Friday, July 1, 2005

Midnight Mardi Gras

Midnight Mardi Gras.
Midnight Mardi Gras

Unless you hail from Argentina then Wednesday night in Frankfurt will stay with those present a long while. From the storm that split the stadium's hi-tech textile roof to the spectacle of a canteen full of journalists erupting with the cry of "HUTH!", there was no shortage of memorable moments.
The most indelible memory, however, came hours after the final whistle as waiting reporters checked their watches mindful of deadlines, column inches and airtime that needed to be filled.

Suddenly the bowels of the stadium were transformed as a samba/conga train consisting of the entire Brazil squad was led by Roque Junior, Dida on drums and Ronaldinho on tambourine in single file from dressing room to bus and on to a hotel party.

This snatch of carnival was the brainwave of their shrewd yet gregarious coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who brought up the rear in almost comical concession to the quote quota demanded by reporters still too stunned to realise the ruse had denied them any words from the all-but-musically mute players.
Such non-synthetic ebullience and glamour was what the German organising committee could only have prayed for as they look for their promotional bandwagon to peak by the same time in 2006.

"Over-organisation gone mad... the logical result of combining FIFA with this country" was the view of one anonymous Kicker magazine scribe of his own compatriots and their approach to the tournament's overall organisation.
Still, somehow the rhythm of Brazil had prevailed and put the uber-bureaucracy, the roadblocks - email das purist via soccerphile.com if you want to know the German for road rage - the confiscation of prize-winners' rival-sponsored clothes for the day by McDonalds staff, all the translation snafus and even the likely doping let-off for Mexico in perspective.

Stelios Giannakopoulis had advised das purist beforehand to monitor the movement of Kaka up close over that of the trio that routinely overshadow him: top-scorer Adriano, Robinho and Ronaldinho - who was lucky not to exit the final prematurely and escape with a yellow card for an elbow on Coloccini.
And how das purist was seduced... merely the Milan player's contribution to the scoreline was ample evidence of his almost unreal talent, with the lack of backlift and perfect command of the ball's trajectory leaving this observer in awe.
A Mexican colleague, who could not bring herself to miss this "super-classico" even to be in Leipzig that night as her boys took on Germany, summed up Kaka's talent in an arresting way. "When he plays it is like a computer game, only better!"

Too true, and the sheer skill, elegance and athleticism of the man is enough to make anyone older simply want to give up and go home. Those younger, however - the sponsor-friendly legions of kids on hand who'd been given photo-op tips in return for shedding their hostile-brand garments, for example - they could only be inspired, surely?

So sombreros off, amigos, the best team won.

GO AND SEE A GAME!

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