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WORLD CUP LIVE… from Minneapolis

WHERE OUR CORRESPONDENT REPORTS LIVE ON THE WORLD CUP… FROM A BAR… IN MINNESOTA …

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DAYS AFTER — THE ROUND-UP

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So it’s over. The Germans won. The Brazilians were humiliated. The Americans and Costa Ricans gave a good go of it. The English and Italian squads disappointed from the start.

Then there was Klose who walked away with the record for most World Cup goals. Messi? He was a dud. As for Suarez? Well, he left an impression… not only on an Italian player.

For all its faults and hype, the 2014 World Cup was fun. And it’s hard to admit… but I’ll miss it.

If you ever need to relive the excitement, my entire World Cup thread — from finish to start — is below.

Until the next one, all the best,

John

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DAY THIRTY TWO, JULY 13, 2014 – AND THE WINNER IS…

Germany. The Machine beats Argentina in extra time. The final score: 1-0

DAY THIRTY ONE, JULY 12, 2014 – THE BRONZE MATCH 

Netherlands comes in third, beating Brazil by the score of 3-0.

DAYS TWENTY NINE AND THIRTY, JULY 10-11, 2014 – WHO WILL WIN THE BRONZE (RUNNER-UP) MATCH? THE FINAL? 

I know it’s the end but I am in denial.  I have been sucked in so tartly in the past month that it will be hard to adjust.  Luckily, we have been weaned from the intensity of the first two weeks and now as gradually head towards the grand finale, we might just be ready to remove the IV of World Cup goodness.

Tomorrow is the most insignificant football match in four years.  The third place play off is some sort of Opus Die hairy undershirt that MaFifa makes the losing semi-finalists wear after they have been already beaten (or in Brazil’s case, whipped and quartered).  Who will win?  Nobody gives a flying elf.

On to the final.  I have seen some funny photos in the past few days of the current and former popes sitting together because of course, they are from Argentina and Germany.  I am young enough to remember 1986 final when Jose Luis Brown won the game for the Arggies in a pulsating 3-2 win.

Four years later, the final was a dud with Germany winning 1-0 with a crap penalty.  That world cup for me was more memorable as the Irish were there for the first time and the party lasted well beyond the final.

This time around, the German machine should have enough left in the tank to overtake the brave but ultimately weak Argentina, who have Messi plus 10 others.  Germany have 11 plus no baggage.

Predo: Germany 3 – 1 Argentina

DAY TWENTY EIGHT, JULY 9, 2014 – A FINE MESSI

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I should maybe become a fortune teller. By the third minute I saw how the Argentina-Netherlands game was going to develop.

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And that’s how it went. Argentina and Netherlands couldn’t score a goal in match or extra time and found themselves in the penalty round, where the Argentines won 4 to 2 and clinched a trip to the finals against the German terminators.

DAY TWENTY SEVEN, JULY 8, 2014 – TERRY GILLIAM’S BRAZIL

Where do you start?

There is a redeemer in Brazil and he went to work right away.  The streets of Colombia and Chile and all the other countries that were “denied” deserved victories against the “mighty” Brazil are alive tonight with redemption.  Germany, from us all, thank you.

Where were you when history was made, when Germany whipped Brazil 7-1?

I was at Brit’s Pub in the beautiful sunshine with some of my favorite ex-padres, when the unbelievable happened.  As the goals started to flow, my phone started to buzz.  I created a little group on Viber on invitation from my younger brother back home.  The four of us were on there and the “craic” really started.  I mean, Attila the Pun came out to play and play by play.  It was pure poetry.  It was what technology was built for.  Brothers bonding while all watching the same game hundreds and thousands of miles apart instantly spurning pun after pun…not all of which can be published here.

A few of my favorites:

Biggest German Blitz Since 1940

Germans Waxed Brazilian

It Was Neuer Klose

An Absolute Ney-mare

Stop In The Name Of Loew

Dante’s Inferno

Brazil Left Horizonte in Belo

Fred & Buried

7up

Brazil Fawlty

Müllered

How To Luiz A Semi Final

Big Fail Scolari

Kroos Control

Not Even Klose

Germany Just Brazilliant

BlunderBRA

Rout Of This World

AND MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE:

If Only There Was A German Word For Schadenfreude

DAY TWENTY SIX, JULY 7, 2014 – SEMI-FINAL PREDICTIONS

And now we are down to the final four.  I am disappointed that neither Colombia nor Belgium made it this far.  We are left with three former winners and the Dutch.  Given how the men in oranje have “performed”, I am pretty sure only the hardiest of hardy will be cheering them on.

I am going with the Germans as they seem to epitomize what is still good about Futbol…a team game with less of the dramatics.  The Argentines have one saving grace, that is the talisman, Messi who is a great example of fair play.  He gets chomped at and pulled and tugged all game by unsavory opponents and not once does he do a dramatic flop.  He gets on with it.

The Neymar Jr saga ends with an unfortunate injury and coupled with the loss of their full back and captain, will struggle against the German “machine”.  However with home and FIFA advantage on their side, they have still a chance.  I still fancy the Germans as they don’t “do emotion” and should go on to win the whole thing.  Vorksprung Dorks with Technick.  Fuchen Heil.

