World Cup

In Praise of Schweinsteiger
July 03, 2010

One of the things I enjoy most during the World Cup is watching a team improve, mature, and gel during the course of the tournament. It seems the Germans keep getting better and better. I have never been a fan of the country’s tournament entries before, but I find this team quite a bit more enjoyable to watch than any of its predecessors. They seem to have no glaring weaknesses, are both solid and creating, and just as important, they give the impression that they’re just having fun out there. As was the case with Mexico vs. France, the best team won, not the team with the best players.

Hand of God II
July 03, 2010

I lived in Ghana back in 1998, so their match against Uruguay was a real threat to my usual pan-Latin American approach to World Cup soccer fandom. I respect their game, and adore the country. I felt uncomfortable rooting against them, and I would’ve supported them against any team besides the U.S. or a Latin American side. Like everyone else, I was hoping to see an African side go through, and who knows what this marvelous, hard-working team might have accomplished with a healthy Michael Essien in the midfield.

Adios Maradona!
July 03, 2010

Now how predictable was that! All the paeans to Maradona for his non-existent coaching skills (see Rob Hughes’s open letter in the NYT today) have proved to be, well, embarrassing. With no tactical flexibility, let alone a Plan B, the Argentines in the second half kept pushing through the German middle and running, time after time, into Schweinsteiger and Khedira. Everyone—and I mean everyone—except Maradona could have foreseen Germany playing with two holding midfielders who would constrict the space for Messi, thereby completely undoing Argentina's obsolescent diamond-shaped midfield.

In Praise Of Whom?

July 03, 2010

I apologize in advance to all Manchester United fans, including, but not limited to, my brother, his son, Alex Ferguson, and the majority of the 79,005 people on the last day of July, 2003, who traipsed to the hateful Giants Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey, to watch the Reds play Juventus in a pre-season friendly. I apologize because I’m about to state that the best player in this South African World Cup—and the best player by far—is none other than Diego Forlan. My hand doth shake to even type such a claim; I should probably drink deeply of some kind of poison, and thank god that’s not a da

Unloved Uruguay
July 03, 2010

I will admit under the cover of darkness, with a long head start from those who might disagree, that I supported Uruguay against Ghana.  Beirut had been gutted by the Brazilian loss in the afternoon (and here there are the Brazilians and there are the Germans, all else being commentary), so all that was left behind was a sense of solidarity for the little guy, for Africa, for the Third World, for the poor… Which is why, at a football dinner last night, the air turned to permafrost when I, rather alone, cheered Sebastian Abreu’s cheeky penalty that won the match for the “Celeste.” Echoes of the

Best of the Web, PM Edition
July 02, 2010

Bill Simmons: 20 Questions for the World Cup Ghana and pan-Africanism Raphael Honigstein: how Germany reinvented itself The World Cup and tunnel vision Amy Lawrence: Dunga's defense unravels Fascism's excellent record Black South African players in the age of apartheid

Brazil Betrays Itself
July 02, 2010

To be very honest, Brazil’s defeat did not surprise me. From the very beginning, I found the team rigid, overly physical and lacking in authentic creativity. It tells you something abut the Brazilian team that everybody’s been gushing about Lucio and Juan and the rest of Dunga`s defensive set-up. All of a sudden, it was wonderful that both central defenders weren’t “shy about advancing of the field”, as my very esteemed colleague Aleksandar Hemon put it. Well, yes. It’s always nice to see defenders willing to attack.

Discipline and Robben
July 02, 2010

It turned out that discipline made the difference between Holland and Brazil, but it was Brazil that lost their nerve and fell apart. I guess Robben got to them--he did not have a single shot at the goal, did not pass a single ball into the box and generally did very little other than flopping and annoying the Brazilians. And in that way, he did his job.

Diego Maradona Is Not Gay
July 02, 2010

The once-great Maradona wants everyone in the world to know, just in case there was any doubt, that he’s not gay. No sirree, he certainly is not. He likes women. He really likes women. He’s fucking pretty Veronica. I received an email from Daniel Alarcon this morning asking whether I planned to write anything about his dingbatness’ “I’m not gay” press conference, because if I wasn’t, he intended to. I had no idea what he was talking about, and so I watched the press conference—I watched the 55 second clip before I had my morning coffee.

The Stupidest Man in America
July 02, 2010

Like Satan, Sodomy and Socialism, Soccer begins with an S. Obviously, then, it's un-American and likely to corrupt these great United States. Hats off to Marc Thiessen for scrawling the most absurd anti-soccer nonsense of the World Cup. At long last we have a winner: The world is crazy for soccer, but most Americans don’t give a hoot about the sport. Why? Many years ago, my former White House colleague Bill McGurn pointed out to me the real reason soccer hasn’t caught on in the good old U.S.A. It’s simple, really: Soccer is a socialist sport. Think about it.

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