The prime match-up of the Confederations Cup this weekend proved to be its best game. Italy v Mexico was a delightful romp. Italy played a refreshing brand of football, as the Azzurri pressed forward and looked for goals, much different (and attractive) than their normal concentration on defense. Mexico played nice on the eyeballs as well. Andrea Pirlo scored an absolute beaut on a set piece, bending the ball over the wall and into the net on a free kick that opened up the scoring. Mexico evened the score sheet through a penalty, with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez taking the spot kick like the Fonz. Then when it looked like this one was destined for a draw, Mario Balotelli fought through the Mexican defense and poked home the game winner. He celebrated by taking off his shirt, showing the world that he has muscles and receiving the subsequent yellow card. Much like you cannot blame children for laughing, birds for singing, or Skoora the gentle shark for eating humans, you can hardly blame Balo for picking up a needless yellow. Its who he is. Its what he does.
In the opening game, Brasil thumped Japan, 3-0. Neymar wasted no time getting the host nation rolling, rifling a half-volley into the net in the third minute. In the last game of the weekend, Spain took care of Uruguay a little more comfortably than the 2-1 score line would suggest. Although it was not enough for victory, Luis Suarez had the goal of the match, a Pirlo-esque free kick that curled, bent, and whathaveyou’d into the net. It was rather fantastic that each of the three games had a world-class goal.
While the games were going on, there was unrest in the host nation. Protesters tried blocking access to the stadium on Saturday, burning tires and running amok. Word is that some citizens are none too happy that Brasil is dropping zillions of credits on stadiums while many of them are still dirt poor. Personally, I think it is quite refreshing that there are people raising hell at a soccer match and they actually have a reason behind it. I have to imagine that the police were all confused that there was some kind of message behind the rabble rousing.
Now today comes the game we have all been waiting for: NIGERIA V TAHITI – ONLY ONE NATION WILL SURVIVE!!! (unless they tie) It will be fun to see if Tahiti even bothered splurging on jerseys and shoes for its players.