1. Dunga is a tactical genius.
Well, not really, but you have to admit that when he brought on Dani Alves at left-back with the score at 0-0 with just eight minutes on the clock you wondered what he was playing at. Bringing on a right-back at left-back is one thing, but given that they were being held to a stalemate by South Africa who entered the game as bigger underdogs than the US of A were against Spain, you were probably justified in wondering why he didn’t throw on another striker, especially as in Alex Pato, Julio Baptista and Nilmar they’re not exactly short of striking options.
However, perhaps he’d been banking on Brazil picking up a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box and so handpicked Alves as the man to win the game, because to be fair, as soon as he stood over it you knew he wasn’t going to miss. It was a stunning free-kick, with Khune having absolutely no chance of saving it. And while it wasn’t a vintage performance from Brazil and South Africa deserve a hell of a lot of credit (and even more sympathy), credit must go to Dunga, whose ‘inspired’ substitution won the game.
2. Dani Alves is a prat.
Sure, so he sent Brazil into the final by belting home a stunning free kick, but I really can’t help but dislike Alves. He’s certainly a very talented footballer and I wouldn’t say no to having him in my team, but I think when a player wears such an excessive polo neck top onto the pitch you’ve seriously got to ask some questions.
I’m always sceptical of players wearing gloves on the pitch (especially if they choose to team them up with a short sleeved shirt) because in my experience, no matter how cold it is, if you’re working hard enough then you’ll be plenty warm. Seeing Alves emerge in what I initially took to be a scarf then, was a step too far. He may well have been a bit chilly on the sideline but that’s no excuse for wearing it on the pitch.
I was also going to berate him for having his own name tattooed on his chest, but upon closer scrutiny it reads “Daniel F” which apparently is the name of his son, so that’s OK. Still, I wouldn’t have been overly surprised if he had have had his own name inked across his pecs. He does seem the sort somehow.
3. Modise and Masilela are pretty good.
I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen of South Africa in this tournament. I missed the apparently awful opener between them and Iraq but in the subsequent games against Spain, New Zealand and now Brazil, they’ve applied themselves brilliantly and shown their FIFA World Ranking of 72 (which sees them above Wales but below such heavyweights as Gabon and Burkina Faso). Being an Evertonian familiar with the class of Steven Pienaar I had hoped that they would pleasantly surprise me and indeed I must say I’ve been particularly impressed by two players (aside from Pienaar): Tiko Modise and Tsepo Masilela.
Modise is a classically tricky and pacy midfielder who certainly has the ability to go past players, and pick a pass. He does seem to be let down by his final ball though and has a tendency to shoot wastefully from distance, but with a bit of work on those aspects of his game he could become quite a complete midfielder. Likewise the left-back Masilela has that skill and flair that runs through out the Bafana Bafana side and I’d be very surprised if someone from one of Europe’s bigger leagues didn’t think about prising him away from current club Maccabi Haifa, as at just 24 years of age he has a lot of potential.
4. England probably won’t win the World Cup.
Brazil certainly weren’t at their best tonight and I can say with confidence that England could well give them a game on tonight’s showing, and the USA showed last night that favourites Spain can be upset if you can play with enough discipline against them. So it’s not because England lack ability that I don’t think they’ll win the World Cup, but more simply because they are cursed by my support for them, and so are destined not to win.
I’ve long felt that I was a bad omen for the teams I supported, proven by the fact that when I have twice moved to New Zealand (and thus stopped attending Everton games) Everton’s league form has improved immensely. And the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup also suggested that I’m destined never to watch my supported team triumph as I was hoping to see a Spain vs. South Africa final. Naturally I didn’t realistically expect South Africa to overcome Brazil, but I was fairly confident that at least Spain would make the final.
Of course I reckoned without my support cursing Spain to suffer the biggest upset of the year so far and condemn them to their first defeat in 35 international games, so apologies to the Spanish nation, it was indeed my fault that you didn’t break Brazil’s record, instead merely equalling it. Unfortunately I simply cannot support anyone else at next year’s World Cup, as a patriotic Englishman I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it, and so I fear that the curse of my support may condemn England to four years of hurt.