Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hup Holland Hup

Yesterday was a fanastic day for me. Did you see Holland destroy Italy 3-0? We hadn't beaten them in 30 years, and how glorious it was to beat the reigning World Champions.

Of course, Holland is the best country by far to never win the World Cup, always finding a way to lose or get ridiculously unlucky. And actually, my blood pressure is rising thinking about our recent World Cup exits, because of the horrible refereeing. The referee in the match against Portugal was either paid off or inexorably incompetent. I'm close to breaking my mouse just thinking about it. I just looked up the name of the ref (Valentin Valentinovich Ivanov from Russia) and he should never be allowed to referee an under-8 girls recreational league match. What. A. Joke. Rigged.

Speaking of referees, there was some controversy about Van Nistelrooy's first goal. It was definitely in a gray area. The referee decided he was onsides because an injured Italy player was a yard behind the goal and thus off the field. As far as I know, there is no precedent here, but I think that (unfortunately for the Italians) this is the correct call. Decisions must be made to structure incentives ex post. If the goal had been disallowed, then a player could game the offsides system by stepping on or off the field. It is unlucky for the Italians, although Van Nistelrooy later missed one of the easier chances to score he'll ever have in his career. Also, I generally think that when an offsides call is anywhere near close, the goal should be allowed. And I say that as someone who played defense.

Sneijder's second goal was one of the most beautiful coast-to-coast plays I have seen, and I felt that something magical was happening when the ball was played wide out left to Van Branckhorst.

All in all, it was a incredibly entertaining game. Before the Dutch scored, it just felt special. The pace was hectic, but the level of play was superb, although the Italians are now claiming that they didn't play well. Actually, they are being results oriented due to the final score -- there could've been a much closer result. Van der Sar was phenomenal as goalie.

Further, I think that the game will only serve to raise hopes for the Dutch. They probably shouldn't. Van Basten is a great coach, in my opinion (widespread Dutch criticism to the contrary), but we've just lost too many good players to injury. Also, soccer tournaments are crapshoots because there is such a high level of variance. Witness, for example, Italy winning World Cup 06 despite not being one of the best 5 teams in the world at the time. At the time, I thought Argentina was the best team, and I see no reason to change that now that I live here.

Now that I've pissed off DiGiacobbe, I think it's time to end this post.


Nik said...

As much as I would like to say that you're wrong (also having not seen the offsides call in person) I will have to agree with you. The referee made his decision in accordance with the rules (and clarifications by F.I.F.A., as far as I'm aware) at the time. More likely than not, there will be a further clarification in the next few years for such a situation. Something along the lines of "A player who is off the field (behind the goal) but is obviously not part of play due to injury". And I don't really have a true preference for if that player should be considered in calling offsides or not, as long as some ruling is made. Of course, some amount of authority should be left with the ref, much as with all calls dealing with injured players (the preference being, of course, play continuing).

Evan said...

I suppose you could leave some discretion to the ref, but I prefer bright line rules