2014 World Cup - Day One Digest: Chelsea's Oscar Shines For Brazil
1 - ITV may have the most homoerotic World Cup coverage ever
Inside eight minutes of their maiden World Cup broadcast hitting the air, both Lee Dixon and Adrian Chiles had made extremely thinly veiled passes at the admittedly handsome Fabio Cannavaro, who batted them away with a knee weakening smile - meanwhile, outside on the Copacabana beach, Ian Wright was seedily approaching distressed tourists to question in his garish Matalan shorts, giving half-naked men straight out of the sea overly-affectionate embraces. You never know what you’re getting with ITV at the best of times, but this certainly wasn’t it.
2 - Danny Boyle deserves more credit for the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony
The opening ceremony was somewhat undeniably shit. Largely resembling someone’s final drama project at A-Level, interpretive dance was high on the menu, telling no story whatsoever. Men ran around in what were supposed to be Amazonian tree costumes, but actually more closely resembled sticks of broccoli. Before long, the central dome opened at a pace slower than Wayne Rooney reciting his nine times table, to unveil an apparently famous Brazilian singing sensation, flanked by a duo genuinely worse than Hitler and Goebbels. Whoever was doing the sound has definitely been fired, because you could hear what is technically knows as ‘sweet f*** all’, which in hindsight given who was performing might actually have been a blessing is disguise. At one point, genuinely, something broke and Jennifer Lopez got stuck halfway inside a hole...which wasn't something I was ever expecting to report on. Mercifully only around half-an-hour long, it really made you appreciate just how good our opening ceremony was in 2012 - well done to you, Danny Boyle.
3 - Brazil performing the second verse of their national anthem A Cappella was a special moment
For the most part, Brazil’s national anthem went without incident. They all sang loudly and proudly, with captain Thiago Silva tilting his head back and closing his eyes as he bellowed, showing off his wonderfully feminine lips to the world as he did so. But then, somewhat out of the blue, the backing track was cut off, and without missing a beat, both the players and those local in the stand continued A Cappella in unison, creating a moment raw enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. That, my friend, is what the World Cup is all about.
4 - The referee was absolutely terrible throughout
Moments before he equalised, Neymar should have probably been shown a red card for needlessly giving poor little Luka Modrić a measured forearm smash to the face. The referee went on to help Brazil even further, by awarding a penalty that never was, and disallowing a perfectly good Croatian equaliser before it could be scored for what he deemed to have been a foul in the build up, but nobody else on God’s green earth had seen anything to complain about. Croatian manager Kovač clearly wasn’t impressed either, quoted after the game as saying: “If that's a penalty, we don't need to play football anymore. Let's play basketball instead. It's a shame”. We agree.
5 - Croatian goalkeeper and Tottenham reject Stipe Pletikosa was the worst player on the pitch
Brazil scored every single goal on the night, including Croatia’s, funnily enough. Marcelo’s hilarious own goal was cancelled out by a Neymar strike, which was “softer than a cokehead’s dick”, if you were to ask my editor for a description. Pletikosa should have saved it, his poor footwork though saw him reaching for nothing but thin air. For the penalty, he showed off his weak wrists, managing to both dive the right way and get two hands on the ball, he didn’t have it in him to keep the ball from crossing line, which if you watch it back, is pretty unforgivable. The third, again from range, was similar to the first, in that he had plenty of time to adjust himself to tip it comfortably around the post, only to instead shuffle a few steps and reach harmlessly across as the ball rolled past him.
6 - Referee’s vanishing spray is really f***ing unnecessary
Something new to me, this, but apparently something we’ll be seeing much more of in the Champions League going forward, the referee’s have been armed with temporary spray paint to draw the defensive lines for free-kicks. It is, in short, complete overkill, and really f***ing daft to see occurring. They whip out this can from their belt holster like a shit hybrid of Batman and Banksy, draw a line and waste some time. I really can’t see the point. We’ll have arguments about whether or not they’ve drawn it in the right place next, and then they’ll soon have B&Q tape measures, too. The only benefit is tweets like the one that follows, happily mocking Jack Wilshere and a certain allegation that won’t seem to leave him alone.
7 - Ivan Perišić was definitely Man Of The Match
What a performance from the Wolfsburg and Croatian winger, tirelessly offering his side an attacking outlet, giving them forward impetus countless times and tracking back to double up on Brazil in defence when needed too. An incredibly mature performance, showing a real multi-faceted ability to his game, which is sure to have caught plenty of people’s attention. In a Croatian midfield with the talent they have centrally, Perišić has completely stolen the limelight from the wing, and rightly so. Definitely a player to keep an eye on in further games in this tournament, and perhaps even in the summer transfer window now, too.
8 - Oscar was genuinely brilliant throughout
If you speak to Chelsea fans about Oscar, they’ll pretty much all tell you the same thing: he played excellently at the start of the season, so well in fact that Mourinho justified selling Juan Mata largely on how well Oscar had been performing in the central role. The longer the season progressed however, the less he seemed to both try and care, apparently conserving energy for the World Cup, and doing his best not to get an injury. If that was really his plan, it’s worked incredibly well. He started the game looking like a man entirely refreshed, and played that way through the entire match. Probably his sides most consistent threat going forward, he rounded off his night with the closing goal, which was definitely deserved on the basis of his performance on the night.
9 - Toe Poke vs Toe Punt vs Toe End vs Toe Bung - which one is it?
When the third Brazilian goal went in, clearly from the toe region of Oscar’s boot, Andy Townsend described the strike as a ‘toe-end’, and twitter collectively lost its s***. Sections were screaming for the proper use of ‘toe-poke’, others pleaded that the strike was more of a ‘toe-punt’, and a smaller minority fought valiantly for the more left-field ‘toe-bung’. Now, the people of Brazil are up in arms in the streets of their country at the minute, but I’m not sure that we won’t be that far behind if toe-gate, which is what I’m coining it as, is brought up again any time soon.
10 - This tournament is going to be so much fun
So much pre-tournament excitement was fulfilled instantaniously. The ball wasn’t a 99p penny floater from the petrol station, the stadium was built and the game wasn’t boring, we really couldn’t have had much better of an opening day had we planned it ourselves. There is so, so, so much more football to be played, so many more moments to be shared, decisions to be debated and jokes to be made, the good will of the World Cup actually achieved the rarest of things too, by managing to make Twitter an incredibly fun place to be while the event was happening live, which is, shockingly, what it’s actually intended to be. If this is how much fun every day for the rest of the tournament is going to be, we’re all in for a massive treat - joga bonito.