The almighty grail that is the world cup, offers something different to many different people, for those of us tasked with picking up pieces of the broken hearts, after the crippling disappointment of their team’s short comings and failures, the world cup offers us a chance of redemption, that small flicker of a light at the end of the tunnel. For others, the world cup offers another chance to taste victory, but of all of us it offers us the greatest show on earth. The world will stop turning for one whole month, as we are all gripped in awe of the beautiful game. With 32 teams spanning every inch of the globe, everyone has their favourites, and will probably be able to give you a essay on why they feel their country will win, but at the end of the day, most of these choice are rather unrealistic, with only a small handful with any real chance; Spain will once again use their 1 world cup and two euro in the last three major tournament pedigree to stake a claim on the big prize, but right behind them the likes of Germany, Brazil , Argentina and maybe even wild card Belgium will certainly be looking forward to breaking a few Spaniard hearts. However, at the end of the day only one team can be crowed the best in the world, and as good as the teams previously listed; are there is only one team capable of such a mammoth fete. Finally replicating the German model of youthful exuberance and careless abandon over tired legs and overrated obsession with experience. Possessing 4 out of 5 players of the team that epitomises exciting attacking football and if Roy Hodson implements the formation I know he should, then England should be that team to taste the sweet nectar of victory.
For too many years, previous England teams have had too many inclusions picked on experience over youth, believing that young player wouldn’t be able to cope on the grand stage. But with the premier league being one of the few European leagues not to include a winter break during the season long proceedings. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see that when a England teams is filled with older player who at 30+ usually play 30+ games for their respective team in a season, that once they finally play in world cup they usually can’t maintain their fitness and good match performance that they displayed superbly for 9 solid months prior. However at last it seems Roy has got the message and in the end went for youth over experience, when realize you that the 23 man squad comprises of 9 and 24’s and 8 debutantes ensuring that youth and fresh legs is something we have in abundance. With youth it brings you a lack of fear and insatiable hunger to please and do well, meaning younger player are far more likely to give their entire bodies up for the cause. Employing this strategy behind squad selection is sure to prove to being a smart move by Roy when you consider the success of previous world cup teams that implemented this same policy to great effects, example of which are Germany and Ghana during 2010 world cup in South Africa. Both teams were certainly considered to being the most entertaining in the world cup by far, Germany with its positive, free flowing football that spurred them on into crushing England 4-0 and then you have Ghana the surprise package of the whole tournament, that single handily with their passion and flair made a whole continent dare to dream. Despite none of the two winning the tournament, both with an average age of 24 were able to finish in the top 8 a head of the likes of Italy and France whose teams were significantly older and possessed a lot more ‘experience’. But that’s what youth bring you, an extra dosage of tenacity and lack of fear, and when you find yourself in the world cup final against the strongest football nation, the lack of fear will mean they won’t be fazed by the atmosphere or the opposition.
101 for the measuring anything else still a massive amount, but when you apply that total to the amount of goals scored in a single season by one team, the total breathes a heavy weight in football currency. Just saying Liverpool have been astounding this season would be a massive understatement, even just trying to come up with enough superlative to describe Liverpool this year would probably take up the rest of your afternoon. Brendan Rogers men have been shinning beckon of brilliance, with their relentless acting guile and flair that refuses to allow opposition defence any time to rest or even think, before they send another barrage of an attacking tsunami their way. But if you had to pick out the players of Liverpool season, you would probably pick out Henderson, Sterling, Suarez, Gerrard and Sturridge. Forgetting Suarez (as hard as that may seem) all those player will be rocking the three lions shirt come June; although it isn’t a guarantee they will able to replicate their form, but with the likes of Gerrard and Sturridge scoring 34 goals and assisting 21 times between, and then adding Sterling to the mix who was the most deadliest attacking prospects in the league regardless of age, they can certainly try. However it isn’t only the Liverpool contingency everyone has to fear, England is blessed with a wealth of talent and to find them you don’t have to think or look too hard. Lallana has been an absolute revelation this season as he single handily catapulted Southampton to herculean position of 8th, only beaten by the likes of Man City, Chelsea and even Man United were only a mere 8 points ahead of them. But when you consider Lallana flair, craft and pure unpredictability, he will prove to be an almighty weapon in Roy’s arsenal. Another weapon we would have is Ross Berkley, probably Everton’s best player of a titanic season and once allowed to play in Brazil, he can surely show the whole world why. With a lot of craft, determination, the ability to be equally adept with both left and right foot and most importantly he can provide that spark of brilliance out of any vacuum, Berkley is a certain to impress in the world cup.
