Jun 14

PWC14 Semi-Final: England v Iran

Pop World Cup 201416 comments • 952 views

foalz هشت سال از صدمه هرگز من خواب – for those of you not fluent in Farsi that is (er, according to Google Translate) “Eight years of hurt never stopped me dreaming”. Yes, Iran – managed by Wichita Lineman – are back in the semi-finals of the Pop World Cup after their 2006 defeat at this stage, but standing in their way is England, managed by Ronald, at this stage for the first time in the PWC era. And whoever wins will have to take on defending champions Nigeria, aiming to make it two in a row after very narrowly beating Chile – who will fight the loser here for third.

SF2: England v Iran - Which track do you pick?

  • ENGLAND: Foals 56%
  • IRAN: Persian Empire ft Rai 44%

Total Voters: 89

Poll closes: 16 Jun 2014 @ 13:00

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We’ll run this game until Monday – songs under the cut and our final farewell to South Korea.

ENGLAND: Foals – “My Number”

“England finds itself in a curious position right now. It was looking for a while that we would be playing South Korea in this match but we are pleasantly surprised to find ourselves playing Iran. As someone who has been into the KPop scene for a decade now, playing against South Korea would’ve been maybe a bit too easy. It’s like we already had their playbook so to speak. But Iran is more of a wild card. We don’t really know what to expect. We’re definitely not afraid of the challenge though and are more than confident in our skills. In Foals’ My Number, we find an upbeat rhythm that will hopefully overtake Iran’s defenses. Funny enough, a remix of this song was used in a FIFA video game. (Note: The official video cuts the song up a bit – you can see it here.)

IRAN: Persian Empire ft Rai – “You”

Upping the pace after their quarter-final, Iran bring on the German-based Sam Khatam, with his sweet vocal cut-ups, and fleet-footed lightness of touch. Super-subtle minor-chord backing vocals and keyboards add extra spice. “Do it… right now… here… with you.” Do what right now? Score a couple of goals in the first ten minutes before England know what’s hit them.

SO FAREWELL THEN…: South Korea. Iain Mew’s team were the highest-scoring side in the group stages, and after defeating pop giant the USA it looked like momentum was on their side. But they were undone by Iran’s skilful counter-attacking play in the quarter-final. Their gleeful forward play won them a lot of fans, though – well done Iain and the players. Here’s their finest moment, votewise, “Yum Yum Yum” by Lip Service, from the third group stage game.


  1. 1
    Tom on 10 Jun 2014 #

    Who would have imagined, back when I wrote a rather harsh scouting report on Foals’ debut for Pitchside Media, that they’d be representing their nation in a Pop World Cup semi-final? They’ve certainly improved since then but I think my assessment of their strengths and weaknesses was pretty fair – a good technical game but a little weak in front of goal. Plenty of running in this side, shots coming in from odd angles, a positive approach – but is this a game too far for this England squad?

    If so they’re not the only side with heavy legs. Iran’s tactics in this tournament have relied on their economy of effort – a sensible strategy in the punishing Brazilian heat – but Persian Empire are taking it particularly far. The manager’s team talk is absolutely right – some gorgeous play at the outset building anticipation for more, but instead we have a second half of languid tiki-taka. When the track started I thought Iran had England at their mercy here, but by its end I really wasn’t so sure.

  2. 2
    Matt DC on 10 Jun 2014 #

    A poor selection from England I fear – this is one of Foals’ better efforts, and there are hooks everywhere, but as soon as the singer gets a shot of a high note it’s the musical equivalent of ballooning into row Z. I’m leaning towards Iran’s more subtle play here, but only time will tell.

  3. 3
    thefatgit on 10 Jun 2014 #

    I must admit I have a soft spot for Foals. I’m a big fan of “Spanish Sahara” which fits the classic semi-final tactic of beginning cautiously, but as the match progresses, they pile on the pressure until it culminates in a shimmering waterfall of Beautiful Game, but instead we have “My Number” which is a perfectly serviceable example of route-one indie, but conservative in front of an unpredictable Iran. Their striker seems preoccupied with making sure the ref hadn’t booked him, early doors.

