“How would you like it if I have Mario Balotelli kick in your back door, eh? Would you like that?”
Italian “wise guys” are renowned for unanswerable questions and the England football team certainly could not find the right response yesterday as the “Azzurri” launched its 2014 World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over England on a thrilling day in the land of samba.
Costa Rica stormed back from a goal down to whip South American champions, Uruguay, 3-1, which has got to feel like getting a cut tail from your baby sister. And Côte d’Ivoire pulled off a similar revival to edge Japan 2-1 thanks to a cameo from icon Didier Drogba who had no goals or assists but gets all the plaudits anyway for being his country’s most recognizable figure.
Probably for the same reason that the COP’s membership thinks Winston Dookeran embodies everything that the party needs. Of course, unlike Dookeran, you can actually see what Drogba does for a living.
What a World Cup this has been so far; 28 goals from just eight matches with no shortage of talking points!
Even England coach Roy Hodgson got in on the act. Hodgson’s style is normally closer to the Gringe than Father Christmas; but today his team played with commendable verve and ambition.
Raheem Sterling and goalscorer Daniel Sturridge, both of whom might have represented Jamaica, threatened throughout while captain Steven Gerrard and talisman Wayne Rooney did the menial chores.
But the streetwise Italians were just too clever. Claudio Marchisio’s opening goal was beauty meets pragmatism; like Destiny’s Child operating a bucket brigade.
Rooney set up Sturridge’s equaliser with a brilliant left side cross. But then “Super Mario” kicked in Joe Hart’s back door for the winner and Andrea Pirlo warned England to let sleeping dogs lie with with a free kick that defied physics before rebounding off the bar.
“How would you like if I did that again, eh? Only this time I smash it off the underside of the crossbar, against the back of your big head and into your net. Would you like that?”
England didn’t give too much trouble after that. But the “Three Lions” were far from eliminated yesterday, especially after Uruguay’s collapse against Costa Rica.
Can this World Cup get much better?
Well, Argentina’s Lionel Messi makes his bow today against Bosnia and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo follows on Monday against Germany. If you are not excited yet, check your pulse!