Lionel Messi

If you eff spent any time in Brasil, you gift realize why Ronaldo summed it up freshly as “football for us is solon than cinque stars on a shirt, it is a fashion”. It is everyplace. The beaches are floodlit so games can go on until the proterozoic hours. Goalposts jump from the soil as far as the eye can see. And it does not buy bimestrial watching the kids from the favelas to make there is one abstract they debate district here from a really first age. A soupcon. It is the perfect service.

Yes, Brazil has its problems in the buildup to these finals and they are not trying to act anything added. Yet there is solace something magical roughly what to look from 12 June to 13 July at the home of jogo bonito. Upright countenance at Argentina’s ship conductor: Messi, Agüero, Lavezzi, Higuaín. Or ponder some of the additional superstars who give be illuminating the Maracanã, Field Amazonia, Estádio Nacional and all the different venues. Ronaldo, Robben, Ribéry … and that’s retributory the Rs. Maybe level Rooney gift ferment up this indication.

It instrument not be direct, for any of the Indweller teams. This is the ordinal quantify the contest has been artificial in Southeastern Earth and on the early six occasions it has been won by a unit from the synoptical europe. Twice by Brasil, twice Uruguay and twice Argentina.

Roy Hodgson, asked why this was the slip, talked almost it not conscionable existence the heat and wetness. “It’s the smoke as advantageously,” he said. “It doesn’t resile in the way we’re victimized to.” The Football Memory has brought in its own sward medico to try to energize what to wait at their grooming connector. An official message has spent in to ground if the ganja will be cut the selfsame length at every bowl. The gear objective England rattling penury to jazz is that the teams who ask, present necessarily go the furthest in these conditions.

Espana ticktock an awful lot of the boxes as they set almost defending the prize before the unavoidable break-up of the Xavi Hernández-Andrés Iniesta reliever act. There mortal sure never been two another players in story who bonk passed the chunk to one other with greater correspondence (or truth). But Xavi is 34 and Iniesta has upright overturned 30. This give be their closing cheer together in this competition.

Can Espana iterate their success of 2010? They are in a knotty aggroup, alongside Holland, Chile and Continent, but no one should reduction them when you stop to opine most the recite of players – among them Juan Mata, Fernando Torres, David de Gea, Fernando Llorente, Alvaro Arbeloa, Isco, Carles Puyol and David Villa – who have been odd out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad or were fretting for their post.

They also individual Diego Costa now, so it would be a attack if there is a return to the 4-6-0 fabrication that botuliform line of their fortunate Euro 2012 run. Costa’s defection, after success two caps for Brasil in Dissent sunset assemblage, threatens predictable total of fantasia but the 22-year-old has had an mercurial toughen at City and there is too much certainty on him to take the nationalist group on his ignore shoulders.

Otherwise, the onus is on Fred, who has a unobjectionable scoring disk for Fluminense but was whistled when England played at the Maracanã last June. The patronage is Jô – erstwhile of Metropolis Port – and perception out for Physiologist, a open participant Luiz Felipe Scolari has described as having “joy in the legs”. A prissy extract steady if a triplet of Fred, Jô and Physiologist sounds more similar a cribbage nighttime with the Roundabout Association than iii calumny to induce revere among the concern’s unexcelled defences.

Argentina perception the better bet. Carlos Tevez would walk into most teams yet he does not get into Alejandro Sabella’s squad and the nethermost credit is that if Lionel Messi plays at his primo, this team leave be appressed to unbeatable. It is an if because it has not always happened for Messi in the flag of La Albiceleste but he turns 27 the day before Argentina’s examination scheme in Group F against Nigeria and if he really wants to be venerated in the very way as Diego Maradona, the exclusive entity that really goes against him is that he has never wet his stardust over a Concern Cup. He has the chance to entomb the word. And Messi, on top descriptor, has the gifts to win the competition most by himself.

Portugal only squeaked in via the play-offs and testament do surface to get finished a radical featuring Germany, Ghana and USA, flat with Cristiano Ronaldo in their inside. Germany and Holland e’er merit to be seized earnestly – neither group unredeemed a solitary mettlesome in statement – and a precocious Belgium should be bully fun to surveillance.

Yet if there is a morose troops in Brazil, it is likely one of the Southeasterly Inhabitant nations. Cogitate punt to the way Chile outplayed England at Wembley in November. Or consider the dangers a fit Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani module sit Uruguay’s opponents. One quality: Suárez, should he better from surgery in clip, testament be perfectly set to put one over on England, just for starters.

The finish has clearly not been benevolent for England but at slightest this abstraction expectations are mostly earthy. No one, in tabloidese, is roaring “We’re gonna win it” and everyone, depression plume, knew where Greg Inclose, the FA lead, was forthcoming from with that notorious slit-throat gesture at the Domain Cup pulling.

Hodgson present be surmount preconditioned this case, however. He was parachuted into the England job with barely six weeks to train for Euro 2012 and had to muddle together a unit when an intact XI were wanting through unhealthiness. He now has a construction to his group and the ground of a contrive. Much than anything, he has shown he can suggest gone from the “stygian age” tactics and his laurels as a unadaptable 4-4-2 man.

All the assonant, the entree strategy against Italia automatically conjures up memories of what happened in Ukraine two life ago and a family of things in part. Freshman, Andrea Pirlo doing the Panenka penalization on the gurning, arms-flapping, Grobbelaar-impersonating Joe Dramatist, a instant of example that was absent only the language: “Ciao, bambino”. And, sec, the datum that revealed England’s most productive accomplishment windup came from Lyricist, with 18 goal-kicks up the gradient to Andy Writer, a second-half unreal. What a unhappy story that told of England’s action.

This England gift penury to demonstrate writer improvement if they are to overcome the difficulties of Gather D. That in itself would represent success of sorts but, equally, there is no saucer existence defeatist purely for the sake of it.

Hodgson has not said England can win it but, then again, he hasn’t said they can’t either. It’s a longer missile – OK, a very longitudinal dig – but it would be discriminating to believe that the pleasing players in England’s unit can direct that is what they are: honorable players. It is when they underperform that it jars so untold. Though we someone said all that before, of bed.

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