Yessir fútbol fans, it’s that time of the quaterni anni again, FIFA World Cup time! With just 23 days to go before the big tournament begins, it’s now time to peruse the eight groups (if you haven’t already) to pick your teams, possibly delight in the placement of reigning cup holders, Italy, eagerly anticipate the match-up between South Korea and Argentina, and wonder how on earth the USA will ever get past England.
For me, the last World Cup seems like it occurred just months ago. Back then, I had the unfortunate luxury to be fresh off of knee surgery just as the games began. I was laid up for nearly four weeks on the sofa or pedaling away on the stationary bike (a big thanks to http://www.freecycle.org in Cambridge, MA for that!), and so got to watch many great games during the 2006 Cup. A non-cable TV owner at the time, I was lucky that Telemundo carried most of the games. I’m in a similar situation this time around, given that ESPN holds the television rights to the games and I only get the major network stations, including Telemundo (there will be 44 games on ESPN, 10 on ESPN2, and just 10 on ABC). Here’s hoping the Spanish channel comes through again, especially in the early rounds when ABC apparently would rather air soap operas. There will be many exciting things things to watch, no doubt. Will they live up to the feats of 2006? Probably. But what about the “headers” of 2006? Doh! Ouch! Who could forget the amazing antics of France’s Zinedine Zidane against Italy’s Marco Materazzi? Zidane’s headbutt was perhaps the most unbelievable sporting act (assault?) that I’ve ever seen live (on TV).