Once every four years we get to witness the best sportsman that humankind has to offer, battling it out in an arena for the highest honors. No, I’m not talking about the Olympics. I’m talking about the FIFA World Cup. Yes, I’m a little biased towards football.
Anyway, the 2014 edition has seen several interesting things. For one, there was not a single draw in the first 11 games. Some of the smaller teams are playing with a lot of heart (just look at Costa Rica’s campaign opener against Uruguay). Two established names are already out of the tournament – Spain & England (However, why England’s ouster is no surprise, is something we’ll discuss in a bit). Portugal has been demolished by Germany. Chile have been playing like mountain lions rather than timid Andean llamas.
Let’s take the example of England in this edition. Their ouster has not come as much of a surprise to me. It’s a team that has consistently underperformed on the big stage for many years. They reached the last four, 24 years ago. Many mistake the vibrancy of the Premier League as being indicative of the state of English football. But the fact is that many of their good players are old. Lampard, Terry and Gerrard are possibly playing their last major international tournament. Rooney is not young anymore (at least by footballing standards). The young guns Welbeck, Sturridge and Sterling are inexperienced. Cahill and Jagielka cannot provide the fullback support that Ferdinand and Terry could. The vibrancy of the Premier League comes from the brilliant mix of foreign players (including those from other parts of the UK). Over the last many years, many stars have emerged – Henri, Ronaldo, Suarez, RVP, Giggs, Drogba, Oscar, Torres, Bale, Hazard, etc. And, by saying this I don’t mean that the Premier League should change in any form, because it provides a very solid platform for talent discovery and subjects each player (domestic and foreign) to a high level of performance.
But there are many games to follow. Brazil, Netherlands, Germany and Italy are still in it. It promises to be a very interesting 3 weeks ahead.