    Persian Empire, on the other hand, go for the kill early. Their manager surely wants this match done and dusted before the half-time whistle, when it becomes apparent that Iran do not have a plan B, as such. Too soon to tell how this one will end.

  4. 4
    lartsaegis on 11 Jun 2014 #

    I dunno about this game, Iran are looking like they’ve officially run out of magic along the 2nd half while England are looking a little standard and shy at the semi finals. I’m throwing my bid in for England but if they want to beat Nigeria, they’re gonna have to bring more heat than this humid reverb I’m hearing.

  5. 5
    Garry on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Gee – England really plod here. It’s safe, it’s predictable and could have come from any tournament in the previous decade. A pity my attention kept gliding away from the pitch to the match day program.

    Iran seem to have immersed themselves in German techno tactics with an additional training session by Matthew Herbert. This doesn’t make the tactics revolutionary but the team is nimble and glide around the static English defense.

    A vote for Iran , not least because with the resources England have on the bench they should have nailed this.

  6. 6
    katstevens on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Agreed, Garry – I fear leaving some of their Sheffield-based players at home will come back to haunt the gaffer!

  7. 7
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Bit annoyed by this game, to be honest, as Iran have, with Croatia and Chile, been among my favourite teams in this tournament. The performance this time, though, just doesn’t cut the mustard. Too damn lazy, all defend, no attack, and, unusually, after some of their earlier games, forgets that the one way to beat them is to go round the back.

    As for the other team….well, there is always the belligerent Glaswegian side of my character to take account of….but, still, I have frankly not been wildly impressed with the England team’s performance, in all but one of the games, I think (art imitating life, no doubt). Granted being the manager and making selections for this team can’t be the easiest job….but, still, I think here, after a rather scrappy game, I think they narrowly nudge a hesitant victory, but hardly in such a way as to set the world on fire. I bet, given their record, they are mighty relieved it didn’t go to penalties – but it seems like a close run thing.

  8. 8
    jeff w on 12 Jun 2014 #

    I think I’m watching a different game to many of the other commentators. Some Rai and Some Persian Empire going in exactly the direction I said after the quarters I wanted Iran to go. If we must have subtle electronica, then this is the way to execute those tactics. England are OK but unspectacular.

  9. 9
    lonepilgrim on 13 Jun 2014 #

    some performance anxiety from both teams – both lucky that their opponents aren’t really pressing the advantage – this will probably go to penalties.

  10. 10
    Ed on 14 Jun 2014 #

    Semis are the cruellest games: the gap between success and failure is wider here than in any other round, and as Lonepilgrm suggests @9, you can feel the pressure taking its toll on both sides.

    We’ll need the manager’s tell-all memoir to explain what’s going on in the England camp here, but for them this is an Italia ’90-scale tactical shift. After storming success with R&B and dance-focused line-ups, England surprise everyone by coming out with a shock use of the indie formation, which has not been terribly successful for other teams in earlier rounds in this contest.

    To be fair, it’s not quite such route one guitar rock as some of the pre-match build-up and in-game commentary had me thinking, but even so it’s a huge gamble, I think.

    As others have noted, Iran are not quite on their top form here, either. For me, though, their sly early goal is enough to nick it for them.

    Exit England, to Yannis Philippakis’s tears.

  11. 11
    jeff w on 16 Jun 2014 #

    …but no, a brace from the midfield dynamo sees England through 2-1. “We may have lost the semifinal, but Iranian pop was a big winner”, a philosophical Rai said afterwards. England now praying for a Russian linesperson for the final.

  12. 12
    Alan not logged in on 16 Jun 2014 #

    So farsi, not so goodi

  13. 13
    lonepilgrim on 16 Jun 2014 #

    it’s coming home…

  14. 14
    lartsaegis on 16 Jun 2014 #

    Just about the right result. See you in the 3rd place game, Iran! England might be going home if they show up like this against Nigeria. Sort it out and sortie.

  15. 15
    Ronald on 16 Jun 2014 #

    You can’t let comments get to you. Thank you for your support!

  16. 16
    wichitalineman on 17 Jun 2014 #

    Well done England. A late comeback sunk the gallant Iranians, who now feel an unlikely empathy with Hull City fans.

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