Saturday, July 01, 2006

Links Abound + World Cup

Suggested reading/surfing material ...

here for "A History of Hong Kong Production Logos, Part One: The Early Years."

Photography, television, cinema, culture industry, Seinfeld's funniness, and one of my favorite novels (yes, in translation), Goethe's Elective Affinities (and more) first
here, then here (same author, old blog & new blog).

If you haven't seen this
ode to George Washington by indie comics guy Brad Neely, you may want to. Not quite work safe, if you work in a particularly stuffy place (or don't have headphones).

Commercial that's making the rounds lately as footage of "Italian soccer practice."

Speaking of the Italian soccer team, I have a queasy feeling that they (who made short work of Ukraine yesterday) will be the ones to dispatch Germany in the semifinal--they will do so with great skill, cynicism, and defensive singlemindedness. Wouldn't it be awful if the final were a match-up between, say, Italy and Brazil (assuming Parreira continues to avoid the beautiful and dominant soccer that characterized their Japanese victory)? Or, worse but less likely, if England were to stumble into the final somehow without really managing a single good 90 minutes for the entire tournament? (And I don't dislike Brazil or England per se--but I've been soured by the way they've played in this World Cup.)

As for the Germany-Argentina game, that was difficult to watch. It wasn't always great soccer, but to me it was a great battle. Though I would have been very disappointed if Germany were knocked out, it was sad to see Argentina go simply because they really were the best team in the tournament. That said, I don't think Germany failed to earn their win on PK's--they resorted to somewhat more conservative tactics against the South Americans, which worked well enough, and even if Argentina are the best side in the Cup, in this game they failed to put one more ball in the back of the net than Germany did, and that was with several severe German defensive lapses.

The games today are difficult for me to predict--Portugal and Brazil have the edge, certainly, but one would think England are bound to have a good game at some point in this Cup (maybe Lampard & Rooney can finally net a few beautiful shots today, against a Portugal team that's missing a few key players?), and Brazil's conservatism could very possibly be trounced once again by a canny French team that showed a bit of that '98 spark when they upset the Spanish a few days ago. If there's a midfielder I like watching at his best even more than Ronaldinho, it's Zidane. I have no favorites today (unlike yesterday, pro-Germany and anti-Italy), I only want the sides who exhibit better soccer to win.


Mubarak Ali said...

I take it you're happy with the results of the last two quarter-final matches? After Argentina's exit I thought I'd lose interest in the rest of the games, but France's (/Zidane's) superb performance really brought me back into it. Sad to see Brazil go but, simply put, France deserved that win. Very hard to predict the big ones now, maybe Italy and France for the final? Something tells me Scolari's men shouldn't be ruled out though...

ZC said...

Yes, I was happy enough with the results--though that England/Portugal game was kind of excruciating. (What happened to the tournament in the elimination rounds? Some routinely exciting football gave way to some really boring matches [with a few exceptions, e.g., Argentina-Mexico].) The French really are a miracle team, and Zidane really is a miracle player. He showed the difference between himself and Ronaldinho that night--as someone (maybe on SoccerNet?) put it, Zidane can take control of a game, but Ronaldinho has to have it flow through him. Since Ronaldinho's teammates weren't up to par, and R. himself wasn't either (and I blame all that on Parreira ultimately), it just took a good game from Zidane to crush Brazil.

As I said, I have a feeling Italy will cut short Germany's dream--they're too clever, too tactical (and skilled of course, to boot), and if the Argentina game was any indication, Klinsmann will probably lean on the conservative side again against a top team. Frankly, even if the Germans are beaten in the semifinal, I'd like to see them go out playing like they did in their first four games, not against Argentina.

Anyway, I'm smelling an Italy-France match-up, and I'll be rooting for France so hard. (Germany-France would be excruciating, simply because the French team really captures my heart when they play at their peak.)