World Cup Morning Report – Jabulani ball blameless as Green gaffe reignites foolish argument

For all the hullaballoo surrounding this year’s World Cup ball, we are five games into the tournament and not even a vestige of strangeness in its behaviour can said to have been detected – despite Robert Green’s somewhat paradoxical half-excuse but also half-admission of his ineptitude following last night’s game in which his blunder left English hearts bruised and swollen with disappointment. Green’s teammates also understandably stuck up for him in again pointing out Jabulani’s erratic tendencies, but these seem to have been figures of their and other stars’ imaginations so far. The harsh truth is that Clint Dempsey’s rather weak shot was a routine save and to hide behind fictional demons within the ball, whether half-heartedly as in Green’s case, or fully as with the comments of some other players at the tournament, is unprofessional and weak.

With today’s high-tech boots and clearly increasingly technological footballs, we have witnessed an increase in the movement of the football in the air for years now. In the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League, balls have tended to swerve or dip unpredictably when struck fiercely towards goal for the past few seasons at least – the exponential increase in television camera technology allowing us to experience this fully. Yet only now has criticism for an apparently excessively fluctuant ball been voiced. It is slightly more befuddling that the main critics have been the world’s top goalkeepers, such as Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon. Even if the ball was outrageously deviant, one would have thought such professionals as Casillas and Buffon would have taken it upon themselves to dispel any concerns and hype by highlighting it is the same for every player at the tournament, and that players should be professional and just get on with their job. The World Cup should, after all, be a stage on which the toughest of challenges within the game take place. Thus far however, all this is rather trivial as the ball has been acting far from unusually.

Away from the unnecessary hoopla with regard to the Jabulani ball, which has inevitably been revived thanks to Green’s error, perhaps today’s most intriguing game sees two of England’s traditional foes go toe-to-toe as Germany play Australia in Group D. Hot favourites will of course be Germany, despite the loss of Michael Ballack ripping the heart and some priceless experience out of the side. The Germans have their youngest squad for 76 years, with fledgling superstars such as Manuel Neuer, who is likely to start in goal, Holger Badstuber, Thomas M


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