For my American reader (readers—in case there is more than one of you), you may recall that the NCAA Basketball Tournament used to have a third place game for the two losers of the so-called Final Four. The third place game died out due to lack of interest. “Americans love a winner,” George Patton once said, “And will not tolerate a loser.”
Not so with the World Cup, though.
There will be a third place game tomorrow, and it will matter to the English and the Belgians. Let’s call it “the wee scrap of paper” game.
In the summer of 1914, the German squad, led by their striker Willie “Der Zweite” Hohenzollern, wanted to play a non-friendly with the French. In order to get to the big match, though, the Germans opted to avoid the traffic by swinging through Belgium. They used a new-fangled set piece play called the “von Schlieffen.” Anywho, the English had a deal with the Belgians not to let anyone use their small country as an access ramp for visiting teams. Willie dismissed this agreement as a mere “scrap of paper.” The English, led by their brilliant midfielder skipper, Herbie Asquith, though, had other thoughts. He sent the English lads in to defend the Belgians’ home turf.
And as a result, tens of thousands of English lads died in such horrific places as Ypres and Passchendaele.
Thus, the Belgians owe the English in a match which will be far from meaningless to the participants.
A guten Shabbos.