My world cup started Friday early morning with the alarm at 4:30, together with Mary, Sandro and Alessandro. Once we arrived at the airport we joined Mario and Fabio bros and the Milan crew was complete.
Once in Copenhagen it was love at the first sight. The CPH airport was nice, almost as the Cologne’s airport.
I knew that at the Hotel we would have slept, was near the rails of the trains, but I didn't expect so close! Basically it was like the Blues Brothers hotel! At least the position, but the hotel was VERY nice and I enjoyed every moment there, the room was very quite and I slept very well all the nights. I loved in particular the hall, it was cosy.
The “FIRST KOA FACE OF 2014 WORLD CUP AWARD” goes to Oliver, who entered in the hall few minutes later of us.
In the morning and afternoon we visited the city all together. In middle afternoon we split in two because Mario, Fabio and Sandro preferred to rest a bit in hotel, while Mary, Alessandro and I had legs enough to visit the downtown.
At 19.30 there was the rendezvous in the hall and there, finally I met all my KOA friends.
It is always a special moment. I love you guys, do you know it?
Nice and good dinner in a lovely Mexican restaurant. After the meal we had the retro style draw there. The local fauna was quite interesting in the neighborhoods!
Saturday morning, after a huge breakfast we went to the tournament venue.
For me it was the 11th world cup. It was the first time that in a world cup venue I saw a kitchen!
After many and many crap kitchen tournaments I host in kick off house, finally we had the kitchen world cup! Fantastic!
The place was very nice although there wasn't the usual darkness. To avoid the sunshine we decided to start the world cup after the sunset. The idea worked well. Being honest, I judge positively the fact the room wasn't so dark, usually the big contrast between TVs and room make eyes very tired. I don’t remember anyone complaining about the light.
Both groups A and B were very strong but I had the sensation that group A was quite harder although I think we did a good job with the seeding, anyway we couldn't overseed Christopher and, in a couple of players we made in the seeding, there is always one that is better than the other. My sensation has been confirmed in the final standing: 6 players of the Group A reached the top 8 positions, in group B just only 2 players reached the top 8.
No matter how far, I played and won all my 12 matches on day one. In this moment I can say I’m at my best. I never played so hard, so fast and precise. I was quite practiced and very confident in myself, my hands and my joystick. Anyway I know in Kick off everything can happen so, although I felt myself very strong, I didn't undertake any games and any opponent and I played as hard as I could against every player.
In think I played my best kick off against the bigs, in particular against Andy and Mario breaking their defenses and allowing them to see my goal rarely. Tense game with Gianluca, no matter he is out of practice, he is a 3 times world champion and in the same situation of low practice he reached the world cup final, two years ago, I know he was very dangerous. In our last match in Milan he won. This time I prevailed 5-2 in a very good and nice match.
In the last month I knew Christopher played much online with Dagh and Andy so I knew he was practiced and improved since his last tournament in England. In our game we had a nice fight in the first half but in the second I had the extra gear. Anyway that was the only defeat for Christopher who reached an outstanding second place in the group, ahead to class players like Gianluca, Andy and Mario. Amazing performance there!.
In the years, one of my tough opponent has been always John. It isn't a matter of lockout. Simply he has a great approach in our games and his way to defend is very effective against me. And on the attacking side, although he isn't a player who scores a load of goals, his BLCs and lobs can be devastating in matches where he finds a streak. He is a very solid player.
At the and of day one I was surprised to see out of the world cup Mark and Ektoras. To be said Ektoras didn’t sleep at all the day before. And that paid a lot in his performance.
Amazing performance of the new player Thor, that hammered most of his opponents in group B.
After the day one was over, I spent the evening in Tivoli with all the Italians + Alkis who joined us in our tour. Luckily he has a good comprehension of Italian language, seen that most of the dialogs and insults were made naturally speaking…
On the train, reaching the central station, Alkis and I realised that we are getting old: instead to talk about the games we played on Saturday and what opponent we had to face on day two, we were talking about our sons!
Day two started wit a very fun match: the ten titles match, I have to say that it was a very fun mod of the game and I would love to see some implementation on it!
Groups were bloody hard: 7 hard opponent, Gianluca, John and Sandro again, plus Fabio, Thor, Jacob and Steve.
Probably Thor didn't play his best kick off with me, on the other side I played a not so bad kick off there.
In the group stage happened something that I will never forget, something that it a must for generations to come: World Cup Pasta! Chef Alessandro went in the world cup kitchen and cooked 1,5 Kg of Pasta!!!
I have to say he can do it MUCH better but considering the situation, it was top! Now the crap kitchen tournament gets the next level!!! Again, again and again!
