Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday afternoon in Brussels

I am in Brussels, and not knowing what to do on a Sunday afternoon I decided to waste a bit of money and a couple of hours by going to watch Anderlecht-Cercle Brugge.
In a beautiful afternoon the match was not as boring as one would have expected. A good crowd and an attacking Anderlecht side created a good atmosphere. And early in the second half the locals were up 3-0 after three goals of the young Belgian Landry Dimata. The team also had a well-playing Honduran in Andy Najar and the young Pieter Gerkens, who made it 4-0.
Far outplaying their counterparts and with half an hour left the Anderlecht defense decided to rest, and gave away two lame goals to the opposing side. Despite some attacks, Anderlecht held on to 4-2, but one has to be worried about such concentration lapses if one is to face bigger sides, as Anderlecht indeed will, this coming week when they face Fenerbahce in the Europa League.

In the end it was a match that quickly will be forgotten. And if I had been anywhere more interesting than Brussels, I would have found something else to do.

Penalti para Anderlecht

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Less beer

I have not watched a football match since the World Cup final, and I have hardly read any news on football or any results. One of the unintended consequences of this has been that I am drinking less beer, as I would always love a pint while watching a match. So this is positive!
It is of course not because of football I enjoyed a beer, but beer was just the companion to a great match. Beer is a great companion though.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Joke-mark

I was just browsing the news and saw that the Danish national team for the next friendly and Nations League matches against Slovakia and Wales will be a group of amateur players from the lowest leagues because the Danish football federation, DBU, and the players of the Danish national team have a dispute on commercial rights. So basically the Danish team, among the 16 best in the world in the last World Cup, are not just a joke, but also insulting the fans, their opponents and the entire footballing world.
One has to wonder why this is not happening with other national teams: surely other national teams, whose professional players also have commercial rights, have similar agreements that could be an example for these uncompromising Danes...? So either the Danish national team players had the best deal in the world, and DBU were trying to normalize it, or DBU are offering a deal that is much worse than what other national teams have.
Last year the Danish women's team refused to play a World Cup qualifier amid a similar dispute. Denmark was fined and lost the match. Why does this happen with DBU and not with other football associations? Are Danish professional players (both men and women) more complicated than the ones from other countries, or is DBU just incapable of striking an acceptable agreement that other federations in UEFA seem to have no problem with...?

I must admit that I give the benefit of the doubt to the players: DBU has historically been dismal at managing Danish football. Until 1975 DBU refused to recognize professionalism, and players who went professional were banned for life from the national team. This meant that Denmark, who had players in the top leagues in Europe throughout the 1950s and 1960s, always fielded teams of second rate amateurs, just like they are doing now!
So maybe this is just a return to the time when Danish football was dominated by glorious amateurs and would get their butts kicked by every other country. If anything, the next matches will be worth watching because Denmark will not be much better than San Marino or Liechtenstein.
Football is a joke.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Bummed out

I am not football hungover as I was in 2014. I am simply bummed out. Tired of football. I have had too much disillusion over the last few years, losing my idols, one by one; losing all hope that any team I support will win anything, but worse of all seeing the game becoming more corrupt and full of hate.
People say football is like religion: nowadays, it is much worse than religion or any ideology. Just like religion it has brought good things with it, but nowadays the hateful passion of fans, commercialism, greed and petty nationalism just overshadow all the nice things about the game (of which I acknowledge, there are still many, but I must admit that I cannot see the sun for all the shadows everywhere).
I already closed my Twitter account, and now considering whether I should continue with this blog. It would be a bit nostalgic to close it down, as it has been a steady part of my life for so many years. At the same time, I feel I have nothing more to say about the "former" beautiful game. I have often used the tag "no life" in my more reflective posts. I truly have no life without football.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#MeTwo

