It finally became too much, too many football games, too much time in front of the television set, too much Tivo. Not that I don’t want to see the games, but the rest of my life piled up too high for me to hold it off, so I missed some games this past week. Still, there have been some good moments and now we’re into the knock-out phase. This means that all of the games count for both teams, which results in either profoundly nasty games, which tax the referees beyond their ability to master the games – witness Netherlands v. Portugal – or wonderful, fast-paced, attacking games, like the Argentina v. Mexico game, which started off the octavofinal.
It was interesting to see the progress of the teams through the first round. The teams that were ready for the tournament made many of the first games superb to watch. That first win is valuable. The second round was for those teams that weren’t ready for the first game, like the US, to recover and get their feet under them. It was also the time for the better teams to notch their first victories, if they’d missed their first chance. As the third game approached, I was enthusing about some of the match-ups, especially of group leaders, like Netherlands and Argentina. By then, though, the dynamic has changed. For teams that have already ensured that they are advancing, it’s a chance to rest some starters and lessen the risk of injury. So, Netherlands and Argentina ends up nil – nil. For other teams, of course, it’s their chance to prove they belong in the next round and to earn the points needed to get there. So, the second tier is where to look for the good games, the games that mean something, like Ghana v. the US. Germany was the exception to this, working hard all three games to thrash their opponents.
I’ve liked this time of soccer immersion, but I just couldn’t re-arrange enough of my life to see all the games. Not enough of a sports fan. Oh, well. Now, the pace of the games is relaxing, so I can coast into the finals without so much effort.