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Saturday, 10 July 2010



File:Spain and Portugal match at the FIFA  World Cup 2010-06-29  7.jpg

In the quarter-finals Sergio Ramos marauds on the right wing with one eye on Xabi Alonso moving into the area as Spain's passing game tests a Portugal rear guard moored by the surprise defender of the tournament, the youngster Fabio Coentrao (left), while Ronaldo and Bruno Alves mimic works of sculpture. (Photo by Andrew Deacon)

File:Spain and Portugal match at the FIFA  World Cup 2010-06-29  2.jpg

The brilliant David Villa fires home the winner against Portugal off a superb delivery by the wizard Xavi. (Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius)

File:Spain and Portugal match at the FIFA  World Cup  2010-06-29.jpg

El Guaje celebrates, Tiago gesticulates with the air of a man quarreling vainly with history, Eduardo attempts to rub the memory of what's just happened out of his skull, and Simao trudges off dejectedly, as if knowing his side will not recover from this blow. (Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 Netherlands  Cameroon3.jpg

Robben, Kuyt and Sneijder showed their quality as The Netherlands (white shirts), here dispatching Cameroon in the group stage, efficiently advanced through the rounds toward the final against Spain. (Photo by Warren Rohner)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 Argentina vs Germany  - Thomas Müller  opening goal.gif

Germany stunned the much-fancied Argentina side of Maradona and Messi with this fourth minute goal created by two of the tournament's outstanding performers, Bastian Schweinsteiger (7, providing pinpoint service from the left) and newcomer Thomas Müller (penetrating the porous Argentine back line to head home); the reeling South Americans would never recover. Germany, looking imperious at this point, would crumple before the Spanish in their semi-final. (Photo animation by Zunaid)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 Uruguay South  Korea.jpg

In a tense Round of 16 struggle against South Korea under monsoon conditions at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, Uruguay took the lead through a wonder goal by the uncontainable Luis Suárez, were set back by a South Korean equalizer, then showed their steel in rallying to win on the strength of another blinding strike by the effervescent Suárez, who celebrates here with a teammate. (Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 Uruguay Ghana2.jpg

The unflappable veteran Sebástian Loco Abreu converted Uruguay's decisive penalty kick with leisurely aplomb, making a thing of difficulty appear (almost) easy: delirium of joy for Uruguay, but ahead lay quarter-final submission to the Dutch. (Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 Uruguay Ghana3.jpg

The great Diego Forlán of Uruguay showed himself one of the few players in the tournament able to control the unpredictable Jabulani ball, posing a constant long range threat and here equalizing in the 55th minute against Ghana with a wonderful free kick. (Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius)

File:Brazil & Chile match at World Cup  2010-06-28 1.jpg

Brazil rolled through the Round of 16 in workmanlike style, seeing off a dangerous Chile side, only to submit to humiliating quarter-final elimination by The Netherlands. (Photo by Marcello Casals Jr/Agence Brasil)

File:Brazil & Chile match at World Cup  2010-06-28 6.jpg

Before being sent off for no apparent cause, Kaká was active against Chile. (Photo by Marcello Casals Jr/Agence Brasil)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 Brazil North Korea  9.jpg

Robinho performed with élan in a group stage victory over North Korea; but Felipe Melo, looking on here, would be at the epicenter of Brazil's subsequent quarter-final collapse. (Photo by Marcello Casals Jr/AgenceBrasil)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 Italy Paraguay2.jpg

A group phase draw with Paraguay was as good as it got for disappointing defending champions Italy, who appeared halfhearted and disorganized. (Photo by Vaughan Leiberum)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 France Mexico.jpg

The ageless if slightly creaky Cuauhtémoc Blanco of Mexico coolly notched this penalty to put Mexico on the way to a surprisingly easy win over the debacle in shorts which called itself France. (Photo by Celso Flores)

File:First game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup,  South Africa vs  Mexico2.jpg

Tshabalala, baby, Tshabalala: the man with the doo-wop-song name shocked the world and delighted his nation by scoring the tournament's first goal, amid a honking vuvuzela din in the Soccer City opener against Mexico. (Photo by Celso Flores)

File:First game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup,  South Africa vs  Mexico5.jpg

Carlos Salcido's attacking forays from the back continually worried opponents until an inexplicable officiating error in their Round of 16 match against Argentina pulled the rug out from under Mexico. (Photo by Celso Flores)

File:England Algeria World Cup 2010.jpg

Detached and doomed: Heskey, Gerrard, and Rooney strike poses of alienated Antonioniesque lovers, in the England wall against Algeria; the nation that gave football to the world was unceremoniously dumped from the tournament in the Round of 16 by Germany. (Photo by Andrew Deacon)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 England Algeria.jpg

This Gerrard corner, like much else of what little they managed to direct toward their star man Rooney, brought the English no reward. (Photo by Jason Bagley)

File:FIFA World Cup 2010 Portugal North  Korea2.jpg

In the heavy weather of Cape Town Portugal gave no quarter against North Korea, scoring seven times in less than an hour; the show pony Cristiano Ronaldo even managed a goal in this demolition job, after juggling the ball on the back of his neck like a circus seal; but Portugal, having wasted their extravagant riches on a blowout, would not win another game. (Photo by Jason Bagley)


leigh tuplin said...

