Monday, June 12, 2006

USA v Czech Republic, BBC1

Goal of the match: Three gems, but it has to be Tomas Rosicky's first - a firm 25-yard-drive that didn't have as much swerve as Frings's in the first game of the tournament but which flew past Kasey Keller into the top corner nonetheless.

Save of the match: None to speak of. Petr Cech was an almost complete spectator, as was Keller, who couldn't get anywhere near the three goals - or the Rosicky shot off the bar, for that matter.

Pass of the match: Zdenek Grygera's cross for Koller's fifth-minute header was a peach, and one that had Shearer drooling in the studio. The Yanks were generous enough to give him an acre of space and about half an hour in which to pick his spot, though.

Man of the match: Rosicky was superb - two marvellous goals and one venomous long-range drive against the bar. For £7m, Arsenal have got themselves a bargain.

He was playing?!: Landon Donovan. I touched the ball more times than him. (Though in truth, of USA's forward players, only substitute Eddie Johnson showed any kind of spark.)

The Titus Bramble Award For Being Built Like A Brick Shithouse And Looking Solid For Most Of The Game But Cocking Up Badly At Inopportune Moments: Oguchi Onyewu – booked for a rash tackle within the first few minutes, a poor clearing header for Rosicky to smash home his first, and let the Czech midfielder get away for his second. The Smoggies are interested in him, apparently – wonder if Gareth Southgate was watching with interest?

Player who most resembles like Mac from off of 'Green Wing' crossed with a golden retriever enthusiastically chasing a stick: Pavel Nedved (who was, like Figo against Angola, tireless and a cut above the rest - with the exception of Rosicky).

Player who most resembles Nicholas Cage after a few days on the rack: Jan Koller.

Manager most likely to be named after an American football stadium: Bruce Arena.

Manager who, when his team scores, most resembles a toothless pensioner being told it's bingo night: Karel Bruckner.

Face in the crowd: Surprisingly enough, the cameras seemed magnetically attracted to American girls wearing bikini tops.

Stat attack: Surprisingly few to choose from, Simon Brotherton being much more restrained – and refreshingly so – in the outpouring of information than his colleague Jonathan Pearce. How’s about the fact that the average age of the Czech team is 29?

The David Pleat Award For Idiosyncratic Pronunciation: Barely ten seconds in and Ray Stubbs referred to “Rosidzski”. I don’t see a “z” in Rosicky’s name, do you, Ray? You’re thinking of Fulham’s Tomas Radzinski. Sadly, it seems that the condition is infectious – it wasn’t long before Brotherton was saying it, and in the break Shearer adopted it too.

The Gary Lineker Award For Groansome Puns: Stubbs (thankfully) holds back, leaving Brotherton to steal it with one early comment about Bruckner, “A keen chess player – we’ll look out for his set pieces then”, and a later one about one of the Czech substitutes: “You could say Polak is poleaxed”.

Learning the lingo: Let’s face it, as a pundit Leonardo (or “Leo”, if you want to adopt Stubbs’s affected mateyness) is useless. This evening, though, he did introduce us to one new term in amongst claiming it’s important that Rosicky and others have a “big personality”. Apparently, Koller and Rooney are a “reference” for the Czech Republic and England respectively. I’m guessing he means “reference point”, but even then it’s a bit of an odd thing to say. Of course, Big Ron, Graham Taylor or Pleat would have prefaced it by saying: “He’s what I call a reference point…

The Garth Crooks Award For Stating The Obvious Slowly As Though It's A Significant And Hitherto Unthought-Of Insight: Garth Crooks, of course. The inevitable England update at half-time ends: “For success, England need a fully-functioning strikeforce”. Like, duh.

Most bizarre moment of coverage: The footage at half-time of the Australian squad celebrating their qualification for the World Cup by singing songs from ‘Grease’ in their dressing room with John Travolta. Eh?

What we learned: The Czech Republic might be on their last legs, but they’re a class outfit, particularly in central midfield; the loss of Koller could be a massive blow, given how important he is to their tried-and-tested formation and how poorly his lanky replacement Vratislav Lokvenc played; USA are dull, lightweight and play far too narrow; the Brotherton / Peacock combination might just be the best we’ve had yet (not overloading the commentary with stats, not overly patronising, not always reaching for the glib or witty line).


Blogger Del said...

I saw that Travolta/Australia clip as well! Deeply unsettling. He had the look of John Redwood at the Welsh Labour conference when he didn't know the words to the Welsh national anthem: completely out of his depth and unable to communicate with normal people. Except Travolta had no excuse, as he originally sung the bloody song in the first place.

3:03 am, June 13, 2006

Blogger skif said...

Completely agree on the commentary duo. Excellent performance.

Intriguing concept in your report tough Ben. Talking about the actual football? What the hell is that all about? ;-)

9:09 am, June 13, 2006

Blogger paul said...

"Mr Viduka? Great game big guy, you've really got some presence in the box, and you make life tough for defenders. Say, I hear you blow a bit hot and cold, would you like to find a way to change your life so you blow hot and hot? Have you heard of L. Ron Hubbard?"

9:48 am, June 13, 2006

Blogger skif said...

By the way, that should have been 'though, Ben' rather than 'tough Ben'.

Not that I wish to pour any doubt upon your intrinsic hardness. I know you're always spoiling for a dust-up.

10:34 am, June 13, 2006

Anonymous john said...

Great post. I especially loved the bit about Nedved resembling a golden retriever enthusiastically chasing a stick. The guy never tires. I did want to point out that Rosicky is actually pronounced "Rosidzski" in Czech, not what you'd expect with the spelling. May be the only name that Pleat actually got right though.

3:33 pm, June 23, 2006


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