Five things from….Brazil 1 Chile 1

Out of all of the weekend’s games, this one promised to be the most fiery.  Two teams who don’t appear to have a defensive bone in their bodies (I mean, David Luiz plays centre-back for Brazil!), some pre-match hype about the pressure on the referee and the fact it was on BBC, which meant we would not have any stupid advert breaks or Gordon Strachen’s bare legs.  Chile had surprised many in the tournament so far, easing past Spain to qualify alongside the Dutch.  Huge expectations from the millions of home fans would surely put pressure on the home side too.

1. A large block of empty seats – The hottest ticket in Belo Horizonte bar none, with locals lining the streets on the way up to the Estádio Mineirão pleading for any spare seats yet behind the goal (to the left of the TV cameras) there is a large block of completely empty seats. By half time a large number of stewards had appeared to take the seats.  I can just imagine a coach, broken down somewhere outside Belo Horizonte with 50 fuming Brazilians standing on the hard shoulder.

photo (2)2. Colour – Almost every game has been filled with fans wearing the (home) shirts of their nations – makes a fantastic spectacle on TV and one that I cannot remember seeing at any other tournament – well apart from the three largish chaps in the front row on half-way line who had whipped off their tops to reveal some impressive man-boobs.

3. Big decisions – In the run up to the game, the appointment of Howard Webb caused a media storm “We are going to talk about this only once,” Paiva, senior press officer for the Brazilian Football Federation, said. “This is immature at the moment in football and the world we are living in today. This is ridiculous.Talking about this is not just a lack of respect to Fifa and the Brazil Selecao, but the whole of Brazil and the Brazilian people. It is a lack of respect. Brazil does not need a referee to win a match. You are insulting Brazil and the Brazilian people.”  Just to show there was no home bias, Webb agreed with his English assistant to rule out Hulk’s second half goal for a dubious handball.  He also showed some real inconsistency by failing to book Fernandinho despite 5 or 6 bookable offences.

4. No Mexican Wave – See it is possible to have a game at this World Cup without the spectacle of a Mexican Wave. They aren’t “fun”; They don’t add to any atmosphere…or any sloooooow motion replays.

5. Nicknames – “He has the nickname of the South American Xavi”.  Now I have to take exception to you here Mr. Mowbray.  Who calls him that?  It’s hardly a nickname, is it?  Nicknames are “Giggsy”, “Robbo”, “One size” (love that one for Fitz Hall”.  I can hardly imagine his team mates shouting across the pitch when he has the ball…”Oi! South American Xavi…over here”.

Beer World Cup

For a chance we’ve gone with a beer to celebrate the officials, which in this case were led by Howard Webb.  I have it on very good authority that his favourite tipple is a Timothy Taylor’s IPA so we put that up against his assistant Darren Cann’s possible favourite beer (he’s from Norwich), a Greene King Gold.

Five things from….Spain 0 Chile 2

I could have taken the easy (sensible) option and just gone straight to bed after the Australia game.  I did have good intentions and went back to the hotel but I made the mistake of turning the TV on and there on Channel 1 was the lovely Lucy Zelic, seducing me to stay with her for this “enthralling match”.  “If Chile win, then Spain can pack their bags and fly home tomorrow” she told me.  As if!  They didn’t become World Champions and the most dominant force in global football by bottling it under pressure.  I mean, they weren’t the new France were they?

1. Spain are the new France – OK we were all wrong.  Hands up who genuinely thought Spain would be the first team eliminated from the World Cup (well, technically joint first as this result also sent Australia home)?  Their patient, passing game simply didn’t faze the Chileans who played around their holding midfielders and got the ball into the danger areas, putting the shaky Casillas under pressure time and time again, leading to one of the two goals.

2. Brazil are the big winners, probably – Defeat for Spain means that the Netherlands only need a point from their last game against Chile to capture top spot and line up a second round tie with either Mexico or Croatia.  They will be happy with that, as probably Spain were prior to the tournament when they mapped out their route to Rio.  The second place team, most predicted as Netherlands, would face Brazil.  However, the group has now been thrown up in the air and it is probably Chile who will now face Brazil – a game that they will fancy more than having to play either of the Europeans.

3. “Too hot to handle” gags – The result was a headline writers dream, with a number of news agencies immediately posting headlines in relation to Chile’s win.  I’d personally gone with “Abdication”….I’ll get my coat.

4. Brand names galore – Spain had Alba (cheap stereos), Costa and Koke…Chile had Bravo, Vidal and Medel – massive opportunity missed there for sponsors…unless of course they had got in on the act years ago and the players had changed their names already.

5. Chilean fans – Once again they surpassed themselves, taking almost every seat in the stadium, with colorful dress.  Some even themed their outfits for the game, whilst others tried any possible means to get into the game including breaking into the stadium’s press box and trying to hide there.

Due to the hour of the day, there was no Beer World Cup

Five things from….Australia 2 Netherlands 3

Here is some good advice when you have travelled to the other side of the world.

  • Try to get back into a regular rhythm of sleep as soon as possible to reduce the pain of jet lag
  • Avoid coffee and excessive alcohol
  • Avoid heavy, stodgy food that will keep you up

So it probably wasn’t wise to decide to head out to a bar in Melbourne at 1.30am to watch this game, having not slept for a couple of days due to travel.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but so too is beer, football and hundreds of screaming Australian girls.  Irresponsibility wins hands down.  But I had missed a whole day’s worth of World Cup action travelling yesterday (hence no updates) so I was determined to get back into the World Cup swing, albeit watching the games all through the night.

