Spain 0-1 Switzerland (Durban)
At around 4.54pm today, the British Geological Survey reported a mini earthquake around the Highbury and Islington area. They say it’s not certain what caused the small tremors although some people are saying it resulted because of combined cheers from Arsenal fans when Gelson Fernandes scored against Spain.
It was the second time I cheered a goal in this tournament, carried out with far more aggression compared to the way I celebrated Steven Gerrard’s opener against the USA. My new found hatred towards the Spanish couldn’t be controlled, made all the better by Eren Derdiyok’s bulldozing run leading up Fernandes’ goal, which was sweetly similar to Michael Thomas’ league winner against Liverpool in 1989 … DERDIYOK, CHARGING THROUGH THE MIDFIELD!
For all the hype about Cesc Fabregas not being good enough to start for Spain, it seemed those who were better-qualified ended up looking gently ordinary. Fabregas was left-out for the duration of the game completing what has been a quiet start to the tournament for Arsenal’s stars. Yesterday, Emmanuel Eboue played 88 minutes of a dull game ending Ivory Coast 0-0 Portugal (Port Elizabeth) adding to the shortage of goals overall.
I wrote last week about the imperiousness of Guillem Balague, who suggested Fabregas isn’t worth the dime because he doesn’t start for Spain. Balague obviously needed reminding that Fabregas does start for Arsenal. While he plays in red, then it will be the north London club who come up with the numbers based on how the transfer of their captain damages the Arsenal’s squad, not Barcelona’s pocket.
I wonder what Balague would have said about Daniel Alves warming the bench for Brazil last night then? It’s black and white to Balague, so while Maicon continues to play at right-back ahead of Barcelona’s Alves, then his transfer value should simultaneously plummet. My suggestion would be for Arsene Wenger to put in a bid of £4.2 million for Alves with a note attached saying ‘we notice he doesn’t start for Dunga.’ Then when Barcelona remind Arsenal of his £35 million price tag and reject the offer, Wenger might want to also remind the Catalans about sticking theirs for Cesc.
So, Spain versus Switzerland was the last game of the first round. Now everybody has been on show, and as teams become more aware of their opponents tactics things should open up. Of course managers could become so studious in the art of group rivals that the World Cup sees a complete shut-out of goals, although when the likes of Spain become desperate to retain their pride, the woodwork should rattle and the nets should ripple. Matters move towards the capital city Pretoria tonight for South Africa vs. Uruguay, starting the second round of matches.
The vuvuzela: South Africa’s answer to marmite
Whether you love it or hate it is beside the point. Since 1994, when the African National Congress led by Nelson Mandela won the first multi-racial elections in South Africa, the country has found a new direction. Sixteen years on and the sound of the vuvuzela continues to mark those celebrations.
We are told the vuvuzela is a distinctive part of South African football culture and so the rainbow people should be left to blast away. To ban it would be telling South Africa they can host the tournament but this is how to do it. The country has already been down the road of European rule and to take away their voice now would be stepping back in time when the country had no voice at all. Love him or hate him, hats off to Sepp Blatter for keeping alive the spirit of the tournament.
Texi for Ade and the BBC
How obnoxious former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor looked when his phone rang live on air. And how schoolboy he appeared trying to turn it off under the table. Understanding what he is saying is harder than getting Jade Goody to understand what happens in Meet Joe Black, Donnie Darko and Mulholland Drive. In stark contrast, old Arsenal head Patrick Vieira, who is doing the same job for ITV, is a figure of professionalism. The Frenchman speaks with all the elegant intelligence of a mature bachelor, and I’m looking forward to more of the same. Top marks for Paddy and I’m afraid it’s down to the bottom set for The Beeb.
Stadiums a bit of all-light
And a short word on the World Cup venues. After a lot of fuss the stadia is looking in fine shape with newly built structures and memorable scenery. The 70,000 capacity Cape Town Stadium sits beneath Table Top Mountain with an exterior covered in noise-reducing cladding. Moses Mabhida Stadium has a cable car with a viewing platform 106m above the pitch. Biggest of all is the 94,700 capacity Soccer City, sitting on a podium known as the ‘pit of fire’, which, when lit, gives the illusion of being fired. All ten pitches look glorious. It really puts Wembley to shame.
Spain 0-1 Switzerland (Durban)