The Unbearable Weight of World Cup History
July 01, 2010

To anticipate Argentina versus Germany or Brazil versus Holland is to again hear World Cup history whisper ever more urgently as the tournament approaches its conclusion. The coaches and players will insist that such talk is nonsense; a distraction. The game must be won on the pitch in South Africa. Eleven against eleven. The future scripts are yet to be written. What's past is irrelevant.

The Jabulani Virus
June 30, 2010

Whining about the World Cup ball is almost as old as the tournament itself. During the last Cup in Germany, scientists postulated that it might “unsettle goalkeepers.” In Korea and Japan, the ball was universally deemed too light and bouncy. This year the now typical smattering of complaints began during the final tune up matches, when most teams were given a first chance to get their touches on it—but the whingeing really got started with Robert Green’s blunder against the U.S. Green, to his credit, refused to blame the ball for his woes, but Capello was not so tactful.

Feeling Cheated
June 28, 2010

I’m finding this England defeat easier to take than previous ones, and I think I know why.  There’s pretty much no worse feeling in football than being cheated. If you apply for a job, and lose out to someone better qualified, you might feel disappointed. But if you lose out to the boss’s son-in-law, who’s less qualified than you, the feeling is likely to be much harder to bear. At halftime yesterday, after the blind linesman disallowed Lampard’s equalizer, I started to play out in my mind (in between searching frantically for my fiancee who appeared to have been kidnapped from Brookly

Look Who’s Afraid of the Three Lions
June 26, 2010

Some of my earliest memories are of international football matches, between England and Germany among others, like the game this Sunday afternoon. I can’t honestly claim to have seen the famous England 6-3 defeat at the hands of Hungary in 1953, or even to have been more than vaguely aware of it. Much later, my friend A.J. Ayer told me that he had been taken to the game by Arthur Koestler, still enough of a Hungarian to gloat over his native country’s victory. In the following year came the “Miracle of Berne” when those same magical Magyars lost the World Cup final to West Germany.

Best of the Web, PM Edition
June 25, 2010

The backup national team keeper, and the esophagus that saved American soccer Jonathan Wilson: one goal may be enough for US Ives Galarcep: US must forget about revenge Mick McCarthy's favorite players of the tournament Zonal Marking: Chile-Spain "a bizarre game" Dunga and Maradona: opposite views, together at the center of the soccer universe Richard Williams: Time for a new chapter in England-Germany rivalry Simon Kuper: the many reasons the English hate their team

I Have A Dream
June 25, 2010

Four years ago, Mexico had a chance to make history by bringing down Argentina. I was there, in Leipzig, in that beautiful, modern stadium built literally inside the shell of the older, pre-war arena. It truly was a gorgeous sight. And when the Mexican team went up with Marquez’s goal early in the game, it became even more so. But it didn’t last. The Argentines tied soon enough and then, with a goal endlessly repeated in our nightmares, won with a kick that surprised even its modestly talented author, Maxi Rodríguez. It was sad. Once again, Argentina proved unbeatable.

Best of the Web, AM Edition
June 24, 2010

Salon: the thrill of World Cup victory Is altitude hurting Wayne Rooney? Martin Samuel: Germany should fear John Terry Rafael Honigstein: Germany showed both strength and weakness against Ghana Jonathan Wilson expands on his previous analysis of Ghana The US should thank the MLS for its success New Zealand's impossible dream Germany's expert picker is an octopus

Homeward Bound
June 19, 2010

The lady has been an old crone for more than half a century. So it was inevitable that some people in the profession would feel sympathy for Helen Thomas, even in her wicked quintessence. And not only merciful to her person but concerned for her lost job. Yes, Hearst pushed her, but Thomas, intuitively sensing that she would no longer be deferred to by the president or the press corps, went gently. Her wacky game was up. But this is not comedy. And Thomas’s answer to a random question—from a rabbi, it is true—about her current thoughts on Israel were deadly serious.

In Case the Germans Need Help Blaming Themselves
June 18, 2010

I wish I could read German so I could find out whether the press and soccer fans in Germany are blaming the referee after they lost to Serbia. Should Germans need any help in blaming themselves, I would be happy to step forth: Undiano the ref was a little card-happy, but was consistent. Klose's second foul was dumb and clearly cardable. He played little for Bayern last season and when he did he was poor. He might not be all that battle-ready as his slowness was visible in both of the carded fouls—both times he was a step or two behind the running man.

Best of the Web, AM Edition
June 18, 2010

Zonal Marking: Red card changes Serbia-Germany France quits early on the Domenech era FIFA solves the mystery of the "missing" North Korean players Algerian newspapers aren't optimistic about their game against England Why do English newspapers assume Americans don't care? Sid Lowe: Spain doesn't have a Plan B Some South African papers are unhappy with FIFA The 20 most disappointing players at the World far