G, You Have to Wonder
GGGGroup G, you have to wonder. Can England win the World Cup? Have a look at the following. Piece of nonsense or 32 years of scientific research?
1 1966 EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEngland
2 1970 BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBrazil
3 1974 GGGGGGGGGGGGGGermany
4 1978 AAAAAArgentina
5 1982 Italy
4 1986 AAAAAArgentina
3 1990 GGGGGGGGGGGGGGermany
2 1994 BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBrazil
? 1998 ??????????????????????????????????????????????
Oh all right let’s take a more objective look at their chances. Shearer. Enough said. They do have a chance at winning this time. Even if (when?) they are outplayed somewhere along the line, they will be in every game as long as Alan Shearer is on the pitch. He is quite simply, the best finisher in the game today. And if you didn’t know it, at the end of the day, it’s not how in soccer, but how many. Plenty of teams can and will trouble England, but not too many will actually beat them. So if you’re a Brit and not committed to supporting Scotland the Brave already, you’re going to get a run at this cup and it will be exciting to watch. As an interested Irishman who doesn’t have to worry too much about actual results, I will be able to watch their games with total objectivity and am looking forward to doing just that.
Will Gazza be running the show, contributing sporadically or observing proceedings from afar? I personally never expect 90 consecutive minutes from Paul but he does have exceptional talent. I guess this represents the managers nightmare in terms of what sacrifices to total team production are acceptable to delicately balance artistry and work ethic. Gazza is a very hard person to substitute during a match because of the double effect on team balance and creativity, but as already stated, he rarely looks good for 90 minutes. So do you take a chance on playing him and compensate for his weaknesses or leave him out and reduce inventiveness? Win or lose it will be his last chance to get past the tears of defeat. If he can’t shape up for this tourney, he shouldn’t bother taking a squad place from someone else. The biggest problem that I have noticed with England over the years is that they could field 3 or 4 squads of comparable cumulative talents who might all make it to the semi finals but fielding one team to go the whole way seems ironically elusive. Gazza is simultaneously the epitome of their biggest problem and solution.
Turning to Tunisia or in the soccer world Tunisiwho. Nobody outside Tunisia expects Tunisia to win the World Cup. The question might well be posed, does anyone inside Tunisia expect Tunisia to win the World Cup? With a FIFA ranking as high as 22, I can’t think of many countries who pose less of a threat to the accepted giants Brazil and Germany and the high probability is that they will not get a physical chance to prove me wrong. I don’t expect to be watching Tunisia in round two although I will be delighted to do so should they choose to defy the odds.
Valderrama is not only the name of one of the greatest golf courses in the world (scene of last years historic Ryder Cup, and the birth a year before of a new golf competition called the Ruder Cup – now that’s a whole other story – and definitely the number 1 course that I’ve had the privilege to play), but it’s also the name of one of the greatest players in the world of soccer. Carlos Valderrama was and still is great to watch. He joined the exclusive 100 club during the qualifying stages and continues to amass caps in the run up to the finals. He is 36 years young, and if he’s prepared and performs, and there is no reason why he should not, Columbia will be the spoiler in this group and their results will greatly influence who emerges for later round action. All games are equal when it comes to points gained or lost. But some games are more important than others and the first game for both Columbia and Romania (against each other) will certainly go a long way towards deciding which of these two can expect to join England in round two. Sasparilla (Faustino Asprilla) will be as big a factor as injury and opportunity permit him to be. I hope he can be there and we get the chance to see some acrobatics and even his patented celebratory somersaults. Their games will be exciting. Guaranteed. Hopefully drug free and not generating any internationally newsworthy incidents not directly related to playing soccer.
Romania are ranked 15th to Columbia’s 17th. These rankings seem uncannily accurate and represent another reason I find their opening clash to be of paramount importance to eventual Group results. It is indeed a close one to call. Three appearances in the last 16 in addition to quarter finalists last time out should make all opponents wary of Romania. An impressive unbeaten qualifying group cements this view. No obvious strengths abound but even less glaring weaknesses are evident. For some comical reason which I shall claim as intuitive soccer knowledge based on years of experience then, I don’t fancy them and I don’t care what the odds are. It’s going to be poignant watching all my predictions unfold in less than a month. One more group before kick-off….