1. When I was totting up the number of former Yugoslavs at the World
Cup I didn’t know that seven of the Australian team were of Croatian
ancestry. Add them to the official Croatians (of whom three were born
in Australia), the Serbian and Montenegrins, the Swedish striker
Ihabrimovic, and that makes a pool of 50 players who could have made up
a Yugoslavian national side.
2. 44 games played, and it is till the case that a country that is both
poorer and smaller than its opponents has only won once: Ecuador 2
3. I said that only Latin players wear Alice bands. Since then I have
spotted a Croat and an Australian wearing them. I remembered the thing
it reminded me of: it’s where Anthony Bourdain, describing super-macho
chefs he has known, depicts them as standing in conversation lightly
fondling each others’ testicles. The message, according to Bourdain,
is: ‘I am so not gay, I can even do this.’
4. Ghana are 13-1 underdogs to beat Brazil. That seems over-generous to
me, given how good they look, and in particular how strong they are
5. Mark Ford pointed this out to me in an e-mail: ‘Since 1966 England have beaten
five teams in the knockout stages of a major competition—Paraguay,
Belgium, Cameroon, Spain (on penalties), and Denmark.’ Hmm. Not overwhelmingly impressive, is it? Ecuador could fit on that list, but not too many teams of the teams we might meet later on.
6. Generally pro-French though I be, I still want them to lose to Togo
today and get knocked out. I wonder if this is a little like what Scots
feel about England?