Robin Williams winning Best Supporting Actor
Fuck, such upsetting news. Robin Williams was a comedy genius and always came across as a sweet man.
...A place to share My random thoughts on life.
Argentina vs Germany: The Previous World Cup finals
This Sunday’s World Cup final may be one of the few occasions in football where the prematch build up writes itself. Argentina against Germany, South America against Europe, a side built to counter attack against one almost robotically programmed to control possession, in football’s grandest occasion. Despite the rise of the Champions League final as a financial juggernaut of an occasion, the World Cup final is still the foremost communal viewing event. The eyes of the world will, quite literally, be on the Maracana Stadium at 4pm Brazilian time.
There are so many subplots and potential narratives to focus on. Germany and Jugi Löw’s chance to finally win a major tournament after an eight year journey, Argentina potentially securing their third World Cup in their eternal enemies palace, Thomas Muller’s continuing pursuit of a place on the pantheon of the World Cup’s most influential ever players and of course Lionel Messi’s chance to emulate Diego Maradona in 1986. Maradona, of course, captained Argentina to victory against the Mannschaft. It was the first of successive finals between the two former world champions, games which changed the course of history for both.
Argentina 3-2 West Germany June 29th 1986
The World Cup in 1986 is remembered as iconic, unique, distinctive, historic, romantic, and they even managed to have a jalapeño pepper wearing a sombrero and sporting a mustache named Pique as a tournament mascot without seeming cringey. Diego Maradona famously dominated Mexico’s second instalment of the game’s global showcase, but it is easy to pass over the performances of some of his teammates. Jorge Valando (who scored four of Argentina’s goals), Jorge Burruchaga and a team that selflessly combined to extract the brilliance from their genius.
Pitted in Group A alongside Italy, Bulgaria and South Korea, ‘La Albicelestes’ finished top with two wins and a draw. Carlos Bilardo’s team beat South American rivals Uruguay 1-0 in the second round, iconically defeated England 2-1 (hand of god etc) in the quarter-finals and, inspired by Maradona’s sheer brilliance, brushed aside Belgium in the semi-finals. In stark contrast, West Germany scraped through Group E in second place on three points behind the Denmark’s effervescent ‘dynamite’ team. They followed that up with a narrow win over Morrocco in the last sixteen and a penalty shootout victory over the hosts in the quarter-finals, before finally finding form in a 2-0 victory over France in the semi-final.
The Azteca, in flaming midday sunshine, hosted the final. From watching the game back on YouTube, what is noticeable is the running Lothar Matthäus/Maradona battle and the quality of ‘El Diego’s’ delivery from set pieces. Argentina took the lead in the 23rd minute, Harald Schumacher misjudging a Jorge Burrachaga freekick, allowing José Luis Brown to cushion a header into the vacant net. Valdana doubled the lead, finishing off a sweeping counter-attack that started with goalkeeper Nery Pumpido rolling the ball to Valdana in the right back position.
West Germany refused to cave in though and exploited the Argentines apparent inability to defend corners. Captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Völler nodded home within seven minutes of each other, and the German’s continued to press for a winner. They were undone by another counter, Maradona guiding a perfectly weighted left foot pass in behind the exposed German rearguard, allowing Burrachaga to carry and toepoke beyond Schumacher’s despairing dive. Argentina secured their second World Cup title, Maradona his place in history and German manager Franz Beckenbauer the ignomy of being the first man to lose a World Cup final as a player and a coach.
West Germany 1-0 Argentina July 8th 1990
Despite not being born until the following year, Italia ‘90 is a World Cup I feel like I was alive, such is the mystique and reverence it has in Ireland. It was our first World Cup and we reached the quarter-finals, so naturally opinion is blinkered here. Similarly in England, Italia ‘90 is fondly remembered, the tears of Gazza and the heartbreaking semi-final penalty shootout loss to West Germany. Perhaps a couple of decades and nostalgia lends us to think of the tournament in glowing terms, but despite the cinematic quality of the official film, Italia ‘90 is generally regarded notoriously elsewhere.
The goals to game ratio of 2.21 is still the lowest figure recorded at a World Cup, the latter stages of the competition often descended into acrimony and FIFA changed the backpass rule in the postmortem to curb negative play, which should put Eamon Dunphy’s current ludicrous “game in decline” narrative into some context. The semi-finals encapsulated the cagey, cynical side of the tournament. West Germany beat England on penalties after a 1-1 draw, while Argentina destroyed the hosts dreams in a shootout following a nasty and spiteful 1-1 draw in Naples. A repeat of the 1986 final was set for the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Unfortunately, there would be no repeat of the memorable thriller from four years previous. A cynical, cautious and drab affair marred by repeated fouling and a lack of quality, the 1990 final makes the 2010 version in South Africa look tame by comparison. Argentina’s Pedro Monzon became the first player sent off in a World Cup final for a foul on Jürgen Klinsmann. On reflection, it is hard to decifer which is worse.. Monzon’s lazy challenge or Klinsmann’s melodramatic reaction.
