On one hand, people want Lionel Messi to cement his place in footballing history as one of the true greats with a World Cup win, on the other, those that value the qualities of teamwork will want Germany to lift their fourth title on Sunday. While Brazil showed us what happens when a team degenerates into a pathetic rabble, Germany reminded us that in the … Continue reading World Cup 2014: For football’s sake, it has to be Germany
In the Bible, the locust is a symbol of bad luck or punishment, or so they say. Was the appearance of a huge cartoon-like locust on James Rodriguez’s shoulder a sign that good fortune was about to run out on the host nation? With Thiago Silva and Neymar now sidelined, it would seem that Brazil have been deprived of their two key players at a … Continue reading World Cup 2014: Beware the locust
The nerves are starting to show in Brazil. Scolari looks like he’s getting hot under the collar, Neymar’s fitness becomes national news and there’s the omnipresent threat of violence if things go horribly wrong for Pentacampeões against Colombia. Having predicted that Chile would beat Brazil in the last 16 – actually, they very nearly did – we are going to have another bash at making … Continue reading World Cup 2014: Tremors to hit Brazil?
And so, two weeks into the greatest show on earth, 16 teams have gone home and the rest go into the business end of the competition. It’s been a good World Cup so far, not a great one, despite the plethora of young hacks claiming it’s the best since 1970 and in their lifetime. It’s partly been good because five of the last six have … Continue reading World Cup 2014: Jeux sans frontieres
“And remember, expectation is low,” said one of the BBC pundits – I think Gary Lineker, before England ran out against Italy. Five days later, the chickens came home to roost, probable elimination at the group stage. So why the long face? It’s not the end of an era, because there was never an era to begin with and this has been a long time … Continue reading World Cup Day Nine: A nation mourns and places faith in Italy
Spain’s tepid defence of the World Cup signaled the end of an era for the global game. Like all playing systems, the time of “tiki-taka” has probably come to an end. Or has it? Was it just that too many of Spain’s team have been around for too long? I like to think it is a combination of both. Whatever the prognosis, Spain are out … Continue reading World Cup Day Eight: The reign in Spain is over….England mainly on the plane?
England are currently trying to convince themselves that they can still qualify for the next round of the World Cup, and of course, they can. But the odds are stacked against them, because in almost every case, a team losing its first game does not get through to the knockout stage. In 2010, only one team survived after losing their first group game – Spain, … Continue reading World Cup Day Five: And still…the inquest goes on
Seeing Luiz Felipe Scolari in charge of Brazil is a reminder that he has happily rebounded from his short and very unproductive spell with Chelsea. Ironically, four of Scolari’s squad, on which the fate of the nation depends, were Chelsea players last season: Luiz, Ramires, Willian and Oscar. When Scolari arrived at Stamford Bridge, he was feted as the man who would bring the Brazilian … Continue reading Scolari shows there’s life after Chelsea
England and their fans, as well as checking on bleary eyes due to the 1am finish, are now waking up to the reality that under-expectation was indeed warranted all along. As Roy Hodgson’s side adopted the age-old British trait of “honourable losers”, it was also obvious that the young team he is forging is a long way off being competitive. Italy didn’t have to break … Continue reading World Cup Day Four: The first hangover…
The interviews and soundbites coming out of the England camp are very familiar. “The spirit is very good…we have been together a couple of years…if we play as we can…great bunch of players.” All meaningless comments, because every World Cup, every European Championship, the script is exactly the same. For a start, “if we play as we can” is such nonsense. England didn’t romp through … Continue reading World Cup Day Three: England doesn’t expect…does it?
Game of the People owes the Netherlands an apology. We said the Dutch were “not good enough to make a big impact on this World Cup”, but after one game, they clearly have much to offer. At the same time, by beating holders Spain 5-1, they confirmed some fears that this tournament may signal the beginning of the end for a fine side. This display … Continue reading The Dutch redeem themselves…and how
Brazil may have given their fans the result they craved, but Croatia have every right to feel aggrieved after one of the worst penalty decisions seen in a World Cup. It could have been a far worse opening game, but the referee may have been suffering from the “Anfield factor” in giving Brazil a penalty and failing to see Fred’s theatrics. Neymar won the day … Continue reading World Cup Day Two: No repeat of 2010, please!
Notwithstanding the background noise around FIFA corruption and revolution in the air, the opening game of the World Cup needs to be good in order to captivate the global audience for the next month or so. More than ever before, the competition needs a successful host nation to drive the overblown 32-team format to the knockout stages. Recent World Cups have disappointed, the last three, … Continue reading World Cup Day One: We need a strong Brazilian start