Ahead on the blog today*: All the Group C goods as Croatia meets Italy (pictured, at training) and Spain tests its tournament favorite status against desperate Ireland. (This tournament rocks! But we’ve probably said that before.)
On this date: Ten years ago, American soccer fans sat in front of two TVs, wide-eyed, fingernails on the chew and not sure what to make of the unfolding events. On one screen, the United States was collapsing in the ugliest way, getting Asian dirt kicked on them in a 3-1 loss to Poland. But simultaneously, South Korea was pulling something special and a little bit magical from its co-hosts hat, turning up with a late game-winner against the vaunted Portuguese (a little less vaunted for their opening day loss to the United States). South Korea’s big moment expelled the Portuguese while propelling Bruce Arena’s U.S. team into the second round.
Big Important Story of the Day: Repercussions? Yeah, we’ve seen a few. Especially when it comes to a favorite like the Netherlands, looking feeble as a stale orange Cheeto. It’s all so heavy that it’s distracting us from talking about Roberto Di Matteo’s overdue, official appointment as Champions League winner Chelsea. And it certainly kept us a bit distracted as the second coaching talker of the day fell from England, where Harry Redknapp was suddenly no longer in charge at Spurs.
What we should all be watching on TV:
Italy-Croatia, noon ET, ESPN
Spain-Ireland, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Tony Sanneh
Twitter daps: ESPN commentator Derek Rae (@RaeComm), among those calling the games from Poland and Ukraine: Surprised if Croatia change much at all. Looking fwd to seeing Jelavic again. He was good to this commentator in terms of quality goals.
We’ll leave you with this: Watching German boss Joachim Low playfully poke a ball from a ballboy along the sideline during yesterday’s win over the Dutch says a lot. It’s serious business, of course, but not all serious business. At some point, this is all a kids’ game – and his team meets the enterprise with the same balanced approach, this place where joy, freedom and casual expression meets the business end of it all.
*Always subject to change; you know how it is