GAME ONE PREDICTION: Brazil 1 – 1 Germany  *Germany win on penos.

GAME TWO PREDICTION: Netherlands 1- 2 Argentina

DAY TWENTY FIVE, JULY 6, 2014 – ONTO THE SEMI-FINALS

DAY TWENTY FOUR, JULY 5, 2014 – THE OTHER HALF

GAME ONE: One goal is enough for Argentina. They beat Belgium to advance to the semi-finals. ARG 1 – BEL 0

GAME TWO: The Netherlands are the fourth and final team to move on to the penultimate round, squeaking by World Cup darlings Costa Rica on penalty kicks. NED 4 (0) – CRC 3 (0)

DAY TWENTY THREE, JULY 4, 2014 – HALF OF THE QUARTERS

GAME ONE: France falters. Germany moves to the semi-finals. FRA 0 – GER 1

GAME TWO: My perfect prediction run (see below) comes to an end as Colombia loses to Brazil by the score of 2-1.  At least I got the score right… Favorite Brazil to play Germany next week. Making things interesting: Brazilian star Neymar suffered a back injury and may not play against the Germans.

DAY TWENTY TWO, JULY 3, 2014 – STILL WAITING, MY QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS

As the world now knows, my predictions (predos) of the last round of games was uncanny.  Of course this only proves I know nothing about the game but have an instinct that is beyond human understanding…I didn’t win the lottery with my instinct so it is only good when under no pressure to perform.  Now we are down to the last 8 and once again the world looks to me to let them know ahead of time, who will win and how it will pan out.

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Brazil v Colombia

On a random evening a few months ago, I was browsing through an Irish TV channel’s website and they had a World Cup preview series where they highlighted a different competing country each week.  The week that I clicked on featured Colombia.  After watching the 20 minute or so segment on how much football means to the country and the whole Escobar deal etc, I felt a sort of affiliation to the South Americans.

Now they face the mighty Brazil.  No problem.  That’s right, amigo…

Predo:  Brazil 1 – 2 Colombia.

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France v Germany

You would think Germany would be tired to kicking French arse at this stage in history, but you would be wrong.  Not only do they enjoy it, they do it in a hurtful, spiteful way that crushes what dust of French self esteem is left scattered on the floor…

Predo:  France 2 – 3 Germany

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Argentina v Belgium

After beating the plucky super power (Switzerland), the Arggies should roll over the Belgians who struggled to beat the MLS reserve team… There is only so much mess that Messi can clean up and now the time has come to fail.  Argentina will fail.

Predo: Argentina 0 – 1 Belgium

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Costa Rica v Netherlands

If there was a God (and there isn’t in the World Cup), then Arjen Robben would score a last minute own goal while twisting his knee 360 degrees on the post…

But again, we live in the real world and he will probably help set up a jammy winning goal against everyone’s favorite second team.  Boo.

Predo: Netherlands 1 – 0 Costa Rica

DAY TWENTY ONE, JULY 2, 2014 – WAITING 

DAY TWENTY, JULY 1, 2014 – THE LAST OF THE SWEET 16

GAME 1: Argentina bests Switzerland in extra time, 1-0.

GAME 2: Belgium also wins in extra time, deflating the U.S., 2-1.

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TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

With the throngs of people out front of Brit’s in Minneapolis, I headed to the back door, employing the Goodfellas mode of entry for the South Canada v South Netherlands match…

The Belgians may have waffles, the best chocolate, their own style ale and a respect for women’s human rights above employer’s religious beliefs…but…they met their match in America, the land of yoga mat flavored sandwich bread, waxy candy bars and a best-selling beer (which is actually owned by Belgians themselves).

Still, the Belgians walked away victorious.

AND then… just like that… the average rube’s interest in soccer has gone back to nil.  Well at least til 2018.

NO GAMES TOMORROW (check yer local listings)

Quarterfinal matches will be played on Saturday, July 4th and Sunday, July 5th.

July 4: *France vs. Germany * Brazil vs. Colombia

July 5: * Argentina vs. Belgium * Netherlands vs. Costa Rica

DAY NINETEEN, JUNE 30, 2014 – EXPECT THE EXPECTED

GAME 1: France closes the door on Nigeria’s hopes, 2-0

GAME 2: A very entertaining match that ended with both teams scoring in extra time.  GER 2 – ALG 1

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * Argentina vs. Switzerland * Belgium vs. U.S.

DAY EIGHTEEN, JUNE 29, 2014 – REALLY?

