Friday, June 06, 2014

2014 World Cup: Getting in the mood

Just one week to go from the big event kicking off and I've been struggling to give the World Cup my full attention.

Wayne Rooney's form or lack of it dominates the airwaves. Rio Ferdinand and Olly Murs have been counting down the World Cup's greatest moments while taking a tilt at the world's worst double act title.

And still I've been distracted. More pressing domestic football issues have been gnawing at my troubled mind.

Thankfully I'm now at peace, the sleepless night are over. Kenny Miller has found a club. The world can breathe again.

As the weight lifted from shoulders I focused anew on FIFA's jamboree in Brazil. We're just seven days away.

A week out from Brazil v Croatia in the opening match and the anticipation grows.

Is it really 16 years since Scotland were facing Brazil in the opening game of a World Cup? Scotland, of course, beat Croatia twice in qualifying. They'll feel they've got nothing to lose but it looks like a mammoth task to upset the hosts and favourites.

And yet... will the opening game give us our first glimpse of how Brazil's players will cope with the pressure of playing at home, the pressure of being charged with making amends for 1950 and all that?

2014 World Cup at the Scottish Football Blog
Will the opening game give us an indication of what impact protesters and demonstrations might have on the tournament itself or what face the Brazilian government are going to be able to show to the watching world?

The compelling and the controversial. On and off the pitch.

From this distance - home again with our tartan tinged dreams of what might have been - that looks like being the narrative of this World Cup.

The shared joy at a World Cup being played in Brazil. The concerns about what it costs a country to hire themselves out to global sporting organisations - and what price governments expect their people to pay for the honour.

At home we'll have the normal progress of England through a major championship, the pessimism turning to optimism, the agony of defeat turning to recrimination. Unless they win it. Which they won't.

We'll suffer some of the commentators, pundits and presenters getting right up our noses.

We'll have lingering shots of Brazilian beauties and we'll have hapless reporters sent to beaches for colour pieces while drunken - most likely English - fans moon them.

The winners? Brazil to triumph against the world and against their own history.

Could that mean Neymar eclipsing the pre-eminent Messi and Ronaldo?

Or will their own personal duel inspire one of them to rip through this World Cup, dragging those around them to immortality, and ensuring memories of this World Cup are dominated by the brilliance of just one man?

What of the Europeans - are Spain really ready to relinquish their crown and their era of glorious brilliance? Or have Germany found a blend that will allow them to finally win a World Cup outside Europe?

And, when FIFA and their corporate guests ship out in July, will Brazil have made peace with the 2014 World Cup or will questions and protests remain?

Compelling, controversial. And unmissable.

The Scottish Football Blog's predictions


Winners: Brazil
Runners-up: Argentina