The Football Neutral World Cup: Uruguay vs England

Soccer - World Cup Italia 1990 - Semi Final - West Germany v England - Stadio Delle Alpi

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Pre Match:

Oh god, we’re on ITV.

The wife is home and watching this with me.  She’s both Welsh and utterly hates football, so expect some zingers from her corner.

There’s a stand behind the goal that looks really unsafe. Proper Maude Flander death territory.

It is a seriously jaunty anthem, the Uruguay one.

Whilst an England win would of course be the preferred option (see previous blogs for an explanation of who I support internationally and why I still like England), if they do lose and go out tonight it would mean that my gig in Coventry next Saturday night will go ahead.

Hands up if you’ve done this Simpsons joke today?

1: OH PLEASE SHUT UP ANDY TOWNSEND

2: Muslera in the Uruguay goal is properly wank. And whilst I am commenting on his football skills, the wife is referring to him as “a human refresher”.

3: Wife on Suarez: “he’s got teeth, hasn’t he?”

4: Suarez, as if hearing the abuse from my wife, tries to score from a corner like the cheeky little bitey racist that he is.

6: Wife just asked if the players can tell the difference between a whistle blown by the ref or one in the crowd.  I said that they can’t. She is now patenting a special whistle that has a frequency that only footballers can hear.  Of course, this could then be bought by the fans and we’re back to square one.  I don’t think she’s as emotionally invested in this game as me right now.

7: England free kick. Uruguay make a wall. Wife asks me if it’s called a “ball wall” because they have to stop the ball AND they guard their nether regions.  I reply in the negative.

9: MAN IN CHAINMAIL SPOTTED. Possible UKIP voter. They just look the sort, you now?

10: Rooney had a free kick and hit it within 20 yards of the goal. BIG IMPROVEMENT ON SATURDAY, WAYNE!

13: Debate about heading the ball led by the wife. Quote: “How can they head the ball when it’s coming out of the sky but roll around like little whiny girls when they get tackled?” Good point.

15: I miss England wearing navy shorts.

17: The Uruguay defender Pereira has a face that looks like it has been sucked into a hoover.

18: Rooney a lot better than the other night. Unfortunately Uruguay are also a lot better than the other night.

19: Still baffled at the unsegregated seating for the games.  Can anyone else imagine this happening a few years ago?  Tis madness.  Seems to be a tad more segregation for England games, although there are still are pockets of England fans sat with Uruguay lads and Brazil neutrals.  Very odd indeed.  Although if everyone is behaving, fair play. That said: It’s not fucking rugby, is it?

23: Feels like a nil nil right now.  I’m saying that so this ends up 4-3 and proves me wrong.

25: Wife just shouted “topknot wanker” at Martin Caceres.

28: Diego Godin may as well just have hit a lariat on Daniel Sturridge there.  Commentators saying he’s lucky to be on the pitch, but it wasn’t an elbow nor intentional.  The same guys were saying that Muller was scum for going down under a similar challenge the other night. DOUBLE STANDARDS, LADS!

31: England hit the bar – and they’re having a decent spell. Rooney SHOULD have scored if we’re being honest, but it was harder than it looked.  I’ll give him some credit.  ITV commentary team DESPERATE to have him score.

34: Still a lot of fight in England. They are not the most gifted side for sure, but it means a lot to the fans that they seem to be trying as hard as they can.  As a neutral, it means a lot to me knowing that both of their matches have already been more entertaining than the whole world cup.

39: GOAL – URUGUAY – LUIS SUAREZ: Had to be him, didn’t it? Headline writers demanded it.  Edinson Cavani – who had done NOTHING thus far – loops the ball in from the corner of the area and Phil Jagielka isn’t close enough to Suarez who heads home.  Glen Johnson should have been picking Cavani up really.  Sturridge heads straight up the other end with a chance, but now Uruguay are in charge.

41: Rooney takes a corner and it doesn’t beat the first man. So frustrating. Let Sterling or Baines or Gerrard take them for crying out loud.

43: What’s annoying is that this has been a BRILLIANT World Cup so far and a limited England have been doing OK in a tough group.  If England go out tonight, does that overshadow how excellent the tournament as a whole has been?  Not for me, but I suspect it will for a lot of people.

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Half Time:

Really not sure how England are losing.  Good header from Suarez and proof that a finisher of his calibre is hard to come by, but England have had enough of the play and decent enough chances to be winning, or at least level.

