World Cup

The Routledge guide to the World Cup Jonathan Wilson: will attacking fullbacks win the competition? Germany reap the benefits of a multicultural approach Zonal Marking: why Spain failed against Switzerland Martin Samuel: England have been here before Grant Wahl: 5 things to watch for in US-Slovenia Which German player looks like Peter Lorre, and other factoids The end of the European football empire?

OK, a note on the Soccer Wars. The truth is this: soccer has won.  No-one expects soccer to supplant the NFL in American affections but any comparison of soccer in America in 1990 and 2010 reveals how much progress the game, and most especially the World Cup, has made. Indeed, I was struck last weekend by how much "bigger" the tournament was in Washington, DC than it was even in 2006. And it's not just international, immigrant-stuffed cities such as DC, NYC and LA in which soccer has taken root. Among the five TV markets in which the England-USA match did best? Cincinnati.

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Argentina seems to have benefited from Veron's injury. His absence sped them up considerably, and since there was no designated ball distributor, Messi and Tevez had to come back even deeper for the ball, pulling up the Korean defense with them, only to come back down relentlessly, often turning to the left which allowed Higuain to be open on the right side of the box. He scored all three goals from practically the same position, the ball coming to him from the left wing.

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The fate of attacking football in this tournament largely rests with Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile. Like so many other teams in these opening games, they should have probably run up a much higher score today. (A point-blank header into the arms of the goalkeeper didn’t help.) But it’s hard not to be enthusiastic about Chile’s contrarian methodology. There's lots of talk about Bielsa being a nutter, and, how this explains Chile's unique approach. I suppose the nickname “El Loco” will tend to generate that line of chatter. But, as I’ve argued, this doesn’t do the great man justice.

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DPRK

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- I watched Brazil’s 2-1 win over North Korea in a bar in the hipsterish neighborhood of Melville, where my brother, nephew and I are renting a small house for two weeks. Brazil shirts abounded, as they always do. The run a distant second to South Africa’s ubiquitous shirt, but the two kits combined make yellow the dominant street color of this World Cup.  I like Brazil for all of the usual reasons -- grace, possession, elan, the inevitable jaw-dropping ball-on-a-string move or physics-defying shot.

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The Best Day Yet

The tournament came alive today. Three games and each of them excellent. Chile are fast becoming everyone's second-favourite team and not just because Marcelo Bielsa is superbly bonkers. They play with verve and ambition and good luck to them. Later, against an admittedly poor South Africa, Uruguay were very good. Again, virtue - in the sense of attacking football - was rewarded. Forlan and Suarez ran rings around the poor hosts and, whisper it, a quarter-final place for Uruguay is far from inconceivable.

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So, how bad was that game? I was inside the frigid Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria (you too, Zach?), and it was bad in the stands before it got bad on the pitch. South African fans have a strange, angsty relationship with Bafana Bafana. On the one hand, a Bafana triumph is held to have a sort of mystical, even quasi-political power.

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Zonal Marking: Chile live up to their billing Sexy Dutch fans: legit or despicable marketing ploy? Prince William plays the vuvuzela The vuvuzela also has a Twitter feed Jonathan Wilson: US and Slovenia very similar teams Grant Wahl: why is scoring down? The willfull ignorance of football pundits Tim Vickery: cup winners pace their tournaments

Don DeLillo’s 2007 novel Point Omega begins with an anonymous man, standing in the Museum of Modern Art, watching Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho, which stretches the Hitchcock film to diurnal length, turning mere frames into emergent stories. “Suspense is trying to build,” DeLillo writes, “but the silence and stillness outlive it.” DeLillo says Point Omega was inspired by his own accidental encounter with Gordon’s work.

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Alex takes on the important question of why the World Cup has been crap so far. Or, if you want to stick to a proposition that's not debatable, why we've seen so few goals -- just 23 in 14 games, a clear drop-off from previous Cups. I agree it would have been better to have had Croatia for Slovenia, the Czechs for Slovakia, the Russians for Greece, and anyone for Denmark -- whose utter lack of anything resembling goal-scoring ambition against Holland I had the misfortune to watch live Monday.

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