Geeks and Greeks – Japan 0 Greece 0

Japan v Greece, Natal
The last thing you expect in Brazil is to pick up a spare ticket from a bloke from Merthyr.

Just bumped into the in the street and never met them before. Paul, mid-40s, Yan, from Swansea now living Joao Pessoa and Rangers fan Gary had a spare.

And with chances diminishing by the second I was lucky to get in.

Japan fans were once again impressive in their compellingly innocent way.

Japan v Greece, Natal
Japan TV interview Natal martial arts exponents

To Western fans, they come cross as child-like, compliant,passive and too polite.

There is a total lack of belligerence, no aggressive edge to chants. Their sole negative trait is too boo the opposition.

They’re a charming contrast to European fans in that they’re respectful and humble. Not features I´ve noticed in many fans.

Japan v Greece
Local fan meets male geisha and others

It’s as if they’ve patented the introvert’s version of how to be a football fan, the extroversion coming from the crazy costumes. Wild verbal and physical extroversion appears to be culturally unacceptable. Drunkenness beyond the pale, I haven`t seen a single pissed person at either Japan game.

Japan v Greece, Natal
Still smiling after the game

Their roars of excitement don’t have the male growling menace – the women shriek as though in fear and so do many of the men.

No roaring either when they sing -they often sound like a children’s choir. So while it`s not what you`re used to, it has a strange and welcome charm

At the end many were crying, though they’re not yet out.

As 0-0s go, this was always watchable – perhps more so if you were there in person than viewing your umpteenth game on TV.IMG_5174

The Japanese are slick passers, had an eel-like ability to spring out of tackles and were able to avoid muscular upper body challenges from the Greeks by manipulating their torsos nimbly out of contact – do they do martial arts in training?

But they persisted with lumping aerial balls into the box and Greece never looked worried. Their centre-halves controlled the game.

Japan need a Samurai striker who can mix it and fit in with their smooth passing style. But, genetically, they`re not big lads – I haven´t seen a tall one yet.

Japan v Greece, Natal
This guy, dressed as Rambo and with plastic mock-up bazooka/machine gun gets chop-socky with a ninja. He can only have been Mexican

 

In some ways, after the sending-off Greece were impressive, certainly in the way they function well as a team. There was no slacking – they set up for the draw and achieved it.

But they´re dull old dogs to watch – little to really admire.

They’ve dished up thin gruel when everyone is feasting on football.

Crikey, even Australia have come over here and amazed the world that not only can they put four passes together they can exhilarate you with their verve. Whe’d have thought the Aussies could even contemplate that yet alone produce it on the pitch?

Plucky fans, one with a trumpet, kept up a Greek beat for much of the game and they play in Fortaleza against Ivory Coast on Tuesday with the winner likely to reach the last 16. God forbid they got, especially as I’ve got a ticket for that one.

Fans of the match

Welsh fans at Japan v Greece
Y Ddraig Goch in Brazil

They have to be they got me into the game and it was a great seat near halfway. Shame about the 0-0, mind, but it beat sitting in a bar.

They are from left, Paul, from Merthyr, now living in Winchester, Rangers fan Gary from Glasgow and Jan, of Swansea, then Pembroke Dock, and now living down the road in Joao Pessoa. They work on oil rigs.

Jan provided some earthy British football mentality with: “Get up ya fanny.” Bellowed at the Greek number nine, shortly before he walked off injured.

Otherwise, we were as exemplary as the Japanese.

Muito obrigado butties!

Japan v Greece

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