I hadn’t really thought about this issue until the ludicrously long and overblown build up to the draw for the finals started this afternoon. They have been talking for what seems like hours and a ball hasn’t been drawn yet. There has been endless pontificating about who England might draw and what would be the worst case scenario when the truth is that it doesn’t matter who we get because we can’t win the tournament.
The World cup has proved to be one of life’s more predictable events at least as far as the winner of the tournament goes. Most fans and pundits will be familiar with the fact that a European team has never won on South American soil. When the tournament has been held in Europe there has only been one occasion when a European team has not come out on top. So the chances are that a South American Team will win the 2014 finals.
I should also mention that history has shown that being the host nation really helps. A third of the tournaments have been won by the host nation. It has also proved to be useful if you happen to be one of the top teams in the world. You might get the odd minnow winning the FA Cup but it doesn’t happen on the biggest stage. The winners have always been one of the top teams in the world at the time. The winner has always been one of the seeded teams too and England rather fell down on that front.
The Likely Winners
One can only conclude from all this that Brazil or Argentina will win the tournament in 2014. Whilst I have been writing this the draw has finally been made and England have indeed found themselves in the group of death. They will be facing Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica. I don’t fancy our chances but frankly I am not that bothered because even if we get through I know that some things are a dead cert in the World Cup and one of them is that England will flatter to deceive and then get knocked out on penalties.
Brazil and Spain
The only potential spanner in the works thrown up by the draw is the fact that Brazil are in Group A and Spain in Group B which means that if one of them slips up and comes second in the group they could well be playing each other in the last 16. The highest ranked team in the world against the hosts now that would be some match!
One of these days there might actually be a surprise winner of the World Cup but somehow I don’t think it is going to be this time. Looking at the way the groups are set up Argentina in particular have a very easy path to the latter stages. There will be one or two surprise results along the way and someone unexpected will have a great tournament but one of the big guys will win out in the end.
We will be bemoaning the state of English football once again, particularly our inability to take penalties, and whilst millions of kids will be playing with their footballs in the garden dreaming of Brazil I will be on holiday on Croatia. This may seem like bad timing but I don’t leave until the World Cup has been under way for two weeks so England will be out by then!
Article by Sally Stacey