Life is at a standstill now. As the Pink Floyd song goes, I'm Comfortably Numb. I neither know nor care whats going on around me. No drug can produce the high that I am experiencing currently. Alright, maybe I'm taking it a bit too far, but you get the drift. Its the world cup fever.
I expected to be in the minority, here in the US, since no one really cares about soccer. Well, as it turned out, I was wrong, a lot more people are interested in (surprise) football than I thought would be. Suddenly, everyone here is a keen fan of football, and has been watching the premiership and champions league games for years! Well, I'll be ... I never knew!!
Life couldn't get any better - teach in the morning, catch the two later games of the day, and then go on to play cricket or football. As for the world cup itself, the games have been better than the last world cup. England have confirmed my evaluation of them - boring, uninspiring, and the complete anti-thesis of football. Even Germany, who I think play a mechanical brand of football have been more exciting to watch, their game against Poland being a point in case. Teams such as Holland and Portugal do not look like they will win the world cup. Though they have the talent, their play in the final third has not been good, their players take too much time on the ball, often losing the opportunity to pass to another player well placed to take a shot. It reeks of selfishness to a certain extent. Neither France nor Italy have shown any imagination in their approach. They will not win it either. The best team among the European nations has been the Czech Republic. They look like a team whose players understand each other, and they represent Europe's best chance of winning the world cup. I'm still doubtful of Spain's chances because of their reputation as perennial under achievers.
Argentina, on the other hand, has played some excellent football. They warmed up nicely against Ivory Coast with a 2-1 win, a game where they were just not stretched, and against Serbia and Montenegro, they cranked it up a notch to play some of the most exciting football I've seen so far. The players seemed to be playing on radar, instinctively knowing where the others are. Just watch the second goal to see what I mean. Six one touch passes polished off by Cambiasso! They were everything that England was not! I'm only fearful that they might become a bit complacent after such a performance. Of course, Argentina is the team I support, and I really do want them to win the world cup.
And finally, we have Brazil. No matter how awful their pre-world cup form, they have always been among the contenders. Their first game was very unlike the Brazil that we know, but I'm sure they'll come good as the tournament goes on. Brazil really are larger than life, with most fans readily supporting Brazil as long as they are not the opposition. I was watching the game wearing a Brazilian jersey, and as I was walking back home from the world cup, atleast four different people (all Americans) called out from their vehicles and their homes, yelling "Go Brazil!" I responded with the typical Brazilian way of acknowledgement - a thumbs up sign, followed by a wink! Most probably do not understand all the nuances of the game, but the fact that they all think Brazil is the best team in the world tells us something about their reputation. No fan of football can afford to not like Brazil. They really are larger than life.
The only grouse that I have is the commentary that is tailored to teach the Americans the basics of football, but it gets irritating for those who follow the game regularly. To make it worse, every five minutes, the commentators break into how USA faces a lot of expectations, and who their next opponents are, and how they should play, forgetting that there is another game going on at the moment! Its but a small price to pay for watching the entire world cup!
Update: The much talked about second goal of Argentina against Serbia and Montenegro (commentary in Spanish, with the typical South American style of going goooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaal after the goal)!