The Boring Game

The World Cup reaches its denouement on Sunday having truly underwhelmed. Although billed as the greatest sporting event on the planet, the British Grand Prix on Sunday morning promises to be more exciting than what was served up as soccer in South Africa. Big name flops, few skills on display, no memorable man of the tournament, Diego Forlan of Uruguay coming closest. Not every side were as useless as England or as hopeless as France, but apart from the Germans none stood out for flair although Uruguay showed great resolve unlike their more illustrious neighbours from South America.

Holland and Spain are now to play it out in the last match. They are the two countries on the European continent I have visited most so there is a sense of being familiar with them. The sun of Madrid or the rain of Amsterdam, whatever prevails, my interest in the final is hardly as great as it would have been were Germany to have made it. Uruguay would also have made a worthy finalist. They played well enough in their semi to get there, Germany didn’t in theirs.

At the outset I thought Spain had a great chance of winning the competition for the first time. But every match they played saw them throw a wet blanket over the game, smothering creativity and skill in equal abundance. I recall not one single exciting game they played in. Their boring play was infectious, each of their opponents catching it along the way. Narcoleptics alone could derive enjoyment from Spanish performances.

I was disappointed at the end of last night’s game. Spain were the better team; the least worst is probably a better description. The Germans despite some dazzling football at all stages of the tournament simply failed to shine. Bastien Schweinsteiger summed it up: ‘the way we played was poor. Based on yesterday’s performance we didn’t deserve to reach the last two.’

From early on when he failed to run the game from midfield it was clear his side were going to find the going hard. Germany while a great side rely too much on the performance of Schweinsteiger. Stop him, stop the team. Rarely have German teams been so dependent on one key player. Greats like Beckenbauer, Rummenigge, Breitner, MatthÀus had others to fall back on. Not so with this German side. When his influence failed to surface the rest remain submerged: Podolski hardly figured, nor did Klose; Ozel, despite early tournament man of the match awards, was simply a dead man hanging around to pick up his wages without doing the work.

The previous two occasions when Holland reached the final I watched them from prison. In 1974 I longed for them to win but they could not overcome the might of the then West Germans on home soil. Four years later I was rooting for Argentina who triumphed over the Dutch in a dull Buenos Aires final. This time Holland, minus the flair of yesteryear, will play their final on a neutral venue. Whether it helps them is another matter. Regardless of the outcome the soccer fraternity seems destined for one boring finale.


  1. Ach Anthony my main man, you said there was"no memorable man of the tournament" wrong a cara there was one and I,d dearly love to meet him, yip it is none other than the f##ker who invented that f##kin vuvuzela horn, !!

  2. Marty, I hope that horn does not come under freedom of speech. Imagine having to support the right to blow it. That is what you buy for the neighbour's kids when he annoys you.

  3. LOL acara believe it or not a few years ago I won a pot noodle horn,which is also a noisey f##king thing to, I use it sparingly when watching Armagh play,though the wee grandson just uses it to torment all ,one of these days I,m gonna put him in a taxi with it and send him down to Uncle Alberts and Auntie Nualas!

  4. Dear Mr Moat, many apologies from facebook,it was a communications error,your wife was not sleeping with a policeman,it was an orangeman,now go fill your boots.......

  5. Hate to be your typical soccer bashing yank but this world cup has been about as riveting, exciting and suspense filled as a Martin Mcguinness speech. One good thing is it has completely shut up the soccer lovers here who are always harping about how one day soccer will take over the USA. My prediction for the final: nil nil with a Holland win on PKs! Catch the fever!!

  6. No Ryan,

    even England aren't that dull

  7. Spain to beat the Billy-boys..2-0 remember ye heard it here first. At least in American football there's the adverts every 3 minutes to keep ya entertained. Baseball having a 'world series is a tad confusing too!!?
    The ingerlit on bbc radio 5 are asking how can the competition be changed to make it better..or are they, as in elections and all things perfidious, trying to rig it to their advantage??
    Rule Britania Britania "waves the rules"...Maybe they just need to dump their ego [ and team ] We pulled the plug on and dumped their empire har de har har..any suggestions for their soccer team? come on ESPANA!!!

  8. F1 Anthony? have ye gone mad?? get yerself a wasps nest and stick it beside the tv, sure the result is the same, mmwwhaw!! past the screen none stop all bloody day..first round the track in trials hoggs the bloody road for 4 hours and unless he crashes the rest just suffer road rage..
    Not for me..give me a penalty shoot out any day, especially the Germans V the Ingerlit.

  9. Larry, the novelty for the few of us "soccer fans" in the US is that we get to watch it (every four years) without interruption. In football and basketball, the few minutes of a game may stretch out a half-hour, especially towards the finish, with agonizingly puerile beer, gadget, and car commercials assaulting you. Believe me, these do not entertain anyone with an IQ above the level set on a thermostat.

  10. Fionnchu and Larry-
    Must give soccer credit for the no commercial interruptions. It's a great thing. My only point is that as most of us can agree on this World Cup has been a huge snoozer. Barely know the difference betw/ a free kick and a corner kick but was really hoping for a great World Cup and didn't get it. I think what they need to do is contract the field back to 16 or 24 and get rid of all these third rate crap teams that sneak their way in like North Korea. Anyway, heres to hoping for an epic final though I'm not holding my breath.

  11. Ryan,

    why North Korea rather than England? Surely the latter have a weak case for trading their woeful wares at that level.

  12. AM,
    very true. I was thinking of the DPRK's 7-0 thumping at the hands of Portugal. I think that exposed them as a team unworthy of the big stage. Obviously the Dear Leader was not communicating strategy with the coach in that match like he was in the Brazil match.

  13. Fionnchu and Ryan,
    yes adverts in the states are chronic. You're watching a movie and about every 5 mins without warning you're into 15 mins of adverts. total waste of time. However lets not let USA foriegn policy or the CIA dictate who should play at the world cup. PLEASE they are interfearing in everything else already and couldn't find most countries they blitz on the map.
    The German WW2 scientists must be setting the trejectory of their doodlebugs as was the case in the FAKE moon landings.
    BTW totally off on a tangent it correct to say there has been no return to the moon because to fail today would tell the lie to having allegedly done it with crap technology in the '60s??

  14. Marty, my two at home don’t need horns to annoy people.


    I don’t even watch Formula 1 !!

  15. Anthony having one child makes you a parent,having two makes you a referee

  16. Marty,

    ‘having one child makes you a parent, having two makes you a referee’

    Isn’t that just something priceless! So right