The Punch’s pub rant on the World Cup draw
The way people go on about soccer at World Cup time is reminiscent of the way people like to talk about politics around elections. People who usually don’t show much of an interest in the sport become pub analysts once every three of four years, willing to throw their two cents in at the pub on the eventual winner and what they need to do to get there.
The difference between the World Cup and elections is people actually seem to enjoy having conversations about it a lot more than they do about politics, plus even if we do hate Fabio Grosso for what he did to Australia (why did it have to be a guy called Fabio?), at least we don’t have to elect him as Prime Minister.
So I give you The Punch’s pub rant guide to South Africa 2010, with World Cup tips those “experts” may have missed.
Team that deserves to lose the most: Italy
There is often discussion of teams that we would like to see win or “do well” (invariably some impoverished hell hole that has no chance of doing well), but really do we openly discuss teams that should, nay, deserve to lose. Well here goes: Italy.
This isn’t just sour grapes, it is possibly a large contributing factor here, but not the entirety of my argument.
As a boy of some Italian descent I used to go for Italy in the World Cup because this was an age when we never made it to the finals. The closest we got was Johnny Warren remarking to Les Murray during pre-game chit chat, that he had met an old woman on the streets of Naples this morning who had a cousin in Melbourne.
Furthermore Italy used to have amazing players worth watching, like Roberto Baggio, and defenders who weren’t shameless, like Paolo Maldini. In fact there’s a video of Baggio best moments above, brings tears to my eyes really (note: sentimentality is a must in pub rant reportage).
Not only did this team knock us out in appalling circumstances at the last World Cup, but then had the hide to go on and win it in the least memorable circumstances.
Here’s a good test: can anyone name me an exciting decisive moment that stands out from Italy’s World Cup win? Italy’s highlight reel includes Fabio falling over Lucas Neil and Materazzi milking a headbutt from Zidane (posing questions and not giving anyone a chance to answer is also an important part of a pub rant).
As much as it hurts to say it, if any team doesn’t deserve to get anywhere in this World Cup it’s the Azzurri.
The battlers that everyone will get behind: New Zealand
Of course with every team that deserves to lose, they are teams that deserve to go further than it appears they will on paper. Last time it was us, this year that has to be New Zealand.
Yes everyone will be backing the Africans, especially South Africa, but (note: crazy tipping is a necessary in a World Cup pub rant) I’m saying New Zealand are the team that will really take everyone by surprise.
They have the added benefit of playing Italy in their group, so here goes with crazy tip of the World Cup: New Zealand will beat Italy and make it through to the second round.
Game with lame political implications: anything involving North Korea
Remember when Iran played the USA and everyone was like “sport can do more than diplomacy ever could. Look, they’re having their photo taken together.”
Since that game diplomatic relations between Iran and the USA have flourished, with trade and military links between the two nations common place . . . .
All that power of sport stuff is a load of crap. Remember when North and South Korea marched together at the Sydney Olympics? That worked out a treat.
Your Punch rant correspondent isn’t sure what the chances are of North Korea playing South Korea or the United States (note: pub rants shouldn’t check such “facts” too thoroughly), but you can bet if it happens there will be a joint team photo, exchanging of peace banner and, if the success of such ventures is anything to go by, a first strike on Seoul’s missile capabilities completed by half time.
Game most likely to end in the flapping of Latin hands: Chile v Honduras
Every World Cup there seems to be a game that devolves into two teams surrounding the referee and gesticulating a great deal around him while he attempts to get off the pitch and half of full time (note: pub rant theories get crazier as the night goes on). These teams are preferably both from Latin American countries. Sometimes the players turn on each other in a flapping of hands death match seen in this Spanish league game:
This World Cup has a lot of Latin hand flapping potential. Mexico and France are playing each other, as are Greece and Argentina, but probably the game most likely to end in hand in Latin hand flapping is Chile v Honduras. Given that neither of these two teams are particularly amazing to watch, it is likely to come down to a penalty and therefore hand flapping. Only a brave soul would call the outcome of this one.
Have you got a pub rant on the World Cup? Punch on.
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