of the rest of the team put together… and still people say he doesn’t play well enough for England.

I don’t think there should be any argument about who should be captain either - but it still seems destined to Terry’s…

Bah. Yes Im a Liverpool fan, but still!

The Aussies were definitely my fave team - great spirit, great attitude. It’s a shame we couldn’t have got Guus for the job…

Having said that my WTF moment was seeing Kalac keeping goal standing between the posts instead of Schwarzer. Not a brilliant choice - though it did make for one of the tournaments best matches. (Which ITV stupidly didn’t show on ITV1…).

This is comment is long enough already without me going on about the despicable Portuguese - I will just leave you with this

# Andrew Weaver responded on 7th July 2006 with...

Best: I couldn’t agree more with Italy’s fantastic performance in the semi final against Germany. Both teams were a credit. It was a shame this wasn’t the final.

Worst: Ronaldinho was nothing like the player he was for Barcelona in the Champions League. The talk before the World Cup was on how he would prove himself to be in Pele’s league, but he was poor.

I totally agree that BBC’s coverage put ITV to shame (as always). Why on earth was Steve Ryder allowed to present it?

# Oliver Wood responded on 8th July 2006 with...

Best Moments
All of them, it’s been a great world cup. I especially appreciated the tiny glimmer of talent shown by a swiss player called Frei in the otherwise awful game tween them and the Ukraine.

“Controlled on the chest in the centre circle from a long ball at the back, chip over the defender’s head and a perfect and rather cheeky leaping volley to put some other swiss bloke through clear on goal..who then missed. Silky.”


Worst Moments
My girlfriend’s ‘pained face’ throughout.
She can’t help it, apparently the steady “mooing” noise of the crowd makes her feel hollow inside. Despite this I still love her. Through thick and thin and all that.

# Milena responded on 8th July 2006 with...

Best Part
Ukraine in 1/4 final, funny
Worst part
Brazilians lost the game. Again France

# Carl responded on 10th July 2006 with...

The Portugese were a disgrace, i never thought i’d be cheering for Germany but i’m glad they took third place.

# Simon responded on 10th July 2006 with...

Zidane. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In the last 15 mins of his international career, he managed to change the worldwide perception of a World-class footballer. Gutted.

# Nelson Rosado responded on 10th July 2006 with...

The Best moment was all 3 penalty defeated by Ricardo against England.
The Worst moments was the bad far play against futebol, like all the newspapers writting lies from portuguese players after the Holland-Portugal game, after the France-Portugal and in the end, Wayne Rooney was kicked-out by bad far play, Zidane the same at the final and from all shame that English and French fans did at the end of the games in their citys.
Go Portugal, we have proud in you!!!!!

# Ray responded on 12th July 2006 with...

Worst Bit: Any minute of Garth Crooks excrutiating interview technique. Someone stop him.

Best Bit: The Joe Cole goal for a moment you thought england might actually show they were one of the best sets of players there.

# Simon Collison responded on 12th July 2006 with...

See how good I am to you lot. I essentially say that nothing else of note will happen, in the hope that it will - and then ZZ goes psycho on us. Triffic!

Nelson: I’m not sure the fans did anything wrong this year, did they? Maybe the French, but not us. Go Portugal - my arse!

Carl: Yeah, odd cheering for the Germans. I guess we all need a bit of clinical precision from time to time.

Anthony: Yeah, Gerrard for captain! Although, Terry John is pretty good.

Jay: Looks like DLPC is staying at Manchester Utd - can’t wait for the new season now.

Oliver: Your worst moment rang bells of recognition inside my addled skull.

# Andrey Smagin responded on 15th July 2006 with...

Zidane. Final game was very intense. And Zidane was the best and the worst at the same time. That’s actually not easy - my respect to the crafty man.

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