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Monday, June 14, 9:15 p.m., 30,000 feet, American Airlines Flight 185, Seat 2A
As my three regular readers will know, Rog, I believe I am prone to occasional bouts of profound psychic ability. These tend to occur, I have learned from experience, on the alarmingly frequent occasions when I forget to put on deodorant. Fortunately for the lovely young woman seated next to me on the plane this evening, this is not one of those occasions. In fact, I smell lovely.
However, I have made some bold predictions, Rog; in fact, we both have, and I think it is now time to revisit some of them in a new weekly feature titled:
Let's Attempt To Justify Some Of Our Better Predictions And Ignore The Fact That I Picked Denmark And Cameroon In Group E
Cue scary music
Beware the number 10
I saw the number 10, Rog, and of course I thought of all the great players who are wearing No. 10 in this tournament -- Kaka, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Lukas Podolski ... Yong Jo-Hong! But it seems, Rog, that I misinterpreted the subtle whiff of my psychic brilliance. What I was actually seeing were the numbers one and nil. As in 1 and 0. As in 1, 0. As in ... I think you get it. Of 12 games played so far at the FIFA World Cup 2010 of WiffleSoccerParity (through the New Zealand-Slovakia game), no fewer than nine have ended 1-0, 0-0 or 1-1. That's a lot of ones and zeroes. And in the three that did not end with a bunch of 1s and/or 0s -- Germany's first scorer against Australia was Podolski (wearing NUMBER 10), the Netherlands' man of the match against Denmark was Wesley Sneijder (wearing NUMBER 10), and if you subtract the number of yellow cards received by Greece against South Korea from the number of corner kicks the Greeks had in the match, you'll never guess the number you end up with. Yes -- 10.
And you know what else is weird? That Jabulani looks just like a little alien.
Which might explain why this continues to be the WiffleSoccerParity World Cup of strange, strange goals.
Item. Robert Green's Hand of Clod.
Item. Denmark's double own goal, with Simon Poulsen heading it off Daniel Agger's back and it going in off the post.
Item. Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar flying through the air like a trapeze artist and missing Simone Pepe's corner by a mile and Daniele De Rossi mistaking Jabulani for Brian McBride's head and volleying it into the back of the net. For reasons I can't explain, every time I watch this goal in slow motion, it makes me laugh so hard I almost ...
And talking of pants, back by popular demand:
Davies' patented "Pants Ranking System" (PRS) in a new implementation -- The Daily Pants
Today's pair of Massive Balloon Pants With Pleats And Inside Leg Zippers goes to:
Sepp Blatter on Twitter. First of all, he isn't actually on Twitter; one of his blue-and-white-stripey-tie-wearing-bureaucrat-pretty-boys is on Twitter. Secondly, he shouldn't be allowed on Twitter. FIFA should be made to invest its massive cut of the vuvuzela fortune in building him his own social network -- Blatter! -- on which he can blather on endlessly about how wonderful and munificent and culturally sensitive he is.
And now, all that I can think to say about Monday's games ...
Netherlands 2, Denmark 0
For the Netherlands, Wesley Sneijder and substitute Eljero Elia really caught the eye. But you know who played superbly and is having a solid World Cup? The post. The post, once again, was magnificent. Glancing the ball in for the first, and a fabulous pass straight to Dirk Kuyt for the second. The post is organized, solid, never gets out of position and, right now, despite a great save in the Cameroon-Japan match, is thoroughly outplaying the crossbar. If I could vote for the post in the Budweiser Man of the Match poll, I would. The post might be going to Real Madrid to play for Jose Mourinho.
Japan 1, Cameroon 0
I love football more than anyone else I know. I mean really love it, all of it. I kiss football. And yet this was a difficult game to enjoy. Cameroon just could not control the Jabulani, and became more and more frustrated. Japan worked hard, especially Daisuke Matsui, but had little flair. How thrilled must Hyundai have been after spending countless tens of millions to get exclusive auto category sponsor rights to the Cup only to have Honda (Keisuke Honda) score for Japan?
Italy 1, Paraguay 1
I saw too little of this match to have much to say. Other than from what I saw, it was another difficult game to get into. Which made me start worrying. Is this World Cup any good? So few goals, so few "SportsCenter" moments of genuine skill and beauty, barely an outstanding individual performance. No wonder Robert Green is still dominating the news cycle. It is still early, though, and teams are going to have to start taking more risks and playing to win in the second and third games of the group phase. Or maybe the Jabulani/vuvuzela parallax is going to make everything impossible.
Tomorrow, I will fail to put on deodorant again and try to figure it all out.