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If Hamlet Gave Argentina’s Pre-World Cup Final Speech

Alejandro Sabella channels the Prince of Denmark


To win, or not to win—that is the question: 

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 

The goals and divings of outrageous Müeller

Or to take arms against a sea of dribbles, 

And by kicking, end them. To foul—to lose 

No more; and by a win to say we end 

The heartache, and the thousand Diego barbs

That Messi's heir to. 'Tis a tight nil-nil game

Devoutly to be wish'd. To foul—to draw. 

To draw—perchance to pens: ay, there's the rub! 

For in that dull nil-nil what dreams may come 

When we have shuffled off to extra time, 

And then to pens. 'Twas the Brazil semi

That makes us leery to play a free game. 

For who would bear the whipped-in frees of Kroos, 

Khedira's runs, the proud Lahm's covering, 

(The pangs of be-sweatered Löw), Neuer in goal!

The insolence of Özil, and the spurns 

That patient Hummels of th' unworthy takes, 

When he himself might his tackles make 

In a bare stocking? How else would Miroslav bear, 

To grunt and sweat until a weary tie . . . ?

But that dread of something before pens: 

The unrecover'd drubbing, from whose pain

No footballer returns—puzzles the will, 

And makes us rather bear those pens we'll have 

Than play to score goals we know not of? 

The 7-1 does make cowards of us all, 

And thus the native hue of resolution 

Is sicklied o'er with all ten men on D, 

And enterprises of great pass and movement—

In this regard we will not play today

Else lose the World Cup final.—Soft you now! 

The blunt Mascherano, with thy splitted ass

Be all thy tackles gentle; and don't lump it. Pass.

Keep it tight, fair Rojo. Zabaleta, 

By thy runs we know thee 'ere now—tuck in.

Lavezzi and Agüero, think not of pressing Boateng

But in thy Pumas track back and stop the flow

Of fair Schweingsteiger.

Dear Palacio, whip thy rat's tail on Höwedes

At corners. Demichelis, with thy new do

Such weary hours 'tis to spot thee, 'twas best

When thy hair was as the falling pelt 

Of a mangy boar; forsooth, get thy shorn noggin'

In to block should Mertesacker rise, and nut him.

Should thou, Angel, sing once more, 

Thy thigh unsore, sad countenance as Franz Kafka wore, 

Let Philipp Lahm suffer thy weaves

That leaves him as the cockroach is,

Pinned upon the field in metamorphosis.

Lionel, thy swerves of Mercury are harsh after the blocks of

Mats Hummels—you that way, he this way. 

Think not of Maradona, nor late Di Stefano,

Be thou the foot of God, not hand. Dazzle thou

All heav'n, make sad Brazilians weep the more

'Til their Maracana be thine own Elysium

Made of immortal mazy runs, fine finishes. Score!

But if thy Messi genius be bottled up by doublets

Then mark these words my Argentinians: 

Keep it tight and foul; don't look for runs

Pass long and play for pens. Ay, gentle souls,

Hark now, for this is thy best suit.

And don't be a crap shot in the crapshoot.