Jeremy Robson is not a man to shy away from a good debate. It could be said that had he studied for the Bar it would have been at the Devil’s School of Advocacy, but his observations are always incisive and well argued. He has been watching the affairs in Brazil with interest and shares his thoughts about a World Cup nearing its conclusion.
Over the course of the last month we’ve seen the best of the world game, for what it is. There may be no Pele, Muller, Beckenbauer, Tostao, Jairzhino, Ronaldo, Charlton, Gascoigne, Cruyff, Neeskens, Baggio, Schillachi, Platini, Garrincha, or Maradona. There is really no stunning team, but we have seen some very good football. It has to be said that there have been some awful games to watch as well.
There are some people who seem to think that it’s been the greatest World Cup of them all. I can only assume that they are the same people who maintain that Messi, the indifferent, apparent talisman of the Argentine XI is also the greatest player that the world has ever seen. Such posturing is for the young and the foolish. Greatness must be combined with efficacy, and being blunt about it, Messi is lacking that quality in some abundance. The gritty and determined Mascherano may not gather the plaudits in the same way Messi does but his contribution to his nation’s cause in the tournament has exceeded his far more favoured friend several times over.
Ronaldo was poor and it was disappointing to see Portugal leave early with such apparent indifference. Neither Ronaldo nor his team performed well, and that’s contrary to what we should have expected when they went to a play off against Sweden to qualify
The bright lights of this World Cup were Colombia, Chile and the exuberant Mexicans, all of whom provided much more heart, passion and I dare say entertainment than the hapless Brazilians provided for us. FIFA and their officials indulged the hosts without shame, obviously aware that without some sort of assistance they might not get beyond the group stage. This was hard on both Croatia and Mexico who suffered directly and indirectly as opponents of a favoured host nation. Both nations were excellent and it was obvious that without interference from the officials that Brazil were going to struggle. Whatever assistance they were given to reach the latter stages was something of a disservice given the hammering that they took at the hands of the superb Germans this week. It was no more than they deserved.
A couple of years ago Gary Neville suggested that David Luiz looked like a player being controlled by a 10-year-old on a Playstation. His performance against the Germans indicated that the aforementioned 10-year-old must have got bored and handed the controls to his baby sister. Who was controlling the likes of Fred, Bernard and Hulk can only be left to the imagination. If they claimed that their behaviour was the result of laser beams from Alpha Centauri and they had taken the field in the second half with their heads covered in Alcan Foil to prevent further self immolation then it would have been more credible than Coach Scolari’s claim that his future has not been decided yet. His future career opportunities are only matched by those of Rolf Harris.
It was disappointing that Argentina progressed to the final. At least they managed to win games by a single goal rather than playing for penalties, as they did the last time they got to the final in 1990. If their idol and “greatest player the world has ever seen” decided to get rid of his overcoat and join in on Sunday they may have a chance, but I really doubt it.
I feel for the Dutch lads having to turn out for a pointless 3rd place game on Saturday. This anachronism should be abolished as it serves no purpose. It may be have been a good idea once but not in this day and age. Van Gaal has a point. He maintains that two of his players refused to take the first penalty, leaving it to Ron Vlaar (who must have stunned Aston Villa fans with his displays at this World Cup). Vlaar has a heart like like a lion, unlike a couple of his team mates, who really let their nation, team mates and manager down.
The Germans are reaching a stage where they may not be displaying a swaggering efficiency, but are executing some wonderful football through fast passing, exceptional defending and superb finishing. Sebastian Schweinsteiger is a mountain of a man for the Germans. Miroslave Klose cemented himself into World Cup history this week and is the greatest goal scorer since the tournament began. Philip Lahm is a decent full back and they may just have the best goalkeeper in the world by some margin in Manuel Neuer. Who said there wasn’t a great team in this World Cup? The Germans were kidding us. I believe and hope that they trounce the pretenders from Argentina on Sunday. Come on Germany. Bring the cup back to Europe. You are the only team worthy of it. Just go and prove it on Sunday afternoon. If I can find some Bitburger I’ll be drinking it.
