Monday, September 25, 2017

A MONTH OF MAYHEM: Spain Skates Past Honduras 2-0

By Mark Vincent Lincir

The most entertaining game of the tournament so far wasn’t even Spain’s 2-0 dismantling of Honduras. It was Portugal’s 7-0 absolute thrashing of North Korea. It’s about time that the teams starting rolling up their opponents and playing some good soccer. Enough with the early round jitters and choppy 1-0 results, we want…and deserve, great soccer everyday from here on out.

Hardcore soccer fans don’t sacrifice friendships, relationships, sunlight and work for 30 days just to watch ordinary soccer. This summer is supposed to bring with it the most extraordinary soccer any of us can imagine.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Maybe it will get there.

Forget the referees for a moment. Let’s not let them overshadow the tournament. I do understand the difficulty with getting referees from all over the world to officiate a global tournament. Some refs are used to issuing dozens of cards a game and awarding two penalty kicks a half. Other refs don’t pull a card out of their pocket for anything less than attempted murder. It’s all part of the global game and all the different styles that encompass it. Am I defending poor decisions? Absolutely not!
But I am promoting letting those bad calls go and putting them behind us, because in over 35 years in this game, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that bitching and moaning about bad calls is simply a waste of time.

For centuries refs have made bad calls that change games and they always will and the best thing we can hope to happen is that they understand that the call they made was horrendous, they learn from it, move on and don’t make a call that bad again (highly unlikely).

TO THE GAMES…Brazil is looking pretty balanced and confident and the Ivory Coast didn’t do much to put a scare into what has become my tournament favorite in Sunday’s 3-1 Brazil victory. Many people were choosing Ivory Coast as their surprise team, but it is not to be this summer. Kaka’s red card was NOT a red card or even second yellow. I think that the refs are being a little overzealous with their cards right about now.

How about New Zealand? With three former Major League Soccer players on it, the All-Whites held Italy to a 1-1 draw. What’s the deal with Italy? They obviously miss Pirlo much more than they think. They lack any imagination and have been brutal to watch. I don’t think a world title is in the cards this time around.

Paraguay keeps trucking along, dispatching Slovakia 2-0 and Chile took Switzerland to task in what could be the least entertaining match so far 1-0. In the Chile match I couldn’t take all the theatrics and posing and cards being issued by the ref. It looked like a Sunday League Pub match…not a World Cup game…shame on both teams for producing 90 minutes of absolute garbage.

I loved watching Portugal paste N. Korea 7-0. For a while, I really thought that N. Korea had a chance, they were playing with confidence and knocking the ball around a bit and then it all fell apart and luckily, seven goals later, it was over. Portugal won’t win the World Cup, but it was good to see them play up to their potential for once.

For manana, I see Mexico and Uruguay sharing points and that will keep France from advancing, which is something I think everyone wants at this point (France not advancing)…France keeps the Republic of Ireland out of the World Cup by cheating (an intentional handball to score a goal…that’s cheating, even if you’re not caught!)…and now is falling apart at the seams, walking off the field at training and basically making a mess of their “opportunity” to impress at this World Cup. It’s too bad that a team with so much talent and so capable of playing great football has so many issues.

France will beat the hosts but it won’t matter if Uruguay and Mexico tie. Argentina will blast Greece and advance no problem and South Korea will sneak past Nigeria and advance as well.

QUICK MARADONA STORY – at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, we were staying in Frankfurt…when Argentina played the Netherlands in Frankfurt, we heard rumors that Maradona was staying at our hotel. We got home from a viewing party that night and tried to stay up to see his appearance. We eventually got to talking to one of his bodyguards out in front of the hotel at about 2 a.m. and he warned us not to wait up for Maradona unless were interested in staying up until daybreak. The next day reports from around the hotel were that Maradona got in at about 5 a.m. or so. Way past my bedtime.

If you thought life was rough with three games a day, how about trying to fit in your “real life” responsibilities between FOUR games. Unfortunately, two at a time are played simultaneously, but we’re all going to watch four full games a day for the next few days no matter how you slice it.
I’m getting over not being in South Africa and no longer hate everyone who did go. I’ve been to two World Cups and am very happy for everyone enjoying this one. If you haven’t done it yet…book some tickets with your family, buddies are even solo (join a tour group and make some friends) and get to a World Cup…it’s a unique experience you’ll never forget!

Ive got a great interview and pictures from Survivor Africa winner and Grassrootsoccer founder Ethan Zohn from South Africa that I’ll post tomorrow, so make sure to tune back in. Enjoy the games and register at www.90soccer.com so that you can comment on all the fun and madness surrounding this summer’s World Cup!

Mark Vincent Lincir is the Editor-In-Chief of 90:00 Soccer Magazine. He can be reached at editor@90soccer.com

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