After the Vuvuzelas Fall Silent: A Team-By-Team Look at the 2010 World CupBy James Irwin
July 11, 2010
As we all know, everyone in Europe loves football. However, during the World Cup everyone in America has been more interested in where James LeBron (the brother of Duran Duran frontman Simon) is going to be hitting home runs next year, and as such, they missed most of the tournament.
For those of you in that crowd, here’s a team-by-team look at the nineteenth World Cup, so that if you bump into any weird European types you’ll be able to talk to them…
Algeria contributed very little to this World Cup. They failed to score a single goal, got voted the ugliest team at the tournament by the website beautifulpeople.com, and lost to Slovenia and the USA.
However, they did contribute something: the most boring game of football ever played. In their Group C match against England they managed a 0-0 draw notable for its complete lack of incident— the game was so devoid of action that a bird spent a period of the game perched peacefully on top of Algeria’s goal.
What the Argentines brought to the World Cup was sheer comedy value and one of the most surprising comebacks in football history.
In 1986 Diego Maradona was a World Cup winner and had eclipsed Pele as the greatest player of all time. Later on he became a cocaine addict… and then he became really fat… and in 2006 he almost died of a heart condition. For some reason he was then given the job of managing Argentina.
Argentina did well, but Maradona was the star of their World Cup— watch his eyes, and never, ever question his sexuality…
They won their last game, apparently.
Brazil were pretty disappointing; they abandoned their traditional attacking style for something more defensive. They only got as far as the quarter finals and most of their goals were pretty unspectacular. The only really highlight of their World Cup was the goal scored by Maicon in their opening game against North Korea.
In 1990 Cameroon were the first ever African side to reach the quarterfinals. In 2010 they were the first team to be knocked out. There were literally no highlights— three defeats and only two goals.
Somehow, despite winning two games, Chile didn’t really leave much of an impression. They got to the second round, but then lost to Brazil.
Denmark won one game— against Cameroon. They lost to both the Netherlands and Japan. This means their highlight is either beating Cameroon or the hilarious own goal they conceded against the Netherlands…
It was all pretty bad for the English— beginning with an embarrassing 1-1 defeat to the USA and ending in an actual defeat to the Germans.
France came to the tournament hated by everyone because they cheated to get to the World Cup. They were then rocked by the revelation that star player Frank Ribery had slept with a prostitute— not just any old prostitute, but an underage prostitute.
In a move guaranteed to amplify his robust authority, the manager, Raymond Domenech, announced he was quitting after the World Cup. He then sent Nicolas Anelka home following an argument, and the rest of the team refused to train. In the last game, several players, including the captain, refused to play.
Every moment of the French World Cup was a highlight.
Germany were pretty much the only side to play with any real attacking flair. They were a joy to watch, and introduced many exciting players onto the world stage— players such as Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller.
There were many highlights for the Germans, and they ultimately won the third-place playoff against Uruguay. They notched up impressive wins over Argentina, England and Australia, scoring four goals in each. Their best performance was against Maradona’s Argentina, although the victory against England was perhaps the most resounding and most satisfying.
Ghana’s defining moment was when they became the first African nation to reach the World Cup semifinals. Well, that should have been their defining moment, were it not for the disgraceful actions of Luis Suarez, who stopped the ball going in with his hands.
Against Uruguay Ghana were the last African team in the tournament and had the whole of Africa—and most of the world— behind them. They were very, very impressive; they beat a good USA side and really, really should have beaten Uruguay.
That should have been their highlight, but I’m giving it to the victory over the USA instead— a glorious achievement and a joyous moment for Africa.
Greece were unremarkable— other than beating Nigeria, 2-1, they were essentially making up the numbers.
Their real highlight was just making it to the tournament proper. Only a few of their players are professionals, and it showed.
For only the second time in history the reigning champions failed to get past the group stage. They didn’t really deserve to win the World Cup in 2006 and they were shockingly bad in South Africa. They fucked over almost every single person who’d bet on the World Cup by failing to beat New Zealand, Paraguay and Slovakia.