As we say in Sunderland “H’waaay me bonny lads.”
5 thoughts on “The Robson Report: Brazil 2014 – overblown, over hyped and over on Sunday”
I don’t know who our “world class players” are Chris. There isn’t a single Englishman that would feature for Germany. Rooney is the one that’s touted as being the exception but it’s a complete myth. Another tournament means another set of disappointing performances from him.
The Dutch league is obviously very different from Germany and a lot of the Dutch players make their comparatively successful national team before they leave their home country. The Dutch lads get into their club’s first team early and stay there. Sure the are a lot of imports in Dutch football as well but not like England.
The likes of Jones and Smalling for example (and Welbeck also for that matter) are not there because they are international footballers, but simply because they represent the few Englishmen playing for a successful club. Cahill is a good centre half and is probably the most consistent player available to England right now.
You look at the back up options for Hart (another one who isn’t anywhere near as good as we are frequently told he is), and it’s a very worrying picture. City aren’t prepared to work with a young English keeper to put pressure on Hart. Instead they pay millions for a 32 year old import. Further and further down the slippery slope we go.
It’s a depressing situation and something has to change.
You might be right, Jeremy. As the England camp will tell you, these days, there are no easy games at international level. In reality though, there are, well, there are if you’re good enough (In qualifying anyway, I accept that by the time you reach the finals themselves, easy games are thin on ground, even for the best). But, note how easily the Netherlands and Germany regularly get through their qualifying groups – to them, there definitely are easy games.
I can forgive us for falling behind Germany; they’re a much larger country and have a larger talent pool, but we don’t have any real excuse when it comes to the Netherlands. The Eredivisie is hardly the best league in the world, and there really are some very poor teams in it, but somehow, the Dutch consitently produce world class players (real world class players, not good players that do something special early in their career and spend the rest of it living off the back of it – you know the sort of player i’m talking about). The Belgians have the makings of a cracking side (they just need to believe it themselves I think). Our “world class” players only look world class when they’re surrounded by actual world class players (or am I being a bit harsh)? What are the low countries doing that we’re not? You’d think someone would be looking at that and taking a leaf out of their book.
Thanks Ken. A great posting Chris. The influx of overpaid foreigners is killing the national game for us. English players don’t have a chance.
Most of the Algerians we saw have been playing their trade in France and were probably equally eligible to play for France. Colombia, Chile and Mexico’s players are all plying their trade in top leagues around the world. The English don’t venture abroad much and never have but have allowed a ridiculous influx to spoil the development of our youngsters.
I see it becoming unlikely to qualify for coming World Cups.
Bravo Jeremy. A fair-minded and accurate summary.For me ’74 and ’78 were better tournaments
The season before last, I had the pleasure to be at the Amsterdam ArenA to watch a champions league group match between Ajax and Dortmund. A German club, largely made up of German players (8 of the starting 11). And I watched them brutally dismantle an Ajax team who, only weeks ealier, I’d watched completely dismantle Manchester City. A Manchester City team full of Superstars who’d torn up the premier league the previous season.
I said, after that game, that the future of German football looked in frighteningly good health. And watching this world cup has shown just how healthy it is. I can only see the Germans getting stronger and stronger. Contrast it to the continual decline of English football.
How many Premier League teams, even middle of the road premier league teams, let alone those with Chimpions League aspirations, can boast a starting line-up of largely British talent? Until that stat is rectified, the gulf between England and Germany will continue to grow. I say Germany, I think its fair to say there’s now a gulf beetween England and the likes of Algeria and Mexico – teams who, historically, we’d have assumed we’d beat without major alarms.
(Despite everything I’ve just said, I expect Argentina to bore the Germans into submission and jam a 1-0 victory on Sunday).
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