I had a very difficult match against Fabio, firstly because I didn't stop a single kick off lob. And secondly because I stroke to many posts (4) and 2 minutes to go, I had Barber sent of at his first foul (Screech). In the end I was even leading 9-8 but he scored the 9-9 on the final whistle.
We are used to say that in Kick off Fabio isn't just lucky. He is the lucky one.
Anyway I know that with me he drew the joker there, and there weren't other jokers in the pack.
On Sunday afternoon the KOA had a very nice Close Encounters of the Third Kind with a Sensible Soccer Delegation. For a coincidence the Sensible Soccer community was holding a SS tournament in Copenhagen too! we had fun moments with them, nice fellows! Of course, before they went away they had to swear that Kick Off is better than Sensible Soccer.
Once the groups were closed I realized that Mario was sadly out. And Above all, that Fabio in my group was second: that could mean a possible Kick Off House World Cup Final. A dream that we are following since 2006 when we missed it due to my elimination in the semi final with Spyros while Mario reached the final.
Spyros again broke the dream the following year in Rome. we could even have a Kick Off House World Cup final between 2 brothers: Sandro and I.
Spyros again eliminated Fabio in semi final in Voitsber 2009 while I reached the final.
Well, I completely agree the decision of Spyros to abandon the international scene and dedicate his spare time to ride bicycle now. Well done man, continue on that way. I’m all with you.
For the fist time ever a final position in a group has been assigned with an extra match between Andy and Christopher.
That worried me a bit: last year in Voitsberg, Andy and Chris had the last match in their group that was deciding the 1st and 2nd position. That match decided the players that had to face me in the quarter finals and that was Andy. In that quarter finals I have been eliminated by Andy then.
This year again I faced Andy in the quarter final. Historical recurrences.
Andy played better than day one but that wasn't enough this time. I played with solidity in defense and I found some good goals in first leg. In the second I played even harder taking a good lead that gave me the big screen.
In the other quarters Dagh demolished John giving him 19 goals in 2 matches.
Fabietto losing the first leg with Christopher (3-5) and down in the second leg seemed out of the games, but he made a great come back and at the very last second he scored the goal that even avoided him the extra time!
Perhaps it isn’t just a matter of luck then… it is a matter of big luck!
The other unexpected result went from the last quarter: Alkis – Gianluca a quarter final with 5 gold medals under their belts.
After the 2-2 draw of the first leg Alkis had a great match in the second leg and he recorded his first victory against Gianluca. Incredible, Alkis wasn’t disqualified by an Italian! Well he was waiting for his right Italian, maybe…
The silver cup was nice. I was supporting Our Durban and he was in game for some time, but Ektoras’ attack was too strong for him.
About the big screen with Alkis, we played the first 3 minutes studying each other like we never faced before. Then I ate in Alkis’ dish hitting him with a diagonal lob. I opened a goal streak but Alkis broke it too late, thanks to that lead, I made more than a step in my 7th World Cup Final.
In our second leg I administrate the lead gained in the first leg and I focused much on the defense. At the end of the match Alkis scored just two gaols. My 424 defence was working very well.
About the other semi final between Dagh and Fabio, I think it has been said everything already.
So finally we had our first Kick Off House World Cup Final.
The kick off lob was the only threat between me and the Holy Shield, but this time defense worked very well conceding just one (own) kick off lob and it was the only goal he scored in the first leg.
In the second leg Fabio scored twice reducing the gap to 5 goals, then I started again to play and I took again the lead.
And so 4 Holy Shields!!! Jawohl! My first gold medal as father!
After two grey world cups where I ended 3rd and 5th, I finally reached the top again and doing it with a flawless performance. In a world cup with Dagh and Gianluca together, it was very difficult to get the top scorer and best defense awards. But as said, this year I was very well prepared and I think I played my best kick off ever. I got even the two sought-after awards, completing my first triplete. I’m proud of it, above all because I reached this in a world cup that is defined as the hardest world cup ever.
After the final presentation I remember I left the world cup venue around 23.30! luckily in Copenhagen there are trains at every hour of the day and the night!
On Monday we had the whole day to visit the city as the flight was at 19.30. Weather wasn't as good as Sunday but at least it wasn't raining and for us was more than enough.
During the day you had to hear Mario moaning about himself for poor performance. We were crying listen to him!
Another Christmas has gone, and it did it so fast!
Thanks to everyone who joined the World Cup, you are my kick off family. Every year, some of us can’t make the gathering, some other come back, like Jacob, John, and Gunther, the family even grows up: Thor, Torgny, Christopher and T.J. worth KOA faces! I miss you all!
Hope to see you all soon!