Once again drawing to the successful model implemented by Liverpool; besides their outstanding team, another reason behind their achievement could be traced back to their diamond formation that proved to be perfect for absorbing pressure, then launching vast amounts of player forward in a counter attack, whilst not completely leaving them susceptible to being counter attacked themselves. So with having 5 Liverpool players, once again comes into play as it means we can easily implementing the same formation effectively with England, and considering that England has a stronger squad than Liverpool, is surely going to be more effective for us. I feel in the past that England have played far too slow and pragmatic when we don’t have the right nimble footed tick-a-tacker footballer that that style of play screams out for, instead the formation allows us to exploit the vast amounts of pace we have at our disposal with the likes of Welbeck, Sturridge and Sterling and with Rooney and Gerrard behind the ball, they can certainly play through balls or launch balls over the top for the speedy Gonzales’s to latch on to and convert with.
But with so much going right for us, who and what could possibly stand in our way from certified glory. In the past many England teams have self destructed in the face of self inflected pressure, and repeated failure in the past in the face of lesser football obsessed nations as Portugal and Germany, I finally feel it has been a positive as we have now seen the era of the caveman style of play and now realize that we must let go of our arrogance and adopt a more foreign style of play which requires far more attacking and less holding the ball for over drawn excruciating periods of play. However that still leaves the blistering Brazilian heat, Germany, Argentina, Spain, Brazil and maybe even Belgium to contend with. At 30 degree and 80% humidity, the climate in Brazil promises to be a massive hindrance, but we can certainly take solace in the fact that almost all other European teams will also find the temperature difficult to contented with as well, which is great because most of our prominent opposition reside on our door step and each provides their own unique threat to our chances. As it stands it looks like Spain, Germany and Belgium will be our biggest competition from Europe.
Spain is currently on tremendous form winning three out of three of the big international tournaments, which will certainly give them a lot of confidence in their chances of retaining the world cup and with inclusion of Diego Costa they certainly appear to be another attractive prospect. Germanys love affair with young talented players didn’t just start and end in 2010, with the emergence of Gortze, Reus and Shurlle they certainly seem to have struck gold again, but most importantly with years passing since the last world cup, it gives another 4 years of experience to the likes of Muller, Kros and Gundegun which is sure to be even more advantageous for them. Finally out of Europeans I would see Belgium as controversial yet dark house choice for the title, with probably the best defender in world football in Kompany and one of Europe’s best young players in Lukaku and Hazard, Belgium look both a solid attacking and defending, and maybe as we move in the latter stages of knock out, those players can inject a moments of brilliance out of nowhere to snatch the game in the closing minutes. Outside the European teams I see both Argentina and Brazil as big antagonism to our challenge, more on the fact they are used to the climate than actually talents. But with the likes of Messi, Aguero and Di maria, such a wealth attacking fire power, Argentina can certainly cause a few problems, and with Brazil possessing their own great military arsenal called Willian and Neymar, they also look dangerous.
So what chances to England have? well as the famous proverb utter by the great rap philosopher P Diddy said “more money more problems”, with all the success Spain have received and the confidence that comes along with it, I believe it will breathe a great deal of complacency in the team, and like their shaky performance in Euro 2012 show that if England stick to their overtly attacking style, an over confident Spain can be got at. Germany are spoiled with choices in the attacking midfield role, but there is clear deficiency in the striking position left vacant by Gomez’s surprised absence from the 23 man squad, so Germany are far from the finished article, which England’s defends will certainly reveal in. Argentina lack any real solid defensive presence, and with Belgium having relatively experience team at this level does add the final nail in the coffin of both these teams chances in the tournament, leaving just Brazil. If any team will be the one to cause us English teams further world cup misery it would have to be Brazil. Back to front they possess a phenomenally strong team that promises to be almost impossible to contend with when you consider some of the likes of Thaigo Silva in the defence, Oscar in the midfield and Hulk upfront. Even hitting them on the counter could be a tricky affair simply because of the two race horses masquerading themselves as football players in Paulinho and Gustavo, who seem to be able to defy the laws of physics and be in two places at one time. So head to head England would have no real chance if it was purely a contest of football, but there are always a variety of external forces that will certainly be a factor. If England invented football, then Brazil made it the beautiful game. But with 5 trophies in the cabinet already, with a rich heritage of overachieving players like Pele, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos and probably the most football obsessed nation breathing down your necks, Brazil are under extreme pressure to succeed; football is as much physical as it is mental, meaning Brazil team would have to have nerves made of steel to be able to withstand all that pressure, while us on the other hand are the perennial low achiever we have a lot less to worry about, unlike Brazil we can just go out there almost care free.
People speak of 60’s as one of the most memorable decade in the history of mankind; Martin Luther king’s I had a dream speech in 1960, the assignation of JFK in 1964, man landing on the moon in 1969. But not a day goes by where an England fan doesn’t adamantly try to cling to the fading glory 1966, the year that England finally reclaimed its rightful place on the summit of the magical sport that it created. But now in 2014, 48 years is too long to be still hanging on to fading past glories, it’s time for England to give a whole new generation of English children a new sense of pride and bragging right over the world over. But as long as we commit to offensive football, a formation that best suits the wealth of young attacking talent and the hope that Brazil will crumble under pressure, the world cup should be finally coming back to where it belongs.