World Cup 2014 – Uruguay v Costa Rica – What movie am I watching?

***warning: contains strong vulgar language***

One of my favourite comedians the uncompromising conversationalist Reginald D. Hunter has a confronting, thought provoking conclusion to the latest DVD release of his live show – ‘In the Midst of Crackers’.

He starts the bit by introducing his audience to the concept of the ‘Fuck You Movie’.

Basically, it’s a work of art that subverts generic expectations. Determined in its honesty. Uncompromising in its fidelity to its own narrative, despite what anyone watching might have been conditioned to expect. This movie will not surrender to conventional wisdom, but play out its intended scenario all the way to the end.

There is no sacrificing its integrity here. Not even for the sake of everyone watching, the majority of whom are ‘knowledgeable enough’ to have their expectations met … No matter what.

The first match in Group D, between Uruguay and Costa Rica certainly started predictably enough. The Uruguyans, who as anticipated were without recently injured and surgically restored Top Gun, Luis Suarez, bossed the first 20 minutes.

They were more than justifying their favouritism. They were rubbing their Central American adversaries’ nose in it. Almost made it possible to forget this team – with much the same personnel – was considered an also-ran whose retrospectively easy draw lucked it into a Semi-Final appearance in S.A 2010.

Players can improve. Methods and tactics can be changed, but apart from those staples and the ever ubiquitous ‘circumstances’, such a dichotomy of narrative was a touch hard to fathom.

On the one hand, sure, as former two-time winners and that recent Top 4 finish, Uruguay was definitely ahead on perceived pedigree. Given Costa Rica’s relatively undistinguished history that wasn’t such a stretch.

The narrative of the English Premier League’s reigning Top Scorer, possibly facing a number of his Liverpool teammates, was slightly more conventional and understandable.

But all this talk of foregone conclusions, and looking past today for what tomorrow might bring, was inviting hubris to a dinner table supposedly already replete with victory.

As opposed to our gallant, but ultimately unsuccessful Socceroos, the Costa Ricans overcame their own disastrous start, with a more clinical display of execution in front of goal.

Yes, they occasionally mixed in some agricultural efforts – emblematic of which was the startling recreation of ‘Daniel-san’s’ Karate-Kid ‘crane-kick’ – to clear their own goal-mouth, early in the second half. Even with Suarez missing, Uruguay did have the quality of Edinson Cavani and the perennial class of Diego Forlan to offer as attacking options.

It was the reputation and execution of those two men, that consolidated Uruguay’s fast start. Forlan’s third immaculately placed free-kick brought a desperate grab from the Costa-Rican defense on Uruguayan captain – and as all Australians would know, soap-opera overacting pest – Diego Lugano. His ostentatious arm flinging made sure the referee was looking in his direction, so when those arms closed round his waist to tug – however briefly – the ref’s eyes were already trained on the spot. That led him to point to THE spot, no defender wants to see a referee’s hand anywhere in the vicinity of.

And Cavani coolly slotted past the desperate – correctly anticipatory – dive of Costa Rica’s acrobatic keeper, to give his country their ‘expected’ lead. Costa Rica still hadn’t managed a shot on goal yet.

It wasn’t long before things started to change.

Led by the man on Arsenal’s books, who played the season out on-loan to Olympiakos in Greece, and gave everyone a taste of things to come against Man Utd in the Champions League Round of 16 fixture – Joel Campbell – Costa Rica started to get untracked.

This young man Campbell, who seems so effortlessly confident with the ball at his feet, unleashed a tracer-bullet just wide, from well outside the box. And Costa Rica woke up and rose robustly into the game, their neat passing and furious speed along the flanks, starting to nullify the muscular presence of the Uruguyan defence.

While the Costa Ricans couldn’t emulate the Dutch, and coolly execute an equaliser before half-time, when it did come – less than ten minutes into the second half – from that man Campbell, it was no less clinical, no more than they deserved.

1-1 and Uruguay’s ‘class’ evaporated less than three minutes later, as a beautifully flighted free kick was met by the precision low-diving header, of Oscar Duarte at the back post, angling the ball back across Uruguayan keeper Muslera, and into the net, for 2-1 Costa Rica.

That goal cemented what Joel Campbell’s first shot, after his team had conceded had begun. The dawning realisation that maybe this ‘movie’ would not succumb to expectations. Just like the Socceroos the night before, the Costa Ricans found belief, right when you might have expected compounding doubt.

Unlike our boys though, they also traversed the line of execution perfectly, managing two magnificently exquisite finishes, while we got stuck on the margins of bad luck and near misses, after one. Where we let Chile off the hook in our period of dominance, Costa-Rica sunk the hook in like Rocky Balboa would, when he was getting ready to pulverise the beef carcass he used to train for his unlikely shot at the Title against Apollo Creed.

And Uruguay felt those hooks like Creed did. Then they started reacting like petulant hams, chief among them, the aforementioned Lugano, along with midfield enforcer Walter Gargano.

But Costa-Rica wasn’t fazed. They rode out the storm and kept out the very real threat of the classy Cavani, as his erstwhile partner-in-crime Suarez couldn’t bear to watch. Then they sunk the dagger in, with a move started by who else but Campbell.

And coolly finished by Marcos Urena, just off the subs bench and gliding the ball past the despairing Muslera. 3-1 and now you knew what movie you were watching. No lamely plotted media narrative this. No, no … This was Costa Rica’s show.

They rudely closed the curtain on ‘educated expectations’, the final nail hammered-in, in stoppage time with this World Cup’s first Red Card for Maxi Pereira, after a petty kick from behind as his petulance boiled over.

‘Fuck You’, said the Costa Ricans to the experts’ Uruguayan narrative. Then again, why be so vulgar? On second thought, I reckon I’ve been looking at this the wrong way ’round.

The belief. The unwillingness to give up. The beautiful finishing in front of goal. The determination to endure in the face of ugly reprisals. This wasn’t about Uruguay. This was a Costa Rican ‘Romance’ all along.



  1. Great writing and passion Gregor. I am loving this World Cup. So much attacking flair. Even the Azzuri.
    I am not as commited as you to games in the middle of the night, but I will have to later in the tournament.
    I really enjoyed Ivory Coast v Japan on Sunday, and I have decided to make Les Elephants ‘my team’ if they can get through to the second round.

  2. David Zampatti says

    Oh Lord, hasn’t it finished yet? Did anyone score??

  3. David – “Did anyone score?” is a question that only a Lyon/Roos follower would ask.
    More goals at this World Cup than in an average Dockers game.
    Turn on SBS and redeem your faith in diversity and creativity.

  4. David Zampatti says

    What do you mean? I love Fargo and The Bridge.

  5. Dennis Gedling says

    Uruguay have shown the signs of other teams that have taken the same set of players one tournament too far. Suarez was out but the spine of the side Lugano-Rios-Forlan looks dated. The keeper is dodgy too. Croatia made the mistake in 2002. You could arguably say Australia did in 2010 too. Italy definately did.

    Apart from usual plastic-fan love for Argentina I have thing for Colombia this time around. The team and their fans were very entertaining on Sunday morning and look like they want to make up for spending 16 years in the wilderness. Very entertaining tournament so far. Let’s hope it continues and doesn’t peter our like it did in Germany. It’s already a record for most games gone without a draw.

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