In a large, perfect nutshell.

'Tiago gesticulates with the air of a man quarreling vainly with history,' - that also sums up the life of a fan :)

TC said...


Yes, we are all Tiago without the talent.

Funny thing today, after a month without sleep and feeling every one of my at least 150 years, I found Uruguay/Germany enthralling and was breathless at the moment Forlán's last kick of the match hit the bar.

The absence of the intense pressure to win and go on in the tournament seemed to draw a different kind of game out of those sides, both playing with freedom and abandon, wonderful stuff really.

How would we play life if there was nothing much to lose?

Third place. In the US there's this "We're number one" business. Nobody ever wanted to be third. That's the beauty of "consolation", it comes much closer than winning to what life might realistically have to offer. There can only one number one. Nobody remembers who came in third. We can all come in third together.

Curtis Roberts said...

Tom, As a US non-football follower (who will have more to say about the Bennett and Orwell posts tomorrow), I thought this was exceptionally fine sports reporting. The best. As Leigh said, "in a large perfect nutshell."

"Consolation". "150 years" These both spy me "found" and "lost", which seems ok tonight.

Mario Domínguez Parra said...

Sir, the name is Sergio Ramos, instead of Pedro Ramos. Pedro is the outstanding Barcelona forward. Your blog is extraordinary. Thank you very much

manik sharma said...

england were pedestrian compared to footballing standards that were set by other countries....these players play well only alongside good foreign players in the league.....but as a matter of personal opinion i think two teams who have made the final have been the two who have had luck on their side of the dugout...

needless to say there have been the moments of brilliance that have seen them through....
the germany/uruguay match was indeed a heart-stopper...i think forlan has been the most underrated player who shone in the tournament....the quality of his goals should stand for some reward itself..but then who remembers the ones who didn't win the big one....

And the moment of the tournament for me was saurez's handball in the last minute and the miss that emotions would have vibrated high and low within those 2 minutes of football is quite un-imaginable.....

the love the way you picture heskey,gerrard and rooney....
coz i'm an england fan

tke cre..

TC said...

Curtis, good morning and thank you.

Mario, good morning and thank you very much for reminding me that Sergio is Sergio and Pedro is Pedro. (That has now been corrected.) I would prefer to mix up my own name than the names of those two excellent players. But ah, the ageing brain... I think it was the fact that I've had Pedro on my mind ever since the late moments of the Germany game, when he passed up the opportunity to provide for Torres in front of an open goal. It was touching to see that Pedro himself immediately knew his mistake, and made a prayerful gesture toward Torres, as if to say, Forgive.

In the Americas, the announcers (the Spanish-speaking announcers, who are the only ones worth listening to) sometimes call Pedro "Pedrito". But he has lately shown himself to be a fully-grown hombre, so perhaps the diminutive will be left behind.

Manik, good morning and yes, I think Forlán is a seriously underrated player. This probably dates back to his stay at Manchester United, where he was derided as "Forlorn". But as we know, that is a tough stop for even the greatest of South American players. La Bruja Veron was also the butt of jokes there. And Carlitos Tevez was not much appreciated... though when he returned in Man City colours he was at least noticed, if with predictable unkindness.

Forlán was the reason a mediocre Atletico team rose up to win that cup they now call Europa (a moon of Jupiter?), and now, along with Suárez, he is a large part of reason why Uruguay will return home with honour from this present tournament.

And indeed with that last kick of the match he came very close to extending that wonderful game yesterday.

He managed to make the Jabulani, everybody's nemesis, into his companion. Marvelous.


What great stuff [photos & the captions that put words to such pictures of action stopped in pictures]. Having no cable/dish, we haven't seen any of this, alas. Used to watch it w/ the friends in the "soccer club" in olden days (one of which at least you remember), back when network TV carried it -- many an hour spent watching as I now recall. Your selection of image and the words to go with it are really terrific, thanks!