The situation of Mezut Ozil has pissed me off so much that whatever little support or any big respect I had for German football hangs on a thin thread. I can totally understand that he has left the national team of ungrateful and hateful fans, who indeed treated him well when things go well, and badly when things go badly, as they did for Germany in the last World Cup.
Now this is a symptom of the much wider problems of nationalism, where too many people think that you cannot love or identify with more than one nation. Nations are mental constructs! They only exist in people's mind. And from that mind comes a lot of symbols in the form of paper, cloth, songs, stories, etc., that basically just exist to constantly reconfirm this mental construct.
Football also contributes to recreate this mental construct. That is basically the only reason for having the World Cup at a time when football is a global sport: I can sit in Liberia watching an English League match where a Frenchman of Malian descent plays alongside a Spaniard of Catalonian heritage to score a goal against a Belgian (Waloon) goalkeeper for a club owned by a Russian. In this global mixture a player or a fan may love multiple teams, may love multiple countries and may count his heritage from many parts of the world.
I admire Mr. Ozil because he, like so many of us in the world with mixed heritage says what we all know: that you can belong and feel proud of having a multiple cross-national background, so incredibly rich in its diversity, and so incredibly open to the wonders of this world that I often pity the people whose narrow minds limits them to a particular mental construct.
Quoting the fantastic writer Mr. Amin Maalouf:
"I am at the edge of two worlds, of two or three languages, of many cultural traditions. It is precisely that which defines me… I do not have many identities, I have one, made up of all these elements…. "but deep inside, what do you feel you are?": this reoccurring question made me smile for a long time. Today, I do not smile at it anymore. It seems to me that it shows a dangerous way of seeing the world that is very wide-spread nowadays. It supposes that there is, within each of us, only one belonging which matters, an essence which is determined once and for all at birth and which will never change; as if the rest – your journey through life as a free person, your convictions, your preferences, your sensibilities, your affinities, in short your life – counted for nothing. And we push others to strengthen their identity as we so often do nowadays, it is as if we were telling them to find, deep within themselves, this theoretical original belonging, which is most often ethnic, national, religious or racial, and throw it in the face of others."

Monday, August 13, 2018

World Cup all-time table after Russia 2018

So this is the all-time World Cup table following the 2018 World Cup. Brazil maintains its first position, and there are no changes in the top four (although neither Germany, Italy or Argentina had a good World Cup), while France, with its second title, moves into the fifth best all-time nation, while Spain moves from fifth to seventh place. The Netherlands is still the best country never to have won a World Cup. Croatia moves up 5 places to 22nd, while Russia moves up 14 places from 50th to 36th (note that I do not include Russia together with the USSR).
 Otherwise the table is as follows:


