I start to punch keys on the last night on which you will be able to say “No football on the tv then” for over two weeks. It is the eve of the opening of the 2014 World Cup. Having not won the lottery, and having insufficient talent to get sent out there by anybody else, I will not be going to a country I would love to see.
I do, however, have the advantage over most, being of an age to have witnessed England winning the tournament in 1966. I am pretty sure I won’t be seeing a repeat this summer. England have an interesting blend of youth, experience, and unfulfilled talent. Technically we are still playing catch-up these days.
Many would say we will be watching the winners tomorrow. Brazil will hope that the advantage of being the hosts benefits them as it did us 48 years ago. No European team has ever triumphed in South America which goes some way to explain why Argentina are second favourites. Both teams have a wealth of stellar talents, but I have a sneaking fancy we may witness a first in July.
Tonight Spain are the third favourites. The holders played some irresistible stuff in South Africa four years ago and they followed up by landing the Euros two years on, but many key members of that side have aged and/or lost form. For me they look beatable, possibly by my tip for the upset. I will stand accused of donning my rose tinteds when I tell you I have grabbed the 13/2 available for Jogi Low’s boys.
I have to admit a soft spot for a team containing Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, and Lukas Podolski, with the added hope that those three are doing some first-class tapping up for us with a select one or two of their international colleagues. Their star is on the rise, it would appear.
The so-called ‘dark horses’ seem confined to Belgium and France. Of these I would expect the latter to go further, particularly with the divisive Nasri left at home. Neither of them do I see as winners. I would add one other side to watch. Uruguay will be a threat to everybody in their home continent, particularly if Suarez recovers from knee surgery and a persistent inner ear balance problem.
So that’s my colours nailed to the mast. For me the winners will come from a select group of four. Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay may benefit from not having to travel and acclimatise, but I still think the Germans will prevail (possibly by penalties, which would be stereotypically brilliant!).
Whatever happens enjoy the tournament all. I am well aware there is an international audience for this blog so feel free to tell me why I was wrong to discount your team in the drinks.
Have a good one, ‘holics.