Golazo of the Day
Was close to giving it to Zinha for his header where he hung like Pele
to get on the end of the Mendes' cross after his own great build up
work. But the award goes to Arjen Robben for the only goal in the game
against Serbia and Montenegro.
The Dutch were clad in the world's most orange retro-style shirts by
Nike (who are winning the kit wars). Chatting to my sister later I
tried to describe them: "Imagine the most orange thing you've ever
seen, the shirts are an orangey version of that". Orange shorts and
socks completed the kit. Arjen Robben went one step further and wore
orange boots but he should have added a touch of yellow and red as he
was on fire on the pitch. Incredible pace, an instinct to find space,
dribbles galore, fierce shots, he was splendid.
The goal itself started deep in the Dutch half with Van Bommel picking
the ball up near the right hand touchline. Closely marked he perfomed a
neat turn and immediately clipped a measured pass forward to Van Persie
on the halfway line. For once in the game the S+M defence had pushed
high up the field and the Arsenal forward spotting an Orange Mercury
ready to speed forward, hooked a first time pass left footed over the
defence. Robben was off, grass scorching in his wake and onto the ball
in a flash, pushing it forward with perfect weight as Gavrancic tried
and failed to pull him back. As he reached the area Robben hit a crisp
left footed short under the advancing Jevric. Golazo. And they say the
Germans are known for their efficiency.
Hero of the Day
Runners up today are two coaches - Mexico's Ricardo La Volpe and Serbia
and Montenegro's Ilija Petkovic. Both were prepared to make very early
tactical substitutions in order to change their games. Too often
coaches in major tournaments have been prepared to let games drift by,
being out fought and out thought, in the hope that a goal would somehow
miraculously happen. Of course it rarely does and then they panic and
throw on subs with ten minutes to go. It was great to see such a
refreshing attitude from both coaches even if Petkovic was unlucky not
to see his side get an equaliser.
The winner though isn't Arjen Robben (I've decided you can't win two
awards) but the truly majestic Rafael Marquez. He was outstanding for
Mexico against Iran, nominally playing as part of a back three but
popping up all over the pitch, a reincarnation of Beckenbauer at his
peak. Leadership, poise, passing, heading, tackling, organisation.
Villain of the Day
It would have been Ognjen Koroman for his incessant waving of an
imaginary card every time he was fouled, however Markus Merk beat me to
it and cautioned him. Some kids pretend to be pop stars when they're
young, miming in front of the mirror using a hairbrush as a microphone.
Koroman had a "My Little Referee" kit, practicing his card flourish
using cards cut out from the back of cornflake box and coloured yellow
and red with poster paint. Grow up.
The award goes to Iran's Vahid Hashemian. 11 minutes into the game and
with the score at 0-0, Hashemian made a sharp run to the near post to
meet a perfect cross from out on the right. All he has to do is to
connect with the ball and Iran would have taken the lead. But no, he
decides now is the time to try something fancy and allows the ball to
run between his legs and tries to flick it in with a back heel. And
fails. Save those finishes for domestic matches Vahid when you're 5-0
up. This is the World Cup. It matters.