Country Games Won Tied Lost GF GA Goal difference points (3-system)
1 Brazil (-) 109 73 18 18 232 113 119 237
2 Germany* (-) 109 66 21 22 225 126 99 219
3 Italy (-) 83 45 21 17 127 76 51 156
4 Argentina (-) 81 43 15 23 137 93 44 144
5 France (+2) 66 34 13 19 120 76 44 115
6 England (-) 69 29 21 19 91 64 27 108
7 Spain (-2) 63 30 15 18 99 72 27 105
8 Netherlands (-) 50 27 12 11 86 48 38 93
9 Uruguay (-) 56 24 12 20 87 74 13 84
10 Sweden (-) 51 19 13 19 80 73 7 70
11 Belgium (+2) 48 20 9 19 67 72 -5 69
12 Mexico (-1) 57 16 14 27 60 98 -38 62
13 Yugoslavia (-1) 37 16 8 13 60 46 14 56
14 Poland (+1) 34 16 6 12 47 45 2 54
15 USSR (-1) 31 15 6 10 53 34 19 51
16 Portugal (+1) 30 14 6 10 49 35 14 48
17 Hungary (-1) 32 15 3 14 87 57 30 48
18 Switzerland (+3) 37 12 8 17 50 64 -14 44
19 Czech Republic** (-1) 33 12 5 16 47 49 -2 41
20 Chile (-1) 33 11 7 15 40 49 -9 40
21 Austria (-1) 29 12 4 13 43 47 -4 40
22 Croatia (+5) 23 11 4 8 35 26 9 37
23 Denmark (-+2) 20 9 5 6 30 26 4 32
24 Paraguay (-2) 27 7 10 10 30 38 -8 31
25 USA (-2) 33 8 6 19 37 62 -25 30
26 Colombia (+2) 22 9 3 10 32 30 2 30
27 Romania (-3) 21 8 5 8 30 32 -2 29
28 South Corea (-1) 34 6 9 19 34 70 -36 27
29 Nigeria (+3) 21 6 3 12 23 30 -7 21
30 Costa Rica (+1) 18 5 5 8 19 28 -9 20
31 Japan (+3) 21 5 5 11 20 29 -9 20
32 Scotland (-3) 23 4 7 12 27 41 -14 19
33 Cameroon (-3) 23 4 7 12 18 43 -25 19
34 Peru (+2) 18 5 3 10 21 33 -12 18
35 Bulgaria (-2) 26 3 8 15 22 53 -31 17
36 Russia (+14) 14 4 4 6 24 20 4 16
37 Turkey (-2) 10 5 1 4 20 16 4 16
38 Ghana (-1) 12 4 3 5 13 16 -3 15
39 Ireland (-1) 13 2 8 3 10 10 0 14
40 North. Ireland (-1) 13 3 5 5 13 23 -10 14
41 Ecuador (-1) 10 4 1 5 10 11 -1 13
42 Algeria (-1) 13 3 3 7 13 19 -6 12
43 Senegal (+4) 8 3 3 2 11 10 1 12
44 Morocco (-1) 16 2 5 9 14 22 -8 11
45 Saudi Arabia (+4) 16 3 2 11 11 39 -28 11
46 South Africa (-3) 9 2 4 3 11 16 -5 10
47 Australia (-1) 16 2 4 10 13 31 -18 10
48 Tunisia (+4) 15 2 4 9 13 25 -12 10
49 Iran (+6) 15 2 4 9 9 24 -15 10
50 Ivory Coast (-6) 9 3 1 5 13 14 -1 10
51 Norway (-6) 8 2 3 3 7 8 -1 9
52 East Germany (-4) 6 2 2 2 5 5 0 8
53 Greece (-2) 10 2 2 6 5 20 -15 8
54 Ukraine (-1) 5 2 1 2 5 7 -2 7
55 Wales (-1) 5 1 3 1 4 4 0 6
56 Serbia (+6) 6 2 0 4 4 7 -3 6
57 Slovakia (-1) 4 1 1 2 5 7 -2 4
58 Slovenia (-1) 6 1 1 4 5 10 -5 4
59 Cuba (-1) 3 1 1 1 5 12 -7 4
60 North Corea (-1) 7 1 1 5 6 21 -15 4
61 Honduras (-1) 9 0 3 6 3 14 -11 3
62 New Zealand (-1) 6 0 3 3 4 14 -10 3
63 Jamaica (-) 3 1 0 2 3 7 -4 3
64 Bosnia-Hercegovina (-2) 3 1 0 2 4 4 0 3
65 Angola (-1) 3 0 2 1 1 2 -1 2
66 Israel (-1) 3 0 2 1 1 3 -2 2
67 Egypt (-1) 7 0 2 5 5 12 -7 2
68 Kuwait (-1) 3 0 1 2 2 6 -4 1
69 Trinidad-Tobago (-1) 3 0 1 2 0 4 -4 1
70 Bolivia (-1) 6 0 1 5 1 19 -18 1
71 Iceland 3 0 1 2 2 5 -3 1
72 Iraq (-1) 3 0 0 3 1 4 -3 0
73 Togo (-1) 3 0 0 3 1 6 -5 0
74 Canada (-1) 3 0 0 3 0 5 -5 0
75 Dutch West Indies (-1) 1 0 0 1 0 6 -6 0
76 Serbia-Montenegro (-1) 3 0 0 3 2 10 -8 0
77 Panama 3 0 0 3 2 11 -9 0
78 United Arab Emirates (-2) 3 0 0 3 2 11 -9 0
79 China (-2) 3 0 0 3 0 9 -9 0
80 Haiti (-2) 3 0 0 3 2 14 -12 0
81 Zaire (-2) 3 0 0 3 0 14 -14 0
82 El Salvador (-1) 6 0 0 6 1 22 -21 0


1800
700
400
700
2551
2551
0



900







Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Who was robbed?