GAME 1: Netherlands comes from behind to shock Mexico, 2-1. (READ MY RANT BELOW)

GAME 2: Costa Rica and Greece went to penalties after a 1-1 tie. Costa Rica advances.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * France vs. Nigeria * Germany vs. Algeria

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

I am mad.  It’s hard enough to convince non-futbol friends that the game is worth their time but when a cheating, diving, blatant flopper like Arjen Robben, of the Netherlands, goes to ground in the last minute to deny Mexico, it’s impossible.  Of course our FIFA friends won’t bat an eyelid.  Bitey McShitey gets a four month ban for biting an opponent while gaining NO advantage…while Slimey McDivey and the ridiculous referee who was fooled move on to the next round.  Sickening and heartbreaking…

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In other news, the Brazil and Columbia victories brought out all the sunshine and then rain forest conditions to downtown Minneapolis.  The before and after shots of the now world famous bowling green show you how quickly the conditions (just like the game) can change.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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Oh and I’m 4 for 4 on my predictions including a perfect result in the Columbia game…and all without diving!  Amazing.

DAY SEVENTEEN, June 28, 2014 – JUST AS SUSPECTED

GAME 1: Brazil and Chile tie 1-1 in regulation, with Brazil winning 3-2 on penalties.

GAME 2: No Suarez, no win. Colombia tops a scoreless Uruguay, 2-0.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * Netherlands vs. Mexico * Costa Rica vs. Greece

DAY SIXTEEN, June 27, 2014 – SWEET 16 PICKS

My Knock-Out Round Preview and Predictions (Predos)

* Brazil v Chile

Chile.  Known for good wine and being a long skinny country divided by the Andes.

Brazil.  Known for oppressing its less fortunate, selling its soul to FIFA and IOC and developing a way to remove all that nasty hairy hair.

Brazil will win easily.  Why?  Because it is the only way they will curb massive riots and protests.  FIFA says so.

Predo:  Brazil 3-1 Chile

* Colombia v Uruguay

There will be lines around the block at Brit’s Pub for this game… not to see how  the Suar-lez Uruguay struggle against the in-form Colombians, but rather to see the anticipated hotness that comes with having lots of attractive female fans.  For that reason alone, Colombia should win.  And will.

Predo:  Colombia 2-0 Uruguay

* Netherlands v Mexico

The moody Dutch will struggle in this game but with enough diving power, will win on penalties…not sure if the penalties will be in the regulation time or afterwards.  Promises to be a cracking game which means it will be a 0-0 draw.

Predo:  Netherlands 0-0 Mexico.  Dutch to win on penalties.

* Costa Rica v Greece

Both beautiful tourist destinations, neither of which thought they would even be in the World Cup finals to start with.  Costa Rica has surprised everyone, included God Almighty by playing wonderful football and at the same time, having enough humility to allow England one point before sending them packing… Greece, well, they get lucky.

This should be a close one.

Predo:  Costa Rica 1-0 Greece

* France v Nigeria

I would love to see Nigeria win.  But they won’t.  The French will.  Nigeria have over achieved to get this far.  The French have gotten here without even breaking sweat yet.  No contest.

Predo: France 3-0 Nigeria

* Germany v Algeria

Those of us who watched in horror in 1982 when West Germany conspired with Germany West (Austria) to win 1-0 (ensuring both teams went through to the next round at the expense of Algeria) have been waiting for this re-match so justice will be served.  Unfortunately, this is reality, not Hollywood and the German machine devoid of any emotion will stroll through this game with relative ease.  Fuch!

Predo: Germany 2-0 Algeria

* Argentina v Switzerland

Messi has showed us that not all the big name (and over paid) “stars” such as Rooney, Ronaldo, Balotelli, Ramos et al are prima Maradonas… Meanwhile, Shaqiri had his hat-trick against Honduras and will now be focused on the new season with Bayern Munich and not the impossible task of scoring against the future World Cup finalists…

Predo:  Argentina 4-0 Switzerland

* Belgium v USA

This is the hardest to call.  Belgium was always my dark horse in this tournament.  So far they have played like paraplegic donkeys and still managed to win.  The US against Portugal was immense.  Futbol is a team game (I know it’s hard to comprehend when there is so much emphasis on one player most of the time in the media) and both of these teams play like “teams”.

Predo:  No freaking idea.  Toss a coin and stop bothering me.

DAY FIFTEEN, June 26, 2014 – HARDLY FLAGGING 

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THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Portugal beats Ghana 2-1. Neither advance in Group G.

GAME 2: Germany nips the U.S.A. by the score of 1-0. Germany wins Group G; America, despite the loss, advances.

GAME 3: Group H winner Belgium sends South Korea home with its third straight group match loss. Final score: BEL 1 – KOR 0.

GAME 4: Algeria also advances with a 1-1 draw versus Russia.

THE KNOCK-OUT ROUND BEGINS SATURDAY

Saturday

BRAZIL vs. CHILE

COLOMBIA vs. URUGUAY (NOTE: Star Luis Suarez will not be playing for Uruguay. He has been banned for four months after biting an Italian player during World Cup play.)

