“No score at the break – the mighty Brazil being held by Belgium.” We have the old problem here of commentators having stereotyped ideas fixed in their small brains before they have seen a team play. The best attempts and chances in that first half unquestionably went Belgium’s way. They continued to look the better side until a soft red card reduced Belgium to nine men, after which Brazil managed a goal. Belgium had another man sent off in what looked a crazy misjudgement by the ref, but there was still the sense of “mighty” Brazil hanging on, diving and wasting time, as the commentator admired Belgium’s plucky spirit, as if they were hopelessly outclassed but still fighting bravely. Brazil have never won the Olympic football competition, and it looks highly unlikely that this lacklustre team, even with Ronaldinho as one of their overage players, can change that.
So who looked good? Italy did outclass the opposition in a 3-0 win, but I can hardly assume that Honduras are especially high quality. Argentina look very strong, but the Ivory Coast gave them a good game in losing 2-1. Holland and Nigeria both looked pretty good in a 0-0 draw.
On a side issue, why do commentators keep using the phrase “he plays his football in [country]” when we are seeing international football? Is there more information, denotative or connotative, than “he plays in”? Would we think they meant something other than football, or that he plays someone else’s football there?