Saturday, 12 June 2010

South Korea v Greece

South Korea 2 - 0 Greece
Lee 7
Park 52

When you're writing a blog, you kind of rely on the events you're blogging to give you a little helping hand. If you're writing about the French, you want to be able to say they showed some élan, or savoir faire. When it's the Greeks playing, it would really help so much if you could compare them to just one character in Homer or Herodotus.

So it was bad enough when France played sans élan, sans savoir faire, sans everything. Now Greece have done it as well. They've let their country down, they've let history down, they've let themselves down, but most of all they've let me down.

They didn't even have to be good. They could have been tragic, or comic. They could have attacked like Achilles, or defended like the Three Hundred Spartans. They could have hidden inside a fucking horse, and jumped out when no-one was looking. But in all the Greek myths, there is no God of anonymity.

It could have all been different. After three minutes Torosidis shot just wide from a corner, when he should have buried it Achilles buried his spear in Hector's flank (I could have said). But then a few minutes later the Koreans got their own set piece, a free kick wide left. They knocked it in at just the right height, the Greeks forgot to mark Lee Jung-soo and he did what Torosidis couldn't, and scored from point blank range. What a hero. He reminds me so much of that Korean mythical character none of us have ever heard of.

I was watching the game with my Greek sister-in-law, Maria. Incidentally, my brother is also Greek, but I'm not. Can anyone guess the story behind that? She's not a fan of the game at the best of the times, and she ran off and hid. I soldiered on, if only for your sakes.

The gods were trying to help. They laid on bright sunshine from the Greek goal to blind the Koreans. It made no difference to the game, though, although it rather blighted the first half for everyone watching on the telly.

At half time, the analysts gathered to pour scorn. None of them accused the Greeks of bearing gifts, despite the number of times they gave the ball away, which left the field clear for me. It's the best I can do with the material, frankly.

Early in the second half the Greeks gave it away again, and this time they paid for it. Man United's Park Ji Sung pounced on Papadopoulos's poor control and tucked it away very nicely. A routine enough goal for a player of his calibre, and a routine enough error for a very poor Greek side.

To be fair, they came back a bit in the last half an hour and had several chances, but it you never felt it mattered. My notes say Lots of Greek pressure, hard to believe they'll score.

All credit to South Korea, who have shown their success in their own World Cup was no flash in the pan. Ignoring Euro 2004, Greece's record in major international competitions now reads

Played 11, Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 10, Trojans or Persians put to the metaphorical sword 0

And if you ask me that flatters them.

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