Sunday

NETHERLANDS vs. MEXICO

COSTA RICA vs. GREECE

Monday

FRANCE vs. NIGERIA

GERMANY vs. ALGERIA

Tuesday

ARGENTINA vs. SWITZERLAND

BELGIUM vs. UNITED STATES

THE BITTER 16 (THOSE GOING HOME)

  • Australia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Cameroon
  • Croatia
  • Ecuador
  • England
  • Ghana
  • Honduras
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Ivory Coast
  • Japan
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • South K orea
  • Spain

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

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With half the American team, German, and half the German team, a melting pot, it was always going to be a foregone conclusion… everyone needed to take a long lunch break today, break out the July 4th apparel early, and party like it’s 2014…

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DAY FOURTEEN, June 25, 2014 – ALIVE & KICKIN’ 

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Argentina becomes the Group F winner after topping Nigeria 3-2. Despite the loss, Nigeria advances into the Sweet 16, as well. ARG 3 – NGA 2

GAME 2: Iran was in the Group F hunt until Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated them 3-1. Both are sent packing.

GAME 3: France takes Group E honors with a 0-0 draw against Ecuador.

GAME 4: Switzerland, also in Group E, blanks Honduras 3-0 to advance.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * Portugal vs. Ghana *  U.S.A. vs. Germany * Algeria vs. Russia * South Korea vs. Belgium

DAY THIRTEEN, June 24, 2014 – BYE-BITE 

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Costa Rica and England play to a 0-0 draw. Costa Rica wins Group D. England goes home.

GAME 2: Strange game as Uruguay’s Luis Suarez possibly bites an Italian player on the field. That could become a trendy tactic as Uruguay topped Italy 1-0. Uruguay advances to the next round. Italy doesn’t.

GAME 3: The Ivory Coast was “thisclose” to advancing but with less than two minutes left in stoppage Greece stuns the world with a winning penalty kick and a ticket to the Sweet 16. GRE 2 – CIV 1

GAME 4: Colombia has already secured its spot as Group C winner, but still racked up the goals against Japan. COL 4 – JPN 1

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * Nigeria vs. Argentina * Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran * Honduras vs. Switzerland * Ecuador vs. France

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

The headlines and stories since around noon today are dominated and will remain dominated by Chewy Luis and the Blues (my favorite pun in a cascade of puns and memes).

I will say this:  Luis Suarez didn’t cause irreparable damage to the Italian defenders body or career.  Roy Keane (erstwhile Irish hard man midfielder) deliberately set out to break an opponent’s leg and did so and ended his career and he admitted it in his autobiography.  Punishment?  None.

Luis should be ridiculed and pitied.  A heel at best.  Ability-wise we enjoy his tremendous skill and  of course having him “perform” such unusual “tricks” like today, only add to his allure.  He will end up with a huge ban and the fall out will be long term.  Sad.

The real winners of the incident are the Italians and lesser extent the English.  They both ended their world cup adventures miserably and should be the focus of even more ridicule and debate but thanks to Bitey McShitey, they are spared column inches, no, yards.

In other news, I had a nervous conversation with a well-known beer distributor for the Twin Cities today and they are very surprised with the levels of consumption of their product in vast quantities at this World Cup. I won’t mention the brand (it’s not Bud or Miller) but I am surprised that anyone would consume it in vast quantities no matter what the occasion.  They are shipping more in from Wisconisin (!!!) to deal with demand.

Who knew the vast beer “reserves” were in Wisconsin?  Well, pretty much everyone I would think.

DAY TWELVE, June 23, 2014 – MOWIN’ THE FIELD

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Netherlands best Chile 2-0, win Group B and avoid a clash with Brazil in the next round.

GAME 2: Spain finally clicked into gear with a 3-0 win over Australia. But it was too little, too late. Australia and Spain are headed home.

GAME 3: Cameroon lost to Group A winner Brazil. BRA 4 – CAM 1

GAME 4: And rounding out the day’s excitement, Mexico ousted Croatia to advance to the Sweet 16. MEX 3 – CRO 1

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * Costa Rica vs. England * Italy vs. Uruguay * Greece vs. Ivory Coast * Japan vs. Colombia

DAY ELEVEN, June 22, 2014 – DRAW-FUL?

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Belgium bests Russia, 1-0.

GAME 2: A high-scoring game has Algeria defeating South Korea, 4-2.

GAME 3: The U.S. nearly was a lock for the Round of 16, but Portugal wouldn’t let up, scoring a dramatic equalizer in stoppage time. USA 2 – POR 2

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * Australia vs. Spain * Netherlands vs. Chile * Cameroon vs. Brazil * Croatia vs. Mexico

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

I wrote this mere hours before kick-off. I guess I had a feeling… I need to warn US fans that they are about to feel the full force of a Ronaldo Tornado.  This petulant little genius has two bees in his bonnet… His team got smoked 0-4 by the Germans and then his arch nemesis, Messi has lit up the tournament with two cracking goals.  Given how fortunate the Yanks were against Ghana, I fear for them against Portugal. Not helping is the wanker tweet from the King of Wankers.  Sorry, America, I think there is way too much going against you.

piersy

*** There are more thunderstorms coming our way to Minneapolis so we will be crammed in tight to the interior surrounds of Brit’s Pub.

merica

This is the correct way to celebrate.

usaman

This is NOT the correct way. In fact, I think this outfit upset God so much that he intervened so Portugal could tie. You don’t believe me? Here’s the proof:

handofg

That is God’s hand, right? Or am I seeing things? No, that’s definitely the hand of God changing the outcome of the game.

