Not so Fair Play
Portugal-Netherlands was not a good game but was certainly gripping entertainment. 16 yellow cards and 4 reds was the final tally in Portugal's bitter 1-0 win. And it was exactly what this WC needed. This game was a stark reminder of how much players need to improve their behavior. It was like recess time for kindergartners. The iconic image of last night had to be the Netherland's Van Bronckhorst and Portugal's Deco, teammates on Barcelona, watching the game from the stairs like petulant teenagers. (It was on TV, but I cannot find a picture of this anywhere. Sorry). This was the ultimate ugly side of soccer on display for the world to watch.
I honestly believe the referee did a good job. The players did not adapt and some of their play was simple brutal. Costinha simply lost the plot with his handball. Figo's headbutt and theatrical injury fakes certainly tarnishes his legacy and Deco was childish in holding the ball to receive his 2nd yellow. But for all the Portuguese transgressions the Dutch were worse. Dirk "Porn Star" Kuyt and Van Bommel spent more time flopping around on the pitch trying to draw penalties than playing. Robben played like a colicky baby and Boulahrouz deserved to be arrested for his assault on Ronaldo. It was a pitiful display.
Shaking off the bad of yesterday, (England's 1-0 win over Ecuador was no picnic to watch either) and looking ahead to the quarterfinals with Argentina–Germany and England–Portugal match-ups set. Today brings Italy-Australia and Switzerland-Ukraine as two of these teams will move on. Here's hoping that real soccer action will return. Enjoy the games.