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Hello once again, fans! Well, it’s over. No more World Cup, at least until 2018. I’m here one last time to share my thoughts on the Cup after this last weekend. We’re going to do this fast and furious style:

The third place game: Come on now; you must be kidding. Like Netherlands Coach Louis Van Gaal said, there was no reason to play this game at all (other than for Brazil to embarrass itself once again). Look, I remember the third place battle meaning a lot to me four years ago because Uruguay was in it, so if you’re Brazilian or Dutch, you’re entitled to care, and I will understand completely. Everyone else: let’s just forget it even happened.

Final thoughts on Uruguay: Well, they blew it. Having watched Colombia against Brazil, and Brazil against Germany, I think Uruguay could have gotten to the semifinals. I hope Luisitois getting the help he needs, and that he understands the impact of his actions on those teammates he cares so much about. After the injury, he said he wanted his kids to see him play in a World Cup (they were too young last time around); well, Luis, they could have watched you in a semifinal, or maybe even a final if the entire German team was involved in a serious traffic accident. Other than that, can I really be upset at these guys? They took fourth place in South Africa and the Confederations Cup, won a record 15th Copa America, and rudely tossed two former World Champions out on their asses in this very tournament. Could it have been more? Maybe; but I’m still grateful to this generation of players for all they accomplished. Since 2010 they won five times as many World Cup games as Uruguay won in the previous 40 years. Salud muchachos!


The tournament: No thanks to the finishing skills of Argentina’s attackers, this tournament tied the record for most total goals (171) set in France ’98. More than that, there was much more emphasis on attacking fútbol than in previous Cups, and much more of an enjoyable feel to the games. I remember watching a lot of South Africa 2010 as almost an obligation; this time around I had a lot of fun watching. Sure, it was a disaster for Brazil (and that’s without getting into the massive police repression that no one seemed to want to talk about); and a European team won a title on American soil for the first time, which is a big deal to us South Americans. But all in I saw this as a positive step for world fútbol, one that hopefully continues on the road to Russia 2018.

Final thoughts on the USMNT: I’m going to give you fair warning, I’m hovering over the punch bowl right now, ready to drop trou. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback on this team, and no doubt Germany’s win will spark a round of “the World Champions could barely beat us, so we must be on our way to becoming a world power” talk. Stop it. The Champs barely beat us in 1994, and where did that get us? Here’s what I take from the USMNT’s performance over the past month: they were thoroughly outclassed in two of their four games, by Belgium and Ghana. You can concentrate on the scoreboard if you want, but if you watched at all you must admit that both teams ran circles around the Americans for long stretches of those games. They tied Portugal in a game we deserved to win, but that’s a team coasting on its reputation. And as far as the Germany game, I hate to be that guy, but at that point the Germans had basically nothing to play for other than grabbing a point and avoiding injuries, and they still won. I like Jurgen Klinsmann, and on any given day the boys can give anyone a scare, but this team is a long ways away from the type of consistent high-level play that takes a team to the Cup’s final weekend. We’re getting better, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Let’s try to find these guys some spots in Europe and stop wasting time in MLS, playing against the world’s has-beens.

The final

This could have been you, Pipita.

This is a tough one, friends: as I said before, no self-respecting South American fútbol fan wants to see Europe win a World Cup in our own backyard (not to mention three tournaments in a row). Still, if there’s one team Uruguayans can’t root for (and it’s not just us, is it Brazil?), it’s Argentina. Two hundred years of mean-spirited “lost province” cracks and close proximity to Buenos Aires will do that to a people. So I was mighty conflicted on Sunday afternoon. I kept trying to root for Argentina, and the entire time it felt like an ill-fitting suit. At the same time, I couldn’t really get excited for a Germany win, and not just because of regional pride; over the years I’ve made very good friends in Argentina, and I know how much a win would have meant to them. That’s the thing about rivalries like this one: it’s a lot easier to hate on a group if you only experience them as a group. If you get to know them individually, you realize that there are good people and annoying twerps on any side of an issue. In any case, zee Germans prevailed (I TOLD you not to sleep on them!) thanks to a marvelous strike by Mario Götze, in a game that wasn’t great, but still was probably the most entertaining final I’ve seen since these same two teams hooked up in Mexico City in 1986. There were plenty of chances for both teams (just ask Pipita Higuaín), a little blood was left on the field, and we had enough controversy to keep things interesting, but not enough to make the game a joke. Each team had a penalty not called in their favor; each team had one player weasel out of a well-deserved red card; there was even a goal called back (correctly) for offside (on Higuain). Overall this was a match worthy of ending this tournament. Germany wins again, after 24 years of close calls; Argentina lost, but it gave the Germans everything they could handle. And really, we could not have asked for much more.

About El Bolso

El Bolso is Uruguay’s foremost soccer-fan-in-exile, a true authority on the Celeste and its favored son, the Club Nacional de Football. He believes in precision passing, tireless marking, and strong finishing, and is not above the occasional slide tackle from behind when the situation calls for it.

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