But what the eff happened to the Dutch? Where was the imagination, the selflessness, the flair and personality? When did the Netherlands suddenly turn into England? Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, Dennis Bergkamp, Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf can still suit up, can't they? It is '98 all over again, after all. Portugal, meanwhile, will have to play their quarterfinal without Deco, recipient of the most dubious second yellow of the World Cup (a pretty admirable accomplishment, considering some of the second yellows we've seen thus far). They also lose Cristiano Ronaldo to injury, but that just means more PT for Simao, which is a plus in my book.
What can be said about Brazil? Are they overrated slouches or uber-scary? They played like dogshite yesterday, and still won, THREE-NIL. Any other team that plays like that in this tournament ends up getting vicitmized by Zidane (I'm looking at you, Aragones), but Brazil actually still managed to hit three, and give up zero. What happens when they actually play well?
By the way, has anyone seen Ronaldinho? He seems to have been replaced by an indifferent doppelganger. How in the world has he been outshined by Miroslav Klose? And how come Francesc Fabregas gets to have a one-word name now? Nobody calls him just plain "Cesc." It's not even a cool name, like when van Bronckhorst wears "Gio" for Barcelona.
I guess I'd better talk about a few of the calls thus far. First of all, the penalty against Australia, dive though it may have been, was legit. Grosso fought through the first tackle, then set up Lucas Neill perfectly by cutting back right. That Neill lost his ground, and obstructed Grosso, is completely his own fault. Did Grosso embellish? Sure he did, but he was also clearly in an attacking position, and Neill got none of the ball; therefore, it's a penalty. Anyone who says otherwise is just hating.
Yeah, Portugal-Netherlands was a farce, but it was fun nonetheless. Luis Figo is gangsta. There should have been more cards, too, the way Dutch players were clearly trying to injure Cristiano Ronaldo every time he got the ball. Sure, the ref lost control of the game, but the players weren't exactly class acts, either; van Basten should have put my man Ruud in the game, though. As for Spain, that's the best you can do? The Spaniards are whining about Henry's flop, the one that led to France's second goal off the resulting free-kick. Maybe you have a point, Espana, but what about the other two goals you conceded? No wonder you never win in this tournament. Enjoy your racism.
Oh, and congrats to Ronaldo, who has proved you can become a legend through hard work, training, imagination, skill, and all-you-can-eat at Bob's Big Boy. One thing I noticed though, while watching ESPN, is that Ronaldo has 15 goals over three World Cups (he didn't play in '94), Gerd Muller has 14 over four, Pele has 12 over four. But Just Fontaine of France scored 13 goals in one World Cup (1958)? Was he on steroids? Sheesh!