Well Spain the holders are now back home after surviving a scare when their plane was hitTinoMaradonna by lightening on its decent into Madrid-Barajas airport last week. Nevertheless despite their early exit the World Cup is still continuing to entertain but to be honest I’m finding it difficult to catch as many games as I would like to. This is down to two reasons one being work commitments and the other is that Spanish terrestrial TV is only screening one game per day, the others games you have to pay for by subscribing to one of the satellite companies over here. What I have seen of the tournament though I have been well impressed, mostly by the contribution of the South American teams and not the usual suspects of Argentina and Brazil.

Chile and Columbia have been like a breath of fresh air but I was also impressed with the Colombianfanscontribution of Ecuador, even though they went out in the group stages. I watched their last group game, versus France, in a local Ecuadorian bar in Caravaca. There are lots of Ecuadorians and Bolivians in Spain and for me they get a bit of a raw deal from the Spanish. I view these people as hard working and admire the way that they seem to look after one another thousands of miles away from home. I have to say I got some funny looks when I entered their bar and took may place in front of the big screen, I’m about six foot and fair, very different from your average indigenous Ecuadorian, but I enjoyed the experience and was disappointed to see them only secure a draw against the French which meant that Switzerland went through in their place.

Also in the last round of group games I was disappointed for the Chileans when they were beaten, 2-0, by what looks like a formidable Dutch team in Group B. This meant that Chile would face hosts Brazil in the quarter finals. I managed to see this game and again I was again impressed with Chile, as they pushed the Brazilians to the line only to eventually lose 3-2 on penalties. I have to say though that their penalty taking was woeful and that they missed out on the chance to cause a major shock at this tournament through it.

Columbia for me have been the team of the tournament so far and their Monaco star James (pronounced Ham-ez) Rodriguez one of the players of the tournament. They were paired with the Luis Suarez-less Uruguay in the last sixteen. Lots has been written about the Suarez biting incident and I don’t really want to add much more other than to say the lad obviously has issues that need to be sorted. It’s hard for us in Europe to try and understand the South American psyche and to get our heads around some of the poverty that these lads come from and end up being thrust into the limelight with its abundance of riches. The best article I’ve read on Suarez is here.http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/columnists/donal-og-cusack/donal-og-cusack-suarez-is-just-another-crazy-mixed-up-kid-not-a-bad-person-273535.html

Columbia swept Uruguay aside with ease in a 2-0 victory which included a wonder goal from James and out at the game was old United favourite Tino Asprilla. Tino is in Brazil working for TV just like Argentinian legend Diego Maradona and a great photo of the pair has appeared on Twitter. I have to admit I really like Maradona and if you want to get an insight into the man I suggest you watch the documentary/movie Maradona by Kusturica.

In his role as a presenter for a Venezuelan TV channel he has been working himself in his
usual way with FIFA and the Argentinian FA. He left the game early against Iran missing the winner from Messi and the president of the Argentinian FA, Julio Humberto Grondona said that Maradonna was a jinx. Maradonna responded by saying that he had worked for everything that he had as opposed to 82 year old Grondona who he accused of getting on through cronyism and favours from FIFA and endedby giving him the finger sign, watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5-YpFRzF3s

He has also appeared on TV with a t-shirt in favour of Suarez saying that he is being victimised by FIFA in a similar way in which he was during his playing days. All good fun and adds to the entertainment and my opinion.

Adios until next time ,

Tony Higgins