I found myself watching Sweden v Nigeria in the Women’s World Cup last night — the weird new Kevin McCloud programme on C4 didn’t keep my interest and I was casting around on the iPad for alternative viewing.
I must say I loved it, and I’ll definitely be watching the England women tonight and a few more matches as well. I haven’t previously watched Women’s football — not for reasons of sexism, it’s just that there is a ton of sport on all the time and I can only watch so much. And in the summer, I watch cricket, which takes up an awful lot of viewing time. You can’t fake interest in something — you need something that hooks you, and Sweden v Nigeria had me from the moment I switched over (when Sweden were already ahead).
Sweden and Nigeria just went at each other, hurling themselves forward in attack with utter abandon and none of the tedious, sub-Catenaccio that seems to pass for most international men’s football at the moment.
Nigeria had one player, Asisat Oshoala, who looked like she was from another planet — she had incredible pace and power, and was also seriously skilled. She was constantly on the move, a bit like Luis Suarez, and looked totally world class. It was quite thrilling to see. I’d strongly recommend watching Sweden’s third goal — it was a beautiful move, the sort that you’d salivate over if it was by a Wenger or Guardiola team…one touch play, good movement, smart positioning.
Certainly, in this game at least, the attacking play was far better than the defending. The keepers in particular weren’t great. But you know what, it was better for it. It reminded me, more than anything, of watching my favourite Spurs teams of old. It was like being back when when scoring goals was more important than preventing them, and shaky centrebacks and missing fullbacks were welcomed as contributing to the entertainment, rather than sparking days of social media fury, blogs seething with recrimination after three more dropped points, and angry letters to the F365 inbox.
I really enjoyed this because, unlike much in the high-stakes modern men’s game, this actually was fun to watch. Come on England tonight!
(Originally published as a letter on Football 365 on June 9)