America, please remember that God forgives everything… except bad fashion.

DAY TEN, June 21, 2014 – GHANA, BABY, GHANA

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: In stoppage, Lionel Messi kicks in a winner. Argentina 1 – Iran 0

GAME 2: Another day, another shocker. Ghana holds Germany to a 2-2 tie. Scoring the final equalizer was Germany’s Miroslav Klose, who notched his 15th World Cup goal to tie the all-time record set by Brazilian legend Ronaldo in 2006.

GAME 3: Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Nigeria? The match may have not meant much to you, but both of these teams had to win to stay in contention. The winner was Nigeria. Final score: NGA 1 – BIH 0

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * Belgium vs. Russia * South Korea vs. Algeria * U.S. vs. Portugal

DAY NINE, June 21, 2014 – A EUROPEAN VACATION

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Costa Rica faced Italy and never blinked, beating Super Mario and squad 1 to 0. The win allows Costa Rica to advance and stops England from going past the group play round.

GAME 2: At least one European team won today. France squared off against Switzerland and scored five goals against a spirited, but outmatched Swiss team. The final: FRA 5 – SUI 2

GAME 3: Nobody was thinking that Ecuador and Honduras would be one for the ages, but we tuned in anyhow figuring the teams would play their hearts out. And play they did, with  Ecuador winning the close match 2-1.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings) * Argentina vs. Iran * Germany vs. Ghana * Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina

DAY EIGHT, June 19, 2014 – ON THE BRINK

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Colombia strikes twice in the second half. Ivory Coast then keeps it close with a goal, but can’t manage to knot it up. COL 2 – CIV 1

GAME 2: Uruguay’s Louis Suarez scored two; England’s Wayne Rooney only one. And with that came England’s second straight loss and the realization that they’ll have a hard time advancing past group match play.

flood

The banks of the Mississippi broken by the tears of England fans after the defeat to FC Suarez… Or maybe it just rained a lot in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

GAME 3:  Important Group C match between Greece and Japan. Loser of this one  had no chance of advancing. Guess that’s why neither scored a goal. Final score: 0-0

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings)

* Italy vs. Costa Rica * Switzerland vs. France * Honduras vs. Ecuador

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

After sifting through the English media before and after their match against Uruguay, I have concluded (reluctantly) that the Yanks have it right.  Play in the tournament, if you win, celebrate.  If you lose, ah well.  There is always the next time. My life’s joy is not dependent on a bunch of over paid, prima donnas who are living the dream we could only sleep on. I imagine meeting the soon-to-be vilified Steven Gerrard in a pub years from now asking how he played so shite against Uruguay and his response being swift and to the bone…”How many World Cups did you play in, Cosmove…sorry, Cosgrove?”… Enjoy the World Cup for what it is.  Real life theater with no shortage of cast members to fill in.

DAY SEVEN, June 18, 2014 – IF YOU CAN’T TAKE THE HEAT…

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: The Dutch scored first, but nearly a minute later, Australia equalized with the one of the best goals of the World Cup. A quick pass downfield was followed by a blasting score by Tim Cahill, who later in the first half was sent off the pitch after receiving his second yellow card. Down a man, Australia wasn’t fazed by the loss. They scored their second goal on a penalty kick. The Dutch then showed their mettle, battling back with two more goals to clinch the win and show the Aussies the door. NED 3 – AUS 2

GAME 2: The big question of the day: Will Spain rebound from its nasty loss against the Netherlands and triumph over Chile? The answer: Nope. Spain, the defending World Cup champs, lost 2-0 and have no chance of advancing to the next round.

GAME 3: Croatia and Cameroon both posted losses last week and needed to rack up goals to stay alive. Croatia did its part, winning 4-0.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings)

* Colombia vs. Ivory Coast * Uruguay vs. England * Japan vs. Greece

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

We are seven days in and the goodbyes have started in earnest.  First we said G’bye to the plucky Aussies who put up a decent showing against the moody Dutch.  If you want to instantly take a dislike to a player, watch Arjen Robben after he scores his first goal.  Wanker. Tim Cahill, who plays in the U.S. for the New  York Red Bulls (so only about 2000 people see him play weekly) scored a cracking volley in that game.  TV host Piers Morgan said it was the Goal of All World Cups, once again proving that he should stick to what he is good at: wanking. Later we said goodbye to the  Spanish who once again had no fire in their bellies.  Hard to be hungry when your belly is so full.  Three tournament wins in a row means they no longer do the little things beyond the annoying tiki-taka passing crap that has driven us all so crazy for a decade. Finally, for sheer entertainment, watching the full implosion of Cameroon against Croatia was a joy to behold.  Head butting your own player means the team spirit in the camp must be as low as Piers Morgan’s football knowledge. Right about now we are also saying goodbye to those “fans” who got swept away when the World Cup first got going last week but now are tired of the three games a day and constant chatter.  They are going back to the 186 game baseball season to find solace in 4 hour games that never end in a tie. Back to Brit’s tomorrow for the big England v. Louis Suarez.  I expect England to win easily which means they will lose handily.  The goodbyes shall continue.

