Well, that all happened rather suddenly.
Spain, World and European champions and many people’s bet to win the whole shebang, will be on the next flight back to Madrid, and they still have to go through the motions of a match against Australia, (also out of the cup), in a match as meaningless as most people thought but for reasons not many people can have expected.
Spain almost went 1-0 down to Chile in the first minute in a must-win game, and things didn’t get much better for them. Chile scored a wonder goal (Spanish-style?) after twenty minutes, and Spanish keeper Iker Casillas was to blame again for the second when knocking a Pedro free-kick straight back into play for Aránguiz to trap beautifully and curl past him just before half time.
I was watching at home with friends and beers in my Barcelona jersey, seeing the an end of an era. From tiki-taka to tiki-kaka, as some have said.
When you are throwing Fernando Torres on to save your bacon, you know you’re bound for the butcher’s.
So on the day that Spain crowned a new monarch, the old kings of football confirmed their exit from the World Cup.
The King is dead: long live the King.
The rain came and went all day, and it has now been confirmed that the giant FanFest TV screen here in Salvador will be the world’s largest blank poster for any days when Brazil are not playing and there is no game here in the city, so I watched the other two games today in bars and restaurants.
Luckily I wake up with the sun at 6am and have time and energy (so far) to go jogging to the dulcet tones of The Guardian’s daily World Cup podcast, otherwise I’d be about the shape of a Brazuca World Cup ball by now, with all the great shrimp-based soups, Caipirinhas and Cachaça I’m getting through.
Earlier in the day, I’d had my first bobó shrimp dish, and watched Holland scrape a ding-dong 3-2 win over brave/plucky/unlucky (delete as applicable) Australia in a cracking game.
We were offered further proof, (after Marcelo’s disgraceful tumble for Brazil yesterday), that referees have apparently been ordered not to book players for diving, (even when they see it), and this one also decided not to send off Robin Van Persie, not to mention another goalkeeping howler from poor Ozzie keeper Mat Ryan after the Russian calamity keeper last night.
And finally last night, my quatro-annual African favourite, (and quatro-annual disappointment), Cameroon bowed out in the group stages for the fifth straight tournament, this time in disgrace, with a karate elbow from Alex Song earning him a red card.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto, former Spurs-defender and winner of third-biggest barnet in the Premier League award, (how he must hate Fellaini and Huddlestone for denying him even that), tried to get his team down to nine, if not eight men, ‘doing a Pepe‘ as I am going to start calling it and trying to insert his nose into team-mate Benjamin Moukandjo’s nose.
In other football news, FIFA announced that they were investigating homophobic chants and banners from Mexico’s supporters, as well as Russia, Croatia and Brazil.
Given that I sat through over ninety minutes of Brazil supporters during Spain’s opening match chanting: ‘Diego…Viado…’ at the turn-coat Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa, I don’t think there is any doubt that the Brazilian fans are guilty, but will anything actually be done?
All should be fine homophobia-wise by Qatar in 2022…
Today’s matches include the mouth-watering (if you’ll pardon the ever-present Suarez biting innuendo), England vs Uruguay tie, which could easily see one of the former champions exiting the tournament.
Judging by first match performances, you would imagine it to be Uruguay, (sporting one of my favourite, retro jerseys this tournament), but with the aforementioned Premier League player of the year returning, and England’s knack of messing things up, it should be a tense one.
The last game features another of my ‘home’ countries, Japan, hoping to play for more than just 45-minutes this time after their opening loss to the Ivory Coast. My friend Tomomi is showing her colours, (literally), with yet another example of incredibly funky nail art, which has been quite prevalent this tournament.
And finally, I am preparing for my third live match here in Salvador tomorrow, the impressive-looking (and again, impressive-jerseyed), French versus the surprisingly not-boring Swiss in a match-up which may decide who tops that group.
Report to come, but in the meantime, please share this with football- and fun-loving friends, and if you haven’t already SUBSCRIBE by clicking the FOLLOW button on the top-left corner of the page.