I’ve returned to the coffee shop after a walk around the park. Only 15-minutes, the by-product of reading Nick Littlehale’s book on sleep. Nick suggests breaking your day into 90-minute increments, with 15-minute chill-out breaks separating them.
Hence the walk.
It’s a glorious day in Cardiff. The sun tries its best to kill the worms the blackbirds leave behind. I walk beneath the canopy of magnificent oak trees recording a video on my mobile phone about why non-alcoholic craft beer is as useful as a locksmith in a world without any locks.
I walk to the top of the park.
And, back again.
On my way to the top, I pass a man with a pram. A baby kicks its legs, and a toddler holds his hand. Next to them are two shaggy white dogs fucking, and when I say next to them, I mean right next to them. I’m not sure if this is ‘father’s’ form of sex-ed when away from ‘mother,’ or if the guy wants pups, and doesn’t want to ruin the opportunity to make a few extra bucks on dog sales.
Whatever the reason.
There they are, banging away, as the toddler watches.
On the way up, I also spied a Bukowski looking old man who drinks in the same coffee shop as me. Grey-haired, grouchy looking, khaki-shorts, grey shirt and brown sandals that look a size too big. He was sitting on a bench checking out the arses of the runners.
On the way back, he stands up, moves behind the park bench, whips his cock out, and starts having a piss.
In full view of the arseholes.
Is it the sun?
It is the agnostic’s two-finger salute to God on his favourite day.
Or is it the World Cup?
The French Breeze Through Unfancied Uruguay
The World Cup can have a crazy effect on a nation.
Expectations rise to ecstatic levels the deeper you get into the event, and in Russia right now, we are coalmine deep.
No sooner had the Uruguay physio ruled Edinson Cavani out of the Quarter-Final clash against the French, the likelihood of the two-time champions beating Les Bleus dived like Luis Suarez.
No way would a Cavaniless Uruguay beat a well-drilled French side formed of the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
And so it was.
France won at a canter, and now Didier Deschamps is in full-on chill the fuck-out mode.
“You can see our lack of experience sometimes, but we have so many qualities too,” Deschamps told the press after his victory. “It definitely won’t be a failed World Cup now.”
I beg to differ with the Water Carrier.
After France beat Uruguay, the bookies immediately installed them as the favourites to lift the trophy, and I second that assumption. If they don’t win from here, of course, it’s deemed a failure.
So how did France make it to their first Semi-Finals in 12-years, let’s take a look shall we?
Uruguay began the brightest, controlling the tempo in the first 15-minutes, but the French had the best chance, when Olivier Giroud found Mbappe, unmarked at the far post, only for the teenage sensation to head tamely over.
The South American nation looked the most dangerous, but paradoxically, you couldn’t see them finding a way through the heart of the French defence.
Hugo Lloris was so bored in those opening 15-minutes, he had an early lunch, munching on a dragonfly that mistook the Spurs keeper’s open mouth for a dim, dark cave.
Despite Uruguay playing well, you sensed the French had the armoury to hurt Oscar Tabarez’s side at any time, and they did so five minutes from time.
Griezmann placed the ball behind the white dust, drove a pinpoint ball into the box, and Raphael Varane’s flick-header from the penalty spot beat Fernando Muslera. It was Varane’s third goal for his countries – all headers.
With half time on the horizon, Uruguay took a dangerous free-kick outside the French box, and Lloris stopped munching on dragonflies long enough to produce one of the saves of the tournament, diving low to his left to keep out a Martin Caceres header; Diego Godin skied the rebound over the bar from three yards.
France controlled the second half, and it was all over with 30-minutes to go.
Pogba picked the pocket of an Uruguayan midfielder before threaded the ball to Griezmann who produced a speculative long-range shot. It was a tame effort, but somehow, Musler lost the fight of the ball, and it dribbled through his fingers and into the net.
His defensive colleagues fell to their knees.
The entire nation began uttering the words ‘idiot’, ‘what’, ‘the’, and ‘fuck.’
Corentin Tolisso blazed a shot over the bar when he should have done better. But not much else from Uruguay. The most disappointing aspect of their performance was the ineffectiveness of Suarez. The omission of Cavani robbing the Barcelona man of a superpower. Not only did he fail to have a single shot on target; he didn’t even touch the ball in the French penalty area.
But he did dive a lot, as did Lucas Hernadez for France.
With two minutes to go, Jose Giminez burst into tears when standing in the middle of an Uruguayan wall waiting for Griezmann to pound it at them.
That’s how bad things got for Uruguay.
“After the second goal, there was a huge gap between the teams,” admitted Tabarez after the defeat.
The French were clinical.
Those two goals mean Les Bleus have converted all six of their last six shots.
It’s the sixth time France have made the Semi-Finals (1998 & 2006), and they will play Belgium for a place in the World Cup Final on Tuesday night.
France to Play Belgium in the Semi-Finals
The Golden Generation.
Funny, I saw Wales batter them in France 16.
On paper, Belgium has, man-for-man, the best side at the World Cup. But until now, they have never looked like capable of winning anything.
The bookies made Belgium the underdogs in the Quarter-Final clash against Brazil. But you and I know that you’re more likely to see two dogs fucking next to a family in a park than a South American nation win a World Cup on European grass and dirt.
I fancied Belgium from the off, and they didn’t disappoint.
Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli saved Roberto Martinez’s blushes against Japan in the Round of 16, so it was no surprise to see them start against the five-time World Champs.
Their inclusion made Brazil look positively Lilliputian-like.
“They can cut you open.” Said Martinez.
Not when you’re playing with men against boys.
Eight minutes in and Thiago Silva hits the post, but Belgium did not capitulate. They went up the other end, forced a corner, and Chadli’s arrow-like centre struck the arm of Fernandinho and ended up in the net. It was the tenth own goal of the Russian World Cup, a record.
Two minutes later and both Neymar and Jesus spurned decent chances.
And then another one-inch death punch to the heart.
Romelu Lukaku went on a monster run from his own half to set up a Kevin De Bruyne rocket. It was the first time in 30 games that Brazil had conceded more than a single goal. The Man City ace was the 100th different player to score at the World Cup.
Brazil was in trouble.
Marcelo found Jesus on the penalty spot, but the City forward headed over the bar, and then 15-minutes into the second half, Vincent Kompany clearly brought down his City teammate in the penalty area, only for all five of the VAR personnel to say, “Oh, no, no, no.”
It was a crucial moment in the tie.
Douglas Costa replaced Jesus and made an immediate impact producing a series of top-drawer saves from Thibaut Courtois. But the Chelsea shot-stopper could do nothing about Renato Augusto’s header after the sub ghosted into the box to get on the end of a Philippe Coutinho lob to make it 2-1, less than four minutes after coming on.
Brazil bombed forward searching for the equaliser in the final stages. Augusto missed a brilliant chance when he shot wide, and Courtois made world-class saves to keep Neymar out with time ticking away.
The Golden Boy of Brazilian football’s World Cup summed up with another theatrical dive in injury time, resulting in the referee brushing away his hopes with a derisive flick of the hand.
It’s the fourth successive time Brazil’s World Cup hopes have ended at the feet or head of a European nation.
Belgium goes into their game against France on Tuesday having won five straight games in this tournament, and are unbeaten in 24 matches, only losing once under Roberto Martinez.
“I’m the proudest man on earth.” Martinez.
Not as proud as the man who just oversaw the impregnation of his shaggy white dog.
The Odds (Winner)
France v Belgium