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.”