One month after the World Cup and the pang for decent football is beginning to kick in. After soaking up the football festival in the true home of the beautiful game I will have to exist on decidedly Scottish and substandard fare for an extended period of time. It’s much like drinking the finest Bavarian beer for a month then having to sip on pish water like Tennents or Carling. But even these beers would have been welcome at Thursday night’s UEFA Europa League qualifier between St Johnstone and Lucerne of Switzerland.
Instead we got???? Fuck all, not even a can of skoosh (although you were offered a cup of water by the kiosk attendants).
On a sweltering night all I could of think of was a cool plastic cupped pint to ease the pain of McDiarmid Park but alas these types of benefits are only enjoyed by proper football supporters on the Continent, Asia, Latin America, in fact everywhere apart from here.
Beer has been outlawed on the terraces since a cup final between Rangers and Celtic over 30 years ago. At the final whistle both sets of fans ran on to the pitch and straight into each other before being separated by Police horses and baton wielding coppers. So shocked were the politicians and journalists (and that’s who seem to hold sway in Scotland) at the time they banned all alcohol in stadiums for the normal supporter.
One of the funniest things I saw in Brazil was not in a stadium or on a football field but on the TV.
As you can imagine the TV stations had wall to wall coverage of anything remotely related to the World Cup so the much feared demonstrations outside the stadium were covered in depth.
In one particular demonstration a group youngsters (under 25) were shouting and jeering at some FIFA representatives or politicians. To be fair I’m fairly certain they had a valid point and were not causing much trouble but the police teamed up and started to push them back from the dignitaries in a heavy handed way.
There was one guy-complete with the jet black, EMO hair and a scarf covering his face-being particularly enthusiastic and verbal until that is a middle aged, plump fellow came bounding out of the crowd to accost the young lad. After the initial shock of confrontation the young lad was pushed back on his heels in realisation that it was his Dad giving him a good bollocking with a couple of slaps to boot.
The juvenile revolutionary squealed it has Dad in Portuguese, along the lines of “Dad, Dad your embarrassing me, let me riot” or something along those lines.However his protestations fell on deaf ears and any hint of rebellion quickly gave way to utter embarrassment- Live on national TV. his street credibility and all respect from his peers ruined.
The father carted his boy off home, not quite by the ear but much like a scolded teenager probably into the car and back to the family home.
As if this wasn’t bad enough the same News reporting team must of learned of the name and whereabouts of the teenager and visited him at home with his family. The family invited the journalist into the family home, sat the teenager down on the family sofa and made him apologise, not only to the hated dignitaries but also the general public and naturally his home.
The ashen faced lad had removed much of his black clothing and make-up (although he kept his nose ring) as he sat between Mum and Dad broken by humiliation of it all, knowing full well the worst was still come, in the form of merciless ribbing from his friends,schoolmates and general passers-by.
Hopefully he will rise above this early obstacle and become a new Che Guevara – maybe just not while his old man is around.
Over a week after the German hammering of Brazil and the sheer shock of the result is only now beginning to fade however it will take a fair few months, if not years for the Brazilians to shake off the nightmares.
In truth the Brazilians had been due a heavy beating and had pushed their luck from their opening game against Croatia when a partisan crowd and malleable referee contributed to a win when defeat was staring them in the face.
Next up was the Mexicans and while the Mexican goalkeeper, Ochoa attracted the headlines and was correctly awarded the man of the match this defected from a composed and at times dominant performance by El Tri. The Brazilians, and in particular Fred were lambasted for their display by an expectant media and support.
Cameroon were already eliminated and in disarray when they went down 4-1 to Brazil but again the scoreline flattered to deceive. Neymar pulled a couple of tricks and at times their were glances of the free flowing football of yesteryear but the defensive lapses and lack of discipline were obvious. Scolari’s tactics of “attack,attack, attack” in the hope that the opponent would become overwhelmed and despondent, while exciting and attractive also risked disaster.Regardless Brazil progressed as Group winners and awarded with a second round match against the Costa Ricans.
The Costa Ricans put up a gallant fight but were ultimately eliminated by way of penalties and a lack of experience and yet it wasn’t them that were blubbing like scolded school children in the run up to the shoot out. Julio Cesar was predictably lauded as the hero of the day despite the Ticos penalties being fired straight at him and in the hysteria of victory no-one dared ask why it was that Brazil struggled to overcome the Central Americans.
The Colombians came next and there was a real fear that the Brazilian dream may be coming to an end. Scolari and his team opted to kick Colombia off the field in what proved to be one of the most cynical and ugly matches of the tournament. Whether in utter fear or pure malice the Brazilians destroyed the game and relied on an extremely biased referee performance. Its fair to say that the hosts lost a lot of neutral support and killed of the myth of Joga Bonito once and for all.
We all know what happened against Germany in the semi final. The chickens came home to roost, they got a taste of their own medicine or their luck finally ran out. Whatever way you put it was decisive as it was emphatic and all on the hosts own doorstep.
At times it was unbelievable they way the Germans waltzed through the Brazilian midfield and defence. It wasn’t as fast as the Dutch’s counter attacks against Spain but such was the positional marking of the Brazilians speed wasn’t needed. If Argentina were playing Brazil on that night they would racked up 10 or 12 goals but the Germans seemed almost embarrassed at simplicity of their win.
The 3rd/4th place game was another simple beating against a half cocked Dutch team, by then the damage had been done and no-one was really interested any more.