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June 30, 2014
 

Day 18 Bootroom: We Atone For Our Sins

Fans pose during the friendly football mIf there’s anything you should know about us, it’s that we’re all about the Decalogue. So we’re not about to not keep holy the Sabbath. Well that’s what we’d try to pass off as our excuse for not getting a Bootroom up yesterday if we were liars. But, again, Commandments.

I think we were clear at the outset that we made no promises, so we didn’t even do anything you can hold against us. So, sorry for failing to get a brand spakin’ new Bootroom up yesterday, but only kinda.

Anyway, before we turn to today’s games let’s take a moment to thank whatever deity is in charge determining soccer wins also doesn’t want to watch Greece anymore. And it would have been a brutal way for Costa Rica to go out having been denied a penalty (and a red card) for a clear hand ball in the box.

But not only are Greece gone, but by not scoring up a man for like an hour, they managed to actually produce some excitement. Well, the rules did. But, because it went all the way to a shoot out, there was a reward for the masochists among us who sought just to survive watching the Greeks.

As for Mexico, if we recognized El Tri, we could comments. But we don’t.

Seriously, arguing over whether Robben took a dive or Rafa Marquez fouled him is like watching Satan and your worst ex-girlfriend wrestle for eternal possession of your soul. It doesn’t matter who wins, the ultimate outcome is still unpleasant. But all of those United fans crowing about how their genius new manager to-be had already put a lock on the league because the Netherlands put a beating on Spain have been sufficiently quieted. Two late goals and a dodgy penalty to get though against the 4th place CONCACAF team is a level that probably puts a team about, what, 7th in the Prem.

For today, I’m pretty sure there are games. Probably two of them. Do you need more than that?

It’s actually the only two African teams to advance each facing a former World Cup winner.

In the early match France takes on Nigeria. There is probably some obvious subplot to this but I’m blanking (if you’re not familiar with Nigeria they boast an outstanding keeper in Vincent Enyeama and I still like Lazio’s Ogenyi Onazi to do, well, something at this tournament). It would be way better if France were taking on Algeria, seeing how all the good Algerians end up playing for France. But even that is sort of footnote-level stuff when compared to how the Algerians probably still feel about France maintaining colonial rule for like 130 years over Algeria. That actually provides the political backdrop for a failed attempt to attack the 1998 World Cup in France. The plot, orchestrated by a then relatively-unknown Osama bin Laden, was thwarted obviously, but the audacity of the plan is mindblowing. There is a piece on it in this quarter’s Howler. It’s not online, but it’s worth tracking down (or ordering a copy from their website) if for no other reason that it is a beautifully designed mag. And it’s all soccer.

But that doesn’t mean Algeria is without a beef. If revenge is a dish best served cold, then the Algerians have had 32 years to put ice on the late game. In the 1982 World Cup the Algerians shocked the Germans 2-1 in the group’s opening match, but by the time of the group’s last game between Germany and Austria, those two teams knew that a 1-0 or 2-0 win by Germany would send both teams through.

How did they know? This was before the four teams in the group would play their last games at the same time (Chile and Algeria played the previous day). In fact this group is WHY the four teams now play their last games at the same time.

Germany attacked Austria from the whistle. Ten minutes in they scored. The two teams then spent the next 80 minutes doing nothing. You can watch some of the, what? Non-lights? Un-lights? But there is a bit of footage here. It’s pretty unbelievable.

Anyway, it took 32 years, but now Algeria get their chance to avenge some people who are now old and maybe even no longer upset about it, which would be a bummer. From a football standpoint, though, Algeria are sneaky good. Lost in all the can-Ghana-improve-on-2010 and can-Cote-d’Ivoire-make-noise-now-that-they-aren’t-in-a-Group-of-Death talk is the fact that Algeria were actually the topĀ African side in qualifying. And they dismantled South Korea in their second game in one of the more impressive displays at this tournament. Remember Algeria held a lead over Belgium for a long portion of that match and made the Belgians look rather ordinary (although without Bentenke, making Belgium look ordinary seems to be a much easier ask). But Algeria defends deep and counter attacks with lots of speed. And speed doesn’t have an off-day. Algeria are legitimately dangerous.

No matter what happens it’ll probably be awesome because this World Cup continually comes up with the goods.



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Precious Roy