Ronnie sighs as he wonders where former champions Spain have gone

Mary Hannigan’s TV View from Day Two of Brazil 2014

Arjen Roben of the Netherlands (left) shakes hands with goalkeeper Iker Casillas of Spain their Group B match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Natal. Photograph: EPA

Arjen Roben of the Netherlands (left) shakes hands with goalkeeper Iker Casillas of Spain their Group B match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Natal. Photograph: EPA

Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 00:21

Day Two and Tony O’Donoghue and Kenny Cunningham were on the RTÉ couch, a particularly big one too for just the pair of them, the distance between them akin to the gap in the knowledge of the World Cup officials thus far of the rules of Association Football. Huge, like.

Tony: “You’re one of the elite band who has actually played in a World Cup – it’s 12 years ago, I know, but you must still have very fresh memories of it, surely?”

Kenny: “I don’t, no – the early stages of dementia, I’m afraid.”

So that ended that discussion. But there was plenty to chat about a bit later when the officials in the Mexico v Cameroon match ordained that no matter how many legitimate ways the Mexicans inserted the ball in the back of the net, their efforts would not actually count as goals. That seemed harsh, although, in fairness, they finally relented when Oribe Peralta net-busted, the fella gobsmacked when he didn’t see an assistant’s flag thrust in to the air.

This, then, left Liam, Ronnie and Richie – Messrs Brady, Whelan and Sadlier – having to talk video technology, in a Groundhog Day kinda way, but, as we’ve seen, there’s been a bit of it already in this World Cup – and it’s been a hoot. The vanishing sprayed line? Epic. And that moment we were shown Marcelo’s own goal frozen on the line – GOOOOOOOOOAL! – when it actually ended up nestled in the net? Marvelous.

And, again, yesterday. Van Persie’s header (a thing as lovely as anything any Dutch Master ever sketched – his slow-motion reaction on realising it had gone in even lovelier still) paused on the line: GOOOOOOOAL! When it, too, had nestled in the net.

“I must stress that has nothing to do with us,” said the BBC’s Steve Wilson, distancing his employers from the hilarity, as Mark Lawrenson nigh on fell out of the gantry laughing.

Opening game

So, lots of controversy after just the two days, the BBC panel, MCed by Gary Lineker (“It’s a tight call for Brazil’s man of the match between Neymar and the referee”) reviewing events in the opening game, Thierry Henry particularly unimpressed by the officiating.

Like the moment Neymar elbowed Luka Modric and got away with it. Thierry was aghast that a referee and his officials could miss a blindingly – blindingly! – obvious bad thing on the field of play, one that could have altered the ENTIRE outcome of the encounter and …. (Roy: “Get over it”. Okay.)

Any way, Glenn was more focused on England’s prospects and the progress of Daniel Sturridge. “I think he’s looked in the mirror and found himself,” said Glenn, to which Fabio Cannavaro’s face replied ‘who else would he find?’.

A fair question, too.

Any way, back to yesterday’s action and, happily enough, Mexico prevailed after all those injustices, and in the middle of monsoon-ish weather too, all of which led Stephen Alkin and Jim Beglin to have a major difference of opinion:

Stephen: “Tropical!”

Jim: “Biblical!”

You couldn’t but chuckle at that news that the Grand Warlock of Mexico, Antonio Vazquez, had worked his wizardry to ensure Cameroon’s “sorcery and rituals” wouldn’t give them a victory, but despite the efforts of those officials, the Grand Warlock won out.

Glenn put the result down to Cameroon having “shackles” on them, which for an observation about an African nation wasn’t at the top of the Sensitivity Hit Parade.

Forward. Spain v Netherlands, the latter featuring Daley Blind, son of Danny, making many a viewer feel as old as Spain are.

And ageism has abound in all pre-tournament talk of Spain, to the point where we anticipated Xavi and Iniesta taking to the field on Zimmer frames.

Predictions. Ronnie: “Gut feeling? Spain will win - and fairly comfortably.”

Richie: “Spain to win – I think they have too much for this Dutch team.”

Liam: “I do think looking at the quality of the team, Spain should win.”

Full-time.

Holy smokes.

Darragh Maloney: “Who could have predicted that?”

The panel: “I don’t know where Spain have gone,” sighed Ronnie.

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