the italians either invented or perfected the art of diving for the officials, (most likely both), and there is nothing more entertaining than watching one of them roll around in the grass as if shot by sniper fire from the stands, unless you count watching them pout as they lose. (the french are just yet another copy of the unsportsmanlike original). they like to pretend they have a fine footballing tradition, but, i have to say, that's a crock, and their bowing out today at the bottom of their group is quit fitting to the quality of their play, and i say good riddance. (yeah, i'm a sore winner).
the other set of whinging wankers i'd like to call out today are the english, who set upon their hapless goalkeeper for his mistake in the opening match as if he'd just shot the queen. (bet his career continues much like billy buckner's here in boston...) they followed that up with a clunker against algeria, and they certainly didn't overly impress by squeaking their way out of the group with a 1-nil win over slovenia. now, i do want to point out that other members of great britain, like the scottish, are much more reasonable about things than their english empire-mates, but, seriously, if you can find me a sanguine and happy englishman today who won't immediately start bitching to you about the bit of yank luck in the first game, and all sorts of other things, i'd like to meet them. they act like they as well have a fine footballing tradition, (and we can all thank them for inventing the sport), but the obvious truth is that they're a marginal program at best, and should be FAR more modest about themselves as a result.
compare this to the americans, who received the bogus end of one of the worst referee calls in world cup history, and who endured yet another goal called back on a good strike in their third match, and were thus facing elimination at the conclusion of 90 minutes against the algerians, yet still kept good spirits, a positive attitude, and nothing but pure joy and unqualified elation when the winner was, and they were, put through. no, we don't think we're entitled. we just enjoy when our boys on the pitch earn what they deserve.
there is an asterisk for the germans, who have not behaved badly, but, truth be told, did have those moments of doubt when they could not even manage a tie against group-bottom serbia, and who remain guilty of disbelieving in their very talented team. however, they've won their group, and they soldier on in good spirits. good on them.
for the rest of old europe already eliminated--greece, slovenia, serbia--it's time to take your hats off and salute the americas, who have put through literally every one of their entrants so far, with the likely prospects of one more (chile) by sunday. even honduras, who are possibly the only team from the americas to miss the round of 16, still maintain a chance if chile can best spain, and if they can beat the swiss by three goals. (unlikely, but still possible!)
and that, my european friends, is the difference. honduras has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, and it's great to be able to root for their (extremely) thin chances. or maybe they don't go through, and so what? seven of the other eight will (likely) have, and that's a pretty good showing compared to europe's contributing as many countries so far at the BOTTOM of their groups, than qualified for the next round.