With Roy's Boys out of the competition, it's time to pick a second side. We take a look at the contenders potentially worthy of your support...
Passionate fans, an obdurate 4-4-2 and a near-century-old propensity for tastiness in the tackle. Uruguay are the only flagbearers left for the old way of English football. Furthermore, Luis Suarez has made it very clear his principal motivation last Thursday, inspiring his Terminator-like recovery from injury, was to beat the English. We can only hope to stop him by cheering him on.
A small country with a brilliant coaching system and an energetically supported league packed with homegrown talent and stars who have dazzled abroad, such as Arjen Robben (below). The more success that is piled upon such a system, the harder it will be for England’s powers that be to carry on ignoring it.
“Y ya lo ve, y ya lo ve, el que no salta/es un Ingles” – “Now you see, now you see, the one not jumping is an Englishman”. Argentina’s favourite chant. They chant it at everything. The English don’t even need to be there. It is so popular that the Uruguayans borrowed it for their match against us. The chances of us catching up Argentina in footballing terms within the lifespan of anyone currently alive seems so remote it makes more strategic sense to just will the gap to widen ever further. Perhaps then they will be less angry about the Falklands.
Surely nothing will spur England into action with more urgency than French success. In the last two decades, we have only outperformed them when they have gone on strike.
The wisdom doing the rounds is that the much- promised widespread protests that have failed to materialise in as grand a fashion as was expected would severely escalate if the Selecao were eliminated. Plus a World Cup in Brazil can only be a World Cup in Brazil once Brazil have played at the Maracana, and for that to happen, they (almost certainly) need to make the final.
Currently the African team with the most realistic prospect of making the knockout stages, and despite the ear-ache inflicted on football by the vuvuzela, which given the number that have appeared on the streets of Brazil appears to be permanent, the tournament is immensely richer for Africa’s continued presence.
It is here that the world’s most hard- working sports administrators have made their home. Without their honesty and devotion football would have died out long ago, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.
For as long the USA remain in the tournament, so the country’s sports journalists remain talking about it, and there is little for England to feel superior about. “This is the problem inherent with the Spanish system of tiki-taka,” one said on television as the world champions and double European champions crashed out of the tournament. “You can’t just pass the ball into the net.” Yep, if only your incisive analysis had arrived half a decade ago.
Their favourite chant of “Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!” has been mocked in some quarters for its plaintive simplicity, but anyone who was glued to the television almost four years ago as 33 men were sucked out of the bowels of the desert in a one-man rocket ship will recognise that nationalistic chant as the near-continuous backing of an event that summoned forth waves of joyous nostalgia. Plus, their football has been every bit as brave and daring as their fans who stormed the Maracana, and markedly more successful.
They’re young, they’re fearless, they’re talented, they play like a team that’s loving every second, all propped up by a league run for the sake of sport, not business. If that’s not something to cheer for, then you simply don’t like football.Reuse content