Three days to go, at the time of writing. The excitement is….not at all what it used to be when a World Cup was about to start. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, the tournament is being held in Russia. It feels wrong. It is, almost certainly, wrong. As with Qatar, there are suspicions, to say the least, that the right to host the World Cup has been bought – not won. Unlike Qatar, Russia is at least a major football playing nation and worthy of hosting the greatest competition on earth. But then there is Putin, his regime and our rather tetchy relationship with him. English fans usually travel in fantastic numbers. Not this time.
The bigger reason, is that England is sending a team that will do well to get out of the group stages. There is no chatter of us actually winning the tournament. It just won’t happen. We’re not even close to good enough. I suppose all things are possible, but the fact of the matter is that for us to progress very far, we’ll need an awful lot of good luck, and for our opponents to have an awful lot of bad luck. Still – we can dream. I guess.
So who will win? I’ve filled out my predictor. It’s there above to see. I am betting a little bit with my heart and not my head. Good sense would suggest that either Germany or Brazil will triumph at the end. Given that tournaments held in Europe have always been won by a European team, you’d have to favour Germany. That said, until Brazil 2014, tournaments held outside Europe had always been won by a South American team. Perhaps the tables will be turned again. Regardless, it would be quite the match if Germany and Brazil were to meet, given what happened four years ago.
My heart is conflicted. Messi is too good to never win a World Cup. This is probably his last big chance. But I also know that Argentina as a team aren’t the best. There’s a reason that they’re fifth favourites. If they do win, they will likely feature in a few stinkers along the way, rather than lifting gold in a blaze of blood, guts and glory. But still, an Argentina v Brazil final would be quite the spectacle.