Brazil 2014: England in ‘Group of Death’
Sport, there are many of them from Cricket to Figure Skating, Golf to Curling and Athletics to the Dressage, all of which have their own pinnacle events. For Rugby it’s the Six Nations, for Cricket it’s the Ashes and for Golf it’s the Ryder Cup or the Masters at Augusta. However, the FIFA World Cup is not only football’s biggest event but probably sports biggest event…
Yesterday, 32 national teams waited with intrigue as the World Cup draw took place in the glamorous Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the country which will host next year. England drew the short straw, drawing South American champions Uruguay and four time World Cup winners, Italy. France and Argentina, on the other hand, dodged the bullet drawing favourably soft groups.
With qualification over and the procedure of the group draw completed, all eyes are fixed on the tournament and the teams with gold in their sights. Brazil, Spain, Argentina and Germany are widely accepted as the four most likely to lift the trophy in the Maracana on the 13th July.
Next year’s tournament will be the first time FIFA’s global show will take place in South America since Argentina won as hosts in 1978 thanks to a brace from Mario Kempes. Brazil and the other nations in the host continent are much fancied going into the event, with every World Cup which has been hosted in South America having been won by a team from there. Uruguay won on home turf in 1930, before winning again in Brazil in 1950, Brazil won their second tournament in 1962 in Chile and Argentina succeeded as hosts 16 years later.
It’s no surprise football’s grandest spectacle is so watched, the 84 year old concept has had some magical moments over the years. Pele scoring two in the 1958 final at the age of 16, Geoff Hurst’s hat trick in England’s winning 1966 final, Carlos Alberto’s wonder goal in the ’70 climax and Ronaldo’s one man final display in 2002 to name a few.
In recent years, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been acknowledged as the two best players in world football and it seems next year’s World Cup is their chance to join the greats. Both have the title missing from their trophy cabinets, whereas the sport’s greatest: Pele, Muller, Maradona, Zidane and Ronaldo all do.
Messi has had the more noticeably dodgy international career, with only a single World Cup goal from back in 2006 against Serbia and Montenegro. The following inception in 2010 proved a disappointment for Messi, who failed to score at all. However, this year Argentina have been drawn in a group with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria and Iran, the Barcelona man must fancy his chances in a noticeably weak group.
So, with such stars as Lionel Messi, Radamel Falcao, Frank Ribery, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Andrea Pirlo all lining up for their countries in Brazil next year, who will stand triumphant with the iconic FIFA World Cup trophy lifted high in ecstasy?
YJA Sports Correspondent