Thursday, May 24, 2018

"My countries" in the World Cup

I am now living in El Salvador, a country that is not in the World Cup. For the last World Cup I was also in a country not represented, Liberia, and so I seem to be losing more and more countries in the World Cup. Of countries I have an attachment to, these are the ones in the tournament:
  • Denmark: Surprisingly qualified after a strong play-off match against Ireland, but I don't have many expectations. I saw them in qualification play a hugely boring match against Poland. They will likely compete for second place in the group against another boring side, Peru (I tip 0-0), and if they make it to the next round, expect that they will lose to any team from one of the strong groups (Nigeria, Iceland, Croatia or Argentina).
  • Argentina: Were it not for Leo Messi Argentina would not be in Russia. He is the only one can carrying a bunch of overrated and overpaid players without will or quality to play for a great country like Argentina. I find it sad that Higuain has made it to the team, and with a defense that has more holes than a Swiss cheese I cannot see that they will get beyond the first stage. Unless Messi is brilliant; he is the only one from whom anything looking like quality will come. But one man cannot make a football team; that is why it is a team sport!
  • Colombia: Colombia is the only of "my" countries I am expecting anything from. They have a great team, and pressure does not seem as enormous as other years. At the same time their group does not seem incredibly difficult: a totally overrated Poland (with one quality player in Lewandowski), a Japan side with new coach and little confidence, and a Senegal side without much experience. I expect Colombia to make it through, and then their quality will be tested against what will likely will be Belgium or England.
  • Belgium: I have lived the international life of Brussels, but will always have a soft spot for Belgium. They have a fantastic side, with one of their best generations ever, but were unable to shine at the highest stage in the Euro 2016, being eliminated by Wales. This should be their moment, again entering the tournament as favourites, but I do not expect them to perform when it counts.
  • Spain:They qualified in style and have some of the best players in the world, and differently from 2014, when Del Bosque could not get himself to select young talented players or study the opponents, this squad has a good balance between youth and experience. Spain are surely favourites for the title. 
 Some of "my other countries" will be missed, mostly El Salvador (as I am currently here), but certainly also Chile (my country of birth) and my favourite African side of Ghana.
All this said, I have a hard time getting excited for this World Cup. Will this be the last World Cup worth watching?


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