One of the bad things about the World Cup is that people take it way too seriously. People who will never get excited about a Champions League or League match (which are so much better than the vast majority of World Cup matches) will get excited about the game because they get to wave a a coloured piece of cloth called a flag, sing the anthem, and support 11 guys who happen to share their passport.
Some people get tears in their eyes because of the nationalistic fervor, others use it to confirm their wrong stereotypes about other nationalities.
The worst are people who in their indignant ignorance see conspiracies in the footballing results: "It is a scandal!!! We were robbed!!!"
Who the fuck robbed you? Did you call the police? And who is "we"? Are you one of the players who were robbed?
What did these people rob you? A football result!? Why don't you have a beer and relax? There are way more important things in the world...

https://fromacomrade.tumblr.com/post/171731237118

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The 2018 World Cup table

The World Cup has ended, and as usual I prepare a table with the final positions of the tournament, based on a three-point system, goal difference (GD) and in case of tie (Australia, Costa Rica and Iceland), I have used FIFAs fair play (number of yellow cards):

Country
Games
Won
Tied
Lost
GF
GA
GD
points
1
France
7
6
1
0
14
6
8
19
2
Croatia
7
4
2
1
14
9
5
14
3
Belgium
7
6
0
1
16
6
10
18
4
England
7
3
1
3
12
8
4
10
5
Uruguay
5
4
0
1
7
3
4
12
6
Brazil
5
3
1
1
8
3
5
10
7
Sweden
5
3
0
2
6
4
2
9
8
Russia
5
2
2
1
11
7
4
8
9
Colombia
4
2
1
1
6
3
3
7
10
Spain
4
1
3
0
7
6
1
6
11
Denmark
4
1
3
0
3
2
1
6
12
Mexico
4
2
0
2
3
6
-3
6
13
Portugal
4
1
2
1
6
6
0
5
14
Switzerland
4
1
2
1
5
5
0
5
15
Japan
4
1
1
2
6
7
-1
4
16
Argentina
4
1
1
2
6
9
-3
4
17
Senegal
3
1
1
1
4
4
0
4
18
Iran
3
1
1
1
2
2
0
4
19
South Corea
3
1
0
2
3
3
0
3
20
Peru
3
1
0
2
2
2
0
3
21
Nigeria
3
1
0
2
3
4
-1
3
22
Serbia
3
1
0
2
2
4
-2
3
23
Germany
3
1
0
2
2
4
-2
3
24
Tunisia
3
1
0
2
5
8
-3
3
25
Poland
3
1
0
2
2
5
-3
3
26
Saudi Arabia
3
1
0
2
2
7
-5
3
27
Morocco
3
0
1
2
2
4
-2
1
28
Australia
3
0
1
2
2
5
-3
1
29
Costa Rica
3
0
1
2
2
5
-3
1
30
Iceland
3
0
1
2
2
5
-3
1
31
Egypt
3
0
0
3
2
6
-4
0
32
Panama
3
0
0
3
2
11
-9
0
TOTAL
32
64



169
169
0


It is clear that France were the best team in terms of points. Belgium, on third place, in fact had more points than the vice-champions, Croatia, who had to go through a couple of ties, while Belgium only lost one match. Uruguay, with four victories won more matches than England, who nevertheless got a well-deserved fourth place. Notice though, that both Uruguay and Belgium were eliminated by the later champions. Belgium was also the team with most goals and the best GD, while the best defenses according to least goals were Denmark, Iran and Peru. The worst defense was that of the Panamanian debutants, who also ended dead last in the table. The 2014 champions from Germany ended in the 23rd spot, which is their worst performance ever.