The World Cup is finally here, the Brazilians are ready and I’m not talking about the WAGs or David Beckham’s latest trim, starting Thursday (June 12) it’s a month of non-stop games goals and Gary Lineker closing gambits. Here is a look at the pressing issues and predictable clichés that will be littering our coverage of Brazil ’14 over the coming month.
Strikers to run riot
Leading up to the World Cup protesters have been keen to voice their disapproval at the Brazilian authorities. Spending ludicrous amounts hosting the games whilst the country is rife with poverty has gone down as well as a Qatari Winter World Cup, but in footballing terms the discussion lies within the renaissance of the front man. As Brazilians clash on the streets (ive always said yellow and green dont go), these World Cup strikers main goal is to give a demonstration without having to march in June, something we might see in 2022.
As Spain have shown in recent tournaments you don’t need a recognised striker to succeed, but when your main striker is Fernando Torres you can understand their reluctance to conform to the stereotype. The emergence of the ‘false number 9’ on the international stage was a Spanish revolution all on its own and whilst on this occasion Spain have decided to pinch a striker in the form of Diego Costa (something well come on to later), who can tell if it is all a big ploy to devoid potential opponents Brazil of a proven marksman. The German’s, always ones to follow and not question, have taken the decision to rest their World Cup hopes solely at the boot of 36 year old Polish born Miroslav Klose, the German media, so incensed with this decision, tried to take a ‘poll’ but found that defeated the object. Portugal also look to be placing their trust in lone poster boy Cristiano Ronaldo, I don’t know which will be more prominent his brief appearance or his appearance in briefs.
I’ve always been a firm believer in scoring more goals than the opposition winning you games, and with a specialist striker on the pitch I believe that is more likely. As the Champions League saw the demise of Tiki Taka football in Barca and Bayern’s failings, are we going to see another abdication in Spain this time the result of the renaissance of the influential target man? (Not you Rickie)
Sick note Stars- Give them a break
Over the last decade or so viewers in England will have seen their World Cup hopes hanging in the balance before a ball is kicked in the run up to a major tournament. Front page stories of metatarsal injuries or the fitness of Wayne Rooney saw papers like The Sun going to the extremes of asking fans to rub the front page and pray for a miracle, I myself skipped fondling the front page and went straight to page 3, but although in the UK we’ve been spared this time around the growing injury list from the world’s top stars is reaching breaking point.
Who would have thought it Paul Dummett England’s World Cup saviour, the heroic Welshman’s ‘miss-timed’ assault on Luis Suarez left the feisty Uruguayan struggling for fitness and England fans hoping the buck toothed assassin isn’t able to take a bite out of their hopes of qualification. Suarez is not alone, as the world’s third best player (not my opinion) and Dr Evil wannabe Frank Ribery has been ruled out also; let’s just hope this doesn’t scar him for life. And before you think of showing the French an ounce of sympathy over Ribery’s fate, they had a ready-made replacement in Samir Nasri, a player who has shone in the Premier League, ready to go before his wife’s public spat with the manager Didier Deschamps saw war break out. These lesbians and their hissy fit, If only one of these Frenchmen would surrender.
Others missing include Marco Reus, Radamel Falcao, Riccardo Montolivo, Lord Lucan and Christian Benteke. On the subject of missing let’s just hope Wayne Rooney doesn’t do his disappearing act on the pitch like four years ago, where rumour has it he was later found by Pickles the dog. Each player a loss but the biggest of the lot looks like it could be home nations poster boy Neymar who is struggling to be fit. The fitness of Neymar, the only man with a haircut worse than Boris Johnson, may have a decisive factor in keeping rioters interested in the football, as nobody wants to see what will happen if the home nation crash out early. Reports already state riots in the Brazilaian favelas have caused thousands of pounds worth of improvements.
Adopt a footballer- tapping up a tourist
While it is not a new phenomenon for players to turn their back on the country they were born to represent a different country, this year has seen Diego Costa choose the pass masters Spain over his place of birth and home nation Brazil. This alone is not Brazils only cause for concern as their opening game will see one of Croatia’s main threats in Rio born Eduardo. You can just see the delight on the Brazilians faces as the ones that got away score a decisive goal against the samba stars. As if the Brazilian public need another reason to riot.
Another interesting case see’s manager Jürgen Klinsmann dive into a game with the USA against his beloved Germany on June 26. A former coach of the German national team himself it’s hard to see him going against the fatherland or even staying on his feet long enough to watch the game. Maybe England should have tapped up OJ Simpson’s lawyer, someone who can fabricate a defence out of nothing would make Roy Hodgson’s dweam come true.
That paint looks a bit wet
I know what you’re all thinking, thank god those drawn out qualifiers and awful friendlies have finished and finally we get the real World Cup games. So I do hate to be the one to remind you that the 2014 World cup will include highlights such as Iran/Nigeria (June 16), Japan/Greece (June 19), South Korea/Algeria (June 22) and games involving England. Every tournament you will get your fair share of games that would make an evening in with James Milner sound like an inviting alternative. Still it is only once every four years so I’m sure you’ll be one of the true hard-core braving through the pundits half-baked attempts at glorifying a complete waste of time just to say you were there when Ian Wright finally says a bad word about England.
The games I’ve highlighted are just a few that stood out like Luke Chadwick in a team photo. In that I’ve included Iran for obvious reasons but whilst the tournament is underway there is an overlap with the teams annual observance of Ramadan, this may make for entertaining viewing, eleven starved men chasing a football sounds more fitting of the homeless world cup, a competition I’ve always found where playing at home is particularly ironic.
For the real stars of the upcoming World Cup look no further than Greece who progressed with 12 goals in 10 games in qualifying from a group that included Lichtenstein, but in their defence we now know star striker Georgious Samaras was busy practising for the Eurovision song contest the whole time. All I can say to the teams mentioned is do me a favour and prove me wrong or fuck off…either one.
Everyone loves an underdog
Going into big sporting events everybody loves an underdog and the Koreans may even bite off more than they can choo when it comes to underdogs, but one thing for certain is that everyone likes to think they can pick one. The tournament always gives lesser known players the opportunity to put themselves in the shop window and one guarantee is that clubs will throw huge sums of money at players based on a handful of half decent showings, for example the qualities of the delightful El Hadji Diouf and the silky skills of players like Kleberson/Eric Djemba-Djemba were brought to the Premier League on the back of the World Cup just showing there’s hope for us all yet.
Some have already got their big move as Louis Van Gaal is hoping for a bit of Dutch courage from his United group going into the competition, his head is undoubtedly elsewhere much like Xabi Alonso after Dutchman Nigel De Jong got hold of him in the 2010 final (still only worthy of a yellow though Howard).
Team wise the hipsters choice is Poirot’s very own Chocolate munching Belgians but they’re in good Kompany (see what I did there) with teams like Chile and even Columbia looking like they’ve got real chances of progressing from their groups. Fabio Capello’s certainly not going to be Russian anywhere soon and hoping his team Putin some good performances in qualifying, but while I think picking a winner from these won’t end well I’ve only included their names so in true hipster fashion i could add a ‘told you so’ should they win even one game.
In conclusion there’s only one winner for me in Brazil this year and that’s football….football and FIFA’s bulging bank balance…. and maybe Spain.