There seems to be some debate online over whether this has been a World Cup so far or not. I’m surprised by this – personally I have been hooked by it.
Sure, some of the games have been dull and a lot of the goals seem to be penalties, but who didn’t love Spain v Portugal? Or Mexico beating Germany? Or the complete implosion of Argentina? For me there has been just the right level of drama, surprise and lads blamming it in the goal. Even VAR has worked OK. For now anyway…
Maybe the issue for some is that there hasn’t been a huge giant killing yet, like Cameroon beating Argentina on the opening day of 1990 or South Korea beating Italy in 2002. There have been several close-run things, Iran gave Spain quite the fright this week, but generally the teams you have expected to win have done so, or at least got a point.
"Dejan Lovren is the best centre-half in the world… and he's going to win the World Cup." ✊
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) June 22, 2018
Some have tried to paint Croatia as plucky underdogs, but it is hard to see a side with two Champions League finalists, as well as lads from Barcelona and Juventus quite in that way. In terms of balance and talent they look one of the best teams in the tournament.
Maybe then it has been because, Cristiano Ronaldo aside, the big name players coming in to the tournament haven’t quite lit it up in the way that fans and sponsored hoped. In the first game at least we had nothing from Neymar, the flash French forwards have been frustrating and Messi has gone missing in action. Have we become too obsessed with big stars over team performances? Perhaps. But it would be nice if a few more of the huge names we were looking forward to seeing come to the party. It can’t all be about Ronaldo. Even if that’s what he’d prefer.
One name I’m not disappointed to see little of, however, is Mo Salah.
It’s terribly selfish really. Surely if you love a player you want him to be happy, and nothing would have made Mo happier than firing Egpyt to the latter stages of the tournament. Seeing his lovely little face looking glum on the bench as his rubbish mates got beat by Uruguay was a bit heartbreaking.
But as a Liverpool fan I was worried sick every time he stood up never mind tried to play football. I understand his desperation to play in a World Cup, especially after the amazing last minute winner to get them there, but he was clearly nowhere near ready to play. His shoulder was unlikely to be healed and any fall on it might have set him back considerably.
Right now Mo Salah will be feeling angry with the world and understandably so. Not only was his Champions League Final cut short by assault, but the injury has scuppered his World Cup dream too. But, again, this is no bad news for Liverpool. An angry Mo Salah can be a dangerous one for Premier League defences next season. Ideally he would be nowhere near the starting line up for Egypt’s final game as it is a dead rubber anyway. Then he can come back to Liverpool, have a good pre-season and be ready to go for Liverpool’s title challenge next season. Well that’s the plan, anyway.
Obviously other Liverpool players might be away a little longer.
I mean, it looks like Dejan Lovren is going to win it, which would be marvellous. But it looks like the England boys might be away for a bit longer than some of us anticipated too. This might be getting carried away with one 2-1 victory over Tunisia, but for a while England genuinely looked as good as anyone we have seen so far and a last minute winner will do them a world of good too. Unlike some other sides, England’s top striker is in the goals and the team seems well set up for that to continue. They look much fresher and more determined than in previous World Cups, for sure.
They’ll probably get beat by Panama now and make a fool of me. That’s normally how these things work. But I think this England team has much more to show this World Cup and could surprise a few people. Well, at least until someone quick runs at Harry Maguire.