Beckham Goal Highlights Weekend World Cup Action
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
In case you're counting, it is day 18 of the World Cup. Germany, Argentina, Portugal, and England have advanced to the quarterfinals.
One of the highlights from the weekend was a signature Bend it Like Beckham move in England's one-nil victory over Ecuador. Here to review the action and look ahead to today's matches is Seamus Malin, a soccer analyst.
Mr. SEAMU.S. MALIN (Soccer Analyst): Good morning.
INSKEEP: Well, let's start with that move by David Beckham. It's a free kick. The game was on the line. What did he do?
Mr. MALIN: Well, he did his thing. He has the terrific skill of being able to put a ball from any spot around the goal over the defensive wall of players and into the bottom corner of a goal. But he hasn't done it for about a year now, and there was a lot of criticism, frankly, of his play in this World Cup by the media. So this was real vindication for him, as of course it was a big game winner.
He now becomes the only English player ever to score in three World Cups.
INSKEEP: I gather that, up until that moment, he'd been suffering in the heat?
Mr. MALIN: He certainly had. In fact he was not well, before the match, at all. And even yesterday, he was complaining. He did in fact, throw up on the field, at one time. He's suffering from dehydration. So he really came though. I must say, I was impressed by his workmanlike effort in the second half, too, in addition to the singular goal that he scored.
INSKEEP: Now you're here in the United States, but you've been getting up early to watch all these games, right?
Mr. MALIN: Oh, absolutely. Up early when I'm on the West Coast, and more comfortably on the East Coast during the mid-time hours. It's much better than four years ago from Korea-Japan.
INSKEEP: Oh my! Did you catch Argentina's victory over Mexico?
Mr. MALIN: I did. I was very, very impressed by Mexico, to be perfectly honest. Their fans were really unhappy. They won only won game in the four they played, but they really came through with a terrific performance against Argentina and were very unfortunate to lose. It took a super goal from Maxi Rodriguez to send them packing.
INSKEEP: Well, if Argentina won against a great performance, is that a good sign for Argentina?
Mr. MALIN: It is a very good sign for Argentina, I think, because although Brazil are favorites, Argentina are right up there. But now they meet Germany, and that is going to be a cracking match this coming Friday. A rematch of the 1986 World Cup Final, then West Germany, and that promises to be the really the big obstacle for Germany, which has done ever so well so far.
INSKEEP: You know, we were talking to some Germans over the weekend, who mentioned that Germans are flying German flags, to a degree that has not been seen in Germany in decades.
Mr. MALIN: Well, and it's really quite remarkable, because there was great skepticism about the quality of this team, before the tournament. I think a poll felt, that only six percent or so of the population, felt they could win the World Cup. Now they've put together three shutouts in a row. There's tremendous confidence in the team. But Argentina has got very special attacking quality that's really going to challenge them.
INSKEEP: Now we've got more games today, and then the quarterfinals on Friday. What are the key match-ups that you're looking for?
Mr. MALIN: Well I just talked about Germany-Argentina. I think, coming up of course very quickly, is going to be France and Spain in the round of 16. And France has looked very, very shaky, and fortunate to get through. Spain, on the other hand, has had a record really of always falling short of their promise. Is this their year? Everybody is asking. And then, of course, Brazil and Ghana really is a wonderful, imaginative match-up. Ghana, the only African team to qualify for this stage, and Brazil the odds-on favorite - that should be an absolute feast of attacking football.
INSKEEP: Seamus Malin, soccer analyst, thanks very much.
Mr. MALIN: You're welcome.
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