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, song sparrow calling from branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

perspective frame, this one
done just by letting go

attention, measured against,
said about is “in fact”

grey-white of fog reflected in channel,
line of pelicans flapping toward point

TC said...


Not sure who that erstwhile mutual friend would be, but the sole suspect would be.... ?

The thing is, and it's this that makes my unhealthy preoccupation even MORE insane, there's no cable or dish here either.

So watching the games has entailed some pretty strange and indeed pretty precarious and at times extremely frustrating internet trawling.

perspective frame, this one
done just by letting go

... of rationality, I guess.

(Speaking of deep fog.)


In honour of cross cultural understanding, on the auspicious day of the gran final, let me offer this, which comes in from our friend Simon Schuchat.

It may be dedicated to either the Spanish or the Dutch, as circumstance and inclination determine.

manik sharma said...

yes i completely agree....
and be it mockingly but i was astonished to see VERON being fielded for the argentinians was shocking....a country that boasts of the best player in the world(who broke down in the dressing room-revealed by maradona himself after the germans rendered hi invisible on the pitch ) and an array of such excellent talent...

forlan has won 2 european golden is an amazing feat for him and his country alike in this tournament who might find it difficult to even qualify the next time when probably he would be retired if not older....

but he has left behind his mark on this tournament i suppose.....but sadly also the medal...that he truly deserved...

cheers !!

TC said...


Perhaps it is because I am such a very old person that I have had sympathies for some of the less youthful players we have seen in the tournament. I mention Blanco and Abreu in the piece. I must confess I feel also that Veron, though he showed very little over the past few weeks to confirm this, still has some life left in the skills department. At least as much as, say, Loco Palermo, who was also in the Argentine squad.

These are surely personal affiliations of Maradona's. And of course Maradona's team selection has been crazy all along. The exclusion of Zanetti and Cambiasso certainly made no sense. They were key parts of a European championship team just a few months ago.

But while on this subject, I must confess I am so geriatric that I would have been happy to see Juan Roman Riquelme -- another fellow Maradona does not get along with, but then of course that probably puts Maradona in the majority -- not only in the squad, but on the field. Since Riquelme's departure from the national team it has lacked a player of similar skill in that enganche position which Riquelme defined for his epoch. A thinker with peripheral vision, tactical nous and distribution skills. That "link" position has gone unfilled. And I think maybe it was the missing link in the team Maradona assembled.


And speaking, as I was, of the ageing brain in the fog... Mario, a bit of memory meditation has yielded the deeper sources (!!) of my "Pedro/Sergio" mistake: in the mid-1950s I worked at sporting events in Chicago. Things were very different in the sporting arena then, the players were far less remote from ordinary human beings. So in the course of ordinary human events, I consorted a bit with the players whom I was meant to protect and serve. And one of those was a pleasant Cuban fellow who was also a fine pitcher, at that time for the Washington Senators (a team that no longer exists). And his name was: Pedro Ramos.

manik sharma said...

yes....there is a saying that is often muttered in cricketing alleys...
"class is permanent...form is temporary"

and it probably does imply to football as well..the same reason i feel a certain paul scholes could have done something for england if he'd chosen to...

as for maradona's inexplicable selection issues...i think raymond domenech the french coach surpassed him....individually france was as good as any of the other contenders...there were roars throughout the world urging him to step down from his position....but some people simply do not get it...perhaps he lived under a rock...never read ,watched ,heard the news....

and maradona plays 4 centre backs in his back line(defence)....zanetti probably would be as confused as everyone else was...di-EGO maradona!

leigh tuplin said...

If only the final had been (in purely footballing terms) as entertaining as the delight that was the third place playoff. Though despite the first half Dutch mugging (I'm guessing Alonso may have a permanent studded tattoo after Dejongs Cantonaesque karate kick) the best footballing side of the tournament won, thankfully, and well deserved (my heart sank for Torres though), yet my heart rose again on seeing Iniestas under shirt after his beautiful strike...a tribute to their former captain Daniel Jarque who died from a heart attack shortly after a training session almost a year ago aged only 26.

The celebrations were wonderful to behold. Oh and, Forlan has won 'player of the tournament' too, that with Mueller winning the 'Golden Shoe', leaves me quietly satisfied.

TC said...

After nearly five weeks of trying to keep awake in a zombie state and a turbulent emotional day of the gran final, there are a lot of memories to process out of this whole long event, but for now let me just say, first, that I agree with all the points made by Manik and Leigh here; second, that I think Spain is a deserving campéon; and third, that if I wake up in the afterlife and hear the honk of a vuvuzela, I'll know right away I've landed in the wrong place.

