World Cup 2014: A Better Romance or Something Down and Dirty?

Warning: Language Warning


A Better Romance or ‘Fuck You 2’: The Sequel?


Bless you Costa Rica!

Second Coming? Why limit yourself to just two? Costa Rica have made their bones this World Cup because they’ve kept on coming.

No matter the expectations prior. No matter the situation during. No matter the histrionic attempts – blatantly cynical or blindly official – to keep their gathering storm from maturing.

Again the heavily favoured Italians bossed the first half for most of the first half-hour. They even had the two best clear cut chances, through Mario Balotelli. He steered his lob over the charging keeper wide and not long after, had a bruising shot well saved.

Then, like a boxer who spends the first couple of rounds of a prizefight, letting their oponent hit ’em, just so they can savour the taste of leather on their face, before serving up their own violent dish, Costa Rica started cooking with gas.

After half an hour had elapsed, with Italy plainly satisfied with giving their opponent a bloody nose, the Costa Ricans seemed to relish tasting the blood on their teeth, as their combinations – shown to such great effect against the complacent Uruguay – really started humming.

It truly felt like a blessing, to see a group so unencumbered by doubt zinging the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. Their confidence in each other and extreme comfort on the ball was palpable, as the Costa Ricans chose their moments judiciously, unleashing their surgical counterattacks with immaculate timing.

Like doomsday asteroids, they orbited ever closer to Italy’s suddenly vulnerable Goal, whizzing fiery warnings of what was to come over the just returned from injury, Gianluigi Buffon’s protectorate.

The closer they got, the more uncomfortable the erstwhile complacent Italians became. So much so, that a strong backpass from the revelation of Italy’s first game against England, Darmian, was too much for Chiellini to handle. It spun through to Costa Rica’s attacking dreadnought Joel Campbell, as he turned past the flailing Barzagli onto his natural left side, to lash the ball past the seemingly stranded Buffon.

Only to have a desperate Chiellini barge into his back, making no attempt to play the ball. There was a breathless moment of expectation, as everyone watching held their breath in anticipation of the Penalty call … Which never came! A clear foul that had been called in every other instance, on every other bit of real estate in the previous forty-odd minutes, and was called in every subsequent instance until the game’s conclusion, was somehow not a foul in the penalty box.

After waiting that baited moment to exhale, the ground erupted in a mixture of pleased relief and angry disbelief, as fans of every colour, including neutrals, started expelling carbon-dioxide by the megaton with their heated debate over what had just happened.

The Costa Rican Coach went off his nut, exploding into a mutated version of the ‘cabbage-patch’, as he gesticulated fiercely while mouthing what one assumes would have been the foulest obscenities, at any official he could bend the ear of.

While the fouled player Campbell was caught between outrage and disbelief, he got up and got on with it. Taking their cue from him, his team upped the ante and started throwing passing combinations from one end of the pitch to the other.

Within two minutes of that controversial call, back came the ball into Italy’s penalty-box. A drifting peach, hit perfectly to cut out Buffon and bisect the run of Costa Rican Captain Bryan Ruiz.

Right in stride he thundered his header over the Italian keeper’s desperate flail, crashing the underside of the bar. The power and incidental angle he imparted more than enough to ensure the ball crossed the goal-line, as the technology confirmed what had seemed obvious to the naked eye, all along.

Within two minutes of being cruelly denied their just reward for weathering the expected storm – a willow bending but not breaking – the enduring Costa Rican narrative of this World Cup was reinforced. Looked at one way, this team’s love and belief of the game and in each other had just created a moment of even better romance, than their eventually dominant win over a depleted Uruguay. This was a full strength Italy they were now putting to the sword.

Or, you could look at it a little less kindly. A little more combatively instead and see it as the sequel. A ‘Fuck You 2’, for the inept officiating and repeatedly confounded but inexplicably unchanged, complacent expectations.

Either way, you gotta expect the next part of this journey – now extended into Brazil 2014 Round of 16 – against the now eliminated England, to become a celebratory romp. A team playing only for pride, facing a team that seems to take such pride in playing … beautiful football.

At the other end of Group D, two of the three touted teams in this group face off for the rest of the qualifying marbles. Uruguay vs Italy. Suarez vs Balotelli. Or, as Costa Rica might remember them, victim number 1 and victim number 2.

‘Fuck You’  expectations. ‘Fuck You 2’ inept officialdom. This Costa Rican Romance is heading for a Threequel. And who would be brave enough now, to predict anything other than boffo Box-Office when Costa Rica hits the Round of 16?

I don’t know about you. Certainly not me. Maybe after this, the answer’s Nobody.


  1. Sounds like a great game Gregor. Glad the good guys won and justice was done.
    Do you ever sleep?

  2. Skip of Skipton says

    I’m still dirty about that penalty given aginst Lucas Neill in ’06. I hope Uruguay send them packing. Would love to see Costa Rica field their second XI against England.

  3. Gregor Lewis says

    -Peter, No time for sleep at this time of year!
    Especially with this being a World Cup year.

    Not to mention Wimbledon. Tour De France. F1 & Moto GP. Around June and July, I’m always ripe to let somnambulance fry … my every waking synapse, fill my every sleeping thought, coz there’s always a world class game to watch.

    That’s why now that I can no longer play, I love to live my sport this way.

    Being able to share that with such a great, hugely passionate community, however remote we may be …

    -Skip, don’t get me started on the overrated numpty Lucas Neil. He’s been riding on the coattails of a ‘match for the Ages’ against Croatia, the validity of which lasted until his ‘reclining moment’ against Italy, the very next game!

    More backroom political number cruncher & front of house face wiping pretty boy, IMO is he, than a deserving holder of the recognition, as Socceroos’ most games as Captain.

    Sorry for the long wind, but when I get started on this ol’ hobby-horse, I’m just like Yosemite Sam on his camel in the desert … I just can’t stop.



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