Fairly sure that Adrian Chiles breaks a journalism rule by referring to England as “us”. Especially as there are people watching in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland…

Andros Townsend seems a good lad. Surely his press pass says “A Townsend” on it? Just saying we could have him in the commentary box instead…

I’m eating a fruit pastille lolly. Annoying that lemon is the most prevalent flavour.

46: Wife Quote: “I’d be well good as a steward. I’d happily not watch the game”.

49: Suarez keeps trying to score from corners. Greedy bastard.

51: England not at it right now, still asleep. Cavani and Suarez scaring the shit out of Cahill and Jagielka.  Wife sums it up with “I know Uruguay are doing better because I keep seeing the little green man”.  That’s Joe Hart.  The Uruguay keeper is the little orange man, apparently.

53: There is the little orange man, Muslera.  Great save from Rooney, who is still searching for his first ever World Cup goal.  Great work from Leighton Baines down the left leading to the chance.

55: Multitasking whilst Muslera is down faking an injury.  Starting a campaign to get the awful new iPhone “Chicken Fat” advert banned from our TV. Why? The song is AWFUL and I hate Apple.  Part crusade for better ads, part personal vendetta against a massive company that I despise.

59: England pressing but just don’t have a load of ideas. And who do you throw on? There’s nobody better on the bench really, although I’d like to see Ross Barkley get a runout.

61: Pereira takes Sterling’s knee to the temple and is knocked out. Horrible moment as he’s splayed on the pitch in real trouble, but toe medics bring him around and he then throws a massive tantrum as the doctor tries to insist that he is substituted.  That’s some passion right there, good lad.

64: Barkley now on, yay! But for Sterling, boo.

67: England just don’t look like scoring. Suarez then hits a hit and hope at Joe Hart, known within World Cup circles as a “Ronaldinho against David Seaman”.

68: I’m sure the commentator just said the population of greater London was 3 and a half million.

70: Lallana on for Wellbeck, who has done nowt.

72: Wayne Rooney’s hair-hat is the reason that a balding man like me doesn’t bother with hair implants.

73: Sturridge does a little turn and rattles off a shot. Muslera holds it easily. Uruguay aren’t doing anything much, but England aren’t really pressing them at all.

75: GOAL – ENGLAND – WAYNE ROONEY: Wonderful work by Sturridge, even better work from Johnson and a tap in for Rooney. He finally scores at a World Cup and is delighted. Great seeing the England fans surge forward in their “end” – and it’s what England have deserved.

77: Sturridge close now.  England could actually win this, you know.

79: Atmosphere has been properly booted up a notch now, I tells thee.

80: Not so much in this house, mind. The wife has buggered off elsewhere.

83: It would really be excellent if England got another now. They have, on balance, been the better team and Uruguay sat back until Rooney’s goal.  They’re now charging forwards too and it’s like watching a game from the knockout stages.

84: GOAL – URUGUAY – LUIS SUAREZ: Steven Gerrard fluffs a header and merely directs it into the path of the sprinting Luis Suarez who puts the ball past Hart.  And that’ll probably be that for England.  Two decent chances for Uruguay, two goals.  Steven Gerrard manages to top his slip against Chelsea in the league with a pretty decent assist.

88: People on Twitter rightfully pointing out that Gerrard has been awful during both games.  They’re right. The system Liverpool play mean that he can play that “quarterback” role that people bang on about. He can’t for England.  Everyone else is putting in the effort, he’s just past it.  But he’ll “retire” from England duty before the next manager (because Hodgson will be sacked, unfortunately – it’s not his fault he doesn’t have the players to choose from) has time to not pick him, just to save his own face.

90: Five minutes of injury time. Suarez now off and crying on the bench. Mate, you’re winning! Wacky South Americans.

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Full Time:

England are probably out, barring Italy winning both of their remaining games and England somehow twatting Costa Rica out of sight.  They’re not good enough.  It’s not the fault of Roy Hodgson; he’s trying his best but there just aren’t the players available for him.  Gerrard is past it, Rooney (I know he scored, but still) isn’t as world class a player as the entire nation seemed convinced he is, at the back England are a bit static and slow and the rest of the team – small glimmers of hope for the next four years in Sterling and Barkley to one side – just aren’t very good.

Suarez, like him or not, is an amazing centre forward.  He gets two chances and he scores two goals.  He is the difference between Uruguay being an also-ran South American team and a pretty decent one.  They won’t get to the semi finals like last time around, but they remain a tidy side when he’s fit.

