Alright? Long time, no see. Last time I was on here with Mes Que Un Column I was waxing lyrical about Dejan Lovren and the boys, previewing Liverpool’s upcoming sixth European Cup triumph and their inevitable march to glory in Ukraine.
Ah, glory days they were. Nice to see Dejan in the process of winning the World Cup though. It’s some consolation at least.
It was a bit crap though to begin with if we’re all being honest. Watching Iran versus Morocco at home, on your own, sober, and with no money on the line can be a bit of a harrowing experience. You feel like, at the final whistle, your whole family are going to walk in as a collective, take the remote control and sit you down to have an intervention. All gathered around you claiming that this football thing has all gone a bit too far. But then it’s alright when you assure them it’s not gone too far, just too VAR.
Maybe I’m a bit of an idealist but I found it strange when De Gea lashed one into his own net and people called it the game of the tournament. It was good, but the competition didn’t really get going until Argentina did a France on the whole thing.
When Croatia beat Messi and co. on the 21st, everything else seemed to burst into life. It’s not a World Cup without a major international power having a huge row and ultimately imploding, is it? It kind of happened to Germany as well, but we’re not allowed to say that as even though they’re definitely out of the tournament, you can never write off the Germans. It’s nice how everyone gets a go at being crap for a while. It seems like Brazil are due one of these meltdowns for the summer of 2022 y’know. What’s that? Oh, they’re actually following through with having it in the winter. That wasn’t a pisstake, no? Like genuinely, that’s a real thing that’s going to happen?
It’s been really entertaining since then. Kroos’ last-minute winner, Colombia smashing the Poles, the anti-football feast that was Iran vs Portugal, the Aspas goal against Morocco, Maradona and Rojo against Nigeria, Neuer playing left wing for the last five minutes versus Korea as the holders crashed out, England fans celebrating a loss, Senegalese dreams crushed because of a few yellow cards, France 4-3 Argentina, Mbappe’s coming of age, Ronaldo out and Russia reaching the quarter-finals.
My team of the World Cup so far:
1) Egypt's old goalkeeper
3) Lack of racism
4) Slaven Bilic
5) Robbie Williams
6) Ricardo Quaresma's right boot
7) Jon Champion
8) Ally McCoist
9) Nordin Amrabat
10) Michy Batshuayi
— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) June 29, 2018
It still feels entirely possible that a dark horse could win this. Three out of the ‘big five’ as many saw it are out in Argentina, Germany and Spain, with just the French and the Brazilians left from the traditional powerhouses. Brazil are also the only team out of 2014’s four semi-finalists left in the competition. Russia’s famous victory over Spain yesterday means one of them, Croatia, Colombia, England, Sweden or Switzerland are guaranteed to appear in this year’s final, which seems mad in itself. We’re due one of these World Cups, it all feels a bit like 2002.
Being Irish, its’ tough to know where to stand on England. I’m not on board with the ‘support whoever’s playing against the English’ mentality over here. It all seems a bit bitter. Although I’m also not on board with this.
Part of me would like for them to get to a final, just to see what happens. The country would go crazy, wouldn’t it? It would be like one big social experiment in the south. It’s a bit of a bucket list thing for many. Not necessarily to see England win or to revel in the glory of a post-Brexit and post-World Cup win Britain, but more so to observe those who actually care about the national team. There’s no precedent for what they might do. When they won it in 1966 I doubt there were thousands of England fans in Leicester Square singing about German bombers in the air, and yet if anything they had more reason to do it then than today’s ‘barmy army’ do.
It would all feel very England though to lose to Colombia. After all the talk of the blessing in disguise that was Belgium’s 1-0 win over Southgate’s side on Thursday, it’d be football at it’s most beautiful if Roberto Martinez and the boys went on to lift Jules Rimet as Radamel Falcao scored a hat-trick to knock out England in the round of 16. They return to Brussels, stand on top of that big European Parliament building and do this.
By far the most suspicious element of the tournament though has been Putin’s whereabouts. He seemed to have a great time celebrating his country’s win over Saudi Arabia but hasn’t been anywhere to be seen since then. He gave yesterday’s historic meeting with Spain a miss, probably in the fear that they’d get battered. But honestly, where is he? What could he possibly be doing that’s more important? Maybe FIFA are trying to be really anti-corruption and aren’t giving anyone important a ticket. Or maybe he’s getting a McDonalds in over at the Kremlin. They have McDelivery there y’know.
I haven’t mentioned the fact that Brazil isn’t going to win it either by the way. They’re not very good for a team that is classed as the favourites with the bookies. Neymar doesn’t look up for it and on the whole, they don’t look any mentally stronger than 2014.
— Paul Higham (@SportsPaulH) June 21, 2018
Not impossible y’know…
After a dramatic penalty win over Denmark, anything could happen.
All the best.