Carlos Bilardo’s set his side up to contain and frustrate West Germany, which worked for the majority of the game. One lapse from the Argentina defence late on allowed Rudi Völler space in the area and he was hauled down by Roberto Sensini. Andreas Brehme converted the spot kick to secure the German’s their third world crown, but only after Argentina were reduced to nine men, Gustavo Dezotti dismissed for a second booking. Maradona was marginalised by Matthäus, and he would rarely reach the heights as a player again. Beckenbauer made yet more history, this time becoming the first man to win the World Cup as a captain and a coach.
Argentina-Germany July 13th 2014
Despite the geographical distance, the footballing successes of these two great footballing nations are intrinsecly linked, so it is quite fitting that they face each other in this World Cup final. In the twenty four years since the final, both have won a solitary continental tournament, a paltry sum considering the abundance of talent produced. That will change on Sunday, one way or another. Let’s hope for a repeat of 1986, rather than 1990.
Major fan of the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah tune ‘As Always’. Never really given them much time in the past, but I imagine that may change with their upcoming new album. The video also delivers a suitably conflicted message.
In other news, I’ve begun seeking advice before I purchase my own web domain. Intend on finding somewhere to host our podcast and see where we can take it. My job still sucks, but I can see the finishing line.
This is Ben Khan and his latest track ‘Youth’. I stumbled upon an article on Pitchfork (if the first sentence and a half I’ve just written isn’t too hipsterish for you, I’d say you are a very tolerable reader) which contextualised his music and drew comparison with J Dilla among others. Decided to give a few of his tunes a listen and was drawn to this beauty.
Khan blends elements of 80’s synth-pop, R’N’B and a touch of minimalist electronica. The video is also pretty damn cool, contrasting a timid, shy young boy with his brooding, leather jacket wearing, knife wielding, teenage self and crammed with neon lights and a gorgeous blonde girl in a micro mini-skirt. What is not to like?
My life is currently reaching a crossroads, or rather a roadblock. I studied journalism in college, finishing just under two years ago. At the time, I was not sure if a career in journalism, writing or media was really for me. The industry seemed like a lot of work for little in return. My skepticism pushed me towards working full-time in a supermarket. Some disposable income and a chance to find my way in the world appealed.
I was content earning money and generally having some independence. That soon changed. Early in 2013, a good friend of mine (Rob) from my college class proposed an idea that made a lot of sense. He was listening to the old ‘Off the Ball’ on newstalk, with Eoin McDevitt and Ken Early, the pinnacle of sports broadcasting in Ireland. Natural competitiveness and curiousness took over, imploring him to text me with an idea. If they could shoot the breeze on all things sport, what was stopping us?
We got in contact with our journalism coordinator from college, and we got permission to use the radio studio at our old campus. We created a podcast/online radio show called The Final Third (soundcloud.com/TheFinalThird), based on world football. Week after week we improved our content and found our broadcasting voices. We have had the great and the greater of football writers as guests on our show, and my contact book would be the envy of newspaper editors across the country. Having heroes of mine such as Graham Hunter on, someone I grew up listening to and watching on Sky Sports, is both daunting and bloody exhilarating.
Contrast that with my day job. I bare no grudges against my employers, and I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given. But as the weeks pass, I grow more disillusioned. Friends of mine have left and I struggle to feel any motivation. Without being too critical of others, I abhor the lack of ambition in some of my colleagues. Some are capable of far greater, some don’t appropriate the comfort of a weekly wage. I have mentally checked out, focussing on other goals.
Contrast that with our show. Rob and I have been joined by another Rob, and I feel that we are making steady progress. Long term, this is the dream. I relish nothing more than covering football with two good mates on a weekly basis. We have a vision and plan, and maybe this could become a career. That tantalising prospect keeps me enthused. I’ve developed a stubborn single-mindedness which convinces me this will work out.
Soon I will have to make a decision. When should I show some intestinal fortitude and quit my job to focus solely on this. And how do we approach making this gain some traction? Steve Jobs once said “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I believe that to be true. Which brings me back to the title of Ben Khan’s song, youth. I must make the most of it.
We’ll I’ve decided to start writing more consistently on this blog. After two years of studying journalism and a plethora of hours spent reading and consuming various forms of media, it is probably a decent time to devote some attention to my tumblr.
I am not sure how often I will be post articles, but I expect to spend a lot more of my time processing my thoughts on the world through this medium. As absurd as that sounds, it is a decent way to explore my creativity.
Recently I picked up a book called ‘Difficult Men’ by Brett Martin, a chronological focus on the creative revolution in television during the past decade otherwise known as ‘the third golden age’. As a serial viewer and collector of TV box sets, this book appealed to me.
Martin delves into encounters he had with David Chase, the creator of the Sopranos, and outlines how HBO’s masterpiece spawned a succession of phenomenal television shows (Six Feet Under, Mad Men, The Wire, Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire to name a few).
Prior to finishing this book, I began watching the Sopranos from the beginning again. Four years after completing it for the first time, I am sure the journey will be as enjoyable.
House of Cards season two was just fantastic.