Due to events in the real world, have been a bit delayed in commenting on the last four matches of the World Cup.
It rather felt like the magic of the group stages had abandoned the World Cup somewhat in the knockout rounds. The football hadn’t been quite as entertaining (though still worth watching overall), the results not as unpredictable, and no team seemed to be quite playing to its full potential. Well, little did we know that for one of the last matches at least, the shock value would be back with a vengeance.
Brazil vs Germany:
First goal: “Hey, Germany are ahead, and pretty early on too! This should make things interesting!”
Second goal: “Two-nil! Brazil had better start fighting back now!”
Third goal: “….Okay, what’s happening?”
Fourth goal: “This, um, this is a World Cup semi final right? With the host nation? The five-time champions?”
Fifth goal: “Okay, seriously, is this Brazil or San Marino? What the heck is going on?!”
Entertaining? I’d say so, unless you’re Brazilian. Unforgettable? Off the charts. This match had its own Wikipedia page by the next day. It now sits on World Cup wallcharts like a big fat inexplicable anomaly. Nobody saw it coming – and that makes it pretty awesome.
Argentina vs Netherlands: This match, on the other hand, was terrible. Couldn’t be bothered to stay up for extra time. Rather annoyed to wake up and find Argentina had scraped through yet again, and for the first time I can remember, hoped for a German victory in the near future.
Brazil vs Netherlands: Not much I can really say about this one, except that after hoping the Netherlands would win the whole thing, I was at least pleased to see them take the bronze. As for Brazil, was more disappointed for the fans than the team themselves, who just haven’t looked as brilliant as Brazil should at any point.
Germany vs Argentina: I’ve seen pretty boring finals in the past, but this one was decent. I especially liked the part where Gonzalo Higuain had a goal disallowed and spent about ten seconds celebrating, thinking he was a hero, before finally glancing at the linesman. This might have been Argentina’s best performance in the whole tournament, but it was still an even game, and for overall performance throughout the past month, Germany deserved the final victory.
So a vote on the BBC website has declared this to be the best World Cup ever. Can’t say I’m quite sure about that. I’ve heard good things about Mexico 1970 and Spain 1982 – plus Italia 90 came second in the vote, and that was supposed to be a relatively poor World Cup in terms of actual football quality. (So figures that would be England’s best World Cup since 1966, doesn’t it?) Some of the football was disappointing, particularly in the later stages – but there was some real brilliance earlier on, some great performances by the underdogs, and nobody’s going to forget that first semi final any time soon. (No matter how much the Brazilians try.)
Best World Cup ever? Maybe. Maybe not. But it was a damn good World Cup, that’s for certain.