Belfast Telegraph

It appears only good-looking girls are in the stadium at matches (plus nine other things we learnt at World Cup)

By Jonathan McCambridge

1. It's only good-looking girls who watch football games

Brazil is a country with a population of 200 million. Add to that the hundreds of thousands of fans from other countries who poured into South America to watch the tournament and it is extraordinary that the television cameras were unable to pick up a single image of anything other than stunning women celebrating in the stands. A Belgian soccer fan found herself with a brief modelling contract and the unofficial title 'most beautiful World Cup supporter' after a photo of her cheering at the tournament in Brazil went viral. The male fans fared less well. One of the most abiding images of the tournament being the portly man reduced to eating the Brazilian flag during his country's humiliation by Germany.

2. Brazilian flamboyance is definitely dead

The decline of Brazilian flair on the pitch has coincided with their current lack of imagination in naming their players. A country which once gave us Socrates, Rivelino and Jairzinho is now reduced to a side containing Fred, Oscar and Bernard. The 2014 vintage sounded like a team of accountants and played that way too. Even the colourfully named Hulk couldn't save any pride. Maybe Bruce Banner would have played better.

3. Dirty tactic reach new low

A disgraceful attack during the Brazil v Colombia quarter-final. No, not the tackle which broke Neymar's back, but rather the cynical attempt to use a giant insect to distract James Rodrigues as he took a crucial penalty late in the game. A giant grasshopper attached itself to the star player's arm as he lined up to take the spot kick and remained there as he celebrated the goal which gave Colombia a late lifeline.

4. We'll miss Alan Hansen

The former Liverpool defender's continual castigation of diabolical defending may have got a bit old over the years (he seemed almost tearful at the Brazilian effort in their semi), but compared to the inane witterings of Glenn Hoddle, Rio Ferdinand and Andy Townsend, he sounds like Oscar Wilde crossed with Alex Salmond. On a similar theme, footage of Adrian Chiles on the beach in his shorts should never be broadcast before the watershed.

5. Player should wear gum shields

Luis Suarez's initial reaction to his biting assault during Uruguay's clash with Italy seemed to be to suggest that his teeth had been attacked by Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder. He writhed about on the ground holding his choppers while Chiellini displayed the bite mark under his jersey. Suarez later explanation that he had lost his balance and tried to stabilise himself by grabbing the defender's shoulder with his teeth was just as ludicrous. However, natural justice was served when Suarez was punished for his misdemeanours with a lucrative £75m transfer to Barcelona.

6. Talent doesn't always run in the family

Perhaps the BBC got confused and thought it was signing up older brother Gary Neville as a World Cup pundit. Instead we were all forced to endure younger sibling Phil's turgid monotone during England's defeat by Italy ("The clock's ticking..."). Gary Neville was a distinguished Man Utd defender. So was Phil. Gary Neville represented his country. So did Phil. Gary Neville has gone into coaching. So has Phil. Gary Neville is a great commentator.

7. Practice doesn't always make perfect

The famed German efficiency broke down as they took a free-kick during their last 16 clash with Algeria. As four players stood over the ball, it appeared that the Germans had a subtly designed routine in place to surprise their opponents. However, the scheme (and Thomas Muller) fell flat on its face as the German stumbled and collapsed head-first on to the turf as he attempted to dummy the ball, with a team-mate then chipping the ball straight to the Algeria defence. Defender Benedikt Howedes later claimed that the stumble was all part of the masterplan: "We practised that free-kick in training. The final chip wasn't quite right." Hmmmm...

8. Tim Howard can save anything

After setting a record for the most saves in the tournament, USA keeper Howard became an internet sensation. Despite losing 2-1 to Belgium, many fans observed Howard's performance and acted accordingly on social media. By the end of the day the hashtag #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave was trending and led to some creative tweets. Suggestions included that Howard could save Rolf Harris from prosecution, Sarah Palin's political career and Janet Jackson from exposing a nipple at the Superbowl. Howard responded coolly: "Some of you guys have too much time on your hands!"

9. Don't cross Martin O'Neill

The former Northern Ireland captain bared his teeth in the ITV studio when challenged by Patrick Vieira, Fabio Cannavaro and Adrian Chiles. Questioned on whether he used to cower in the wall when facing down a free kick, the 62-year-old went on the attack by comparing medal collections. O'Neill told Cannavaro and Vieira not to underestimate him because he was at an advanced age and wearing glasses. "Despite the fact that there are two World Cup winners (here), actually when it comes to the Champions League, which used to be the European Cup, I've won two of them. I'd just like to know, how many have you lads won?" Neither answered. Ouch!

10. England are rubbish at major tournaments

Sorry, we knew that already...

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