Nick Harper reviews the World Cup's second day...
Life, as any old timer on their deathbed will tell you, is full of crushing disappointments. Your salary. Tax bills. Closing time and the price of ale. In this world, you're never far from another low blow.
Croatia know this, having gone toe to toe with the hosts Brazil and warranted at least a point, only to end up undone by a hopeless and some are saying fraudulent referee from Japan, Yuichi Nishimura. “We should just give them (Brazil) the World Cup and everyone can go home," moped Vedran Corluka, rocking the world to its very core by suggesting that FIFA might be up to no good. Say wha'!!
But he wasn't a lone voice. "Two years we fight for this and then someone robs us,” screamed Croat daily Jutarnji LIST. “Croatian supporters – sheep-sheared by FIFA,” wailed tabloid website Index.hr, possibly reporting on something completely unconnected.
Still, while Croatia cried foul, at least Neymar was happy. We know this because golden boy posted a selfie of his topless, shaven-chested bod, draped in a supermodel girlfriend that was taken on a phone emblazoned with a Superman motif, the vainglorious little tool. Crow now, young man, but having seen Brazil's creaking rearguard against Croatia, featuring the ongoing comic capers of David 'Big Top' Luiz, it's hard not to think there's a crushing blow in the post for the hosts. Unless FIFA really have rigged the whole thing. That would be disappointing.
Elsewhere, others woke on Day Two under the same dark cloud of disappointment. Like those anti-World Cup demonstrators, who pelted rocks at the ITV studio and still didn't hit Adrian Chiles's massive head. They were disappointed. We were all disappointed.
Even the Spain-Netherlands encounter turned out to be a disappointment, but only for the Spanish. We all expected another bloodbath, but not like the one dished up by the Dutch. Suddenly, not even qualification from a group that also contains Chile seems so certain for Spain. The knockout stages without the world champions? The end of a glorious era? Disappointing. Kind of.
If we're to continue this theme of woe – and frankly we've come too far to turn back now – then we inevitably end up at England's door. Because if history has taught us anything, it's that England's footballers never disappoint where disappointment is concerned, and while we live in hope of a solid start to this campaign, we could get another dose on Saturday night: England face Italy in a sauna, as you may have heard.
The positive news is that England prepared well for the game yesterday, by running lightly around a training field under the watchful eye of Roy Hodgson, who wore a white baseball cap quite ill-advised for man of his vintage. (He later took the cap off to have a crack at beating Vicente del Bosque's header keepy-up record of 379, but fell 377 short, which was disappointing.)
They did some expensive shopping in a shopping mall, then retired to their hotel for a good night's sleep. But there's bad news here, for the hotel was reported to be filthy, with "builders’ dust covering many of the areas including shower rooms, toilets, coaches’ suite and massage room" and "piles of rubble outside the dressing-room areas and a broken fence (a fence!) by the players’ entrance". Four-star instead of the five-star they've grown accustomed to, in other words. Now that's disappointment alright.