28th June 2010
It's odd how this tournament looks different when your team have caught the last plane home. While you've still got an interest, every big name that falls opens up your half of the draw and raises a pleasing chuckle as you read of the chaos that occurs when your potential nemesis arrive at their local airport to a barrage of abuse.
After your hopes have been dashed though, you just want good football and a tournament that lives up to expectations and it's then that you realise the failure of some pre-tournament favourites has only served to weaken your viewing pleasure. Today was a case in point; hats off to Slovakia who emerged from Italy's group and Chile who turned in some good first round performances but today, in the 3rd set of Round of 16 matches, it was as if they knew their run had come to an end.
It wasn't that either side didn't try but it just seemed to be a case of running up against a brick wall, holding their arms aloft and then adnitting "Ok we know our place, you big guys take it on from here". Brazil and Holland march on to meet in the quarter final and those teams who provided shocks and entertainment earlier slip out of sight as somehow we all knew they would.
Holland 2 Slovakia 1
Venue: The Chase, Thetford
Sustenance: A bottle of Heineken
The Dutch barely got out of 2nd gear as they cruised through with Slovakia's last minute penalty making a nonsense of the scoreline. Slovakia did have chances before their late spot-kick but the fact was the Dutch looked as if they could up the tempo at any time and Slovakia looked like they knew it too.
Highlight of the afternoon was the solitary man who I shared the bar with, wearing an orange hat, quite obviously English, completely hammered, screaming at the TV but seemingly thinking he was Dutch. Well, it was Norfolk...
Brazil v Chile
Venue: Blagg Acres
Sustenance: A glass of Chilean Red and a bag of Brazilian Salsa flavoured crisps
This Brazil team look quite good, don't they...?