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The Best World Cup Ever?

worldcup2014

Ten days ago it was in the bag – breathless pundits fell over each other to proclaim World Cup 2014 not only the greatest tournament, but also the greatest thing in recorded history: a bonanza of liquid football, attacking intent, and goals so good they made weird noises come out of your mouth. It was almost too much to take – three matches a day, each one throwing up quality and question in equal measure. How come Chile seem to counter attack with fifteen men? Who were those lookalikes playing for Spain? Why has a substituted player always run further than the team average?

And then, just as you were about to fire out a cliché regarding Hollywood’s inability to script such drama, Luis Suarez decides to chow down on Giorgio Chiellini. Mindblowing stuff, and we hadn’t even reached the knockout stage.

But like a meal where the starter turns out to be the highlight, things have got a bit stodgy since. Round two seemed to be stuck on repeat – each game consisting of a favourite that didn’t play well but still won. This left us with eight group winners in the quarter finals, but yet again things failed to fizz. The Germans, tired of being loved, decided to just win instead, a process helped by a French team who apparently forgot that being 1-0 down requires you to score a goal; Brazil quite literally kicked Colombia out of the tournament; Belgium, whose team resembles one of those pointless Premier League ‘Team of the Week’ captions you see in the paper, played like Stoke City. And while the Dutch almost added some spice by going out to those lovable Costa Ricans, in the end they didn’t, rather selfishly.

And now suddenly we’re hit with rest days, and the gnawing realisation that only three meaningful games remain. The first rumblings of media discontent can be heard – no truly outstanding team, too many good players injured, the ’82 World Cup was better – and it seems Brazil 2014 may have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. We need one last hurrah – a classic final maybe, or at least round two of Dunphy vs Cunningham – for the end is nigh and panic has set in. What was once before us, an exciting month of football, is now almost behind us. Let us warm ourselves on its dying embers and pray that Brazil 2014 does not go gentle into that good night.

Image courtesy of FIFA World Cup

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