At the end of the last several World Cups I've wondered if I'd ever live to see another one. That got to be a pretty boring habit, so this time I'll just leave it that I'm looking forward to Brasil. In my dreams...

manik sharma said...

i think that would be the biggest challenge for evolving and improving teams like germany and spain to do it in brazilian turf....and likewise for brazil who before the start of every tournament are labelled as favourites...

and i feel satisfied at learning that forlan won the best player for the tournament...thoroughly deserved...FiFa do get certain things right...

The best team won indeed..atleast in out of the two in the final..the dutch were lucky to end up with 10 men...i do feel for sneijder ..for he in my eyes played the pass of the match which robben owing to his class should have dispatched ....but then if's and but's

and ofcrse the biggest headliner apart from the things about football....the vuvuzela...

TC said...


Exception on one point, Sneijder's pass was sweet but wasted whereas Cesc Fabregas's similarly true pass into the small space between three defenders found Iniesta and won the match.

I think by the way that Sneijder might have done better to avoid pretending to be the hard man and looking round more for open recipients not named Robben, by which I mean in particular Van Persie. (I'm no mind reader but everybody has heard that the two do not get along. At this level supposedly personal feelings are to be left aside.)



Great to read through all these this morning, after that "gran final" (as you say), which I did get to see, w/ two old friends (one of whom, Rob Rich, knew you back in the day here -- as I found out when I told them about your "Copa" yesterday). (Those previous 'friends' were members of the Bolinas soccer club, who still play on Sundays (down at the school, or sometimes at "Mesa Park" (another story). Would that I had seen the semi-final match the day before, after reading all comments here about it. But that goal yesterday in, what was it, the 119th minute? - - - what drama. Your "internet trawling" in search of the earlier games is, shall we simply say, heroic. . . .

Mario Domínguez Parra said...

Mr. Clark, I just wanted to help your blog with the correction of Pedro and Sergio Ramos.

You know, Pedro himself, when he started playing in Barcelona, wore the name "Pedrito" on his back, with the number 27. Now they call him here "Don Pedro".

Your combination of photos and poetry is outstanding.

Mario Domínguez Parra said...

Then, Mr Clark, if you tell me that your confusion was due to the remembrance of a player called Pedro Ramos, your memory is in a perfect state. Wow, that's a great way of being aware of confusing a name!

TC said...


Thanks for being so helpful and kind.

One of the dark beauties of memory loss is its effect of causing you to come up with labyrinthine memory retrieval strategies, which may prove of no practical use but at least give you the sense, perhaps illusory, that the game is not over yet simply because you are up against a superior opponent.

As the Dutch showed, if you can't fairly overcome something, you can always try other tactics.

But the strategy of giving my loose brain contents a good kicking -- no, I haven't had the nerve to try that one yet. But then again perhaps I lack the right cerebral instruments. A tiny little nano-De Jong or nano-Van Bommel, say.

TC said...


Ah, nostalgia winces, the Bolinas soccer (how I hate that word, it's so arriviste and tacky) club.

Back in the Mesozoic period there was that embarrassing moment I told you about, when I was recruited as an emergency left-back and immediately (as the saying goes) "was found by the ball". In exactly the worst spot.

I'm still doing that sort of thing, without the football.

I have lost all balls forever, alas.

What I'd really like to be doing (in heaven, in my dreams) is, as I guess I have said -- or have I? see above, memory loss -- paddling across the channel with you.

Joe Safdie said...

Tom, all this Bolinas nostalgia is pissing me off -- there's a baseball season to attend to, young man! And the Giants are still in the race! Well, at least for another month or so, before they start playing all the teams better than them . . .

I'm just kidding, but you know, you were already 150 years old in the 70s. Thanks for all this fabulousness, along with the severely astringent Orwell correction below it, which I've incorporated in my "Narrative, Including Sports" this summer. But raccoons are other creatures safe from my nostalgia (the open cabinets ransacked, their paw prints always on the toilet) . . . they can be objects of sympathy and admiration as creatures of the night, but things are different once they share the house.

Or so I remember. Did you know that Dwayne Murphy, former Oakland A, was batting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays? Just saying . . .

TC said...


Through many chilly nights in the cheap seats at the Coliseum I marveled at the splendid seemingly effortless centerfield play of Dwayne Murphy, who, along with Tony Armas and Michael Davis, formed, in my then estimation, an outfield for the ages.

Now it looks more like for the decades perhaps.

jimmy said...

Thanks for posting my photos. Just one detail, I also took photo no. 2:

Can you please fix it? All the best!

Jimmy Baikovicius

TC said...

Thanks very much, Jimmy. Terrific photos. Apologies for that botched attribution, which I've just corrected.