The last four weeks goings-on in Brazil have delivered a truly incredible World Cup. I’ve written this before the final so Messi will inevitably score a hat-trick of wonder-goals, Germany will win 20-0 or Glenn Hoddle and Danny Murphy will have a knife fight, it’s been that kind of World Cup. From Holland hammering Spain on the second day, to Carlos Costly’s mysterious blue chew, to Tuesdays astonishing scenes in Belo Horizonte it’s delivered on every level. The best World Cup ever?
The Kick-off times – I don’t really care how the millionaire soccer stars coped with the kick-off times in Brazil but as a TV viewer in the UK I’ve coped bloody marvellously. All the games played after work, all at eating and drinking time and all before bedtime (apart from Japan v someone at stupid o’clock in the morning). As Wordsworth said “Bliss that it was to have three-games-a-night but the primetime KO slots were very heaven”.
Robin van Persie’s header against Spain – You’ve seen it so I won’t describe it. It will go down in history as one of THE World Cup goals. TV presenters who have yet to be born will be reminiscing about it in 30 years time on BBC3.3’s “Sickest World Cup Shit Ever Yeah?”. It was astonishing, impudent, majestic and funny. A lobbed diving header ffs. Moments like that remind us why we love the game. The whole match was a bit WTF? And it set the tone early for what has been a fantastic World Cup.
Lee Dixon – He’s not a bad pundit for a dull blue tbf but Dicko makes it in for his in-built inability to say ‘Tackle’. He always says Tattle instead of Tackle. Try as he might he can’t say Tackle. I reckon he deffo says Backle of Hastings but I’m not sure how he’d get on with ‘Cattle’ ( bet he only ever says ‘herd of cows’).
Thomas Muller’s Socks – Bless young Tommy with his cartoon face and Teutonic Steve Claridge vibes. He’s a throwback to a more innocent age and nothing confirms it more than his socks. Barely keeping his shinpads up, halfway down his leg and making him look completely knackered before he’s kicked a ball. Great player mind though I’m not sure quite how and why.
Karim Benzema – For the goals, the skills, the beard and for just being Karim Benzema. Another tournament passes without him quite showing he’s at the very top or is remotely arsed about that fact, but that’s Karim for you.
Alireza Haghighi’s boots. – Alireza became an instant favourite in the clever part of our house simply by wearing black boots. To prove he wasn’t messing he made sure they were all black, no stripes, no swooshes, no signatures no nothing. Just black (They were actually blacked-out Adidas Copa Mundial’s. Sigh). In a world where we’re likely to be told that “the Colombian centre-forward’s wife gave birth to a new baby boy last night so he’s had a piece of the placenta sewn into his boots for tonight’s game”, Alireza’s boots are a reminder of more tasteful times. He does wear a short sleeved goalie top though the ponce.
France’s away kit. There’s a big picture of it on here. Have a scroll down and have a look at it. That’s why it makes the list.
Mexico’s socks – I’m not going to go on and on about socks, that’d be weird but Mehico’s socks were stunners. (Adidas naturally).
Miguel Herrera – Bit of a cliché putting the internet’s most meme’d face on the list but the mad fucker is unavoidable. The World Cups ‘Lowest paid manager’ (copyright: everyone), was also its most enthusiastic. Big Miguel amused, antagonised and acrobat-ted his way through Mexico matches like a man who owed Tony Soprano. An over-excitable bloke, Miguel’s got a head shaped like a sandcastle and, probably due to being constantly told to do so, he looks like he’s literally wound his neck in.
ITV’s studio window – The window to ITV’s Copacabana facing studio came under attack from stone-throwers on the tournaments opening night during ferocious anti- Adrian Chiles demonstrations. Unfortunately Chiles escaped unharmed but the window bore the mark of attack throughout the rest of the world cup, floating above Fabio Cannavaro’s left shoulder like a Neapolitan star.
Neymar – OK since he got injured the Brazilians were hyping him more than Kanye West hypes himself and since he’s come to Europe we’ve realised he isn’t the new Pele but he’s a wonderful player, made for exciting viewing and gave Brazil games an even greater sense of anticipation. It was a shame he left the tournament because he’s another throwback, a skinny dribbler taking on the big boys. He looks like a Manga cartoon character and dresses like an eight year old but until he was taken care of by the Colombian hitman he was a joy to watch.
The Panini sticker collection – Now I’ve long enjoyed a World Cup sticker album, including this summers but Panini nearly didn’t make the cut. I re-picked up the habit for the last two tournaments (for my lad, y’know…obviously) but this summer I’ve been joined by the entire fucking world. Sticker collecting was taken over by every JCL in the land buying up my normally abundant stock. For weeks on end Twitter had more people sticker swapping than posting pictures of people who have similar names to someone who has just died.
The race for completion has got out of hand too. I don’t need to fill my whole book (spending two hundred quid n the process). I never managed it when I was younger and it doesn’t bother me. It’s the journey and the chase where the thrill lies. Completing your album is for squares (unless you got the hardback album in which case it’s a must obviously).
Brazil 1 Germany 7 – As big a ‘What the fuck’ moment as the game of football has ever seen. Watching the hosts and inventors of the beautiful game humiliated beyond recognition thanks to a masterclass from Ze Germans was as shocking as it was remarkable. Obviously Brazil were fucking awful and Germany were brilliant but the one-sidedness of the match was unbelievable, especially for a semi-final of the World Cup. As someone who has grown-up with Brazil being the World Cup team it was a truly stunning evenings viewing. David Luiz’s tears afterwards were an additional unexpected bonus.
Number 14 – I’ll leave this as we’ve not had the final yet and something amazing might happen (like Brazil 1 Germany 7) so you can add your own. I have to acknowledge that or the completists will complain it’s not a comprehensive list and not be able to enjoy it fully because it’s not finished, just like with their sticker albums.