Many of us were disconcerted to watch in the social media how people, especially Bangladeshi football fans, had enjoyed defeats of Germany to South Korea on Wednesday night! Was it out of our jealousy or the fact that Germany's misfortune would benefit us? Brazil and Argentina, the most favourite teams to Bangladeshi supporters, are in comparatively good shape. South Korea was never in the map as our darling! Then why this mad euphoria at the demise of Germany, the pathfinder of modern football and the reigning champion! Well, Germany's departure would make others play in comfort. Then why not should we pray for the weakest teams to qualify in the World Cup so that our favourite one could enjoy a cakewalk in the field?
Intense jealousy is perhaps hardwired into our DNA that programmes our genes and by turn determines our behaviour through thousands of years of evolution, a science of 'natural selection' introduced to us mainly by Charles Darwin. Sometimes we feel displeased with others' good fortunes. Well, that is envy, which is human, not that harmful to our community living. But to enjoy other people's misfortune is diabolical, perverse. That is sadism, a mental disease that perhaps even Darwin couldn't find in the wild animals' behaviour.
Should we blame only Bangladeshi fans for rejoicing the defeat of Germany to South Korea? There are crazier football devotees all around the world.
It was the Central Stadium of Yekaterinburg in Russia where Mexico were crumbling on their journey to a 3-0 loss to Sweden in painful vital match of the World Cup group stage. Swedish fans on the stadium were revelling. They had reasons.
But what appalled the world was not to find many Mexican fans on the stadium showing their wretched expressions. They were rather dancing in ecstatic roars in those tense closing moments of the game where Mexico was almost pronounced defeated! Mexicans jumped out of their seats, pumped their fists and hugged one another in a delirious mood of jubilation when their own team were being defeated ignominiously. Their frenzy had little to do with what was happening on the field; they were reacting to events unfolding 600 miles away, in Kazan, where South Korea was beating Germany. It was a rare game event that left fans of both Mexico and Sweden cheerful as the fiercest Germany would not be in the field for a ferocious attack.
Mexico could have guaranteed its own advancement with a win or tie against Sweden. The goals came within a span of 25 minutes, starting in the 50th, when Ludwig Augustinsson, the Swedish, drilled the ball taken from his teammate, Viktor Claesson. About 10 minutes after that, Andreas Granqvist, the Swedish captain, calmly converted a penalty kick after a foul by Héctor Moreno, the Mexican defender, in the box. And in the 74th minute, Mexican defender Edson Álvarez scored an own goal. Huh!
Who could imagine that the four-time World Cup winner Germany would be killed by South Korea? It was the late-afternoon glow in Kazan stadium that cast its mellow light of tragedy on the painted faces of German fans --- devastated, distraught, shattered. German players were seen filled with horror, aghast at the cruelty of the match that didn't give them just one single goal. Giant German players cried on the field, some hunched forward with hands on their knees, trying to figure out what had happened. It was a blow too punishing for any German to absorb. Germany crashed out of the World Cup. What a tale for Germany to bid adieu to Russia 2018!
Germans would need just one goal in the closing minutes on Wednesday to win and secure their place in the round of 16. Instead, they surrendered three goals. With stars like Kroos, Özil and Hummels, Germany that won every match in qualifying for this World Cup and could curl their shots into nets as if guided by GPS, who were the world-renowned football blitzes could not even make it out of the group phase in Russia. So it was Sweden and Mexico that qualified for the knockout phase from Group F, known as "Killer Group". It was the earliest exit for a German team at the World Cup since 1938, when Hitler was the country's leader and only 15 teams took part.
I'm an avid Brazil fan and so was my father. My only grandson is Argentina fan and so is his father. Still I faintly remember how my father glowed with pride when Brazil defeated Czechoslovakia in the 1962 FIFA World Cup final held in Santiago.
On Wednesday night, Brazil avoided a shock result that had earlier seen Germany knocked out of the World Cup. Brazil, the nation of Pele, have defeated Serbia 2-0 and finished top of the Group E. Their last night's dazzling performance suggests they are growing robust and are poised to win at the final whistle of this World Cup. Paulinho had deservedly put Brazil in front with a deft finish. Neymar was as influential as ever, taking 119 touches and making several direct-on-the-goal attempts. We have no reason to blame Neymar. His performance was spectacular, no matter he couldn't score a goal. Brazil, however, were sluggish on occasions and had often lost control of the midfield.
The bullish Serbia was no match for Brazil. Serbia was not completely alive for all the 90 minutes and they were punished. It was not easy for them to play such an open game against a powerhouse of football like Brazil. Serbia exit the competition at the group stage. But their failure to qualify is probably less about their result against Brazil than what happened in their previous game against Switzerland when they let a 1-0 lead slip into a damaging 2-1 defeat.
Switzerland, in their match, fascinatingly set up a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica that featured a bizarre late penalty drama. Costa Rica, already eliminated, equalised in injury time, as Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz's penalty hit the bar and then theatrically bounced in off Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer's head for an own goal. What a fate!
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