I don’t think that England fans are shocked by the result, because nobody would have seriously expected England to win the World Cup.  There needs to be a better focus on team spirit and work ethic going forwards.  The 1986 and 1990 World Cup sides were full of unfashionable players who grafted as part of a team.  The next England manager (because let’s be honest, Hodgson will be sacked shortly) needs to take more chances on unfashionable players from smaller teams; Lallana and Lambert from Southampton are a start, but there are more players hungry to pull that shirt on and push the “superstars” in the side harder for their place.

We await the Gerrard memes.

Man of the Match: Luis Suarez

Match Rating: 5/10

The Football Neutral World Cup: Uruguay vs Costa Rica

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Pre Match:

Watching this match with my Dad.  Just seen the Colombia goals, was nice to see a stadium at least look properly full.

Of course, Uruguay are famous for being a big part of one of the best jokes ever on The Simpsons.  Homer is looking at a globe and says to Bart “look at the name of this country, boy: You are Gay.”

For the record, the best ever Simpsons gag is the “may I play Devil’s Advocate for a moment” joke.  If you’re laughing at that now, then you know what I mean.

As soon as we put ITV on and Adrian Chiles was on the screen my Dad said “for fucks sake, I hate him”.

Much discussion of how tight the Uruguay shirts are.  To quote my father: “they look fine on an athlete, bet the fans look terrible”.  Horrible moment as I remember that Puma are making the Leicester kit for the foreseeable future.

The Uruguay national anthem is one of those that takes five minutes to start.

The font they use for the team lineups on ITV is the best thing about their coverage by a million miles.

1: Commentators just used the phrase “Group D for Difficult”. Christ.

2: Uruguay play a 4-4-2.  Making them the only team in the world that still do that.  False nine my arse.

3: Joel Campbell is a wonderfully non Costa Rican name.

8: Went for dinner with my daughter earlier. Watching the Uruguay team in those tight shirts is making me have sever body dysmorphia.

9: Joel Campbell reminds me of Paulo Wanchope.  But slightly less gangly.

12: Ben Dunbar on Twitter has asked me and Dad to try and spot the shorts of Martin Caceres. We have, and they are massive.  1950s massive.  He looks like he’s wearing culottes.

14: Disallowed goal for Godin, although the whistle went waaaaaaay before.

16: Cavani misses a properly decent chance, but Uruguay aren’t dominating.  Would be hilarious if Costa Rica could get anything out of this.  Their fans are easy to spot in two tiny pockets on the right hand side of the screen, all wearing red.  For some reason they’re wearing their white away kit to play in though, which strikes me as a tad daft.

19: Sad to see that Bryan Ruiz has both had a haircut AND doesn’t just have “Bryan” on the back of his shirt.  There must be a Brazilian player called Brian or Kevin or Dave by now.  They’ve got a Fred and Bernard, after all.

21: Really wish it was Dragon Gate USA wrestling star Johnny Gargano playing in the Uruguay midfield.

22: Diego Godin looks like he works in a branch of Millets.

24: GOAL – URUGUAY – EDINSON CAVANI: Ref gives a penalty for what Andy Townsend thought was a handball, then a handball by Uruguay’s Diego Lugano, then eventually realises it was a great decision for what was a rugby tackle on the Uruguayan centre back.  Cavani smashes in the penalty although the keeper goes the right way to his left.

26: Considering how slow he’s meant to be, Diego Lugano looks like he’s at least ten years younger than he really is.

27: Joel Campbell looks properly good.  Keeps trying the spectacular.  We’ve decided that Leicester must sign him ASAP.

30: Dad has just noticed the different coloured Puma boots thing that some players are doing.  I await the “I remember when everyone had black boots” speech.

31: Gonzalez hits the side netting for Costa Rica.  Want them to score for their loyal cluster of fans behind the goal.

34: Dad believes that Costa Rica aren’t wearing red because of the chances of them washing the kit in the hotel and the colours running.  Really.  This is how he thinks.

38: This isn’t exactly scintillating stuff, but I’m willing to bet that it ends up being more entertaining that the England game later on.

42: Just remembered that Fray Bentos is in Uruguay.  That’s where your Nan gets her meat pies in tins from.

43: The Uruguay keeper is terrifyingly bad on crosses.  Or as my Father referred to him: “A typical South American keeper”.  Dude has a point.