DAY SIX, June 17, 2014 – NEAR UPSETS

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Belgium manages to get it together as underdog Algeria scores first. Rule 1: Never frustrate a Belgian. Or is that Rule No. 2? Final score: 2-1

GAME 2: The Brazil-Mexico game was a physical back-and-forth with great goalie defense. After 93 minutes, the game was an equal affair: BRA 0 – MEX 0

GAME 3: Many expect Belgium and Russia to advance, but Belgium was surprised early before going on the attack. Will the same happen in the Russia-South Korea game? This one could be fun. Stay tuned… Okay, this was all that it we hoped for. South Korea struck first, Russia evened it. 75 minutes in the score remains 1-1.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings)

* Australia vs. Netherlands * Spain vs. Chile * Cameroon vs. Croatia

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

Really?!  Are we still asking the awkward, dopey questions like soccer is some quirky, novel sport that comes around every four years to American TV screens?  Millions upon millions of kids around the United States and their parents and families are more familiar with the offside rule than they are with the list of the original 13 colonies.  And yet.  And yet… every four years as people come out in their thousands to experience the greatest tournament on earth, it is treated like a novelty once again.  You want a good example then watch this clip from Twin Cities “news leader” WCCO and their interview with Brit’s General Manager, Shane Higgins.  Embarrassing.

With respect to the hard fought win last night by the United States, my good friend and top soccer coach, Mark Cook summed it up in a FB post perfectly: perilous Two points for yesterday’s win vs. Ghana: 1) We were bad!! As a country we still have not developed enough on the field to play with the big boys. Ghana was much better than us and we are fortunate to have 3 points. If we play the same way agains Portugal, we will not be as lucky. 2) Off the field we have developed tremendously as a nation. Seeing the huge U.S. crowd in Brazil and all the amazing watch parties in Chicago, KC and across the country is awesome. We may not embrace MLS yet, but we sure do embrace US soccer, especially the World Cup!! Today’s games saw our Belgian friends struggle to overcome Algeria but beware of slow starters… they slip under the covers.  I fancy them to make the semi-finals. Brazil didn’t have a good ref on their team today and the Mexican keeper was possessed.  The fancy hair do’s that our boy Neymar and Alves now sport are more like hair don’ts. Meanwhile, Putin must have the Russian goal keeper on a black list after he allowed an easy goal and really, don’t expect this team to do anything again but underachieve.  This is a team in the likeness of their coach, Fabio Capella…dull, grey and out of ideas. My favorite pic today came from Brit’s with this magic bird’s eye view of the viewing green.  Go on! birdseyebrit This time tomorrow, we might be talking about Spain being eliminated.  Still, I fancy them to illuminate against Chile.  We shall see.

DAY FIVE, June 16, 2014 – RED CARD

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Putting on a clinic, Germany was sure-fire as ever, taking advantage of  Portugal’s 10-man side after Pepe — Portugal’s red card prone defender — added yet another scarlet chit to his growing penalty pile. GER 4 – POR 0

GAME 2: Iran and Nigeria kept it close, too close. Neither scored a goal.

GAME 3: With Portugal imploding, America and Ghana’s chances to move to the next level improved significantly. With so much on the line, the two teams each gave a gutty performance. The U.S. held a 1-0 lead for most of the match but Ghana wore down the U.S. defenses and scored late in the game. The Americans then dug deep — and with minutes left scored a header to seal the win. USA 2 – GHA 1.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings)

* Belgium vs. Algeria * Brazil vs. Mexico * Russia vs. South Korea

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

The Germans. Reliably reliable. Every time. They are a precise, organized, disciplined machine. The red card today against Portugal was unneeded and devastating. Germany already had their opponents on the ropes and with the red card, it then became a forgone conclusion. Take Ronaldo away and Portugal are average. Force Ronaldo out of rhythm, give Pepe a red card, and Portugal lose by four goals. Football is always a team game. Best player in the world can only do so much. The U.S. and Ghana will have watched that game and probably given themselves extra incentive to win tonight thinking that they could now take Portugal. I think a win tonight and a draw against Portugal will see the U.S. go through. Americans are getting into soccer spirit. Here’s my friend’s patriotic get-up for tonight: kelly get up

As we can see Kelly’s very excited and planning ahead. We just hope she remembers to put on her outfit before running out the door. Drinking halls throughout Minneapolis are also busy getting ready for the 5 p.m. (Minn. time) game, right when the suits get out of the office and make their way to either the darkened interiors or sun-drenched exteriors to watch the game. No quarter will be asked and none given in the battle to secure a valuable vantage point. Good luck to them all! Meanwhile, I was just watching the build-up to Nigeria v. Iran (I know, not a game on everyone’s must-see list) and then the camera panned to this Iranian fan consuming a sponsor’s product. If the Ayatollah is watching, apologies that any alcohol consumption for the Iranian fans had to be this beer. bud Game on!

DAY FOUR, June 15, 2014 – SLEEPY TIME

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

Unless you’re a World Cup fanatic — or hail from Switzerland, Honduras, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Argentina, France or Ecuador — you probably weren’t glued to your sets. Good thinking. You didn’t miss much.

