Finally! The World Cup delivered its first sideshow amusement yesterday, as Algerian substitute Abdelkader Ghezzal impressed onlookers at an unbearably dull game not only with the brevity of his on-pitch appearance – an impressively concise 14 minutes before getting himself sent off – but also the pointlessly audacious nature of his second yellow card.
Having received the first yellow for trying to remove a Slovenian player’s shirt the instant he arrived on the pitch, Ghezzal achieved his second yellow (and it really was something of an achievement) for leaping salmon-like in the Slovenian penalty area to fist the ball goalwards, Maradona-86 style. However, as there were no other players within several feet of him, it was hardly likely to go unnoticed – or unpunished. The ball also went out for a goal kick, having sailed so wide of the mark that the Slovenian goalkeeper could have been excused for sitting in a deckchair, so the whole episode was as fruitless as it was amusing.
At the other end of the pitch there was a show of solidarity amongst the goalkeeping brotherhood, as the Algerian goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi – who had presumably greased his shirt with lard earlier in the day – took it upon himself to divert the spotlight from Robert Green’s England howler(TM) by letting Robert Koren’s speculative and harmless floater slip through his arms like a greased pig and sail in to the net. 1-0 Slovenia, very well done to our panelists Dr Ian McHale and Chris Day. Dr Ian is in fact on three out of three in E&T‘s Grand Predictions Smackdown, so the maths has it to date.
In the evening game yesterday, the Germans reminded everyone of the whole point of the beautiful game, which is to hoof the ball in to the back of your opponent’s net as many times as you can. 4-0 may have been a bit harsh on Australia, who didn’t look half bad until they went 2-0 and one man down, at which point the remorseless German machine (TM) shifted up a gear and it was game over. As urbane analyst Clarence Seedoorf sagely put it last night on MOTD2, “Germany are Germany.” How right you are, Clarence.
Now on to today’s predictions. We’re studying the early form of the Western European flat land countries today, as Holland take on Denmark. It’s orange vs red, clogs vs Lego, Oranjeboom vs Carlsberg, pancakes vs pastries. As you can clearly see from these cultural stereotypes, it’s going to be a close call.
Here are today’s predictions from our panel:
- Dr Ian McHale, a Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Salford: “A win for the Netherlands.”
- David Williams, head of PR at Ladbrokes: “Holland to beat Denmark”.
- Chris Day, goalkeeper for Stevenage FC: “2-0 to Holland″.
- Laura Daligan, ‘psychic, artist and pin-up’: “Holland vs Denmark seems to be a much closer game. Both teams seem to play with skill and personality, but I’d say Denmark will win.”