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Are You Ready for Some Football? Week “World Cup Final Weekend”

It’s been a while since I live-blogged a game, and with the World Cup coming to a close this weekend, it seemed appropriate to drop in on the third place game between Uruguay and Germany. And yes, if you hadn’t already guessed, the “football” of the headline is the world’s game, not the head-bashing American brand.

Action is underway and I’m already running a little behind, so I’ll pepper in some tid bits as I update with game highlights.

12:34 – First card of the game goes to Germany for a spikes-up tackle that might have been a red card by another ref. It’s hard not to assume that it’s a dive since Uruguay, good Southern South Americans that they are, like to embellish. Replay confirms though.

12:37 – Uruguay is wearing Carolina blue, by the way, but that won’t serve to change my allegiances. The closest I’ve ever been to Germany is sharing a room with a German in high school. My roomate senior year, actually born in Belgium, was from Dusseldorf and used to talk in her sleep (in German). Still, I’ve rooted for them for as long as I can remember.

If I had to put a date on it, I would say I started back in 1990, during the World Cup held in Italy. It was mere months after unification, and though it was technically “West Germany” that was playing, in Colombia, where I watched the Cup with my cousins, announcers referred to the team as Germany. It seemed so great to my 12-year-old self that if in nothing else, the country was united in football. To boot, they were playing Argentina, a team that, in Colombia generally and my family specifically, always plays the role of bad guy. It wasn’t a great game, but the Germans took it on a penalty kick in the second half.

The captain of that era was Lothar Matthaus, who was, it must be said, rather easy on the eyes. I had a picture of him on my wall throughout high school and have continued to root for Die Mannschaft ever since.

12:40 – Germans pretty much controling the pace, though Uruguay has gotten some good chances.

12:48 – GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! Thomas Muller follows up on a great shot by Bastian Schweinsteiger (the greatest, most fun sounding German name ever). Muller was all alone while the Uruguayan defenders waited for an off-side call that never came since Muller was clearly on-side.

12:53 – Muller is 20 years old, in other words, a baby or possibly still a glimmer in his mother’s eye back when his country was split in two.

He is the heart of a new crop young players for the German national team that surprised many here.

12:57 – GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! Uruguay. German defense breaks down and gives one away on a good counter-attack by Uruguay. Announcers are blaming a mistake by Schweinsteiger, but the defender behind him didn’t do his team any favors.

Uruguay is asserting itself a bit more in the midfield. This game clearly means more to them. Germany doesn’t want to lose, but the semifinal is where they were eliminated last time. They wanted more. This is more than Uruguay could have hoped for.

1:02 – Luis Suarez of Uruguay is getting booed any time he touches the ball. He was the villian in the Uruguay-Ghana game for stopping a sure goal in the final minutes of overtime with his hands. It was deliberate. He was red carded. Ghana was awarded a penalty kick. But then Gyan missed the PK, and Uruguay won in PKs and Suarez had to go and brag about having made the “save of the tournament.” Gamesmanship. It happens in every game and every tournament. Still, dude, keep your mouth shut. No need to draw further attention to your cheating with poor sportsmanship. Clearly, an ass in the school of Maradona.

1:11 – Another German giveaway on defense, but Suarez boots it wide.

1:14 – It’s raining cats and dogs, by the way, and rain is a bit of an equalizer. Skills and technique? Germans in a wash, but Uruguay, as I said, wants it more and rain will help them more.

1:15 – Halftime

While we have a bit of a break here, here’s a fun link: Diane Kruger is German and also kind of endearing in her apparent love for her side. She would make a great soccer WAG (wife and girlfriends of star players), perhaps she could go out with fill-in Captain Phillip Lamm, who has supercute Peter Gallagher eyebrows. (Except she would have to break up with Joshua Jackson, and we like him.)

1:32 – And we’re back!

1:33 – Germany gets an early corner. Looking a bit more refreshed.

1:34 -Uruguay counter. Suarez denied again. Announcers think he’s affected by the boos. I doubt that.

