2014 FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony In Brazil


World Cup Opening Ceremony and Brazil vs Croatia

You will see plenty of match reports elsewhere so I thought I’d concentrate on the World Cup opening ceremony….

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It was wonderfully colourful and made me smile. It had ents (Treebeard from Lord of the Rings) doing dad dancing along with other figures from the forest. I was expecting the bulldozers and lumberjacks to come and chop them down. They probably would have done if Danny Boyle had been the designer as in the 2012 Olympics.

It has tips of the hat to Western stylised images of Brazil’s history; Carmen Miranda music, gauchos (I thought they were mainly Argentinian). At one point the circus music and lyrics to Stackridge’s Galloping Gaucho sprang to mind.

"The galloping gaucho came to town, dressed up just like a demon vaquero, bought his horse for half a crown and called it scar-faced jock."

There was also some martial arts like Danny Welbeck’s performance at the favela and a bit of community drumming. The centre piece was a 50’ high sphere that had Microsoft Media Player style patterns projected on it; not unlike the sort of thing that used to appear at the back of the stage on giant screens at 1980s rock concerts.

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Top of the Bill was Jennifer Lopez in a sparkly green swimsuit reprising the dad dancing from earlier and looked like she was trying to squeeze out a big number 2 as per Jim Royle of the Royle Family. She appeared with a bloke who is apparently called Pitbull who looked like the guy from Right Said Fred and another woman in a sparkly blue swimsuit emblazoned with a number 7. I expected them to break into “I’m too sexy for my football shirt” at any minute. All you could hear though was an echoing racket, like an arrivals/departures announcement at Waterloo station.

The ITV commentator swung from naff Barry Manilow quotes, “music and passion was always in fashion” to even naffer attempts at political satire that would have shamed Ben Elton in his heyday “Brazil known for its diversity, particularly these days between rich and poor.” Oh please…

Ian Wright – TV Gold

Overall though, I though ITV’s coverage was entertaining and above their usual standard. Ian Wright bouncing around on the beach with typical enthusiasm was a stroke of genius.

"That there is Sugar Loaf Mountain named after (pause) err I don’t know (to colleague) – do you know what it’s named after?"

He then accosted a passing surfer who turned out to be a German, fluent in English who gave an off the cuff assessment of the team’s prospects as good as any professional pundit. Ian gave him a cuddle. TV gold.

Lee Dixon Cannavaro and Viera did a good job of punditry in the ITV studio and even misery guts Adrian Chiles remained reasonably bright – and calm in the event of catapulted stones from protesters cracking the studio windows like bullet marks on a James Bond car windscreen. They showed a picture of Cannavaro celebrating winning the World Cup in 2006 with Paul O’Grady right there next to him – at least my wife thought it was!

Back on the beach, Glenn Hoddle, Wrighty and colleagues continued to entertain sitting at a picnic table in their shorts. Nice work if you can get it.

When the teams finally emerged, I had to laugh as the Brazil team loped out holding out one arm onto the shoulder of the guy in front. It looked like the March of the Elephants from the Jungle Book, “Keep it up two three four. In a military style, in a military style”. Brazil in particular belted out their national anthem with an obvious passion for their country that Roy wishes the England lads would demonstrate.

Brazil vs Croatia

The match itself produced four goals and the result that every non-Croatian hoped for. Brazil 3 Croatia 1. Not without controversy though. Croatia dominated the early exchanges, particularly down the left wing. Marcello clipped a cross into his own net to give them the lead. Neymar elbowed Modric in the face and was allowed to get away with it. He then ran from inside his own half and scored with a scuffed shot just inside the post.

Scolari, looking more and more like Popeye Doyle from the French Connection but with a moustache moved Neymar inside to the Teddy Sheringham position and Brazil started to dominate. He scored a penalty and was only denied a hat trick by David Luiz’s diving header under his nose. Oops. Sorry mate.

Croatia did not fold though and had an equaliser disallowed. Oscar rounded it off nicely right at the death with another long range toe poke grass cutter just inside the post. Croatia’s coach absolutely livid.