And so the magic continues in the Land of Samba. We are a week into the tournament and I am suffering from a serious case of football fever. All I do is watch matches, previews, analyses, highlights and I read what other word-slingers have to say about it all in the papers. This is, besides truly exciting, highly annoying as I barely sleep or get other shit done. As I do expect to make a full recovery I´m sure to be at serious risk of being affected by some other symptom or condition, like the it-is-summer-on-the-Rock- so-let´s-play-and-party-hard syndrome. While the Dark Fairy system is affected I remain fully entertained by some fit men, who do some groovy stuff with a ball on a piece of green. Yesterday´s Holland-vs.-Australia match was a highly exciting encounter, which resulted in a 3-2 victory for the Boys of Orange. Despite this victory the magic was mainly coming from the Boys from Oz. Considered one of the underdogs of the tournament, Australia turned out to be a most pleasant surprise with their highly dynamic, fresh and playfully aggressive style giving the Dutch squad some significant problems.
From the very start both teams put considerable pressure on each other, leading to a slightly messy but not unexciting first 10-15 minutes of the game. The first goal of the match, scored by Robben in the 20th minute, is immediately countered by means of a disgustingly beautiful goal by Ozzy top scorer Cahill 70 seconds later. The game was fairly balanced up until this point, yet, after this beauty of a goal the Ozzy Boys become dominant and put the Dutch defence into some real trouble.
At the beginning of second half both teams are straight at it again and due to some unfortunate refereeing Australia is given a penalty 9 minutes into the second half, which Jedinak is cashing in putting the squad from ´Down Under´ ahead in the game. Not much later Van Persie works his magic yet again and equalises the score. The Boys from Oz are no longer ahead, but they know they´re on a roll and that they can actually win this match so they play on with much gusto by no means easing their pressure on Holland´s defence.
Midway the second half Ozzy goalie Ryan fails to neutralise a long-range shot by Depay, who came on as a substitute in the first half for Martins Indi, who had to be carried off the field after a challenge by Cahill for which he received a yellow card, and Holland is ahead in the game. Australia doesn´t lose hope, however, and keeps on fighting for their place in the tournament. After 90 minutes plus added time the colour of victory is Orange yet again, much to the relief of us Dutchies and to the understandable frustration of the Ozzies as they´ve put on quite show.
From a Dutch perspective this was another brilliant match. The orange victory was a close shave and a highly exciting one. I could display my linguistic and cultural snobbiness by arguing that countries, who call football soccer and understand football to be some rugby-like game, don´t really deserve to go to the knock-out stages of a World Football Tournament. But in Australia´s case, it´s quite a shame that after their match against Spain, who were shockingly denied access to the knock-out stages by a Chilean squad that totally rocked the Casbah with a 2-0 victory, we are to see no more of their Ozzy magic at this tournament.
Dark Fairy Snippets of a Week in Footie
Host nation Brazil started the tournament well with help from a rather biased or slightly incompetent referee, by winning their opening match against Croatia and Brazilian star Neymar got his opportunity to shine. The next day we had the highly entertaining shocker that was Holland thrashing the reigning world and European champions with 5 goals to 1. Another delicious stunner was Costa Rica´s victory over 2010 semi-finalist Uruguay. England vs. Italy was a most entertaining match and despite good play from England Italy just scored more goals and although we like to be entertained, it´s the goals that count. Messi delivered against Bosnia-Herzegovina, while the latter put up a good fight and were rather unlucky with an own goal. Portugal vs. Germany was not the exciting match we had hoped for as Portugal was messy, unfocused and seemed to depend fully and solely on glamour boy Cristiano Rhoonaaldoo to deliver the goods. Germany, being so organised and efficient it was almost boring, wiped their ass with the Portuguese squad scoring 4 goals to nada.
Cote d´Ivoire has been the only African nation to have won their first match. I always find African football, ´discovered´ during my time at the African Med, highly entertaining to watch, so I do hope for some African football action in the knock-out stages.
The biggest shocker of all is without a doubt Spain´s exit from the tournament after having played only two of the three games in the group-stages. I guess it´s just the cycle of football life that heroes rise and fall, but that a squad that had performed so consistently for such a considerable length of time is to suffer its demise in such a dramatic way is quite painful and frankly a real darn shame.
Besides all the football madness Brazilians are still hitting the streets to protest, and reportedly military police show little mercy. With all the football excitement one could forget that not all is happy and well in football-mad Brazil and I hope the protesters’ voices will still be heard despite fabulous performances on the pitch, (therefore) less media attention and fierce crackdowns by the authorities.
While I´m aiming to control the symptoms, I can´t wait for Holland´s match against Chili, which is promising to be another exciting and entertaining encounter. It seems the Dark Fairy patient is not to recover from football fever just yet.