GAME 1: The Swiss pulled off a last minute goal to halt Ecuador 2 to 1.

GAME 2: France blanked Honduras 3-0.

GAME 3: While many wished for an upset, Bosnia-Herzegovina was no match for Argentina. ARG 2 – BOS 1.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings)

* Germany vs. Portugal * Iran vs. Nigeria * U.S. vs. Ghana

DAY THREE, June 14, 2014 – CATCHING THE FEVER

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: Greece had no answer for Colombia and got pounded 3-0.

GAME 2: Uruguay held a one score lead before dropping 3 straight goals to Costa Rica. To make matters worse for Uruguay, defender Maximiliano Pereira received the first red card of the World Cup. CRC 3 – URU 1.

GAME 3: Italy bested a desperate England, 2-1.

GAME 4: Under rainy Brazilian skies, Ivory Coast surprised Japan, 2-1.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings)

* Switzerland vs. Ecuador * France vs. Honduras * Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT Top five conversation points to be ready for after England’s “gallant” defeat to triumphant Italy. –        Wayne Rooney –        Wayne Rooney being dropped from the next game –        Wayne Rooney’s $300,000/week salary –        Wayne Rooney’s lack of goals in the World Cup for England –        Wayne Rooney Here in Minnesota, Brit’s Pub was packed with a Columbians to see and celebrate a huge win over the woeful Greeks. No one expected Uruguay to get beaten by Costa Rica so about 89% of people watched the highlights because one watched it live. Down at The Local, the biggest Irish pub in Minnesota, a quick dander through showed England fans outnumbered Italians 2-1. Ironic. Next up, Ivory Coast played a night game against Japan. Yes, at 9:45 p.m. there was a live football game (of reasonable significance) on the TV… which has never happened in 15 years while living in Minnesota. Final thought: orange was once again the shirt color of choice for victory today. Either a lot of people really do believe in the Dutch or – with 12 hours of soccer coverage – they didn’t do their  laundry.

DAY TWO, June 13, 2014 – RAIN, SPAIN, AND FAIR LADIES

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

GAME 1: The clash between Mexico and Cameroon could be likened to a bad kiss — hot, wet and sloppy. Cameroon had a chance to tie in stoppage time but a diving save closed the door on this rain-doused match. Mexico finishes with a 1-0 win.

GAME 2: The highly-anticipated rematch between the top two teams at the 2010 World Cup turned into quite the shocker.  Spain (the defending champs) were decimated this time around by the Dutch 5-1. Sweet revenge.

GAME 3 : The Aussies could be compared to “Crocodile Dundee.” Lots of heart, but quickly forgotten. Chile dismissed the Down Unders with a score of 3 to 1.

CELEBRITY SIGHTING

Cross-dressing British comedian Eddie Izzard was seen at Brit’s Pub watching the Brazil vs. Croatia game. Then again, it could have been a hairy woman from Burnsville.

PORTRAIT OF A NETHERLANDS FAN, EXCITED

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TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings)

* Colombia vs. Greece * Uruguay vs. Costa Rica * England vs. Italy * Ivory Coast vs. Japan TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

The day’s first game – Mexico vs. Cameroon – was played in heavy rain and I felt homesick for Ireland watching the match.

The most striking thing about the match — other than the fact that the rain was coming down in buckets — was that Mexico had two perfectly good goals disallowed by the referees. The Mexico squad stuck at it, though, and took advantage of their opponents’ disorganized play. It got me thinking, if a player is having a bad game, he is substituted and probably won’t be picked for the next one.  Maybe we should introduce that concept to referees, too. Brit’s Pub in Minnesota was basking in glorious sunshine for the Netherlands vs. Spain game in the afternoon. There was a muted roar when Spain scored first off a questionable penalty shot, but the Netherlands team rose to the occasion, scoring five straight goals to stun and shame the Spaniards. The final game, Chile vs. Australia, was one of those games that happens because every continent needs representation at the World Cup but — in the overall scheme of things — is meaningless.  Another prediction: Neither team will be featuring in the next round. The Aussies should stick to cricket and making dodgy 80’s movies. The Chileans should stick to… um… things that Chileans do.

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DAY ONE, June 12, 2014 – BRAZIL WINS THE OPENER

THE FIVE-SECOND REPLAY

Brazil plays poorly (like a-player-scores-on-his-own-goalie poorly), but still manages to beat Croatia by the score of 3 to 1.

TOMORROW’S GAMES (check yer local listings)

* Mexico vs. Cameroon * Spain vs. Netherlands * Chile vs. Australia

TODAY’S BRAZ-ZED OFF RANT

There was plenty to rise the ire of many after the opening game between Croatia and Brazil/Nishimura.  The host nation were clearly struggling throughout the game.  When their “star” player Neymar clearly elbowed Modric, the Croatian midfielder, and should have been sent off by referee Nishimura, we knew something was up.

