Thursday, June 5, 2014

So who should I support at the World Cup?

As mentioned in my previous World Cup post and as will be glaringly obvious to all, Scotland shall not be there. So now the burning question, who do I support?

There is of course nothing wrong with being a good old fashioned neutral and just enjoying the show but that kinda reduces the fun for me, so it's time to assess the runners and riders and reasons for finding a back up horse
I guess as a Scot, it's polite to start with the English. I'm a Chelsea fan myself having lived most of my younger adult life in London. I've always had a soft spot for benign harmless teams such as Crystal Palace and in that respect that could be a good reason to go for the Auld Enemy this time around.

Jokes aside, unlike many Scots, I like to see England do well (except at rugby, Will Carling anyone?) and many of my best friends are English.

For once this time there is far less of a circus and sense of entitlement surrounding the team, they even have some fresh young players. Would I actually want them to win it? No, but they won't so they are worth consideration.

As a kid, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France. Back then, Platini was in his pomp (as opposed to just pompous). Good French teams have always been easy on the eye and they've been through a fairly tough few years since Zizou's headbutt, worth a shout? Possibly.

For some reason, wonderful though they are I simply haven't connected with this great Spain team. There is no doubt that they are a fantastic side but I've grown a little bored of the whole 'tiki taka' and 'false 9' gig.

A fourth straight tournament win would be staggering and whilst I would hold them in great adulation for doing so, it would be with a nod and not a cheer.

Teams in blue have always held sway with me, Scotland, Chelsea, Glasgow Rangers, France as mentioned above which brings us to the Azzurri.

Italy of course won my favourite World Cup back in 1982. Whilst they don't always have a reputation for the most exciting football, they have provided wonderful drama in my life time with the likes of Rossi, Tardelli, Schillaci, Baggio and even Marco Materazzi.

Italy are limping at the moment, shorn of their captain through injury and drawing just this week with Luxembourg. When the chips are down, sometimes that's when they are at their best?

For the Brits, the Germans have always been the bogeyman for stereotypical and historical reasons. For the Scots however there was always the exception of when they played the English.

Regardless of (petty) historical differences, German football was also always hard to like as it was also just so ruthlessly efficient, a bit like why so many people prefer Ferrari to Porsche.

The Porsche is far less likely to break down at the side of the road or kill you by going sideways through a corner but somehow just leaves you a little cold. Where's the fun?

Well the answer is in the current German team which plays a far more expansive brand of football and for me were head and shoulders the best team to watch at the last World Cup.

The Germans have been the perennial bad guys who everyone loves to lose but is it maybe time to break the preconceptions and cheer on a team that is genuinely trying to play exciting football?

The Dutch have always been an attractive team. The combination of the famous Oranje shirt, the production line of fabulous players (seemingly without end) and the wonderful technical football they play makes them in many ways, the European footballing aristocrats.

This Dutch team however doesn't quite seem to be of that ilk so maybe we'll pass on the Oranje this time around.

Is there an African team worth pinning my hopes on? Both the Ivory Coast (complete with Chelsea legend Didier Drogba) and Nigeria are in groups that they could qualify from. Ghana and Cameroon's groups do look a little tougher to me.

The African nations rarely play negative football and can often surprise even if 2010 was a slight let down in that respect. Definitely worth a thought.

Lastly of course the hosts, complete with four (soon to be three) players from my club Chelsea. Brazil are of course the undisputed kings of the World Cup with no less than five in their trophy room.

A sixth at home would go a long way to healing some of the wounds this vast country has endured simply building the stadia and infastructure for this tournament.

This is not a vintage Brazilian team in the vein that so many of us wish for and in that respect much of the burden falls on the young shoulders of Neymar, how they pray he will outshine Messi.

He does of course have a tidy support cast with the likes of Willian, Dani Alves, Oscar, Thiago Silva and a wiley old fox at the helm in the shape of Scolari. If they get some momentum and the Maracana is bouncing, they could be tough to stop.

Of course, finding a team to support is not about who is necessarily most likely to win. As mentioned above, everyone loves an underdog story and we all want to see good football along the way. It is indeed a very tough call.

So maybe I'll just stay neutral after all.............. No Nonsense.