World Cup Memories

So, after another four years, the World Cup has come around once again, keeping the nation occupied for the next month! Exactly how closely I’ve followed this tournament has varied over the years.

 

When I was a lad, I ate four dozen eggs I had precisely zero interest in football. When my classmates talked about France 98 (I was too young to remember Italia 90 and can’t recall even being aware of USA 94), I was largely clueless. There are only two real memories I have relating to that World Cup. One is playing a sweepstakes game in class where we chose a team out of a hat and got a prize if our team won. (I got Spain, who went out in the group stage.) The second was going to school after England went out and seeing a banner nearby saying “DAVID BECKHAM – NEW PRESIDENT OF ARGENTINA.”

 

For Japan & South Korea 2002, I was rather more invested – I had a poster and everything. I happened to be off sick from school on the day of the first match (I assure you, I wasn’t faking it) and so was able to watch the big shocker as reigning champions France were beaten by first-timers Senegal. Because of the time difference, most of the matches were on in the morning, which meant a lot of football came before school – or work experience, as I was doing round about that time. To fill in my poster, in a world where the Internet made a funny noise when you connected and had to be used after 6pm, I was left to get the scores from Teletext or the radio. (I distinctly remember hearing the news that France had gone out after a playing of Shakira’s ‘Whenever, Wherever’ – was that really 12 years ago?) While not quite as hyped up as the papers, my family and I were in good spirits as England went up against Brazil in the quarter final. My mum and I watched delightedly as England went ahead – and then fell behind. With work experience calling, I was left getting the final result over the car radio as England were eliminated. I was disappointed, but not distraught.

 

For Germany 2006, my interest levels had risen, and I was watching as much of the football as I could – and I was more enthusiastic about the idea of England actually winning the whole thing. My sister kept a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings relating to the World Cup; after the greasy-haired referee gave England few favours in their opening game against Paraguay, she scribbled in the book, “I could tell from his hair, he was evil.” Later, for some reason I can’t recall, she was watching the next game against Trinidad & Tobago upstairs while Mum and I watched it downstairs; she must have been getting a signal slightly faster from her higher position, because twice we heard her shout and wondered what was up – before England scored. Once again, England made it to the quarter finals, to an exhausting and dull game against Portugal – so dull that I was all too happy to volunteer for dog walking during extra time. And then we lost on penalties, as we are wont to do.

 

The Euro 2008 qualifiers were emotionally strenuous, but by the time England lost 3-2 to Croatia and didn’t make it to the final tournament, I had sadly made my peace with it. (I liked the Sun front page the following day; it had nothing but the score, and a picture of a deflated football sitting on a curb.) And then came Fabio Capello, and suddenly England were on fire! We qualified for the 2010 World Cup with two games to spare! Somehow I had gotten really hyped for this one – surely this time, with this guy in charge, we might go all the way!

 

Well, what a ****ing letdown that turned out to be.

 

Thanks to other people in the house insisting on watching the first group game against the USA in HD, we missed Steven Gerrard’s goal, as some anonymous person at ITV earned the hatred of millions by pressing the wrong button and playing a car advert for those few crucial seconds. Then our keeper made a fumble that actually did take place onscreen, and the game ended 1-1. And then we couldn’t manage to score against blooming Algeria – that quality in the qualifiers seemed to have totally deserted us. After beating Slovenia 1-0 and scraping out of the group, we might pick things up against Germany, mightn’t we? No, we couldn’t; Germany hammered us, and got even for that controversial Geoff Hurst maybe-goal when Frank Lampard’s genuine effort was wrongly disallowed. I felt terribly disillusioned. It felt like everybody had seen it coming except me, which I guess shows how much I really know about football.

 

So, as we come into another World Cup, I’m not expecting England to win. I find myself wondering: are any other national teams regarded in this way by their fans? Do the Brazilians and Spanish ever watch their matches with so much tension and tut-tut about all the mistakes they saw? Do the newspapers in Uruguay talk about ending 64 years of hurt? Oh, well; I’m actually feeling quite relaxed and ready to take things as they come.

 

Who is going to win? Well, I reckon it’s going to take something truly special from another team to keep Brazil from winning on their home soil – but here are my more precise predictions:

 

Group A: Brazil, Mexico

Group B: Spain, Netherlands

Group C: Colombia, Japan

Group D: Uruguay, England

Group E: France, Switzerland

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia

Group G: Germany, Portugal

Group H: Belgium, Russia

 

2nd Round

Brazil vs Netherlands

Colombia vs England

France vs Bosnia

Germany vs Russia

Spain vs Mexico

Uruguay vs Japan

Argentina vs Switzerland

Belgium vs Portugal

 

Quarter Finals

Brazil vs England

France vs Germany

Spain vs Uruguay

Argentina vs Belgium

 

Semi Finals

Brazil vs Germany

Spain vs Argentina

 

Playoff

Germany vs Spain = Spain

 

Final

Brazil vs Argentina = Brazil!

 

Mind you, several months ago I had a dream that England beat Cameroon in the final on penalties. You never know, stranger things have happened.

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About velociraptor256

Hi, my name's Richard. I created this blog to talk about my interests - and I have quite a few of those. I love zoology in general, herpetology in particular (especially snakes!), writing (have won National Novel Writing Month seven times so far, plus three Camp Nanowrimos), reading, astronomy, palaeontology, and travel. Thank you for coming to my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you here!
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