June 19, 2014

Horse 1696 - Millions, Billions, Trillions, Bajillions, Zillions, Brazillions, Chileons!

Spain 0 - Chile 2
Vargas 19', Aránguiz 43'

"Two World Wars and one World Cup, doo-dah... doo-dah..."
No wait, that's England.
"One Civil War and one World Cup, doo-dah... doo-dah..."
That's better. Now Spain can join England in that fine club of only ever winning one World Cup but going on about it for the next 50 years and never winning anything ever again.

With Aránguiz' 43rd minute strike, the period of Spanish domination of world football has officially ended; it ended with a whimper and most definitely no bang.
Despite a world class line which included the likes of Xavi, Jordi Alba, Torres etc, Spain looked about as threatening as a seven year old trying to hold up a bank, armed with a tulip. For extended periods of the match and most of the second half, Spain were content to occupy the central third of the pitch, playing tiki-taka but were unwilling to press.
When they did finally secure some chances (I counted 3 for the entire match), they were woefully wasteful and for a side whose players when playing for their respective clubs, attract greater salaries than the GDP of small nations, they delivered little.

Chile in contrast appeared dangerous and were willing to work hard to win the ball; in attack, their two wing-backs, Isla and Mena, were able to break deep and cross to the centre with precision.
Apparently, no-one told Chile about the supposed gulf in talent between the two sides because they always looked at least Spain's equal in both attack and defence. Either Spain suffers from a case of ageing (Barcelona's sextuple was all the way back in 2009) or Chile have found a new way to beat tiki-taka (The Netherlands 5-1 win was through sheer brute force and speed), by employing man-to-man marking as opposed to zonal marking which seems to have settled as the norm in top level football.
Blaze and rage away with arguments as to which is best but the point remains that Chile looked solid for their 3 points and Spain will now have to face a three course meal of crow, damp squib and humble pie.

- This pretty well much sums up Australia's World Cup campaign.

Australia 2 - Netherlands 3
Cahill 21', Jedinak 54' (pen)
Robben 20', van Persie 58', Depay 68'

For four whole minutes, four minutes, Australia dared to dream the impossible dream before Van Persie and the Depay scored, to give the Netherlands their second win and confine Australia to the dustbin of vanquished nations at the 2014 World Cup.
Admittedly Australia weren't disgraced but they were outclassed by a side which found the same extra gears in efficiency and work rate which helped them see off Spain in their Group B opener.
These two results set up a pair of third matches in the group in which Chile and the Netherlands will both be playing out of their skins to win and thus avoid Brazil in the next stage of the competition; whilst Australia and Spain will be playing to avoid the scorn and blame of the people forever.

In terms of world wide interest, the football World Cup eclipses even that of the Olympics. However, if you'd been reading Sydney's Daily Telegraph, Brisbane's Courier-Mail or even the Sydney Morning Herald, you would have had to turn several pages in to even know that the World Cup existed.

Had I bothered to watch the State of Origin Rugby League match last night, I would have probably thought that it was a dour affair. 6-4 means that both sides only crossed each other's lines once, which is usually a criticism of football.
I'm sorry but when football has a World Cup, the world cares. When Rugby League has a world cup, not even the only two nations which have any real chance of ever winning it, care all that much. Like tinned Spaghetti Hoops are to cuisine and Mills & Boon books are to literature, Rugby League is to sport. 

Actually if you really want to stop and consider why Australia keeps on failing at the World Cup, a great deal of the blame has to be laid at the feet of Rugby League, Rugby Union and the AFL. Where your heart is, there your treasure is also and Australia has decided to throw its treasure at sports which the world doesn't care about; neither do I.

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