1:37 – GOOOOOOOOOL! Uruguay. Sigh . German goalie completely frozen. Defense for Germany is just crap today. And there may be more where that came from Uruguay want to win and win big.

1:42 – Germany looking listless again. Muller is the . . . . . GOOOOOOOOL! Just when I thought they were done Germans tie it up! Woooooot. Cross from Boateng (more on him in a bit) to Hansen.

1:44 – Mesut Ozil, who I love, just gave away what could have been goal No. 3. Way too many touches in the area after a great pass from Cacau.

By the way this is just counter-attack after counter-attack. The ball hasn’t stayed in the middle third from more than a couple of minutes for most of this half.

1:51 – Uruguay continuing to put pressure. German’s keeper Butt has made a couple of big saves.

1:52 – Muller takes a shot that is deflected, but a goal kick is awarded. He starts arguing a bit with the ref and ends up arguing with the Uruguayan defender.

Incidentally, Suarez wears the collar of his jersey up, confirming that he’s a bit of a douche.

1:56 – Jansen takes a shot and knocks over the camera behind the goal. He should have taken the cross, but at least he’s using the space on the left a bit more. Podolski, who is not playing today due to the flu (and, also, is rather nice looking), helped create many chances for Germany from that side.

1:59 – Sub for Germany. Cacau is out. Didn’t see who came in.

2:01 – Someone stepped on Muller’s wrist. Ugly. He’s still in, but that might be broken. Ouch.

2:03 – Sub for Uruguay. Diego Perez is out. He got a yellow earlier in this half. He’s a bit of an “enforcer.”

2:07 – Another sub for Germany. Jansen is out. Kroos in.

2:08 – GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! Germany. From a corner. Samy Khedira, who replaced the great and awesome Michael Ballack.

Ballack is the only captain of a German side to have grown up in East Germany and as such a unifiying figure for his country. He is considered the best player of his generation, but he missed what is likely his last chance at a World Cup because he broke his ankle in the FA Cup final. It happened on a challenge by Prince Boateng of Ghana, brother of Jerome Boateng of Germany. They are half-brothers both born of the same Ghanian mother. One chose mom’s side, the other dad’s. Jerome was not happy that it was his brother who took out his captain. Apparently, so much so that they no longer speak. This is the World Cup, after all.

2:14 – German sub (no, not a u-boat) missed a golden opportunity to put the game away. Miroslav Klose, out for a bad back, and missing what would have been a possible history-making game, might have made that. He is at 14 in career goals at the World Cup. Brazilian Ronaldo has 15.

2:18 – Substitution for Germany. Ozil out. Mesut, you were awesome (except for that missed opportunity earlier). Can’t wait to see you at Euro 2012.

2:19 – Uruguay free kick. Argh! Only minutes left. Hold on, Germans!

2:20 – High post!! Whoa. Great strike from Forlan, who, if nothing else, proves once and for all that Latinos with naturally blond hair exist.

2:21 – Germany wins third place! Woot! (And also poetic justice since Uruguay beat Ghana on a free kick that should have gone in, but didn’t.)

And now on to the final tomorrow. I’ll be rooting for Spain, the beautiful country from whence my ancestors happen to hail.

A few more links before I sign off . . .

Tomorrow’s final will feature Spain, as I mentioned, and Holland, where the ancestors of South Africa’s Afrikaner population—the people that instituted apartheid. But as I’ve said South Africa’s legacy is forgiveness, as modeled by Nelson Mandela. Given that, though some black South Africans may choose to root for Spain, some will root for Holland. Certainly, Mandela would. Read about it, here.

A nice Q&A; with Landon Donovan. From Grant Wahl.

Also from Grant Wahl, some things to look for in tomorrow’s final.

Finally, in case you need further reasons to root for Spain, here’s a video of Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain in the team’s locker room after their semifinal win. Would Elizabeth II do this? Hardly. Maravilloso, indeed.

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