31 5 mins 7 yrs

Because we sometimes cover sport in these here parts (or I do) and because the World Cup matters everywhere on the planet. And what a beautiful trophy it is. The noblest around in my opinion.


In about two hours time as I write, hosts Brazil play Croatia in Sao Paolo in the first match, and the question on everyone’s lips is: can anyone stop England from winning it? No need to answer that one, dear reader (really, no need whatsoever). Only time will tell which country wins, but I’ll give my prediction down below, after a little jaunt down memory lane, which is never the wrong thing to do.

It might surprise some who only notice football every four years that the best football isn’t played at the World Cup. The big European clubs have the best players, so the Chmapions League is the best, but the World Cup is the real global event. I remember Argentina 1978 (when I was eight year old) and the astonishing ticker tape welcome the Argie team received wherever it played. My first real memory though, and the match which springs to mind whenever anyone mentions the World Cup, took place during Spain 1982 and was a real landmark match. I bet some of you can picture it already.

It was the game between Italy and Brazil. Brazil were the hot favourites to win the Cup, and what a magic team they were. Zico up front, the lanky, chain smoking Socrates pulling the strings in midfield alongside Eder and Falcao with Junior always bursting forward. What a team that was. They only had to draw with Italy to reach the semi-finals, and the stage was set in Barcelona.

Italy generally, and their striker Paolo Rossi in particular, had other ideas. They weren’t bad either. Cabrini, Gentile, Antognoni, Altobelli, Gaetano Scirea, they all were on the field that they and they could all play too. And if they felt like it, they’d kick you to pieces also, particularly Claudio Gentile who was anything but.

Now I was school the day Italy played Brazil. I used to get a bus there and back home, and as usual that day, I left school and walked to the bus stop just by Rumbelows. That was a shop which sold TVs, kiddies. And while I was waiting for the bus, I looked in the window as the teams came onto the field. The sun was blazing down in Barcelona that day, and it seemed to burst out of the TV in the window. A bus came and went without me. The anthems played, the game started, and more buses came and went without me because I was transfixed by Italy versus Brazil, my nose pressed up against the window.

Football fans know what happened that day. Italy’s manager, the wily old Enzo Bearzot, knew that Brazil were so good they were sloppy in defence, almost as if they didn’t have to defend properly because they would outscore the opposition. He knew that Italy had a real chance if they could stay within a goal of Brazil, because Italy would have chances too. And chances they had, as Paolo Rossi scored a hat-trick, Brazil – the greatest team in the world – shot themselves in the foot to lose 3-2, and one of the most memorable football matches ever played was an upset. And I remember it well because I stood outside Rumbelows for two hours and watched every kick –

Italy went on to win the World Cup, beating Germany in the final, a moment all fans of a certain age (ehem) will remember for Marco Tardelli’s winner and his goal celebration, which will always be the last word on deep passion and simply not knowing what on earth you’re doing. We’re sometimes rightly cynical about top level sport, but what a magic moment. Just look at him!

So it’s prediction time. Well anyone who gets past England might win it (obviously). Brazil are the hosts, Spain the reigning World Champions, and Argentina have so many good forwards they could leave Carlos Tevez at home. In fact if the Argies win it it’ll be like the last chopper out of Saigon for them after the final.

To be honest I have no idea who’ll win. There’s not a clear favourite in my mind. Ok, Argentina then, to beat Brazil in the final, simply because I have a mischievous sense of humour.

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31 thoughts on “THE ATW WORLD CUP THREAD

  1. If Argentina wins it, they’ll stop noticing the Falklands for a few years.

  2. Argentina with Brazil as a possibility for having home advantage.

    I’ll be surprised if England get out of their group.

  3. I think that the Stanley Cup for NHL hockey is the best trophy.

    Each member of the winning team each year now gets to have it for himself for one day, in his hometown or some other place of his choosing. That is beyond cool.

    Players’ day with cup

    Players have unofficially had a private day with the Cup, a tradition started in 1995 wherein each member of the Cup-winning team is allowed personal possession of the Cup for a day. It is always accompanied by at least one representative from the Hockey Hall of Fame.[17] The tradition became subject of an ESPN marketing campaign which showed players using the Cup: Ken Daneyko ate cereal out of it, Derian Hatcher used it as a cooler at a party, and Brett Hull locked himself out of his vehicle with the Cup inside while out shopping with Mike Modano. Victors of the Cup have used it to baptize their children.[18][19] Clark Gillies of the New York Islanders allowed his dog to eat out of the Cup.[20] Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings had his two older boys drink chocolate milk out of the cup.

