35: World Cup Day 11: Messi, Messi, Messi…

It is Sunday morning, and it sounds like there is a hurricane blowing outside my window.

After staying out until 5am to celebrate the national holiday of São João in the least traditional way possible,  (joining some local friends at a live rock venue, instead of gyrating the night away to a farró band), this is not ideal.

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A morning view of stormy Salvador…

At least it allows me to lie in the warmth of my bed and report on yesterday’s footballing adventures.

The festival of Saint John, (whose saint’s day is actually next week, on the 24th), is a week-long celebration where people leave wherever they are in Salvador and head to the ‘interior’ to hang out with family and friends, get drunk, dance provocatively, and do whatever comes naturally after that.

I am considering a day-trip to join them.

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Salvador São João decorations…

In the meantime, my day began in an all-you-can-eat churrascaria, (a restaurant where one entire corner is dedicated to meat grilling on spits, which has severely tested my vegetarianism), to watch Argentina’s expected demolition of Iran fail to materialise.

To say that Iran played well would be an understatement, and most people seemed to expect them to actually steal a 1-0 win in the second half, with several good chances and a fair penalty appeal (correctly) turned down.

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Representing Racing…

But, (and I again I apologise to my Portuguese readers), Argentina have the greatest player in the world.

Messi had been marked out of the game for 90 minutes and 30 seconds when, in injury time, he picked the ball up on the right just outside the area, found that there was about a metre, (and all eleven Iranian players), between him and his marker, and took a sublime touch away from that player before curling the perfect shot past the goalkeeper from outside the area.

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The surprise package, (no naughty comments, please…)

Ridiculous. Sublime.

It was Robben-esque, and with two goals and an own-goal assist, Messi is single-handedly pulling Argentina through this competition in a way people have constantly doubted him to be able to do.

Could this be his tournament? I know a few million Brazilians who hope not.

You have to feel sorry for Iran but, like Australia, they are making fans at this World Cup: how many I will get to see on Wednesday, when they take on homeward-bound Bosnia-Hercegovina who lost 1-0 to Nigeria in the late match.

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This guy told me he only bought the t-shirt to annoy Americans…

The Balkans in blue were thought by many the favourites to come second in this group, so you can chalk this up as another surprise, (although Dzeko missing a couple of open chances in the final minutes wasn’t so much of a surprise to me).

The game was one of the less exciting affairs so far, for me the highlight being the goal: not for the obvious reasons, but for both referee and linesman allowing it to stand when the Nigerian attacker Emenike ran past a Bosnian defender who, feeling a hand come past his shoulder, threw himself on the ground as defenders so often do.

Great refereeing, for a change.

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Cracking t-shirt from 2010 on a friendly Swiss guy…

The game of the day, (and possibly even the tournament, which has seen so many), was the afternoon encounter between Germany and Ghana. Most people again were predicting a German blitzkrieg after their destruction of Portugal and Ghana’s workmanlike draw with the USA, but this is the World Cup which keeps on giving in terms of surprises and drama.

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German team photo take 1…

I confused a group of German fans by posing for them in my Argentinian club jersey before changing into my recently acquired Germany strip, (and how’s that for globalisation: a Brit cheering for Argentina and Germany, a day after rooting for France! Don’t tell my grandma), before we grabbed beers and searched for a bar to accommodate our growing group of friends: a local lass, an Ecuadorian-American, two Chicagoans, and a fellow Benfiquista from Lisbon.

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…and take 2!

The Boateng brothers, having chosen to play for different teams, were playing each-other at a second World Cup after facing off in South Africa in 2010, but there was drama all over the pitch in this match.

Germany took the lead with a hilarious goal which Mario Götze headed onto his knee, and many must have thought that was game over, but on the contrary Ghana came back and equalised through Marseille winger André Ayew, before taking the lead after a rare defensive mistake and a beautiful finish from 2010 heartbreak story Asamoah Gyan.

Soon after, we got to see history, (on TV this time, in a bar which allowed us to drink the beers we had brought because, sitting on some chairs they had set out and not having a table, they weren’t allowed to serve us their own beer).

36-year-old Miroslav Klose came off the bench and, with practically his first touch, flicked a possibly goalward-bound header from a corner into a World Cup net for the fifteenth time, tying Brazilian striker (chipmunk) Ronaldo for most goals ever scored in all World Cup matches.

I wouldn’t bet against seeing his sixteenth in the near future.

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I think we were all surprised by the Germany match…

A 2-2 draw then, and with the USA playing my adopted homeland of Portugal and attempting to send them back to Europe on a crowded plane with England and Spain amongst others, Group G is now wide open.

In other action today,  Belgium attempt to get their mojo back against Russia, and South Korea face Algeria in a match nobody I know is getting particularly excited about, (and may be the game I fall asleep in, as I did for the first time during a match last night, thereby missing Odemwingie’s winner for Nigeria!)

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Show-off Volunteer…

My favourite news story last night came from a case of mistaken identity: a Brazilian journalist was thrilled to scoop an exclusive interview with Brazil coach ‘Big’ Phil Scolari on a flight this week…until it turned out that the interview was given by a Scolari lookalike, (and not a particularly good one, either, from the photos published of him!)

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Neither of these is the real Philip Scolari…

Enjoy the blog, enjoy the games, and let me know your favourite moments of the competition so far by leaving me comments!

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “35: World Cup Day 11: Messi, Messi, Messi…

  1. Rodrigues says:

    I still can’t believe that you exchange that amazing Eusebio classical jersey for a Germain one 😦
    Nice chronicles, thought!

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