Sneaky Suarez and Bored Balotelli: My ignoramus's guide to the World Cup

The footballing gene passed me by so I've done a little boning up on the World Cup. Here's part two of my guide to Brazil 2014

Share

The ignoramus’s guide to the World Cup continues with more important bulletins about the major issues of the day, starting with – what you should know about Uruguay, England’s opponents tonight:

1. Players and fans believe in la garra charrua, meaning the “spirit” of the national team. Mostly it’s their “ability to snatch victory from the jaws of imminent defeat”. Not against Costa Rica, obviously.

2. Their star is Luis Suarez, the Liverpool striker. Fans on the Kop like to sing, “I just can’t seem to get enough of Swah-rezz!” He’s been bragging for days that he’s 100 per cent fit, his treatment’s been “fabulous”, and he knows (Oo-er) the defensive weaknesses of certain England players. We shall see. Few victims of major knee surgery recover in under six weeks. He has had four.

3. They’re weirdly keen on dulce de leche, that revoltingly sweet caramel custard made by boiling sugar. And their supply of 39kg of it has been confiscated by Brazilian customs. Hah!

Reasons to be cheerful about England vs Uruguay:

1. The weather in the Sao Paolo Arena will be 14 degrees. Absolutely fine for England, bloody freezing for the Urugs.

2. When Uruguay were outplayed 3-1 by Costa Rica on Saturday, they conceded two goals inside three minutes. They’re below England at the bottom of Group D. With luck they’ll stay there.

3. They have no creative midfielders. Theoretically, they play a 4-4-2 formation. In practice, it’s more like 8-2, leaving everything to their strikers.

4. We’ve got Raheem Sterling, the most explosively talented young player to appear in a major competition since Wayne Rooney in Euro 2004. We cannot fail.

A shocking (lack of) violence

Was the Müller-Pepe incident in the Germany-Portugal match the most minimal display of violence ever seen on a pitch? Right arm outflung, Pepe fended off Müller with a gentle flap of the hand to his face, upon which Müller collapsed in a devastated heap. When the referee waved the game on, Pepe came over and gently touched heads with the fallen German – bonk-bonk, as if saying “C’mon, are you really hurt?” And they called it a head-butt, deserving a red card? Have they ever seen a head-butt? Pathetic.

 

Panini stickers

Once, young World Cup fans collected metal doubloons bearing the faces of key players and stuck them into a pirate’s-treasure-style trophy book. This year they can buy packs of stickers bearing the faces of key players and stick them into weedy albums.

In an impulse somewhere between narcissism and insecurity, many players have been buying packs and looking for their own faces among them. Joel Campbell of Costa Rica bought 100 packs (500 stickers!), looked for images of himself but found none.

He tweeted a forlorn pic of the opened packs. Mario Balotelli, by comparison, found lots of himself, pasted them all in his album, then posted a snap of it on Facebook. Have these guys nothing better to do?

READ MORE:
Paxman's style was entertaining, but not always enlightening
The EU system is against Ukip
The five reasons why schools are failing white working class children

The politics of sport:

During the Germany-Portugal match, the camera lingered on a familiar figure in the crowd: Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor in a red jacket and white slacks.

She waved her fists in support, visited the team in the changing room, and took a cute selfie with striker Lukas Podolski.

The minute the pictures went global, every head of state in the other 31 countries taking part smote their brow and said, “Why didn’t we think of that?” Will Ed Miliband be found grinning with Steven Gerrard in the Sao Paulo tunnel tonight?

Twilight of the Idols:

The Samsung TV ad shows Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo kitted out in quasi-robotic, metallic, ubermensch strip, posing, running and scoring like footballing gods. So far, Ronaldo has done little on the pitch except look handsomely cross and frustrated. Rooney, although he set up a goal for Sturridge, seemed unable to kick a ball with any accuracy (but he’ll be brilliant tonight).

And Messi, before his winning goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina played so badly that he was booed by Argentina fans. Why are the titans, whose genius we have switched on our TV sets to savour, failing to deliver?

Quotes of the week:

“When chances are created for Balotelli, he will just do things.” – Rafa Benitez. Yeah. Don’t you hate the way he does that?

“I want everyone here in the northeast of Brazil [Fortaleza] and especially those in the stadium [Estadio Castelau] to sing the national anthem like we sing it on the pitch, and hug the person next to you. That will push us forward” – Brazil captain Thiago Silva, perhaps unwittingly asking for trouble.

“He has made an art out of nutmegs… in a flash the ball will go through your legs and he is away” – Jamie Carragher, sorrowfully admiring of Luis Suarez.

“I really feel a big responsibility because everybody is talking about me as possibly one of the surprises of this World Cup.” – Modesty deserts the almost-unknown Russia striker Alexander Kokorin.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Reconciliation Analyst

£200 - £250 per day: Orgtel: Reconciliation Analyst Gloucestershire

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
David Cameron and Theresa Mayspeak to Immigration Enforcement officers at a property where six immigrants were arrested on July 29, 2014 in Slough, England.  

Does David Cameron actually believe his tough new immigration stance?

Matthew Norman
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on