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Let me win just one please

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I love it …I love it !!!!

The World Cup of football 2018 is less than a week old, and already there are signs, that their will be many thrilling contests and upsets in this the 21st edition of the World Cup.

Let me say this, it has been a bookmakers (gambling shop) period of results in the World Cup so far with the defeat of Germany by Mexico (0-1) and the drawn matches for Spain (3-3 with Portugal), Argentina (1-1 with Iceland) and Brazil (1-1 with Switzerland). So far only France of the top five teams in the betting won (2-1 against Australia).

There were two major bets, that would have paid $thousands, for Brazil, Argentina and Spain to each draw their opening match in the World Cup was at 2,000-1.

And for Brazil, Germany, Spain and Argentina to have three points or less after their opening match was at 5,000-1. It certainly pays to be a gambling man who likes long shot odds.

If remarkably the football continues to spring surprises, then the dream of many, that there will be a new World Cup winner for the first time will gather more legs. As it stands now in my estimation, the winner of this World Cup, will come from a shortlist of seven only – Argentina, France, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Belgium and Portugal. Only two of the seven have yet to win a World Cup, with Portugal having won the European Championships in 2016, clearly led by their talisman Christiano Ronaldo having the taste for it.

Belgium possess two of the best midfielders in the English Premier League in Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard - if you add the likes of Captain Vincent Company (Manchester City) and Jan Vertonghem (Tottenham Hotspurs), as well as Manchester United ‘s Marounae Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku, it is a formidable outfit on paper - or maybe, even on a computer game. Sadly, that is not where football will be played. Their comfortable 3-0 win over Panama is a good but expected start.

Interestingly, it is safe to say, that the football bug, has stung many from old to young, from teenagers to business professionals, and most importantly women all over this country. The times of the matches whether they are at 6 am, 8 am, 9 am, 11 am or 2 pm, have not mattered to the people of this fun-loving football crazy country.

And while some employers have every right to be upset with the working hours, days off and sick leave which are available to their staffs during this period, there is a harsh reality, that sports eventually always wins out as it binds people together.

As to the football on the field, the true tests for the likes of Mexico, Iceland and Switzerland, in particular, will be in how they survive the other matches in the group when the spotlight is thrown on them.

This tournament, like most that decide world champions is about being able to adapt to circumstances and not losing focus when faced with the pressure of expectations, which is possible at the last match in the group and also in the knockout phases.

At this stage, it is clear, unless you are blind, that Brazil need to make changes if they are to succeed, and the first, I would suggest is to replace Gabriel Jesus with Roberto Firminio, the Liverpool striker, gives the team more options with his movement and penetration rather the typical box striker Jesus. Also, the familiarity between Phillippe Coutinho and Firmino should be exploited as much as possible. Neymar is Neymar and will take a while to get into top gear after a two-month absence from competitive football. I still do not believe that –Brazil – though will win the World Cup, however.

Belgium (16-1) and Portugal (25-1) are the dark horses to win the World Cup for different reasons, Belgium because of the potential quality of many of their players and Portugal because Ronaldo still believes he is the best player in the World and wants to carry his team to another final. As for England, they have a number of players, we all know from the English Premier League, but captain Harry Kane will need to be like Captain America in the comics, and score in every game for England to reach far.

Excitement, Excitement, this World Cup is already demonstrating all of that and more.


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