It was a near perfect day of futbol. Thrilling matches that were extremely close throughout, open thrilling style, and the bright sunshine actually drew me out of my game watching hidy-hole and got me to socialize with other fans in the bright sun. So we'll sneak in an extra substitution, just for fun...
ON: Lionel Messi...Argentine Savior--For all the gushing about Argentina's attacking options, it's really been Messi or bust, today it took one of the great strikes of the tournament to get them past Iran and book their ticket for the second round. Let's just go ahead and own it next match Argentina, put ten guys in goal and let Messi do what he does up top.
OFF: Iran Jokes--It's a remarkable thing, but Iran seems to have become the darling of the World Cup, sure they don't do much attacking, and their style of defense is best described as "massive", but we love an underdog. So, getting my haircut, the barbers were intrigued by their style. Hanging out with other fans, even Argentine's were hoping to see a miracle strike groaning with each Goochenajad miss. So, come on Iran, give up your nuclear program and send one guy on loan to the MLS...we'll be your best buds...for a couple months at least.
ON--The Ayew Boys--Abedi Pele is not the Pele you've heard of, but he is the omnipresent legend of Ghanaian football. His sons, Andre and Jordan were tremendous for the Black Stars today in one of the most impressive results in the federation's history. Andre (aka Dede) nodded home the crucial equalizer that put Germany on the back foot, and Jordan's daring runs at the end of the match kept neutral fans entranced even as die hards worried about counterattacks.
OFF--The Boateng Boys--The run up to the match was concerned primarily with the second civil war of Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Unfortunately that was completely anti-climactic. Niether made good touches, there was little creation or strong passing from either and the game opened up and was far more exciting when they were subbed out at half time. Heck! Kevin even gave Mesut Ozil a better hug than his brother!
ON--Africa--It's been an underwhelming ten days for African sides, but today things turned around clearly and decisively, with Ghana stunning Germany and Nigeria holding off Bosnia. Vincent Enyema's gone so far as to position himself as keeper of the tournament. Whether or not they can get a team (or two...or--in an ideal circumstance--four) through to the next round remains to be seen, but they aren't nearly the pushover one would have thought
OFF--The Baltics--Bosnia had a decisive moment for Edin Dzeko wiped away by a linesman's bad call, but he also missed a parcel of other opportunities en route to the debutantes getting bounced out of the cup. They're not alone, the Croatians are clinging to life in Group A, and the Serbian referee of today's Argetnina-Iran match missed an obvious foul in the box that might have us singing a far different tune about Mr. Messi (or maybe not).