Friday, June 30, 2006

Germany v Argentina, ITV1

Goal of the match: Germany's equaliser was the pick of the pair. Michael Ballack swung the ball in from the left and substitute Tim Borowski cleverly flicked on for Miroslav Klose to apply the finish with his head. Despite not having a sniff otherwise, Klose and his predatory instincts weren't to be denied, as he increased his tally for the tournament to five.

Shot of the match: Disappointingly few decent shots in a game of disappointingly few goal attempts, but Fabricio Coloccini's lofted effort (which might well have been a mishit cross) momentarily troubled Jens Lehmann, bouncing off the top of his crossbar.

Pass of the match: Juan Roman Riquelme's precision corner for Roberto Ayala's headed goal. Riquelme may have looked off the pace, but Jose Pekerman paid dearly for his decision to withdraw his string-puller midway through the second period, and Hernan Crespo with fifteen minutes of normal time left.

Miss of the match: Ballack, who planted a header wide from Bernd Schneider's chipped cross in what was far and away the best bit of play of a turgid first period.

Man of the match: No one outstanding player, but for Germany Torsten Frings was excellent, while substitutes Borowski and especially marauding winger David Odonkor were key in picking up the pace of the game and swinging things the hosts' way. For Argentina, Ayala kept Klose very quiet as well as scoring (though he was also one of two players to miss in the shoot-out), and Carlos Tevez worked extremely hard up front without any reward. He looks and plays like a pitbull, and that scar on his neck suggests his involvement in illicit dog-fighting in the back rooms of Buenos Aires pubs.

He was playing?!: Klose did very little other than score, and Luis Gonzales offered few clues as to why he was selected ahead of Esteban Cambiasso in the Argentinian starting line-up.

The Arjen Robben Award For Shameless Diving: Plenty of candidates. Arne Friedrich was perhaps most worthy, getting Juan Pablo Sorin the booking that would have ruled him out of the semi-final. But Ballack went down clutching his face theatrically, and even Maxi Rodriguez, arguably Argentina's best performer throughout the tournament, stooped to that level, picking up a yellow card for a contact-free tumble in the box.

The Nobel Peace Prize: Oliver Kahn was captured on camera offering rival Jens Lehmann words of encouragement prior to the shoot-out, and the pair embraced at the conclusion. Come on now - it was much more entertaining when you were at each other's throats. Speaking of which...

The Alex Ferguson / Jose Mourinho Award For Being Sore And Utterly Graceless Losers: Argentina. No need for the stupid bout of fisticuffs that tarnished their considerable contribution to this year's tournament, whatever Oliver Bierhoff may or may not have said. Rodriguez and Gabriel Heinze were particularly at fault in the extraordinary melee.

Separated at birth: Is it just me, or does Jurgen Klinsmann's right hand man Joachim Low look like Kyle MacLachlan?

Player who most resembles a boxer punched who's been punched in both eyes: Philipp Lahm.

The Three Musketeers: Frings, Sorin and Crespo should give up this football malarkey and join forces. They certainly look the part.

Face in the crowd: Lots of face-painted Germans and a few Argentinian beauties who would have had Lineker, Shearer, Leonardo etc breathing deeply. Surprisingly, no shots of Maradona, the man Steve Rider labels "a sort of one man Argentinian Barmy Army".

Stat attack: The seven World Cup Finals goals scored against Argentina prior to Rafael Marquez's shot for Mexico in the second round were scored by players who either at the time, before or since played for Premiership sides: Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, Patrick Kluivert, Dennis Bergkamp, David Beckham, Anders Svensson and Didier Drogba.

The kiss of death: Rider's opening gambit turned out to be wide of the mark: "Congratulations - you've survived two days without World Cup football. Here's your reward". Even more likely to ensure the mouthwatering tie was a damp squib was the montage which promised a feast of goals - and spectacular ones at that.

The words I dreaded to hear: "So, David Pleat..." "Afternoon everybody" followed soon afterwards.

The David Pleat Adjective Generator: Tevez - "squat"; Javier Mascherano - "vigorous, quick"; Borowski - "elegant, long-striding"; Odonkor - "forceful, progressive"; Riquelme - "smooth". Pleat also memorably described gangly Bambi-legged German centre-back Per Mertesacker as sometimes looking "like an uncoordinated spider".

The David Pleat Award For Idiosyncratic Pronunciation: Credit to the man himself for finding at least three different ways to say Heinze's name.

