|Flash floods hit Natal last night, apparently|
This, and Natal in a couple of days, will complete my tour of the northern coast of Brazil. Two weeks in, it's been fantastic.
|Northern Brazil - Belem (1.27˚S), Sao Luis (2.31˚S), Fortaleza (3.44˚S), Maracajau (5.4˚S) and Natal (5.46˚S).|
I had a lovely breakfast in their gazebo and another chat with the owner Daniel, who is a really cool chap, who took me shopping in the local village (population approx. 2,000). I just mentioned the fact I seem to have lost my USB cable for my Sony Cybershot camera (which is great, by the way - thanks, Žemyna!) and he said, straight away, he would buy me one from Natal today and bring it to me tomorrow. Blimey! If he can deliver on that it would be the most fantastic service.
Highlights of the breakfast were cous cous and scrambled egg and locally made coconut juice.
This is what the place looks like...
|My Chalet - No 1|
|Not the cleanest place|
|Local Mercado - sells a bit of everything|
|Main street through Maracajau|
|Gringo Dick 'Ed|
|Daniel at Maracajau Garage|
Posted this on Facebook before the game (another terrible prediction!)
Really hoping for a Portugal win. This feeling is not any kind of jingoistic English tribalism against "The Hun". My mum was German and I have not met a single German in my life that I have not liked. Its a broad generalisation but Germans, I find, are the nicest, friendliest people. The World Cup in 2006 was superb, possibly the best ever (but this one might be better still) and I really respect the morality of the Bundesliga clubs to stop sugar daddies coming into play.
BUT... They just win too much! It's as simple as that. I long for more parity in the game. I hate it that Brazil and Italy and Germany have won the World Cup 12 times out of 19, just like I hate it that the richest 87 people in the world have more wealth than the poor poorest half. I hate sporting elitism. Portugal get my favour for the same reason Holland, Belgium, Russia, Columbia, Ecuador, South Korea, Japan and all the African countries would get it... Fair dinkum, mate, give em a blady go!
Germany 4 Portugal 0
Sometimes, I hate football. Watching Germany win games like this is one of those times. Until the referee handed the game to Germany on a plate (and they really need so much help, don't they?) Portugal were the better side, had more positivity, created more chances.
Basically, I think German cheating killed the game. The referee awarded a penalty when Gotze went over like a true professional at the slightest touch from the Periera. 1-0 was an injustice even at that point. The second goal was legitimate (poor defending really) but by that stage, I reckon Portugal had created more chances than Germany.
The game was killed when Muller's "theatrics" at being touched by the arm by defender Pepe caused a reaction that led to the key defender getting sent off. Did Pepe push Muller in the face? I don't think so. I think Muller acted as he was coached. Any touch by a hand anywhere near your head and you go over like a nancy. Roll around a bit and hope the ref sends the other guy off. Pepe was justifiably incensed by that and bent down to remonstrate with the suddenly miraculously recovered Muller (disappointed, no doubt, that the red card hadn't been wielded). Now it would appear that Pepe's Afro hair did touch Muller's as he bent down so, Muller got a second chance to con the ref by theatrics. This time, he fell for it and the card was red. The German bench were apparently ecstatic - as if they'd scored a goal. Of course you can criticise Pepe for not being cooler and more professional but is that what the game is about now? How good you are at not being provoked by cheating? Sod that. All that, no doubt, well rehearsed theatrical training had paid off for Germany. Well done. Brilliant. Game over.
So, the second half was a non-event and everyone had to watch as Germany scored two more to rub salt into the wounds. Even after all that, Portugal created as many chances (13) as Germany. To say the 4-0 score was flattering was an understatement.
It's just not fair. It is not what football, or any sport, should be about. If Germany are so "brilliant" (as the BBC web site described their win) why can't they dominate by playing good football? Why don't the match stats show that Germany created 4x more chances than Portugal?
The game has become more about how to con the ref into giving penalties and sending players off than about skilfully setting up chances and scoring goals.
Shame on Joachim Loew and his coaches. Boooo!!!!
On reflection, having calmed down a bit, I should add that, of course this sort of tactic is everywhere in the game these days. Germany has a pretty good reputation, as international teams go, on this - which makes it all the sadder to me that they won this game this way.
Nigeria 0 Iran 0
Well it was all too good be true, I suppose. 12 World Cup games without a draw, let alone a 0-0 draw. Every game up until now had been characterised by open attacking play, albeit with a fair amount of diving and rolling around to try to con the ref and a remarkably high goals/game ratio (3.42). Sooner or later, two teams would meet that had let fear get the better of them and take a different approach and it would seem that was what happened here. I must admit I didn't watch much of this game but every time I stopped swimming in the pool or chatting to take a look, it didn't really draw me in. I was going to watch the second half in my room but fell asleep! When I woke up, I was not surprised (and I admit, very relieved) to find it ended 0-0.
USA 2 Ghana 1
The final game of the day couldn't have started more explosively when Dempsey broke through the Ghanian defence to put the USA 1-0 up after just 31 seconds, but it wasn't a sign of things to come. After that the game tightened up with Ghana gradually coming back into it. The game really came to life in the last ten minutes when Ghana finally equalised and then with about four minutes to go, Brooks put USA back in front. And that's the way it stayed. Congrats to the USA on a spirited performance but I do feel sorry for Ghana. They created more chances and I thought deserved at least a draw.
So, after 14 games, there's really only been one dull one and the average goals per game remains above 3, at 3.14.
Looking forward to tomorrow, the final teams to play make their appearance from Group H and we start back at Group A again with the hosts, Brazil v Mexico.
I'm going for three straight wins: Belgium surely will be too talented for Algeria. If they can also play as a team it could send ominous warnings to the other big guns in the tournament. You can't see any other result but Brazil brushing Mexico aside and I think Russia will beat South Korea, although that should be the closest tie of the night.