What an amazing World Cup!
It’s been a fascinating TV spectacle for the past month, showcasing the world’s finest footballing talent (and England) and gripping audiences running into the hundreds of millions.
We’ve also been treated to the marvellous atmosphere of Brazilian stadia. The self-styled “Kings of football” have entertained us, thrilled us and stunned us with their passion, liveliness and unrivalled enthusiasm – it was just a shame their team didn’t quite live up to it!
The Maracana catches your eye even from some distance away
As the World Cup ends though, I am taken back to my time watching football in Brazil eight years ago, when a visit to the Maracana did not have quite the same international profile, but undoubtedly had the same raw intensity.
It was pretty hot in the stands
Even though, she can’t talk just yet, Sophie enjoys wordplay.
On the day of the World Cup Final, do try and enjoy (or at least endure) her alternative version of this year’s World Cup.
When it comes to the World Cup, everyone’s a pundit aren’t they? I fell into this very trap a few weeks ago when previewing the magical events of Brazil 2014.
As the round of 16 kicks off today, Sophie casts her mind back over my tips for progression and is distinctly unimpressed!
Rewind back to November 2013. England had safely qualified for the World Cup in Brazil and were sitting pretty as top of their group. France, on the other hand, were in the play-offs and were outplayed in the first leg by Ukraine, losing 2-0. They were on the brink.
However, following their 3-0 return leg victory, they booked their place on the plane and have looked ominously impressive in their opening two matches. Eight goals notched already and seeming certainties to reach the latter stages.
England though are out after just two games for the first time in their history and the recriminations are long and hard.
So Sophie reaches the end of her preview of the World Cup. She has enjoyed getting excited about the action…and screamed through most of the first match last night (when she should have been asleep). No doubt Groups G and H will offer similar enthusiasm levels when they get going on Monday and Tuesday!
Over the past few weeks and months, the eyes of the world have been turning towards Brazil where the game of football was made magical and the sound of samba and celebration echoes through the streets.
There has been a great enthusiasm for the delights of the country – from the beauty of the Rio skyline to the mystery and depth of the Amazon rainforest. It is a country of marvellous contrasts, wonderful vistas and friendly people.
But it’s also a country of dark contrasts. Most markedly between rich and poor.
Groups E and F didn’t seem like the most thrilling when the draw was made… not sure they’ll be worth the late night viewings! My wife asked which teams I was really desperate to watch and aside from the potentially magical Argentina, Groups E and F look fairly dull. You never know though – often a team you don’t expect comes through and is amazing to watch – think South Korea in 2002, Uruguay in 2010. Here, Sophie casts her experienced eyes over the runners and riders.
C and D have been locked together and, if England can escape their perilously difficult group, they could find themselves with a fairly kind draw in the next round. Still, this is England I’m talking about – they very rarely make anything appear favourable!
In the first of a four part series, Sophie and her Dad tackle the key issues in Groups A and B at Brazil 2014. Who will have the bottle to reach Round 2? And who will end up as the dummies? Read on to find out her thoughts…
Over the next month or so, events taking place across a vast swathe of South America are going to take centre stage in global news. World Cup 2014 kicks off on Thursday night and I, like many others, will be enjoying every minute!