Mexican magic German stumbles Brazilian coughs and English escapes

Russia World Cup 2018

The World Cup is penning some fascinating story lines already.

Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive but to be Mexican was very heaven.

Praying for Mexico

I watched the now famous Mexican conquest of Germany in a house full of Mexican expats, home-made tacos, guacamole, salsa, Mariachi vinyls, beers with lime wedges and shots of fine tequila from the old country.

Putin was right - football does bring together folk of all creeds and nations. We share in mutual escape from reality, alternative agony and ecstasy, fear and celebration.

We certainly rode the rollercoaster in that Mexican house on Sunday. I cannot imagine how it must have felt in Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara and elsewhere back home but I would have loved to have been there.

As for the holders it is too early to panic but there must be an inquest as to why on earth the Mannschaft did not change its formation when it was clear the Mexicans were cutting their absent defence to shreds like fajita meat every time they counter-attacked.

Mexico looked drained as soon as they came out of the dressing rooms for the second half but physically they must have had more petrol in the tank so they must have been mentally bunkering down.

Even at this level it seems there is a lot of psychology to learn.

Later that night we saw Brazil join the club of big nations unable to win their opening game:

Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Portugal and Spain - one match, no wins.

The selecao did show off some silky skills and scored a wonder goal it is true but technical brilliance counts for nothing if you let a simple cross be met by a big guy who nods into your net.

I fancy Brazil go on to thrash the others in the group and race through the knockout stages but for now what a storyline we have of the cup's two favourites stumbling at the first hurdle.

So are we on course for a shock World Cup like in 2002? Will the last four include the likes of Serbia and Denmark.

We kid ourselves that we know the game and reel off stats to prove it, but how is this for starters - can you name the previous ten World Cup winners? Probably, I can.

But how about the last four in each of those tournaments..?

For exhibit one of the World Cup's capacity to shock I offer the following semi-finalists:

Poland (1982)
Belgium (1986)
Sweden (1994)
Croatia (1998)
Turkey & South Korea (2002)

Ask the 'experts' and they will invariably pick the last four from the big five or six however. It is too early to panic after only one game but it has been a duff start from the pack of favourites.

The narratives are being carefully crafted now with recovery or revenge in the mind of many players for the second match.

'Expect a blowback' as the tabloids write...

Belgium did not keep to the script in beating Panama 3-0 on Monday of course and neither did England, who once more laboured to defeat an inferior opponent, despite a positive first half.

In Harry Kane of course they have a goal poacher supreme, whom Tunisia were guilty of not marking for both of his clinical strikes. A moment of ball-watching here, a defender not playing goal-side there are among the little thing which make the difference at the highest level.

Now it is the turn of the most diverse group of all, group H with the talents of Colombia, Japan, Poland and Senegal, to take up the baton.

Let us hope for more matches with the passion of Peru v Denmark, the quality of Spain v Portugal and the drama of Mexico v Germany to keep us head over heels in love with the Beautiful Game in this, its most magical month every four years.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post