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June 15, 2006

Cheats, racists, and the host nation prosper

In the build up to their World Cup campaign Spain's coach Luis Aragones has been paranoid about the colour yellow, saying it undermines Spanish confidence, even making Raul remove a yellow t-shirt when training. Well, the yellow shirts of the Ukraine posed no problem for them, although it is a bit risky talking about colour and the racist Aragones in the same sentence.

Still, it proves that any team can punch above their weight once I've put my money on them failing. Especially with a decision that seemed to award them not only a very generous penalty after a very theatrical fall, but a very harsh red card for the Ukraine once the second-half was underway. Since I don't get much, or indeed any, in the way of replays or analysis after a match over here, after the Spain/Ukraine penalty farrago I've taken to recording the matches on VHS whilst I watch them, so I can do my own highlights/controversy package after the game if needs be. You can imagine how pleased Claire is with that. By this time next week I'll have probably set up my own studio and be making my own World Cup programmes. Hmm, there's a thought...

But I would have been loathe to feature the next match. Tunisia vs Saudi Arabia is a World Cup fixture to send you scurrying to find somewhere without the football on. I see that, astonishingly, back in the UK this was actually televised by ITV - presumably part of some fiendish swapsie that involved them getting something juicy in return. Like a gold foil sticker. It did have four goals though, and a couple of them were excellently taken.

I had Germany/Poland down as a 0-0 in my predictions league. It seemed to have so much like the 1974 East/West Germany encounter about it that I couldn't help feeling the Poles would cause some sort of upset, even if they didn't win the game outright, like the East Germans did back when I was 3.

Suddenly, at around 88 minutes, I realised a draw for Germany against Poland combined with Sweden's previous draw against T&T, meant that the potential 2nd round England/Germany clash was becoming a real possibility, and so I have to confess I yelped with relief when Germany finally got their goal. Though not as much as Klinsmann did I'll wager.

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The tumbleweeds are rolling along unhindered by the Polish population in West London at the moment. Our Polish next door neighbour had already switched allegiance to England even before last night. The howl of anguish that deafened us on Saturday really was something. If nothing else I think he has a career overdubbing money shots in foreign porn movies.

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