The Ivory Coast had a disappointing tournament. Their only real highlight was their victory over North Korea—or, if you’re reading this in North Korea, their humiliating defeat to the glorious footballing nation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
They got to the second round, so I imagine they probably won at least one game…
Mexico were quite good. They also had strikers with rhyming names in Franco and Blanco. They beat France, ruined the opening game for the host nation and reached the second round.
However, the true highlight of their World Cup was the revelation that their thirty-eight year old striker, Blanco, was going out with the eighteen year old Miss Mexico. Ay carumba.
The Dutch won every game in qualifying, in their group, and every game up until the final itself.
None of this matters; the 2010 Dutch team will forever be remembered for karate-kicking a Spanish player and pretty much getting away with it. In 1974 the Netherlands invented ‘total football’ which was a beautiful attacking style. They got to two successive World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978. They lost both, and presumably it was because of this that they decided to play like Leyton Orient on a waterlogged Wednesday night league game against Barnsley.
Like Honduras, many of New Zealand’s players were semi-professional. One of their players actually had to ask for time off from the bank where he worked in order to play. I love the thought of him telling his manager that he needed to go to South Africa for ‘anytime between two to four weeks. It probably won’t be four weeks…’
New Zealand were glorious. They drew with Paraguay, Italy and Slovakia. They failed to make it out of the group, but they were the only team to go unbeaten at the World Cup.
Although their result against Italy is probably the most impressive, I think their highlight was the draw with Slovakia due to the late and dramatic manner in which they got the result.
It didn’t matter what Nigeria did in this World Cup, they were always going to be remembered for this incredible display of incompetence…
It didn’t get much better for them either…
They lost all of their games—they lost to Portugal 7-0. However, they did score against Brazil—they lost, but they scored against bloody Brazil! Kim Jong-Il was so impressed he decided not to kill any of the players or their families. Seriously.
The fact that they got to the quarterfinals says more about the quality of this tournament than two thousand lighthearted, humorous words ever could. Succeeding through a couple of draws, a narrow win and a shootout victory after a goal-free 120 minutes, they finally got knocked out by Spain.
Their highlight? Not letting their astounding mediocrity get in the way of their attempt to ruin the World Cup for everyone else.
It didn’t get much better than the 7-0 win over North Korea. In fact that was the only game they actually won or scored in. They drew both of their other games, 0-0.
They beat Germany thanks to some awful refereeing. It wasn’t a surprise, because Paul the Pyschic Octopus predicted it would happen. Other than that it wasn’t great to be a Serbia fan during this World Cup.
Does it get any better than beating the reigning World Champions with a thrilling last minute goal? I mean, for a country that has absolutely no chance of getting beyond the second round…
Beating Algeria was about as good as it got, and even that wasn’t very good.
Unfortunately their highlight was probably Tshabalala’s goal in the opening game of the tournament. They drew that game and went out at the group stage. However, their lasting impression will probably be the way they came out of the tunnel—singing loudly and joyously.
‘Highlight’ is probably too strong a word to describe their second goal against Greece. It would be harsh to label them as unmemorable, but it would be accurate.
They lost to Switzerland, and didn’t exactly set the tournament on fire. I was one of the few people who found their stupid little passes incredibly irritating and frustrating to watch.
They won every game in the knock-out stage, 1-0.
This does of course mean that they won the World Cup. This would be their defining moment—in the only World Cup in which they’ve gone beyond the quarterfinals.
The best moment of Switzerland’s World Cup was beating the Spanish in their opening game. It would be unfair to say it all went downhill from there, but it was the only goal they managed in the entire tournament.
The small South American nation punched well above its weight and had their best tournament since the two that they won in the 1930 and 1950.
Much of the success goes to Diego Forlan, voted the player of the tournament. Everyone loved Forlan, and everyone loved Uruguay—that is, right up until the point Luis Suarez robbed Ghana of their place in history. Even more annoyingly, Suarez then openly celebrated when Ghana missed the resulting penalty.
The U.S. had a fantastic World Cup; they were unfortunate not to beat Ghana in the second round, and they demonstrated what those of us who watched the Confederations Cup last year already knew: America are a footballing force to be reckoned with.
The draw with England was impressive, but for sheer drama the highlight has to be Landon Donavon’s stoppage time goal against Algeria.
All I can do as a European is apologise and promise that usually football is much, much more exciting than this. Honest.