Monday, July 10, 2006

The World Cup in retrospect

[Update: Well, YouTube had to take down the cool Zidane head-butt video I'd linked to, because the stupid whiny FIFA apparently complained. I can't get back that great original (especially the awesome "head-butt" music), but here are some other videos of the infamous hit-job: Boring Regular Footage; Regular Footage (with Japanese commentary!); Zidane Head-Butt Remix; Dramatic Re-enactment (starring DeNiro); Head-On Ad; Zidane's boyhood; Zidane Lego Style; Zidane the Destroyer; Flaming Head-Butt(?).]

Well, just as I predicted, Italy came through with the victory.

Surprisingly though, I also found the game--the first televized soccer game that I've ever watched all the way through--to actually be entertaining. Aside from the amazing head-butts into the goal by that Italian guy, here are some more initial observations from my first real encounter with the World Cup...

The Good

Possibly the greatest thing I discovered about soccer on TV is that there are hardly any commercial breaks, and none during the course of play! All we had to deal with was a small changing company logo at the top of the TV screen and the corporate banners along the wall surrounding the field. It's just a thought, but perhaps this is another factor (even if a small one) as to why soccer hasn't become mainstream in our American commercialist/consumerist cult-ure.

The Stupid

I'm sorry, but are we still living in the Stone Age, or do we actually have Juggernaut from the X-men walking among us? Seriously, I understand that words were exchanged and Zidane may have been offended, but who strikes revenge with a head-butt to the chest?

The Confusing

Should they really call it the "World Cup" when the trophy isn't even a cup? At least in the NHL, you actually win a giant cup in the Stanley Cup finals. Apparently, that's how it used to be in soccer too. C'mon FIFA, where'd the real cup trophy go?

The Future (if game-developers are smart)

The consumerist in me has a sudden desire to play a soccer video game now, but I have a very important question to ask (to anyone with experience) before I think about really buying a game: do any of the games actually allow you to fake being hurt so that you can try to give penalties to the opposing team?


At 7/10/2006 07:24:00 PM, Anonymous Eric Mohr said...

A post on the World Cup? Surprising, but cool. However, I'm searching for clues on what you could have based your prediction that Italy would win having only watched one soccer game in your life. I'm actually surprised you would predict that for two reasons. First, in my opinion, Germany should have been in the Final instead of Italy. Germany certainly out-played Italy through most of the semi-final game and if the game would gone only one minute longer without a score, Germany would most likely have defeated them on PK's. Second, France also out-played Italy through the majority of the game; especially the second half and in OT. My conclusion is that Italy has a knack for getting incredibly lucky. I'm not saying Italy isn't still a great team. I just find in very debatable whether they are actually the BEST team. The inconsistent and unavoidable variables seem to have put Italy at the top, even though they were out-played during their last two games.

At 7/10/2006 07:33:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Well, Eric, to clarify your confusion, I didn't actually pick Italy to win it until after they had beaten Germany in the semi-finals. And that was based more on where I'd like to travel most first, between Italy, France and Portugal (since the other two hadn't played yet). My pick was not based in any way on knowledge of Italy's talent before or during the World Cup.

At 7/10/2006 07:53:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Secondly, I never said they were the "Best Team." However, while France definitely outplayed them in the second period, I think the OTs are debatable (both teams were struggling) and Italy definitely dominated the first period. Speaking of the first period, I think the call early on that gave France a free shot at the goal (and a point) is debatable, as well as the offsides call against Italy that cost them what would have been their second goal. What I'm trying to say is Italy had it's fair share of bad luck too.

On the other hand, sadly, I think Italy might have had slightly more pain performances in an attempt to get fouls called on the other team. Luckily, generally speaking, the officials apparently were more reasonable than usual in the final game, so it didn't matter much (especially considering the key debatable calls hurt Italy biggest).

At 7/10/2006 11:24:00 PM, Blogger Brad said...

Mac, to answer two of your points:

I'm not disappointed about the trophy because at least in this sport, it is what it says it is: the WORLD Cup. The team who lifts it is indeed the World Champion, (unlike baseball, but I'm not looking for an argument).

On the video game question, you have to decide what you want. Winning Eleven series games will give you very realistic play (ie, the player movements are very much like real life), or the glitz and glamor of the EA FIFA series. Winning Eleven doesn't even have the real players' names in it, so buy smart.

Eric, in regards to your post about Italy not being the best team, I think that's untrue. Teams that win events like this do it because they ARE the best team. The best teams win games when they need to, they don't have to be the best team on the pitch for 90 minutes. Maybe Italy's gameplan was to sit back and exploit Germany's weaknesses, and lo and behold, the blasted them for two goals. Just because Germany had more possession doesn't mean they're the better team, Italy executed better.

At 7/14/2006 10:30:00 AM, Anonymous eric said...

Chris, my comment concerning my suspicions of whether Italy is the single best team out the the thirty-two was not against something you said, but an independent observation. It is interesting to think whether the Cup was played again with a different mix among groups if the outcome would be the same.

Brad, point taken. But these variables extend to semi- and quarter-final games as well. Italy with an 0-3 PK record and Germany with 4-0, it could have been disasterous for the former if the game went to a shootout. Incidently, Del Piero's second goal came easily because Germany had pushed their defense up to an offensive position to try for a goal.

In any case, Italy won against France fairly and it was a great game. And thanks to Zidane's act, provoked by Materazzi's suposed comment about his "mother and sister," the game will be well remembered.

At 7/14/2006 12:53:00 PM, Blogger Brad said...

right, I see what you're saying too. But Italy did fine in PK's in the final, so who knows, they might still have advanced. And, like I said, maybe they are the best team because they didn't let it get to that. They put it away.


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