Knowing how good Spain is, I called for them to take it this year with Brazil being the runners-up. Obviously, I was half wrong. I can't tell you how many upsets there were in the World Cup in general and how much money I could have lost if I were to bet money in these matches. <-- Say NO to gambling.
I have a lot of thoughts and comments on what went down during the World Cup. A lot of them are negative reactions toward this past month, other ones are just random tidbits that I have opinions on.
1. The Jabulani ball used throughout the World Cup is a piece of crap.
A lot of the players were heavily complaining about the ball during World Cup qualifiers as well as the matches during the Cup. At first thought, I just thought they were being a bunch of sissy-nannies and should have sucked it up. After looking at some of the physics and statistics of the ball, a lot of things started making sense to me, such as why there were so many bad crosses or a lot of inaccurate free kicks/penalty kicks. Due to the threading form and design of the Jabulani ball, the wind resistance of the ball did some funky stuff to it. From a source found by a physics major, the ball will begin to knuckle at 44 mph. That's not fast at all for some players' shots. If you watch some slow-mo replays, you'll notice the ball making awkward and sharp movements in the air, and totally messing up goalkeeping judgments. Games that come to mind quickly in which that has happen have been the past couple of knockout stage games that Uruguay have played. Diego Forlan totally used and abused the ball's knuckling ability.
2. Most of the officiating during the World Cup was beyond poor.
I can't tell you how terrible the officiating during the Cup was without swearing like a sailor. I'll try my best to give you a PG-rated response to it: WHAT THE HELL??
See, it was so bad that offside calls were either nonexistent or so obvious that they weren't called, the carding was ridiculous, and fouls were called on things that never happened. Remember that nonexistent offside/foul call on Maurice Edu against Slovenia? Remember that disallowed goal against England while playing Germany? Remember that disaster we call Japan vs. Paraguay? Exactly. I understand that you need to have particular credentials in order to officiate during the World Cup, but does one of them include "missing one huge call during each game?"
3. Diego Maradona: Football coach by day, mob boss by night.
I guess he gave Lionel Messi an offer he wasn't allowed to refuse...
4. I am not surprised Italy and France were eliminated early in the group stages.
I'm being dead serious. I really didn't think the top two teams from the last World Cup were going to make it that far. A lot of players have come and gone since 2006 (cough cough Zinedine Zidane cough cough) and both teams didn't look structurally as good as they did back then. France literally looked pitiful during their group games and although Italy looked good on paper, they didn't mesh well together. That's okay, Theirry Henry, you can come on over to the MLS Retirement Home and look good again.
5. No Ronaldinho?! CRAP!
I bet Dunga really wanted to kick himself in the dunga after getting numerous death threats from Brazilian fans and getting knocked out by the second place Dutch. Congratulations for basically handing yourself your own rear end, dude. Ronaldinho, after being called one of the greatest footballers that ever lived, wouldn't you be asking yourself why you didn't make the World Cup team? It's okay, I would be too. Considering that you're 30 and still having a decent career with AC Milan, I would be scratching my head just as much as you did when you were cut from the team.
6. Adidas curse? Pffffftttt.
Okay sure, every guy that was involved with a sports product-related commercial [Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Messi, etc.] was eliminated in the tournament, but really? Blaming a commercial? Oh God, I know most sports are filled with large egos, but I don't think sponsorship alone can be the cause of upsets and eliminations. Stop acting like they were all eliminated in group play--each guy (except for the man mentioned in #5 because he wasn't even involved at all) made it relatively far in the tournament. No man is an island, my children.
7. Ghana killed every bit of the US actually beginning to embrace the sport.
Ghana took down the US in the last Cup too, and now the game of futbol will still be a lowly sport in the United States for the next four years. Sigh. Darn you, padded, fat guys.
8. Was 3D really necessary for this event?
Yeah, I like the idea of 3D as much as the next guy, but I wouldn't be so thrilled to see someone shoot a 3D snot rocket before they start running on the field. A 3D diving Cristina Ronaldo wouldn't be so mind-boggling either. Let's keep 3D in the theaters, shall we?
9. The vuvuzelas really didn't bother me at all.
I know that it's more annoying to hear when you're actually at the stadium, but I'm going to be honest. If you're a real futbol fan, you're going to tune out the sound on the television by either your own interest of what's going on down on the pitch instead of what's going on in the stands or the simplest way--the mute button. They've gotten controversial as of late; the buzzing noise has been blamed for hearing loss and have been huge in drowning out calls and team talking down on the pitch. Is it skin off my nose? No, but I kind of do feel bad for all of the people that will go "WHAT?? CAN YOU SPEAK UP" when they get older.
10. This event will never cease to bring an ailing country together.
For you history buffs, you know that this country has been in a lot of turmoil over it's history. Sure, the World Cup alone isn't going to unite a country, but it's going to bring them together in peace over something everyone enjoys in some way for a short period of time. It was awesome to see 91-year old Nelson Mandela during some of the events despite the murder of his great-granddaughter at the beginning of the tournament. It was also great to see the big turnouts for each match and how many were cheering on teams other than their own. Great stuff.
I love watching big events like this. It's a shame that it has to end, but in order for the feeling to stay good and fresh, it has to be in short bursts, like the one month out of every four year time period that has been set. To a lot of people around the world, futbol is a religion, and the World Cup is their Christmas. Everyone's favorite footballer comes together and plays for the biggest title in the whole sport. To me, the World Cup is like a showcase of how a sport is treated outside of this country. The World Cup is my way of feeling the magic emitted from so many people that I don't know who are coming together for two things: glory and unity. I wish that magic was as powerful in the United States as it is in a place like Spain or Italy or Germany. I can still dream, right?