Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Brazil v Ghana, ITV1

Goal of the match: It has to be Ronaldo's record-breaking 15th goal in World Cup Finals. Barely five minutes had elapsed when, with the Ghanaian back four high up the pitch totally out of sync with each other, Kaka slipped the ball easily through to the big-boned frontman, who went past 'keeper Richard Kingson with some neat footwork and rolled the ball into the empty net to edge ahead of Gerd Muller's tally of 14.

Shot of the match: Haminu Draman's shooting was generally rash and wasteful, in keeping with that of his team-mates, but he did force Dida to tip over one ferocious shot in the first half.

Miss of the match: Ghana squandered countless opportunities, but the most culpable was probably centre-back John Mensah, who should have scored with a header from point-blank range when left unmarked from a corner. Credit though to Dida, who instinctively flung out a leg to deflect the ball away.

Save of the match: After Asamoah Gyan's second yellow card, the Black Stars ran out of steam, and it was only Kingson who kept the score down, pulling off excellent stops from Ronaldo, Cafu, Juan and even his own team-mate John Paintsil, whose misdirected header nearly crept over the line.

Man of the match: It pains me to agree with Robbie Earle, but Ze Roberto was excellent and thoroughly deserved his goal. In the first period, though, Ghana's Sulley Muntari was superb, a real torment to the Brazilians, and captain Stephen Appiah was energetic and inspirational throughout.

He was playing?!!: Emerson. Well off the pace even before picking up his injury and being replaced, he was instrumental in allowing Ghana to seize the first half initiative.

Manager most likely to be mistaken for George W Bush: Carlos Alberto Parreira.

The Robert De Niro "You Talkin' To Me?" Award For Tough Talking: Radomir Dujkovic in his pre-match press conference: "They [Ghana] are not afraid of nobody".

Blast from the past: Former Leeds striker Tony Yeboah, interviewed before the match, was the Ghanaian team's "Mr Motivator". Visions of him in lycra and pop socks getting Appiah and co to do star jumps came to mind.

Face in the crowd: It's a shame we're not going to get to see the Ghana fan who carries a massive pot on his head anymore.

Most bizarre moment of the match: Gyan's head-first tumble onto the six yard line in the first period left him with white face paint on one side only.

Stat attack: Plenty to dwell on. Before the game, Ghana had had more counter-attacks than any other side in the tournament (27) - but this begs the question of how exactly you determine what constitutes a counter-attack? More concrete was the fact that Ghana used a grand total of five coaches and 80 players in reaching the Finals, and that the match marked Brazilian captain Cafu's 19th World Cup appearance, a new national record.

Minutes elapsed before mention was made of Ronaldinho playing "with a smile on his face": 38 minutes into the coverage (Ally McCoist). During the commentary it was Cafu who Peter Drury singled out for smiling, while Ronaldinho by contrast was very definitely not smiling when his captain opted not to pass to him late on in the game.

Minutes elapsed before Drury suggested it was a David v Goliath encounter: Less than three ("It is the mightiest and the humblest").

Patronised to within an inch of their plucky little lives: The last of the African teams left in the competition? Go to work, men! Most glaring was Jim Beglin's "Well done Ghana. This is a good little response now". By the 44th minute he'd had to concede that Ghana were the better team. Meanwhile, following his David-and-Goliathisms, Drury was forced to admit with evident surprise: "They are turning this into a proper match".

Guess who?: I turned on fifteen minutes into the coverage to hear the pundits discussing someone who has thus far looked unfit, overweight, lethargic and disspirited. Hmm.

It's just like watching Brazil: Drury: "It rather sums up Brazil that the man offside was their centre-half". Said centre-half Juan later put in a brief shift on the left wing...

The Jon Champion Award For Overstatement: Drury claimed that "the word itself [Brazil] is everything you desire in a football match". Beglin later balanced it out by pondering aloud: "I'm just thinking that maybe we expect too much of them".

A pat on the back: Beglin was quick to point out that the Ghanaians were defending dangerously high up the pitch, and took every goal as the opportunity to pat himself on the back: "The way they're set up defensively doesn't make sense - that's what's undone them".

Fight! Fight! Fight!: It all got a bit heated at the break, with Andy Townsend seemingly ready to take on a tag team of Earle and McCoist in the car park over who was at fault for Brazil's opening goal. A far cry from the laddish bonhomie of the BBC studio.

Most bizarre moment of the coverage: The footage of Appiah greeting the Brazilian players in the tunnel prior to warming up - for some reason, Adriano responded with a firm squeeze of the Ghanaian skipper's left arsecheek. After his comments the previous evening, it would have been interesting to know what Shearer made of it - and Clive "Men Holding Hands Disturbs Me" Tyldesley too...

Level of interest shown in game at hand: High, by ITV's usual standards. But then it was Brazil. Even then, there was a lengthy portion of the pre-match hour given over to England, with a Joe Cole interview and (mercifully) the last in their series about 1966, culminating in footage from the final worth seeing again primarily for Bobby Charlton's spectacular comb-over. Gabby also tried a Lineker-esque comedy line in response to Townsend: "You say the players may be bothered about missing their families. All they have to do is open the red tops...".

What we learned: Brazil are probably more clinical and ruthless than they are pretty to watch, and they'll be tough to beat; mobile or not, Porky Ronaldo is a threat; with better finishing, more luck, eleven men on the pitch and Michael Essien in the side, Ghana could quite easily have won, despite all their defensive shortcomings; England's third goal against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final was a bit controversial.


Blogger skif said...

Think the heat was getting to them studio boys. Quality set-to though, shame Gabby pulled it away before Townsend started rolling up his sleeves.

Mind you, at the last World Cup, didn't Peter Reid and someone have a bit of a heated one, about Paulo Maldini. Didn't see it but someone told me it was getting into "how many international caps have you got" territory.

May have been misinformed.

11:23 am, June 28, 2006

Blogger Ben said...

Didn't see it either, but I've a feeling it may have been Hansen goading Monkey's Heed.

1:51 pm, June 28, 2006

Blogger Ween said...

I have to admit that I couldn't face the TV commentary after hearing Peter Drury's voice piping up at the start and turned the radio on to listen to Five Live.

Alan Green was not in anyway impressed by Brazil. It was one of those games where he gets gradually more and more irked by what he's seeing in front of him.

2:50 pm, June 28, 2006

Blogger Matt said...

It's been a while since I subjected myself to Alan Green, but isn't that what happens with most games that he's sent to watch?

4:23 pm, June 28, 2006

Blogger Ween said...

If it is a good game he tends to praise where and when praise is due but he doesn't suffer from the "talk up whatever game you're commentating on in an effort to fool the public into thinking that your network has the best games" type of nonsense that ITV commentators have.

When your team is playing well he is fine to listen to but he is very hard to take when they are not because he tends to not pull any punches

9:44 pm, June 28, 2006

Blogger Ben said...

Naturally if I'd have had the option not to listen to Drury I wouldn't have done - but such is the task we've set ourselves here. Good to see that you appreciate what we're putting ourselves through on your behalf, dear readers...

10:17 pm, June 28, 2006


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