And now the end is near… (World Cup Braindump #11)

by Steve

Only four games left, folks! Looking at my blogging habits, it may appear that after England’s woeful exit I went into something of a decline. Far from it. While this tournament has yet to match the all-time great World Cups, it has certainly had some fine moments, such as Brazil’s complete implosion against the Dutch, Germany dismantling Argentina and especially the electric final moments of Ghana/Uruguay.From Suarez’s last-ditch handball, to Gyan’s missed penalty, to Ghana losing in the shoot-out, this was football at its most dramatic. This is why I love sport. This had far more meaning, tension, passion and sheer visceral thrill than any fiction.

It would have been wonderful to have had an African side in the semi-finals, but amid the uproar over the handball incident (and the celebrations and comments from Suarez and Uruguay that followed), it has been overlooked that Uruguay are a pretty small nation themselves, and have been one of the best sides of the tournament. Still, what a wonderful, emotionally draining, game.

I’m really looking forward to the two semi-finals. It is to the credit of this tournament that there is nothing to choose between Spain, Germany and Holland for who will win the whole thing. Even the bookies can’t agree. It’s pretty rare for things to be so open this late on in a World Cup.

Germany have looked awesome so far, but it is hard to tell if they have been flattered by England and Argentina’s frail defences. Spain haven’t really been at their best yet, but have crafted result after result after their early slip against the Swiss. This game has the makings of a classic, I just hope both team’s degree of organisation and discipline doesn’t suck the life out of the tie. Hopefully we’ll see a slightly fitter Torres too.

Holland are the big favourites against Uruguay, and rightly so. They’ve won every game in this tournament, and still look ripe for improvement, provided they don’t turn in a similar performance to the one in the first half against Brazil. Uruguay, meanwhile, have suspensions and injuries to deal with, and can’t rely on Forlan alone to win this, surely.

This World Cup has been a bit of a slow-burner, but has built up nicely. Two great semis and a final, and it will surely be remembered as a fine tournament, particularly because of its unpredictability. I’ll miss it when it is gone!