Monday, July 7, 2014

Sign o' the Football Times, Cynicism @ Brazil 2014

Neymar's Broken Back and Brazil's Broken Heart

It's a Sign o' the Times. The antics of certain players and teams during the Quarter Finals of the 2014 Brazil World Cup has produced a darkness over the later stages of the tournament. Its shadow threatens to occupy the illuminating glow of the record breaking goal count and attacking football that the world went nuts for in the Group games and Round of 16 matches.

There is still some light at the end of tunnel though, with the prospect of a dream Argentina - Brazil final. Unfortunately that has been sullied by Colombian defender Mr Zuniga, when he broke Neymar's back and 200 million Brazilian hearts.

What a shame  the dream final between the South American rivals (and most neutral football fans around the world have craved) , will be missing the main draw cards of Messi vs Neymar. The football world has been robbed of a grand spectacle because of one cruel cynical action.

But perhaps I should listen to the strange random man I encountered on the bustling streets of Kingsgrove last Friday. A random man approached me and said: "don't judge, everyone makes mistakes, sorry I broke your heart". Tell that to the 200 Brazilians random man! Who I told three times- "It's OK I forgive you!", but still wouldn't leave me alone.

Sadly cynicism in sport is nothing new - winning at all costs is part of modern football. After all there are reports that kicking your opponent off the park occurred when Noah, his sons and some of the more talented monkeys played five a side in the Ark to keep fit in the mornings and afternoons.

Side Show Bob's (David Luiz) free kick brought some of the magic of the Group Stages back.

Perhaps instead of knockout games the whole World Cup could be a group stage?

The magic spray and Luiz's right footed, side foot, free kick kept the dark forces at bay for once.

Now with Neymar gone who will the Brazilians call on to step up against Germany? Only one of the most talented squads left in world football of course!

If home advantage and death threats isn't enough of a powerful motivational force to win the World Cup then nothing is. The home nation is still the favourites for the title in my opinion. They are still finding ways to win games without playing their best football.

If the Yellow, Green and Blue shirted ones can stop crying and play without fear of losing, the Seleção can still win the World Cup. They still have artists that can unlock defences.

But first Brazil have to get through the semi final. Playing a European team in Germany would suit the Brazilians much more than playing Colombia. The Germans haven't been that crash hot perhaps they peaked too early when they thrashed Portugal 4-0.

Plus Germany just love that third/fourth playoff game so much. Why ruin a good thing by playing in a World Cup final and potentially winning the World Cup for the first time in 24 years?

The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer

You should check this excellent article I found from the website It examines the painful memory of Holland losing the 1974 World Cup. The article says that the tragedy wasn't that Holland lost the World Cup to Germany. The greatest tragedy was that during the final minutes of the game, Holland thumped the ball long into the German area, seeking a miracle by abandoning their "Total Football philosophy."

Here is an interesting take on that game:

"July 7th, 1974 was a death knell for the freedom of expression that formed through the 60s. For the Dutch, their Summer of Love didn’t end on Altamont Speedway in 1969 but at Munich’s Olympic Stadium four and a half years later. Both incidents signaled the end of a counter-culture. Both incidents signaled the end of optimism, open-mindedness and new-wave. Both incidents signaled the start of pragmatism, cynicism and suspicion of anything different."

The article also quotes David Winner who wrote the book Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer. Winner tells the website that there is an undeniable cultural and social overlap that exists in society and football. He says the Dutch team of 1974 were a reflection of the zeitgeist.

So what are the current Dutch team a reflection of in terms of cultural and social overlap that exists in society and football?

The cynical actions of World Bankers? The failure of Governments around the world to stop the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? Can we relate the pragmatism and cynicism of modern football with the world's current socioeconomic problems?

Of course we can! Look at the World Cup bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup and the greed and corruption that exists in FIFA.

The Dutch are so sick of being the Bridesmaid and never the Bride, thet have abondened the ideals of "Total Football". Making this current Holland incarnation the antithesis of the 1974 team.

Just like the movie Bridesmaids, I'm sure Holland Boss Louis Van Gaal would take a shit in the middle of the street wearing a wedding dress if it meant winning the World Cup.

The white socks and sandals wearing, non smiling Dutch coach made a big move substituting the goalkeepers before the penalty shootout against Costa Rica. It was a history making move by Van Gaal. That kind of choice has never been seen at a World Cup before.

Sure the move paid off and Krul guessed correctly on every shot, allowing his mullet two make two amazing saves, but to me it doesn't just justify how he acted.

Take Krul's antics before the Costa Ricans were about to take their penalty shots.

Talk about Neurotic Genius.

Krul's actions seemed to mirror the strange random man that came up to me in Kingsgrove. Like the random on the street (who walked up and down the street) Krul was walking up and down and side to side in his box aimlessly, then would pause so he could talk some unintelligible nonsense to the Costa Ricans (like the strange man did to me) before they took their penalties.

Question marks hang over the second penalty that Krul saved. Is it legal for a goalkeeper to grab the bar and have the net shake right before the penalty taker takes the spot kick? Cheat! Cheat! (allegedly, allegedly)

Everyone knows what Cruyff said after Holland lost the 1974 final – ‘We were very successful in a way because we were acclaimed for our style and everybody said we we were the best team."

No-one will say that about the Dutch if they win the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 

But who cares as long as you win right?

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