A View From the Chaise Longue – The Quarter-Finals

Posted on December 7, 2022

So, the 2nd round of the World Cup is done and dusted. Spain were the latest big name to be shocked and deservedly so. After laying down an early marker in the group stages, Spain changed tact. They decided to employ the tactic of boring their opponents to death by passing the ball to each other for what seemed like years. From the chaise longue view, it felt inevitable that Spain would crash out at some point. I’m no Pep Guardiola, but the last time I checked, winning football matches involved kicking the ball towards the white frame at the end of the pitch. Spain forgot that golden rule, so out they go.

The Nondescript Swiss

Morocco seeing off Spain will have some pundits now laying money on Portugal. They entered centre stage with an annihilation of the Swiss, whose defence had more holes in it than…erm…Swiss cheese. I have never warmed to the Swiss, despite only ever knowing one native. This being an attractive young woman I met on holiday in 1993. She had blonde hair and striking green eyes but, somewhat unfortunately, all the personality of a rich tea biscuit. She was so dull it was inconceivable. This led me to imagine that the sex I never had with her involved a Swiss stopwatch, baby wipes, and a bottle of Dettol. So, my sweeping generalisation based on one person, is that Swiss people are mind numbingly boring and extremely wealthy, courtesy of a ‘no questions asked’ banking system. So, out you go Switzerland, I don’t care.

Portugal looked very good, with talented players all around the team. It’s hard to know how good, as Switzerland were all over the shop and seemed to cave in once their only game plan (if they had one?) failed. Portugal now have a great route to the semi-final with what would appear to be a less than titanic clash against Morocco. Beating Spain felt to me like it was Morocco’s final. It will be hard for them to repeat such a feat against Portugal, who, unlike Spain, have worked out that kicking the ball at the goal gives you a better of chance of scoring.

A Fonseca/Lethaby Derby?

So, barring a seismic shock, Portugal are heading to a semi-final with England or France. If it is England, there could be something of a local derby atmosphere in our house. Jennifer carries Portuguese heritage and good football knowledge. This is after a decade driving around Hampshire watching her son play in local leagues, where she also learnt about the habits of psychotic football parents. Fortunately, her support for Portugal is moderate rather than partisan, meaning ugly scenes followed by the dividing up of household items is unlikely, at least at the time of writing.

Still, for a Lethaby/Fonseca derby, England have to beat France. The logical part of my brain still sees England’s defence as not being up to the test. However, the irrationally partisan and illogical side of the ol’ grey matter, is suggesting an uplifting and memorable victory. What I can’t get past, is the feeling that England will exit the tournament in search of world class defenders. I am desperate to be wrong as I do admire this England team and its conduct. My fatherly instinct doesn’t want to see someone like Harry Maguire brutally scapegoated for the crime of not being quite good enough.

The Brazilian Vomit Inducers

On the other side of the draw, Brazil face a battle-hardened Croatia, who should never be underestimated. I am hoping Brazil do underestimate them and get booted out of the competition. Croatia always look decent in tournaments and the wonderful Luka Modric defies the common consensus that time waits for no man. I have a lot of false hope for Croatia in this one.

I am probably just turning into a miserable old killjoy but Brazil make me want to vomit. Beating a tired and out of sorts South Korea should be a time when great teams are humble. Not Brazil. They had to indulge in stupid dance routines and cocky looks. I wasn’t the only one unimpressed. Roy Keane and Graeme Souness carried the demeanour of bitter old men who wanted to roll back the decades and kick Brazil off the park. I wanted to join them.

A Nigerian Admonishment

Of course, when the BBC Facebook page showed a picture of the silly dance under a headline along the lines of ‘The Samba Boy are in Town’, I had to respond by saying Brazil wanted to make me puke. This inevitably led to a response from someone in Nigeria saying, “Kind sir, learn your football. Did you know they are called the Samba Boys?”

Really, I never knew that?” I replied, completely forgetting that no nation on the planet is as sarcastic as Britain. He took my answer literally and it all got out of hand with him sending me friend requests. I ended up deleting the conversation before I gave him the name of my first pet in exchange for 35 million dollars left to me by the late Dr Lucky Unwankwo.

Can the Dutch Stop Master Messi?

Argentina v The Netherlands promises to be a cracker, so it probably won’t be. Much was said about the Lionel Messi show in Round 2 and he was wonderful to watch against Australia. However, he was up against nothing more than well organised championship players. In cricket terms, watching Messi at that level is like witnessing Ben Stokes score century off my right arm reverse-quick deliveries on a freshly laid motorway. What was alarming for Argentina is Messi appeared to be all they had to offer.

The Netherlands look like a good side to me. They appear pretty robust and are sprinkled with a bit of stardust. They are, in my opinion, the team most like England. If Messi is tiring and at an age where his limits stretch no further than being a flat track bully, I can see a solid Netherlands win. If he has the energy for one more blast of brilliance, there is not a lot The Netherlands can do about it, except kick him. He is still a wonderful player and could yet win Argentina the trophy. Without him, from what I have seen, they have about as much chance as Morocco.

So, by the end of Saturday, we will be down to 4. Here are my predictions for the semi-final.

Portugal v England

Brazil v Argentina

You heard it here first. The chaise longue pundit is only ever wrong when he is wrong.

1 Reply to "A View From the Chaise Longue - The Quarter-Finals"

  • Norman House
    December 7, 2022 (4:14 pm)

    I agree with many things you say Bob, but not all of this!

    Regardless of the dancing, which I have no issue with – Brazil played such good football in the first half, it was great to watch. I also (on a matter of principle) disagree with anything that Roy Keane says.

    You didn’t mention it, but by comparison, Morocco kicking lumps out of an admittedly boring Spain left me cold. I find Croatia a very dull watch; watching some of their fans is more fun 😉

    To give you a Mr Fuller type response. It’s the Netherlands, not Holland. Holland is a small part of the Netherlands. (2 out of 12 provinces). I probably had this drummed into me when I went out with a Dutch girl back in the day!

Got something to say?

Some html is OK

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.