Is there any event simultaneously as futile and epoch-defining as a World Cup third-place play-off involving Brazil? Futile because it is essentially the losers’ final; a place the hosts would have rather avoided like the plague. And epoch-defining because 2014 will be now known in football history as the age of the rubbish Brazil team.
It was the game nobody wanted. Even ITV’s Adrian Chiles passed up presenting duties in favour of Matt Smith, who gamely tried to sell it to us on Saturday night. As pictures of sullen Brazil and Netherlands players making their way off their coaches crossed our screens, Smith said, hopefully: “The third-place play-off can be – sometimes – quite a good game.”
Before kick-off Smith and the panel discussed what the defining moment of the tournament was. A great one came a couple of minutes in when Glenn Hoddle started on his pontifications over whether there was a move of the World Cup, a 2014 equivalent of a Cruyff turn. Just as he revved up his “for me” patter, his microphone cut out.
The same happened with Ian Wright while he glottal-stopped his way through a James Rodriguez dissection: “...just quali’y,” he said after his microphone started working again.
Thank goodness we had Martin O’Neill as well. He was dispassionately scathing about Brazil, while telling us exactly what is wrong with them. His main argument was that there was little point in persisting with their current squad – singling out Jo up front. It was hard to disagree, as he barely troubled the Dutch goal in the 3-0 defeat for Brazil.
Speaking of pointless – and history-making, for that matter – how does a record-breaking 100-mile run in the Rockies sound? On Saturday morning we were in luck, because we could follow the climax of the Hardrock 100 run online.
The race, one of the hardest and most competitive ultramarathons in the world, begs the question: who wants to run 100 miles – let alone in a big circle, starting and finishing in the sleepy mountain town of Silverton, Colorado? Not only is the race unconscionably long, it also has over 12 miles of vertical ascent.
It was an event for the ages because the winner, Kilian Jornet, broke the course record by 40 minutes, in a time of 22 hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds – two and a half hours ahead of Julien Chorier in second and well inside the cut-off time of 48 hours.
As the UK woke, the Catalan was around 20 miles from the finish and the regular updates from irunfar.com, accompanied by haunting pictures of the clearly knackered leading runner, were riveting.
Many might question the point of running 100 miles over mountains to end up back where you started. Then others may look at the serene grin plastered across Jornet’s face as he leaned back against the marker stone after finishing and think that perhaps running for a long time up and down a few mountains may be better than playing a losers’ game of football.