Then a few minutes later (of course) the “I make $14 million a year but can’t afford a decent haircut” superstar popped up with a goal.  To rub salt into the Croatian gapping wound, our boy Nishimura decided that there was no way the below par performing Brazilians were going to penetrate the Croatian defense a second time, and awarded the softest penalty in World Cup history.  Job done.

Clearly an organization such as FIFA (best rant ever here from our boy, John Oliver) will not allow the host nation to fail.  I offer Game One of the 2014 World Cup as clear evidence.  To the other 31 teams that showed up to Brazil this week to compete, don’t bother yer arse.  It’s already in the bag.

THE WORLD CUP HAS BEGUN!

At 3 pm (Minnesota time) the 2014 World Cup kicked-off. In Minneapolis you could feel the excitement. Well, almost…

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MINUTES AWAY

About 90 minutes away from the opening game where hosts Brazil take on Croatia. Historically, the first game is always a tense, drab affair but I can tell you that if Croatia manages to sneak a win, there will be nothing drab about the rise in riotous behavior in São Paulo and beyond. Back in jolly old England, as I have already predicted, the English media, in particular Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, is ramping up the faux patriotism. Here’s The Sun’s  full front page spread titled, “This is England” with pictures of many famous and infamous English celebrities adorning the cover. prediction This is the same tabloid, who will have pictures of the players’ heads on a stake if they don’t win every game (which they won’t) effortlessly.  They build them up so they can knock them down. Here in Minneapolis, the local media are catching the fever. One example: K-Twin, a baseball-leaning radio station, had me on this morning to make some predictions. We should have some audio up shortly. In the meantime, the print media have listed 12 pubs (including our friends at Brit’s and The Local) as preferred locations of viewing choice.  If you are planning on visiting a “futbol” pub for a World Cup game, particularly an England or USA game, you should have these 5 tips memorized:

  1. The pubs will be filled to capacity and beyond.  Think New Year’s meets St Pat’s meets a riot;
  2. It will take you five times as long to get a drink and half of it might be spilled by the time you have it in your hand;
  3. You will only see the screen which is showing the game intermittently as Johnny BigHead and his friends move to right in front of you just before the game;
  4. Swearing at the screen will be so pronounced that even sailors will avoid the area within a 10-mile radius;
  5. Prepare to be groped, pinched, pushed and fondled…and that is just in the bathroom!

With that, I am off to the pub to be fondled and groped and find some Croatians to hang with. Away we go!! *** PREVIEW – AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PARTY

So here’s the deal. There are more than enough resources on the Internet to read about every crazy detail connected to the World Cup.

Our focus however is a little different. We’ll be bringing you the best of the action live… from Minneapolis.

Your host? Me.

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Me, then.

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Me, now.

I’m John Cosgrove, a native Irish son who has enjoyed watching some of the world’s largest sporting events… inside pubs and bars throughout the world.

I’ve been glued to the action in Dublin and Belfast, London and Cape Town. And, now, for the fourth time in my life, it’ll be Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is about as far away from Brazil as Chewbacca is from a Brazilian.

THE SETTING FOR OUR WORLD CUP COVERAGE

Here in Minneapolis  there are a number of pubs that will come to the fore for viewing pleasure, both on and off the screen.

The main one is Brit’s Pub in the heart of the city center. They will have a large screen on their bowling green and will show all the games rain or shine.

I won’t mind the rain as it can help the bar with a wet T-shirt night.

MY WORLD CUP PREDICTIONS

Here’s another thing. I know a little about football, or as the Americans call it “soccer.” Also, did I tell you that I was blessed to be Irish?

With that in mind, here are five predictions that should happen during the World Cup:

1.  Irish fans across the world will be cheering on every team that opposes England. For the first round of games that will be Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.

2.  English media and fans will hype up their team into believing that they can actually win it all.

3.  The English team will actually lose on penalties to Germany or Spain in the quarterfinals and they will be flown home to a loser’s welcome. Irish fans across the world will still be cheering.

4.  Germany will get to at least the semi-final.

5.  Brazil will win the whole thing. Easily.

A GUIDE TO OUR COVERAGE

So what should you expect from our World Cup coverage?

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A different vantage point as I’ll be sitting uncomfortably on a piece of grass in the middle of downtown Minneapolis … sign me up!

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Responsible behavior with beer served in 20-ounce glassware… the way God intended.

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The latest information gleaned from a big screen. Like 50-feet, in HD!

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A chance of inclement weather with the possibility of wet T-shirt.

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And photos of attractive women in soccer shirts with men who louse up the frame. I have no idea who this man is, but I have the sneaking suspicion he’s Spanish… or  British.

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John Cosgrove moved to Minneapolis from Ireland at the turn of the century to get away from the rain, and to reign where there wasn’t a high percentage of Irish diaspora to compete with. After working for six years in the Irish pub industry, John decided to lend his wit, charm and personality to the events industry through two of his companies, VoiceHive and Cosgrove Presents. John also found time to coach the Bloomington U-14 Class C boys soccer team to a junior state championship final.  His credentials as a commentator of all things World Cup are unprecedented. As you will see. Feel free to e-mail John at john@newswhistle.com

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Art Courtesy of YurkaImmortal/Shutterstock.com