11 June 2010

cada quatro em quatro anos...

It's the night before the World Cup and I can't sleep. These four weeks, these sixty-four games, this World Cup will define the rest of my life, in one way or another. The life cycle of football fans is linked to seasons, temporadas, campeonatos, fixtures, and World Cups. I frequently count backwards in four year increments to 1930. Uruguay. Monumental. Despite the horrors of producing and hosting the World Cup and all of the criminally banal acts of intimidation, corruption, and authoritariansm that accompany these thrity days, there is something irresistable about the World Cup.

11:00, Brasilia time, Mexico vs. South Africa. Where will you be?  I love to hate Mexico. It wasn't always that way. I used to like Mexico.  But when the US started beating them regularly, El Tri turned into a swarthy group of petulant punks, kicking and crying their way to defeat. The Yanks were, and are, a better side. Not as creative or tricky, but much more mens sano em corpore sano.

During qualifying, Mexico did well to get rid of the ineffectual Swede Ericksson, now the manager of the Ivory Coast. They recalled former coach Javier Aguirre, who has El Tri playing like El Tri. Mexcio are fun to watch. They pass the ball beautifully and have players with real techincal gifts. This generation of youthful attacking players (Dos Santos, Guardardo, Torres, Vela, Franco) are all in the top European leagues. And even though C. Blanco has headed so many balls that he's lost his neck, having your talismanic triker named after the last Aztec emperor is cool. So, arriba Mexico?

The Bafana Bafana will be performing under more pressure than the Mexicans. It's hard to know what to expect from them, other than an incredibly high work rate. I think they'll be fortunate to get a draw, probably with a little help from the referee. It's hard not to sympathize with them, but perhaps best to lose early to get started with the decades-long hangover.

Prediction: RSA 2 x MEX 2

15:30, Uruguay vs. France. Les Bleus are tout enigmatique that it's impossible to say what they're going to do. Coach Dominech doesn't really seem to have a clue and the players are openly confused. France might just be a bunch of well-fed eurostars who can't be bothered to fight their way into the second round. I don't envision a coherent performance, but if three or four players get into sync they will score more than they concede.

Uruguay is no fun to play against, and only slightly more enjoyable to watch. They will kick and pull and counter and run until they have to change feet or get sent off. Diego Forlan is a world-class striker, capable of turning a sleepy draw into a win.

Prediction: URU 2 FRA 1

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