What's in a name?: Ally McCoist referred to "Thomas Ballack" before hastily adding "or Michael Ballack if you want". Yes, we DO want, Ally - you haven't earned the right to call players what you want.

Learning the lingo: Pleat spent some time explaining the concept of a "round-the-corner ball" (I'm still pretty much none the wiser) and Peter Drury invented the word "unknockdownable" to describe Tevez (perhaps you could also say he's got "bouncebackability", eh?). Best of all, though, was Pleat's comment in response to the revelation that Argentina were enjoying significantly superior possession: "But it's in much-ado-about-nothing land".

Graphically illustrated: Hurrah! At last one of ITV's arrow graphics proved useful. At the break McCoist and Andy Townsend claimed that both Riquelme and Ballack had been disappointing in the success rate of their passing in forward areas, and lo and behold the graphic actually proved the point rather well. A first time for everything etc etc.

A blast from the past: Drury compared Klinsmann's bounding celebration of his side's equaliser to "the Luton Town manager at Maine Road a few years ago - chap named Pleat". Klinsmann didn't skip onto the pitch like a frolicking and gambolling lamb though.

Boultingwatch: No more interviews with clueless American servicemen and drunken Aussies in fan parks for our Ned, it seems. Instead he was entrusted with pre-match reports on Ballack and Argentina, as well as delivering a live history lesson on the Olympiastadion.

If I had a pound...: ... for every time McCoist began a sentence "The thing I like about him / them is...", every time the word "efficiency" cropped up in connection with the Germans, and every time young Master Rooney used the words "you know" and "erm" in his interview, I'd be a very rich man.

You what?!: Discussing Tevez's "unknockdownability", Pleat claimed he's "like a little metronome". Hmm, you really don't have a clue what a metronome is, do you David? Meanwhile, commenting on the Argentinian teamsheet prior to kick-off, McCoist said "I would have maybe liked chocolate sauce on it" before offering an explanation of sorts: "I'd have liked to have seen Messi in".

Level of interest shown in match at hand: A superb game in prospect, and yet within seven minutes of the coverage starting we were whisked off to a Matt Smith interview with Michael Owen. And then a Gabriel Clarke feature including Ray Winstone: Motivational Speaker and that Rooney interview. At least Rider appreciated the tangent - "Let's not forget that that game's tomorrow. There's a big game today" - and the focus from then on was on Germany and Argentina.

Most bizarre moment of coverage: The footage of the Argentinian squad singing and bouncing around on their coach, held up before the game as an example of the team spirit in the camp. Sam Allardyce was interested to know what the song was, presumably so he can blast it out in the Bolton dressing room next season. 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble' by PJ & Duncan, Sam - magic.

What we learned: Like your average child actor Argentina had incredible potential and promise but squandered it in spectacular fashion (buggering up my predictions in the process); Jose Pekerman can go back to driving taxis with a fund of tales of woe with which to regale his punters; Germany march on like an efficient winning machine as though their name may be written on the trophy after all.


Blogger paul said...

See, Klins-o did, in fairness do a very Pleat-ian move when they scored - the second part of his skip in particular...

And as for the "metronome" line, did he mean "Weeble?"

2:38 am, July 01, 2006

Blogger Ben said...

I think so - someone point him in the direction of a dictionary.

1:16 pm, July 01, 2006

Blogger skif said...

"Klinsmann didn't skip onto the pitch like a frolicking and gambolling lamb though."


I must admit the Pleat comparison crossed my mind before Drury said anything.

Five very intense showers later and, no, still not clean.

2:21 pm, July 01, 2006

Blogger skif said...

In fact, I've just noticed I actually made that comparison in my Germany v Sweden report.

Don't look at me. DON'T LOOK AT ME!!!

2:07 pm, July 02, 2006

Blogger Ween said...

"Stat attack: The seven World Cup Finals goals scored against Argentina prior to Rafael Marquez's shot for Mexico in the second round were scored by players who either at the time, before or since played for Premiership sides: Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, Patrick Kluivert, Dennis Bergkamp, David Beckham, Anders Svensson and Didier Drogba."

This is surely an unprovable stat as Kluivert scored before he played for Newcastle and who is to say that Marquez and Ayala may sometime find their way to England?

Another bit of ITV rubbish.

And to add to the "you what!?" bit, Drury deemed a foul worthy of "Penalisation"

The commentators seem to just make up words to suit themselves these days.

The World cup has been great but the big downside is the commentary you have to endure in order to get some of the atmosphere and not just stare at a picture without sound

5:11 pm, July 03, 2006


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