Hope you’re all well.
If you’re anything like us you’ll have been watching hours of football every day for the past fortnight. And hasn’t it been wonderful?
In tribute to the glory of World Cup 2014 we present our round-up of things that have amused us from the tournament so far.
1) Pundits on the beach
We should have known this was going to be a brilliant World Cup when ITV got Gordon Strachan, Glenn Hoddle and Ian Wright to preview the opening game while sporting shorts, t-shirts and shades. A truly indelible image. The handsome trio were compared memorably on Twitter to three lads on tour, awaiting the arrival of full English breakfasts outside a Red Lion pub in Benidorm.
2) Punditry in general
The poverty of the football analysis offered to the viewing public is always bemoaned during World Cups. However we’ve enjoyed the contributions of the various match summarisers and commentators hugely. Who could fail to delight in insight like this?
• “Benzema disguises the pass…” (the ball rolls straight to an opponent) – that’s quite a disguise.
• “If you do that (slap someone) there’s only one place you’re going to end up: the bathroom” – Lee Dixon reaches a surprising conclusion
• “Oh goodness me, they’ve changed their minds now!” – Jonathan Pierce, the only person who was confused by goal-line technology.
• “We managed…” – Thierry Henry puts Robbie Savage back in his box after the latter suggested his Leicester City team had troubled Arsenal by kicking them a lot.
3) Mathieu Valbuena
Back in the days before Spain conquered the world with a team of short blokes, it was assumed that anyone under 5′ 11″ was too small to make it as a footballer. We can only guess at the skepticism French midfielder Mathieu Valbuena had to overcome as his career developed. He looks too small to make it as a jockey.
Someone has paid affectionate tribute to the diminutive playmaker by altering his panini sticker:
4) Speaking of panini stickers…
Looks like Luis Suarez’s munch on Chiellini was a tale foretold:
5) Mario Balotelli
He seems to have left the tournament under something of a cloud, but Mario Balotelli is always great value. These examples of Mario’s genius pre-date the World Cup but are well worth revisiting.
First up, Mario doing his exercises:
And Mario working hard on his hurdling.
6) Jermaine Jones
The USA midfielder Jones scored a great goal against Portugal, but we’ll remember him for his contribution to the game against Germany.
Firstly he ran into the referee and fell over. Then he kicked the ball into his own face. He then rounded off a wonderful circus performance by knocking himself out running into a team-mate. Click here to see his majestic three card trick.
7) The Algerian substitute
Algeria’s draw with Russia was perhaps the most tense game in the first round. As Algeria tried to run down the clock to seal the draw they needed to qualify for the last 16, the ball rolled towards their bench. One of the subs did what we would all do in the circumstances – he picked the ball up and absolutely whammed it into the crowd. His manager then adopted a look of surprised innocence when the referee wandered over to book the miscreant. Outstanding time-wasting, evoked beautifully in this illustration:
(source: http://thesunshineroom.com/2014/06/28/world-cup-drawings/ – well worth a look)
Speaking of the Algeria vs Russia game, Fabio Capello sported an unforgettable tank top on the touchline that made him look even more like Postman Pat than ever:
His Russia team stank the place out almost as badly as his England side did four years ago, but at least he left us something to remember him by this time.
9) “I believe that we will win!”
The Americans may only have been interested in football for five minutes but they’ve won the laurels for the tournament’s greatest chant. Watch this video and then just try to have any other tune in your head for the next couple of days.
10) The Mexico manager
He might look a bit like a Glaswegian alcoholic but Miguel Herrera has been the most watchable manager at the tournament. Click this link to watch him in action.
He’s just wonderful, obviously. Possibly his finest moment so far was the shimmy he performed en route to scoring the winner against Bosnia. It somehow resulted in two defenders tackling each other. Imagine being able to do that to international footballers.
Messi’s Argentina team mate Lavezzi has also given us an unforgettable World Cup moment. Perhaps less than thrilled by his manager’s pitch-side hectoring, he doused his boss’s ire with a wee splash from his water bottle. Note to younger readers – do not try this on your own boss when you’re older.
Presumably you’ve all found yourselves singing this to yourself fifty times a day too.
14) The magic spray
An unqualified success, we can barely remember what football was like back in the bad old days before referees could spray a wee line on the pitch to show defenders where to stand at a free kick.
The innovation has also given rise to a few moments of comedy. Firstly, Phil Neville’s much-discussed punditry career began with a reference to the “invisible line” drawn by the ref – it’s not actually invisible, Phil. Secondly, someone on Twitter suggested the referees should draw a line around injured players as if they’re crime scene casualties – presumably Arjen Robben would cause them to run out of spray by half-time on his own. Finally, er, this:
15) And finally: some wordplay
Probably the finest pun from the first round was spotted in the comments below a Guardian article on l’affaire Suarez. Noting the surname of a Colombian forward, the poster asked whether Suarez would “be able to chew Bacca in the next round”. Fine work, sir.
It’s been fantastic. And there are still thirteen games to go!
Oh, and we googled Marfrig and it turns out to be a food company. Not a frothy pint after all.
Enjoy the rest of the Marfrig World Cup everyone!
P. S. The dream Ian vs Charlie semi-final between Argentina and the Netherlands is on!