The semifinal of the World Cup. That what finally took for me to get my creative juices flowing again. Who knew? Then again, I might have started this sooner had not Italy was dumped out of it. At the group stages, for the second consecutive time, no less. However, as bitter as I am, I imagine it must be even worse for the people of Rome and Milan. Italians are notoriously proud of their football and this would like a stake through the heart. Kind of like what I feel when Malaysia doesn’t get through the group stage of the AFF Cup. Only the feeling is ten times worse since it’s a global event and everyone’s talking about it. But I’m sticking with the Azzurris. There’s the matter of Euro 2016 to look forward to.
Now, let’s talk about the semis. It’s down to the last four. No more underdogs or David vs Goliath stories. What’s left are world football’s powerhouses. Three of them were past winners plus the Dutch who were three time finalists themselves (and who could forget that match against Spain).
But I’m not here just to talk about the semifinal matches and who would win them. I’m here to talk about the bigger picture. I’m here to talk about who will win the whole damn thing. About who will make the best World Cup story. And why Brazil should not win it.
Being hosts it seems fitting for them to win it in their own backyard and in front of their own people. Some even go as far to call them FIFA’s team to fit with their conspiracy theories. But it is also boring. It will also mean they would have won it six times. Two more than second placed Italy with four titles. The gap doesn’t seem much but when it comes to World Cup titles, it does take some considerable time to catch up. Just ask Uruguay. When it comes to spirit of competition, monopolizing has the opposite effect of that. Besides, Neymar is only 22. Plenty of World Cup left in him.
There’s no disputing the quality that is oozing throughout the German squad. If there is one team to break the trend of no European team has won the competition in South America, it most likely to be them. Qualifying for the semifinal stage for the fourth consecutive time shows little argument against them sealing their fourth world title. Even if they fail, expect them to be around at this stage again in four years time.
It seems odd that this Dutch squad is not as talented as the squads of yesteryears and yet has performed admirably in this year’s tournament comparable to those lead by the Cruyffs, the van Bastens and the Bergkamps. But what they do have is a core of superstar players at their prime supported by a collective of energetic youngsters guided by a masterful tactician. It’s hardly a proven formula but this is one of those instances where it does work and a strong possibility that they might go all the way. And aiming for the their first ever World Cup title? What a story that would be.
It’s about high time that a certain individual named Lionel Messi steps out of Diego Maradona’s shadow and join him instead as one of the game’s all time greats. The general consensus for him to achieve that legendary status is to star and win a World Cup looks well on track. A potential meeting with the host and rival Brazil in the final and possibly beating them at the Maracana is every Argentine fantasy. The script could not have been written any better. That is a story worth to be told countless times for decades to come. And that is what the World Cup is all about.