  4. It must be awful for you to see so many foreigners on the box, Pete. Black and brown people here there and everywhere.

  5. I recall the 1982 World Cup for the greatest game – France versus West Germany, the greatest football plus the Schumacher-Battiston ‘incident’:

    Spain to win the 2014 World Cup. Majority Spanish players in Athletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona means greatest depth of talent.

  6. I really hope Spain don’t Allan.There was unending football jingoism last time round if they win it this time it will be intolerable.

    Besides, a Euro team has never won it in South America

  7. I’m rooting for the anti World Cup protesters. Those who oppose the monumentally wasteful public spending on bread and circus when that money would have been put to better use anywhere else.

    May there be frequent, large, and peaceful demonstrations throughout Brazil. May they give a black eye to all future FIFA and Olympics and similar ” take from the poor and give to the rich ” scams in the future.

  8. Phantom

    They may give them a ‘black eye’ but they won’t knock them out. The World Cup and Olympics may well be giant gravy train scams but as sporting spectacles they capture the world’s attention and (particularly in the case of the World Cup, passion) and that triumphs any amount of social philanthropy.

  9. Paul – imo Spain has under-performed ever since football was invented. Their recent sequential triumphs are almost an overdue correction to history. And there hasn’t been a European team as good as this Spanish one so the jinx will end this time round, I reckon. Anyway, I’ve put my money where my keyboard is and Β£20 at 13/2 is on.

  10. Allan

    If Spain fail to win I do hope you will reveal to us which secret Jewish power brokers were responsible πŸ˜‰

  11. Another stupid referee decision leading to another unfair goal. When are they ever going to start using cameras and sensors and stuff and put these eegits out of business.
    Hard luck, Croatia. But well played.

  12. Brazil’s rather humdrum performance in the opening match, leads me to believe my flutter on Argentina to win outright may have been a better choice πŸ˜‰

  13. As I am fortunate enough to be able to insulate myself totally from any mention of this truly stupid, and totally corrupt fantasy, it doesn’t particularly bother me.

    Possibly the only thing about the whole truly silly enterprise which does cause some concern is the fact that most of the ‘players’ are ‘role models’ for the young and impressionable. Although not in the squad this time, who, in his right mind, would choose the likes of Ryan Giggs, he of the 8-year affair with his brother’s wife and the super-injunctions as a role model for anything else than sleazebag status?

    Poor choice of a post, Pete.

  14. FIFA and Septic Bladder may be utterly corrupt and morally (although certainly not financially) bankrupt but…you have to have a heart of stone not to love the World cup. The coming together of so many countries, cultures, people, the feast of football, the drama and excitement, the potential for riots, walk-outs, penalty shoot-outs. Simply magnificent (and Ireland aren’t even in it).

    Roll on the next few weeks!

    Mike – Ryan Giggs has never been “in the squad” for a World Cup.

  15. Which goes to prove how little I actually know, or indeed care, about this alleged sports-fest!

  16. IS the World Cup like the World Series ? I did not know that they played cricket in Brazil .

  17. Football is the most succesfull and popular sport the world has yet known and of course it was invented in ENGLAND (Not Wales or Scotland) just as all the world’s greatest things have been πŸ™‚

  18. Mike Cunningham –

    You’re a celeb-obsessed airhead. You didn’t know that Ryan Giggs is Welsh but you know all about his private pecadillos which the tabloids put on the front page. Put down the trashy mags and get a hobby.

    While I’m here, this isn’t about the business of business of football but the football itself. It remains the beautiful game.

  19. Another stupid referee decision leading to another unfair goal. When are they ever going to start using cameras and sensors and stuff ….

    Hear hear. I’m hoping that the WC is dominated by referee howlers. That way football will soon join the more enlightened sports which already use it and the opposition of the neanderthals will be overcome.

  20. The only reason that this WC has goal-line technology is because of the Lampard goal against Germany four years ago. For our US friends, the ball hit the bar and bounced about two feet over the goal line and spun out, and was not given. Even Blatter had to concede to technology after that.

  21. //Hear hear. I’m hoping that the WC is dominated by referee howlers.//

    Looks like you wish is coming true. Yet another game ruled by wrong ref. decisions – two fine Mexico goals wrongly disallowed.

    I often wonder where they get these linesmen. Do they just walk in from the pub and are handed a flag, or are they supposed to do something like training?

  22. Paul

    If my last comment had been posted by Pete, it wouldn’t have had a smiley face !

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