Nick Harper on Day 10, when an ageing German did some acrobatics...
You might be forgiven for thinking that after England were officially buried on Friday, the World Cup – and the world itself – had officially ended.
With England out, is there really any point in going on? We'd suggest not, but the World Cup cannot be stopped. So on we go, and here's how Day 10 unfolded...
Costa Rica celebrated their historic and completely deserved victory over Italy that sent England out and deprived Mario Balotelli of his kiss from the Queen by lining the streets of capital San Jose and pogo-ing a lot. "La emoción es grande," tweeted Costa Rica president Luis Guillermo Solís. "Así lo celebramos. Todo sueño es posible. ¡Grande Sele!"
The vanquished Italians weren't quite as happy. "Boiled and eaten up", raged one Italian front page. "Pitiful", mocked another, with most fingers of blame pointing at the wasteful Balotelli and Cesare Prandelli. Tuttosport accused the coach of making "insane choices" that made the Azzurri "unwatchable".
In the Group D wooden spoon match on Tuesday, the Azzurri now have to avoid defeat to progress, a job made harder by the news that Luis Suarez will be fit.
After the England game he was apparently "exhausted, very tired, cramped and laughing so hard his false teeth almost fell out," said the squad doctor, though we've obviously paraphrased. Luckily, Luis has made a full recovery and is now as much as 28% fit.
In stark contrast to the Italians, the French woke up very happy on Day 10, and feeling uncharacteristically harmonious. "Dizzying!" cried the front page of yesterday's L'Equipe, although the word was written in French to cater for their mainly French audience. This, in response to France's very impressive, hey-they-can-possibly-win-this-thing 5-2 annihilation of Switzerland.
French hopes will have risen after witnessing Argentina playing like England in the 5pm game – a plodding 1-0 grind against World Cup heavyweights Iran, to accompany their plodding grind against Bosnia-Herzegovina in the opening game.
By El Diario's reckoning, there are now only two teams capable of lasting the distance: Germany and Germany's reserves. France? Chile? Ghana? Possibly, but can they last the distance? And while it would be nice to say Holland, history – and their defence against Australia – count against them. Brazil? The hosts? Yes, they could win it, but only if the whole thing really has been rigged, and there's been no hard evidence of that as yet.
But speaking of shadowy goings on, one team who won't be winning this World Cup is Costa Rica. Or rather, one team who won't be allowed to win this World Cup is Costa Rica – according to Diego Maradona. He spent Day 10 asking why FIFA had decided to dope test seven Costa Ricans after the Italy game – five more than the regulation two.
El Diego suggested there may be dark forces at play here, because sponsors might not pay up if bigger teams such as Italy failed to get through the group. This amounted to "a lack of respect for the rules", raged Diego, which is where the ball-fisting, drug chugger's argument fell down. Right accusation from the wrong person, frankly, but worth keeping an eye on.
Day 10's other business...
Other notable stuff happened on Day 10, such as Ghana and Germany trading heavy blows and Miroslav Klose performing flips at 53. Plus Xabi Alonso apparently announcing his retirement from international football. And Macau police announcing they'd broken up two illegal gambling syndicates that have taken millions of dollars in World Cup bets. (This included a single bet of £3 million on something they annoyingly didn't pulge, but was probably England's predictable demise.)
But how have we reached the tail end of this daily update without mentioning the very latest from Camp England? England, oh England.
They trained yesterday, although we're not sure why, and then apologised for everything. Wayne Rooney went first. "Absolutely devastated to be out of the World Cup," he wrote on his official Faceache page, having first helped Coleen re-pack her 18 suitcases. "Going into each game we had great belief in ourselves but unfortunately it hasn't worked out. Sorry to all the fans that travelled and at home that we haven't done better... gutted!"
Gutted? Only gutted? “Gutted doesn’t come close to how I am feeling right now," tweeted Jack Wilshere, hurting far harder. "Sorry to all the fans who came out and blah blah etc.”
Goalkeeper Joe England didn't apologise but instead explained to us non-football folk why England went out. “Basically, we’ve not scored enough goals and we’ve let too many in," was his frank, advanced assessment. "I imagine people will say we’re not good enough, that’s what they’ll come up with, but we don’t feel that inside the camp."
While El Diario would disagree, Joe England found an unlikely ally in alleged Anglophobe Sepp Blatter. "I think England were unlucky," wheezed the FIFA president. "England looked like a good team." Kind words, but he's 78, you know. And possibly senile.