This promised to be a fantastic, colourful match with a couple of the best supported teams in the tournament clashing in Port Alegre.  The Australians knew that defeat would almost spell curtains, whilst the Dutch knew a win would almost certainly take them through. AND can we talk about beer?  No shortage of outstanding brews on “home turf” for this one.

download1. The Australian Adrian Chiles – We all love Adrian don’t we?  His cute face, his knack of asking a question and then answering it himself and then THOSE shorts.  Having watched a few games across the world this week on TV we don’t know how lucky we are. I mean, take the Australian Sports anchor for their World Cup coverage – Lucy Zelic. Highly respected as a sports presenter, knowledgeable about the game and not wearing shorts. British TV, best in the world.

2. THAT volley – If I was still a little sleepy then Tim Cahill’s volley woke me up and the whole of the Central Business District here in Melbourne.  The chap next to me got so excited he gave me a big hug when it flew in off the bar.  “Believe” he said to me, throwing a pint of Red Spice Ale down my white T-Shirt.  One of the goals in World Cup history?

3. Hoof it – The Australians are frustrating to watch when they defend, neatly summed up by their fans in the bar who added a soundtrack of “no, No, NO…just bloody HOOF IT OUT” every time the Dutch broke.  All three Dutch goals came from defensive indecision and sometimes winning games is as much about being functional as it is being technical. Bring back Lucas Neill I say.

4. Dutch fans blending in – The camera panned round the stadium and for a brief few seconds it appeared that a big bit of the stadium was empty.  It wasn’t.  It was the Dutch fans, dressed in orange who had taken on the appearance of chameleons and changed a fetching colour of orange in the hot sunshine.  Nice tan lines.

5. Time to say goodbye – The good thing about the World Cup is wall to wall football for a month.  The bad thing is sometimes results make games meaningless.  The surprise win by the Dutch over the Spanish meant their victory tonight means they only need a point maximum versus Chile to go through.  That is assuming Spain do not win their game on now versus Chile.  If the Chileans win, then both Spain and Australia would be on their way home less than a week into the tournament.

Beer World Cup

Back at last….Only 17 different Australian beers on offer in the bar I watched this in, compared to two Dutch beers (Heineken and Grolsch).  The best of the Aussie brews, the Cahill to relate it back to the side, was a Red Spiced Ale which was, as my new learned Australian friend told me was “bonza”.  He was right.  As good a contest as it was on the field, with the Australians just taking this one.

Australia 4 Netherlands 3


Five things from….Chile 3 Australia 1

We should’ve all packed up and turned off the TV long before this game started. Surely nothing could beat THAT game and you could imagine ITV’s producers trying to think of ways to suggest BBC’s coverage of the Spain v Netherlands game was nothing compared to what we could expect from this game. Alas I’d failed to find any Chilean beer in SE9 so the Beer World Cup would take a brief diversion for the game in the exact centre of South America in Cuiabá.

1. Lucas Neill – when Panini brought out their sticker album for the World Cup they had included Lucas Neill. This shocked me in two ways. Firstly the horrible memories of seeing a player who makes BFF look like he’s been at Weightwatchers huff and puff around Upton Park. Secondly, up until a few weeks ago he was still registered to play in England, with Watford. Must have been a bad season for the Hornets. Good old Lucas was on an eye watering £60k per week six years ago at Upton Park.

2. Globe trotters – the Australian squad play in thirteen different countries. That takes some beating and may explain the fact that for the vast majority of the game they played as complete strangers, often bring eight men behind the ball in the final third yet Chile still dominated possession – with 74% of the ball at half-time.

3. Rubbish use of advertising – What’s that all about? As anyone who works in the domain name world will know, the new .futbol domain is available AND McDonalds own it. So why not use it? Relevant, catchy and easy to remember…Rainham Steel, Rainham Steel, Rainham Steel.

Marco4. A Chilean player called Gary – Seriously?  That’s like having someone born in Nottingham called Marco.  I can only assume he was named after a famous Gary from the late 1980’s.  There could only be one man – Gary Coleman from Different Strokes or perhaps Gary Lineker after his Golden Boot performance in Mexico in 1986…which was ten months before he was born…Interesting.

5. Thank God for goal line technology – Just four games in and FIFA can breathe a sigh of relief when Wilkinson clears off the line and the referee gets a message to say “no goal”.  Goal shouted the Chilean fans, who according to certain newspapers all looked like this.  No goal said GoalControl thanks to their secret eye in the net.

The Beer World Cup

With a lack of Chilean beer in the World Cup fridge we had to turn to Current Mrs Fuller’s wine cellar (cupboard under the stairs). And what did we find? A cheeky Chilean Casillero del Diablo, the official wine of Manchester United no less, and a Hunter Valley white. One glass of each? Go on then…

Chilean Red 2 Australian White 2

The fact we hadn’t chilled the white counteracted the fact the red hadn’t had time to “breathe”. Even so it was a tight run contest with nothing coming between the two apart from a bowl of spicy Jalapeño pretzel pieces at half time. A bit like watching an episode of Emmerdale when you are in a Bond marathon…it’s OK but you’d rather go back to seeing 007. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

The Kit World Cup – Day two

Nike – 6pts
adidas – 3pts
Puma – 3pts