We Don’t Need No Stinking Octopus

by Rabih Alameddine | July 10, 2010

¿Quién va a ganar esta cosa ?

This is the Goal Post. We don’t need no stinking octopus.

I can predict the outcome of the match without Paul. The mollusk seems quite nice, has been perfect in his predictions, but he’s only predicted six games before the final, all of them German. I can do better than that. He might be loveable and edible, but I’m cuddly and he ain’t.

I did predict the final. I wrote that the final will be Spain vs. Argentina, and Algeria will win. There you have it. The cynical among you will say that it’s Holland and not Argentina, but that’s simply a technicality. It wasn’t my fault, I swear. I blame the bartender at the hotel bar in Barcelona. After my third or fourth or fifth drink, I told him that Spain would beat Holland in the final. He said that they would meet in the semis if both won their group, and that it would be Spain vs. Argentina. I believed him. It’s a mollusk conspiracy. His name was Paul. Coincidence? Methinks not.

I agree with Sasha: this will be a game for the ages, and not just because it’s two teams I like. The midfield battle is going to determine the outcome, and frankly, I don’t think it’s an even match. I believe Xavi and his cohorts will dominate. I beg to differ with Sasha (he’s a lot bigger than I, so I do have to beg when I differ) about Xavi being the best player of the tournament. He has been since about the third game, but he was a bit off in the first two games. A bit off for Xavi is still better than any midfielder in the tournament, but he was actually slow in some of his passes in the Switzerland game. Amazingly, he even lost the ball a couple of times. He was not at his best. Here, I will agree with Sasha once again: Iniesta will be a key player. Note that Xavi began to play Xavi-like when Iniesta started to play Iniesta-like. In the first game, Iniesta was disappointing. Oft-injured, this hasn’t been his best year. For Barca, his being in and out of the lineup so much was the main reason they were a slightly lesser team than the year before (not just Zlatan.) In other words, Batman is still Batman, but he’s a lot better with Robin at his side

Let me posit another prediction, and I will go out on a limb on this one. Torres will either play or he won’t! No, seriously, I think Del Bosque has quite a decision on his hands. True, the team played better against Germany with Pedro in the lineup, and let’s call it the way it is: Torres has sucked so far. But if I were Del Bosque, I would start Torres (I’ll make sure to tell him when he calls Saturday evening to ask for my input), and I would do so not only because of the horrendous no-pass from Pedro. Could you just imagine what could have been had Pedro passed the ball? Soccer is about confidence, and a confident Torres is a terror. Now Pedro was more effective against Germany, but I think that this is a game where Torres might prove otherwise. He has been a step slow, which against a solid German defense is a problem, but a step-slow Torres is still a step faster than any of the Holland back four. Also Torres is the only front player for Spain whom you can’t easily push off the ball. I would risk it and play him. Villa has been amazing but Torres complements him so much better. I’m not talking Heskey here, please. Torres looks for his shot a lot more.

Defensively, I don’t see Spain having too much of a problem with Holland’s offense the rare occasion they’ll have the ball. Capdevilla might not be able to contain Robben for the whole game; I see Puyol sliding a bit to help. Van Persie is the kind of technically gifted, but not physical or speedy, forward that Piquet tends to dominate. Sneijder against Busquets? I believe Holland’s offense will consist of chasing just as Luke Dempsey wrote.

So Paul the octopus has predicted that Spain will win. He gets all the attention, including death threats. Someone even suggested to “Cut him up in thin slices and grill him on all sides with a dash of lemon juice, olive oil and garlic on it. Delicious!”

I don’t do well once grilled, so I won’t compete with Paul directly. Now, Paul is very smart (I say paella, not grilled) even for his species. Since I’m probably not as intelligent—I have only one brain to his nine—or as proficient, I decided to seek assistance from a spirit guide. Death threats should be directed to her, not me. I have never channeled a spirit guide before, nor have I wanted to, but since I have to compete with octopi and card-picking parakeets, why the hell not?

I learned to channel using directions from this glorious website called “Why Won’t My Spirit Guide Talk To Me?” The technique is simple: I just have to pretend to channel for a while until it finally happens.

I most certainly can do that!

I will now pretend.

My name is Betsy Mae, Betsy Mae Mucho. I’m all knowing and I’ll pick the winner of the final between Spain and Holland. I will guarantee my pick as if this is the last prediction. Como si fuera esta predicción la última vez. Betsy Mae, Betsy Mae Mucho picks Spain to annihilate the Dutch, pulp the orange, and squeeze the juice. Que tengo miedo . . . nada.

I think that was good for a first channel (I must have picked up a bit of interference from Univision) and a prediction.

Paul? Pfflt. I sauté you in butter with a touch of lemon and capers.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/world-cup/76184/we-don%E2%80%99t-need-no-stinking-octopus