Aged: 17 Mundial years
Forecast: Stifling hot and sticky
There is a way of keeping track at the World Cup. It’s like dog years: one for evey day, every match, and every souvenir. So today this is how much mileage I've added in Mundial years, and feeling every one of them: 10 days plus five matches seen plus two T-shirts = 17 Mundial years aged since leaving Toronto. Last night, to finish up the day off at the Bar “Life”, we were treated to the keyboard stylings of our friendly Eritrean owner.
That fun night out made for a bit of a teeth-clenched morning, but things are already looking up. As I came out of the train station here, a guy handed me some orange overalls with a tail on them. Free overalls with a tail! “For Holland,” he explained. “Hup, hup!” Then I rounded the corner and the whole town appeared to be wearing them, and in some cases, only them. It’s the Dutch and the Ivory Coast – another one of those matchups only the World Cup produces, a Group of Death special, and free overalls. Life, whether the real or the Bar variety, just does not get any better than this. And that's another souvenir - 18 Mundial years aged.
Let’s see what we get out of Stuttgart, too. According to my FIFA media guide, it is home to “Europe’s second-richest mineral water supply after Budapest”. Now there’s a slogan that’s just made for a tourist brochure. Although I gotta say – I see no one here drinking mineral water. Other stuff, yes, but no mineral water.
Friday’s games (will be updated today, at least I hope so after some technical difficulties yesterday)
Argentina 6, Serbia & Montenegro 0. These guys are sick! Tevez, Messi, Saviola, Crespo, Riquelme ... they just shredded the S & M defence, which was always going to be in trouble without Vidic. But this was something else. Ladies and gents, introducing your 2006 World Cup winners. They do have that look.
Netherlands 2, Ivory Coast 1. Antother brave but losing effort and so the Ivorians are going home. Van Persie played quite well for the Dutch, whose final group match with Argentina could be a corker.
Mexico 0, Angola 0. I was on the train for this one, so I missed it. Well done Angola. Africa's still winless, but this is perhaps the most surprising scoreline of the tournament so far.
Portugal vs Iran. Pouty Cristiano Ronaldo should have a field day here. And surely Scolari’s lads will show a little more zip than in their opener, when creaking Luis Figo showed the most pace and vigor. Portugal 3, Iran 0.
Czech Republic vs Ghana. This is a pretty good Ghana team. But poor fellows, they drew into this hornets’ nest group. The Rosicky factor is going to be too much to overcome. Czech Republic 3, Ghana 1.
Italy vs United States. Italy appears intent on doing more than just being fashion plates here. They’re pushing forward and that’s great to see. U.S. should be better than opener, but they’re still in tough. Italy 2, United States 1.