Every four years I become a futbol fan. The World Cup, emblematic of the only truly World Championship Team Sport (no, not the Olympics; all star games) played in the sport most watched world wide, just gets my attention.
The next sport I intend to learn to referee is futbol, in fact, to heighten my appreciation for the game. All I have to do is get out of the hospital and get the rule book.
Now we are in the semis of the FIFA world cup. The Netherlands (my pick for eventual champion) will oppose Uruguay and the Germany will take on Spain. Note three of the four teams left are European. England is mercifully gone, to regroup, and the French surrendered, again. Italy needs to retool. With all that Africa cannot quite get past the quarter-finals, for all their athleticism, and South America seems to stop playing defense at the oddest times.
So, come the Europeans, as usual. England has put a lot of money in football and the pros do not seem to put the same effort into World Cup as they once might. France? Well, they are French. You figure it out.
That leaves Spain (unspoiled, evidently), the hardy Teutons of Deutsch-land and the Dutch. I just do not see Uruguay getting by the Dutch, though Uruguay does seem to be peaking at a good time. Argentina was fading by the second round, though their superior talent made you forget their fundamental problems. I think the Argentines are rather tired of their foppish coach, who seems to think himself a bit larger than the team. Brazil might have got there but, well, they did not, did they?
So it is the Europeans (ok, the Netherlands is quasi-Scandanavian, check your atlas, they are right there) left to tell the tale.
My fearless predictions: Netherlands over Uruguay and Germany over Spain.
I started with them and will ride the Dutch on to predictive glory. The Netherlands over Germany.
One other note. I knew basketball referees were powerful. In fact, two or three calls at critical times can decide a game, most games. I had not known real power until I saw how the referees took goals away from the Americans. The yellow card given to the 20 year old German striker, putting him out for the semis, was not short of scandalous and may set up Spain for an upset. Somehow, the administration of rules must be changed so that there is an even playing field.
Incidentally, the USA team, if it can decide to play both halves (they started slowly in every game), the refereeing gets together and they continue to make the same strides as the last eight years, should be in the semis by the 2018 games. I can hardly wait.
Opinions expressed here mine alone and not those of the church I serve or any other person or organization.