44: Deflected shot from Forlan, great save from Navas in the Costa Rica goal.  The replays show the brilliant look of determination on his face to keep the ball out.  Forlan is then taking Uruguay corners.  Why?

Half Time:

Costa Rica really aren’t too shabby.  Uruguay slightly better, but the more exciting stuff seems to be coming from Joel Campbell up front for the Central Americans.  You can’t see England steamrolling over either of these sides, but you know what England are like for crying out loud.

The England team has been announced, and Raheem Sterling is playing.  At least it’s attacking, so you never know.

The voices of Gus Poyet and Fabio Cannavaro remind me of something else.

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46: So much complaining about where England are having to play tonight.  I think they’ll be ok, some pitches in this country are shite.

47: Dad has buggered off to make an omelette. He likes to think his are better than mine, but I am the motherfucking OMELETTE WIZARD.

48: Luis Suarez seems to be getting ready to come on.  Everyone on the Costa Rica side should immediately wear Rick Steiner like ear protectors.

51: Costa Rica trying to get back into this, and certainly aren’t sitting back.  They’re not a bad side at all.  Although Andy Townsend keeps talking about them like they’re a third division club side.  I mean, they’re at the World Cup… unlike Townsend’s side Ireland.

53: Those mismatched Puma boots as sported by three Uruguay players are really starting to make me unreasonably angry now.

54: GOAL – COSTA RICA – JOEL CAMPBELL: Campbell is class, but WHAT a cross in from Gamboa on the right wing for Costa Rica as the ball was about to go out.  Ball part cleared, falls to Campbell and he smashes in from 15 or so yards.  Celebration is excellent, taking the ball and stuffing it up his shirt as if pregnant and saluting the Costa Rican fans. GAME ON!

58: GOAL – COSTA RICA – OSCAR DUARTE: Bloody hell.  Free kick from Christian Bolanos is wonderfully headed in at the far post by the diving Duarte.  Copenhagen midfielder with the assist, Club Brugge defender with the goal.  Costa Rica a LOT better than people expected and Uruguay look rattled.

60: Diego Forlan off, Nicolas Lodeiro on. Walter Gargano off, Alvaro Gonzalez on. Still no Suarez.

63: Father still making his omelette. He has been distracted by both goals.

64: Joel Campbell tries for the top corner from 35 yards and the commentary team think he’s scored.  Bloody hell he looks like a player.

66: Now Bryan Ruiz wins a HEADER in front of goal and goes close. BRYAN RUIZ, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

69: Another great save by Keylor Navas.  He looks half decent too.

73: Dad is back.

74: Jose Miguel Cubero on for Costa Rica, replacing the brilliantly named YELTSIN Tejeda. Yeltsin! Top marks for that lad’s parents.

76: Of course, Costa Rica balance out that name with having two lads called Roy Miller and Patrick Pemberton.

80: Costa Rica aren’t even holding on; Uruguay look devoid of any decent ideas right now. Still no Suarez either, with ten minutes left.

83: Cavani has done bugger all in this game apart from score a penalty and look like a lion.

84: GOAL – COSTA RICA – MARCO URENA: Just on as a sub for Bryan Ruiz, Urena takes a wonderful through ball from Joel Campbell and slides the ball past the onrushing keeper.  His first touch of the ball and he looks ecstatic.  Brilliant goal and a great second half.  Well chuffed for the Costa Rica fans.

89: Uruguay look broken. They have not got a bloody clue what to do.

90: Five minutes injury time.  At the minute, could well be Costa Rica that score again rather than Uruguay nicking one back.

94: Horrible challenge on Joel Campbell by Maxi Perrera. RED CARD. Stupid challenge as he lost his patience. Uruguay self destructing.  Utterly clueless.  Andy Townsend quote ahead of the sending off: “He’s getting the big card out”.

Full Time:

Another result we didn’t see coming, right?  Wow.  What an amazing second half from the Costa Rican players.  Uruguay without a clue after they’d scored, whilst Costa Rica played with confidence and skill.  They’ve won over many a neutral with that performance, and showed England fans that Uruguay aren’t to be feared.  Costa Rica on the other hand…

Cavani does not look like a world class player, Forlan looks past it and with the exception of Diego Godin working on his own at the back, all Uruguay have is Suarez.  And speaking as a Wales supporter, one amazing player does not win you a world cup.  Or even qualify you for one.

Man of the Match: Joel Campbell

Match Rating: 9/10