Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Portugal v Ivory Coast

Portugal 0 - 0 Ivory Coast

This one rather flattered to deceive. It was all Ronaldo for the first ten minutes, and a kind of masterclass in the diverse aspects of his character.

After five minutes, he got kicked for the first time. God I've missed this, I thought. Two minutes later, he blatantly dived, and got Zakora booked.

The free kick was his, of course. He blasted it from 45 yards, to no effect whatsoever. Twat.

And then two minutes later, with no warning, he had an opportunistic shot from 35 yards that twisted, yawed and smacked against the post, with the keeper nowhere.

The four sides to Cristiano Ronaldo. Victim, cheat, twat, genius. All in six minutes of play.

Soon after, he got himself booked after a lovely confrontation with Demel, with the cameras zooming adoringly in on him repeatedly shouting Fuck off in Demel's face. English, the first choice of swearers everywhere.

Opinion varies on off-colour footballing behaviour. Friends with kids worry that it sets a bad example. Some say it improves a bad match, but ruins a good one. I just enjoy writing about it. David O'Leary said he hoped we didn't get a petulant encounter, but I really couldn't agree. To be honest I think it's a shame Craig Bellamy is Welsh, and unlikely to ever get to a World Cup. If he was Ivorian, we could have watched him and Ronaldo shouting at each other in Swearglish.

Ah. On checking Craig Bellamy's profile on Wikipedia, I couldn't help but notice he played some of his youth career at Bristol Rovers. And to think I'd been instinctively persecuting him all this time without even knowing why. I wonder if the difference between City and Rovers is a genetic thing? It certainly feels profound. Perhaps I was just reacting to a pheromone, or the precise contours of his cheekbone, or personality.

In the second half Ronaldo was rather anonymous, and the Ivorians dominated. O'Leary, making an unexpected foray into the world of genuine footballing insight, pointed out that it was hardly surprising they'd started cautiously after what happened in 2006. You may recall (actually, when I think about my usual readership you almost certainly won't) that they were drawn in the hardest group that year, with Argentina, Holland and Serbia. They played well but lost 2-1 against both Argentina and Holland, which made their victory over Serbia in the last game irrelevant.

This time their first two games are against Portugal and Brazil, and they were probably determined to go into their last game with a chance of progress this time. In the second half, they realised they had a good chance to win it and went for it a bit more.

Portugal also had some good attacking play, without carving out too many clear chances. For a while, it was end to end stuff, actually entertaining in the traditional sense of evoking pathos through drama.

Drogba came on with twenty minutes left, to cheers all round the stadium. He's been injured, and hopefully will be fit to start the next two games. He did get one decent chance, in injury time, but fluffed it, stretching for the ball only to knock it a remarkable ninety degrees the wrong way.

So no goals in this one. Unless one of them drops points to North Korea or gets something out of Brazil, it's going to be decided on goal difference.

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