Football: Germans do something good
The legend of jogo bonito has been so pervasive as to border on self-fulfilling – the reputation of the Selecao’s canary-yellow stepover merchants had many of their opponents beaten before they stepped onto the pitch – but roughly three
billion people saw Brazilian football get its pants pulled down this week. What’s worse, the pantsing was administered by a German team that combined the traditional strengths of Brazil’s white-socked prancers – spontaneity, skill, creativity – with the sort of dull-but-necessary details – discipline, cohesion, a basic understanding of teamwork – traditionally eschewed by Brazil’s blue-shorted fancy-men.
It was the end of an epoch. Never again will grievous defensive irresponsibility be mistaken for ‘flair’. Never again will tactical anarchy be confused with some notion of sporting purity. Never again will a team that isn’t really that good be mistaken for a team that is quite good. Never again will…ok, you get the drift.
Rugby league: Blues shut up shop
Like the weakling who mutters a sassy comeback once the bully is out of earshot, the Maroons offered too little, too late on Wednesday night. With the fight having been fought and lost, they flexed their muscles in Origin III, making a gooey mess of a lacklustre New South Wales outfit. Aside from Josh Reynolds’ shoulder charge on Will Chambers, the Blues were about as daring as a David Williams each-way bet. Sure, they won a drought-breaking series after eight long years, but among the Maroon fog of tries, win-ball and general cluckery, the significance of the occasion barely registered.
Wimbledon: Generation next fails to show up for final
Sub-editors the world over were made to wait almost four hours before they could choose their hackneyed Wimbledon headline. As it turned out, ‘Djoker Has Last Laugh’ triumphed over ‘Swiss Masterpiece’.
If it feels like these headlines have been around forever, it’s because they have. It was a very good final, but this correspondent is pining for the 1970s, before an in utero Roger Federer began his reign of terror. So where are the young bucks, anyway? It’s almost as if the big three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have been systematically sucking the life-force of their rivals, thus prolonging their own reign at the top. Almost…
AFL: Shoulder, brain, throat specialists required
In the AFL, everyone was talking about the integrity of Gary Ablett’s shoulder, the state of Drew Petrie’s throat and the composition of Brian Lake’s brain. Well, everyone except for Drew ‘Whispers’ Petrie, anyway – you could tell that he was thinking about it, though. The conclusions reached were as follows: Whispers’ throat is ok, Gazza’s shoulder is stuffed, and Brian Lake’s brain sits somewhere between auctioneers and string theory in terms of inscrutability. The only other news was that with Hawthorn’s many blips all joining up to form one über-blip, the Swans are undisputed, red-hot flag favourites. They’re from Sydney, though, so expect the footy press to all mumble ‘Bondi Billionaires’ a few times and pretend that it’s not really happening.
Cycling: jerk Tour brutalises riders, steals lunch money
The Tour de France is widely considered to be the most sadistic sporting event on the calendar, but for this year’s edition, organisers haven’t left anything to chance: just ask Mark Cavendish, Andy Schleck and defending champion Chris Froome. Sleet, cobblestones, reckless selfies and a detour through Yorkshire – if the first week of the Tour de France was a person, it’d be a right bastard.
And we haven’t even gotten to the mountains. Given what these cyclist have been put through, who wouldn’t want to smear testosterone gel directly onto their chest after such punishment? Who wouldn’t suddenly see the wisdom of taking a supplement that thickens their blood to the consistency of treacle, right? Guys? Am I right?
Things to look forward to:
The pancake-flat obligation party that is the World Cup third place playoff promises even less than usual this time round. The Dutch just played two of the dreariest hours of football ever sighted, while Brazil…oh, Brazil. Watch commentators, spectators and players themselves thrillingly attempt to create the impression of caring about this go-nowhere spectacle. The final might be good, though.
Over in le Tour, things are only going to get uglier for the surviving members of the peloton, with precipitous climbs and scarcely conceivable distances to be covered. If you’re the sort of callous, ant-scorching, cat-slapping person that likes that sort of thing, then a most enjoyable week awaits you.