After having had to sit through England's abysmal performance against Algeria on Friday night, I'm starting to think that the best possible training for the squad might be to sit them down in front of a few episodes of Giant Killing, and this particular instalment should quite possibly top the bill, featuring as it does something that England couldn't achieve during that turgid game - A goal.
The goal in question comes about as we return to the second half of East Tokyo United's match against Nagoya Grand Palace, with the home team still attacking relentlessly but proving unable to break down ETU's well organised and determined defence. However, as the game wears on Carlos, one of Nagoya's trio of Brazilian superstars, begins to realise why things aren't going their way - In short, as something of a midfield general for the side whenever he gets the ball his passing options are being closed down to effectively prevent him from playing his usual game.
Carlos' solution to this is simple - Play further up the field so that he can provide shorter passes to his Brazilian compatriots without the risk of those passes being intercepted. However, Tatsumi has already accounted for this change in the team's make-up from watching previous Nagoya games, instructing his players relevantly and telling them that as long as they make sure that striker Pepe doesn't get the ball everything will be fine.
So it proves, as Carlos' first foray upfield nearly ends with an opportunity for Pepe which is neatly cut out by the ETU defence, and now with Carlos well out of his normal position to take up any defensive duties of his own, the path is clear for a rare counter-attack for the away side. They make the most of this, and even when it appears that this chance of a goal is gone who else should pop up by Tsubaki to tuck the ball away and make it 1-0 to East Tokyo United. So, ETU now have the lead, but can they hold onto it?
The answer to that question is simply "we don't know yet", because this particular game is going to take up yet another episode of Giant Killing. Indeed, this particular instalment clearly runs slower than real time, with the whole episode only constituting about five minutes or so of match time. This is dragging things out a bit by anybody's standards, but on the other hand I can't really argue with the important placed upon the goings-on we see this episode - The goal is obviously worthy of note, but Carlos' decision to move further upfield (complete with plenty of justification as to why this is important from various angles) and Itagaki's reaction to his team going behind are both equally important to the match. I suppose it just goes to show that while I was happy for Giant Killing to take its time while the score in this game was 0-0, now "my" team are 1-0 up I want the match to be concluded as quickly and without incident as possible - Further proof that watching this series can be just a little bit like watching the real thing.
At least, that is, when the real thing doesn't include an embarrassingly amateurish and leaden-footed performance by England. When it comes to some games Giant Killing is clearly the hands-down winner, even over actual top-level football.