It starts tomorrow. The event for which, 31 days ago I broke out my coloured pens and crayons to create a special calendar. At the time I was officially declaring a 32-day countdown (one day for each participating country), when in reality my internal countdown had begun little less than four years ago, the minute the 2006 final ended. If you don’t know what I’m talking about (I should really slap your face off of your face if only because I don’t have time to explain sixty plus years of glorious history), the World Cup starts tomorrow; the time when my heart begins to beat to the rhythm of “ole, ole ole ole”, the moment when the Beautiful Game takes center stage, when the gaze of millions will be directed towards South Africa. For as much as I enjoy the game (and by enjoy I mean adore, obsess over, cry about, curse at, think about constantly and just plain f*cking love) I hate to talk about it. I dread social events where I’ll inevitably encounter the generic “so how about those *insert team name here*” or “who do you think will win *insert major tournament here*”. Don’t get me wrong, I love having an in-depth conversation about coaching techniques, transfer rumors, starting formations and the remarkably stupid tessera
Let’s start with España. Recently they seem to be everyone’s favorite, everyone’s “oh, I’ve loved them for years” team. And while I don’t doubt the power of this amazing team [it’s hard to deny the strength of a team in which more than half the players come from either Real Madrid or FC Barça (the latter of which broke about every record and won about thirty-seven million trophies last season)], they have yet to prove themselves when it counts.
As far as
A country that seems to have forced their name into conversations about potential finalists is
Next we move north to a rainy little island known as
Germany, Deutschland, National Mannschaft… one of my favourites. All German stereotypes seem to apply here, precision, strength, discipline, heartless murde- (okay, maybe not all stereotypes). However, with the recent injury to Ballack, the captain and backbone of the team, it might prove difficult for the boys to find a new leader to take them all the way.
There’s not much for me to say about Italia, the reigning champions, because, for me at least, whenever I picture the team I see them sitting around the locker-room, smoking their Nazionali cigarettes and sipping their espressos (I also cannot bear the thought of not seeing my beloved Totti step onto the pitch this time around).
At this point I just say “them”… just that, nothing else, for as an Argentine fan there is us and there is them (they know who they are).
That’s it, a quick glimpse into my mind. I must say that it is still anyone’s game; to get all this way is a feat in itself and I can’t wait for the beautiful sound of the first whistle. There’s not much more insight I can provide that pundits haven’t already been talking about for months. There are no secrets, no back-alley whisperings or insider tips I’m savvy to. I only have hope, hope that the footballing gods will answer my prayers and forsake the millions of others. Saint Di Stefano, Saints Batistuta and Artime, I leave it in your hands…