Saturday, 3 July 2010

Something strange is happening...

I have found myself bizarrely interested in the World Cup as of late, the strangeness of this concept being that for most of my life I have been decidedly anti-football. The reasons for this stance were two-fold. Firstly, I've never been that good at the beautiful game myself, generally relegated to a defensive position where my usual tactic was to rush screaming at the attacking players (it did work sometimes), and secondly, I just couldn't generate the same level of passion for the sport as my friends. While they were obsessing over league tables and their latest season on Championship Manager (vintage 97/98), and would much rather have read a book or immersed myself in Final Fantasy.

I think the turning point came when I started doing the home delivery job at a certain frozen foods specialist (hint: it's not Greenland). Whilst out in the van I would listen to the radio, and quickly became bored by the monotony and repetition of Radio 1. I don't really know why, but I decided to switch over to Radio 5 Live. I've never switched back. I was initially attracted by the book and film reviews during the weekday afternoons, but gradually I began to take an active interest in the sport commentary broadcasted on Saturdays. It was so funny to see my friends faces when I chipped into their conversations with an actual viable comments about Rooney's performance over the weekend, or something of that nature.

When the World Cup came along, I said the same thing to myself as I do every time England play in an international football tournament; I'm not getting sucked in. This time however, the same as all the other times, I did get sucked in, but not in the way I expected. Rather than just following the my national side's ulcer-inducing scramble into the second round, I actually found myself absorbed in the entire tournament, to the point where I've been filling in a little World Cup planner in a magazine my Dad left in the living room. When the inevitable happened and England were knocked out, I didn't lose interest and pin all my hopes on a certain British tennis player, who in my opinion was never going to beat Nadal this year anyway (see, I also have opinions about tennis too!).

I think this World Cup has been particularly intriguing for me, mainly because of the big upsets during the tournament. When former winners such as Germany lose matches to underdogs like Serbia, it makes you sit up and think, who is actually gonna win this thing? All predictions go out of the window, along with shock early-exiting favourites such as France and Italy, leaving the field very much open to anyone. I guess it feels a little bit like the equivalent of me, a fairly unfit and unskilled player, managing to somehow wrong-foot one of my football-fanatic mates and send the ball sailing into the top corner. So maybe I'm enjoying it because I feel I can relate to the underdog spirit of the lower ranked teams that rewrote the record books by beating their bigger national neighbours into the second round and quarter finals. I was gutted when Ghana lost last night, but at least I was actually enjoying watching the game even though I had no national stake in it.

So there you have it. I'm actually enjoying the World Cup! I feel like the universe might implode from the very nature of that concept. I mean, it doesn't even involve lightsabers! My predictions for the remaining matches are as follows:

Germany will beat Argentina, and Spain will beat Paraguay, meaning it will be Germany Vs Spain in the remaining semi-final. The Netherlands will beat Uruguay and Germany will beat Spain, leading to a final between Germany and the Netherlands, in which Germany will win. Basically I want England to have been beaten by the best side! We'll have to wait and see if my predictions are correct. Post yours below and we'll see who gets it right!

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