World Cup 2006 News
Notes from the Living Room: They’re Going Home, They’re Going Home etc. - Part One
By David C. Watson Jul 3, 2006, 22:35 GMT
David Campbell Watson hails from Edinburgh in Scotland and runs a multi-media consultancy in Los Angeles. A proud supporter of the fabulous Heart of Midlothian Football Club, David is happily married to Susie who by no fault of her own is English.
An eventful week all round. Fresh from preening herself in the desert sun, the wife sauntered back into town with the brood in tow and stayed for all of twenty-four hours before heading off to beautiful Laguna Beach.
Said resort is home to the MTV show of same name, a particularly vapid exercise in reality TV that tracks the ongoing and astoundingly tedious sexual hang-ups of a bunch of impossibly rich and spoilt high school kids. As an advert for the values of the American education system, it’s a deeply traumatizing experience.
Anyway off she went with me waving goodbye through a thick cloud of exhaust fumes – car’s playing up again – while clutching a six-pack and wishing we were still in the group stages. Way too much freedom and just not enough football to fill it – a horrible void looming for two whole days before the start of the “Round of Eight from the Brave Sixteen that went before” or whatever daft name FIFA has christened this particular point of the tournament.
Having listened to more repeats of the BBC Radio Five 606 show than I care to mention, Friday eventually crawls around and the Germans are first up against Argentina. The host country has now officially achieved the hitherto historically impossible feat of actually invading itself. They’ve flocked in from the hinterlands and the previously annexed lands to join the party in the Fatherland, safe in the knowledge that they can all wave those really sad and over-priced plastic flags on little sticks without fear of any form of retaliatory action from the UN, although EU trading standards officers are rumored to be massing on the Eastern banks of the Rhine.
Germany looked unrecognizable from the team that steamrollered their way through the first four games. Gone was the fast-paced, pressing game that has become synonymous with the Klinsmann era, to be replaced by a cagey “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” kind of display. Similarly, an Argentina side that had previously swept all before them appeared wary and strangely disjointed. It wasn’t until early in the second half when Argentina took the lead that Germany woke up and remembered the high-octane style that had got them this far.
They were helped no-end by the inexplicable substitutions of the Argentina coach. Let’s be honest, Pekerman got a bad case of the willies – oh, I’ve been dying to say that for weeks. He took off the heartbeat of his side, Riquelme, swiftly followed by Crespo and for a team that managed six goals in one game to resort to defending a slender 1-0 was tantamount to surrender. Klose struck in the 80th minute and as extra time ambled on, you just knew that the clock was winding down on WC 2006 for Argentina. Nobody beats Germany in a penalty shoot out.
The aftermath was positively surreal. Oliver Kahn actually shook hands with his nemesis Lehman and a mass brawl erupted in the middle of the pitch, started by Argentina’s Cufré lashing out at Mertesacker. This was actually Cufré’s first kick of the game as he was an unused substitute and for his troubles he got a red card. Meanwhile, Pekerman immediately fell on his sword and resigned.
After this feast, we got Italy versus Ukraine and I swear I watched this game but can’t for the life of me remember anything really happening at all except Italy somehow scored three times, a frankly astonishing feat as they barely seemed bothered about getting out of their own half. Schevchenko spurned a host of chances before applying liberal doses of salt to open Ukrainian wounds by conducting a full-blown love-in with the tifosi at the finish, the sight of which must have cheered his crestfallen teammates up no end.
To relieve the numbing tedium of that, I made one of those instant decisions you’re bound to regret later on, fired up the engine – well got out the starting handle to be more precise - and hit the 405 Freeway intent on joining the beautiful people in Laguna with the vague hope that some of their charisma might rub off on me.
To be continued and next up it's In-ger-lund – keep that breath well and truly baited.