Wednesday, June 26, 2019

More beautiful game

Home tending to my mysterious ailment which I wish I'd stop mentioning, I am watching plenty of Women's World Cup soccer. So that's what you''ll hear about, not my mysterious ailment, which keeps coming up, even though this is all about soccer, and not about my embarrassing ailment which please god we are finished covering on the blog and will all be super cured any second now.

The morning game brought us China v Italy, and if I was inclined to toss it off as a team that over achieved to the top of their group (Italy) versus an able but mediocre team slated for destruction (China), the afternoon game of Netherlands vs. Japan has really brought this home. I was happy to see Italy go so surprisingly far this tournament, but Japan and Netherlands are really good teams, and I have quite warmed up to the skill level of this tournament. 

I am all in on this Netherlands team, which sadly may sign their death warrant, going by my luck. I have only seen the first half so far and it's anyone's game. One thing that makes me fond of the Netherlands is certainly their fans. They are heavily represented here, wear a ton of their team's signature color (orange), and seem to bring horns to their games where they play songs in the audience. I was sad that one of their ferocious wingers, who wore her hair as leopard spots on her head, reverted to a platinum blonde crew cut, but I'm willing to accept that that's none of my business. Lieke Martens, the best player for Netherlands, managed the kind of brilliant goal one has to figure is mostly luck, but also leaves one curiously wondering. The ball came from a corner to her feet and she one touch redirected it thorough the legs of the Japanese defender into the bottom right corner of the net. One nothing Netherlands.

But Japan has rather won me over too, to my surprise. After a lackluster group stage they play cohesively, technically, and with wonderful passing. At the end of the first half they produced possibly my favorite goal of the tournament to tie it up. It started with a nice pedestrian pass in to the middle. At the top of the box a player passed with one touch in tight company to their teammate, who brilliantly let it pass between her legs, spun round, and sort of double touched it through the middle to the charging Hasegawa who just sliced it over a sprawling keeper for the goal. Beautifully done!

So I'm looking forward to the second half. 

Too bad someone has to win.

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