With the 2010 World Cup just days away, anticipation is high and tension is building. All signs of the football fever that is sure to spread across the planet like a brushfire.
With all the excitement that is to ensue from the World Cup, I have decided to come up with a list of things that I believe will happen at the 2010 World Cup.
Without any further ado, let the countdown begin...
I am afraid to say this but I think it will happen at the 2010 World Cup. If I were to pick a particular match where it will happen, my bet will be on England v USA but do not be surprised to see a team bus getting shot at.
Remember what happened at the African Cup of Nations? Yes, I am sure South Africa will 'step up' its security efforts but I believe that their best just is not enough to meet international security standards.
England or Italy will be good bets for sets of supporters that turn violent. Italians have been renowned for their 'ultras' who are renowned for their fanatical support and elaborate displays. While the flares will be a sight to behold outside/inside the stadium, I would not be a bit surprised if facist or racist ultras start rearing their ugly heads and attacking the Africans at the event.The English fans have been renowned for their rowdiness under the influence of alcohol.
Remember when Manchester United fought Roma in Italy or remember when a Liverpool fan was charged for murder after a Champions League match? These bad hats will definitely be in full force at the 2010 World Cup.
FIFA and Blatter may have had good intentions bringing the World Cup to a new continent but I have a hunch that tells me it will backfire.
In 2002, England was eliminated thanks to a David Seaman howler. In 2006, England was knocked out via a penalty shootout against Portugal in a match that saw Wayne Rooney sent off. This World Cup, with the John Terry saga, the lack of a consistent first choice goalkeeper and the failure to have a settled partner for Wayne Rooney and a left winger, it has all the makings of an implosion that only England can deliver.
Bear in mind that if England win their group and Germany finishes second in theirs, an England v Germany Round of 16 match will occur. England. Germany. Penalties? Hmmm.....
Laurent Blanc was wrongly sent off after an encounter with Croatian Slaven Bilic in the 1998 World Cup while Michael Ballack in 2002 had accumulated yellow cards which meant that both Blanc and Ballack would miss the World Cup finals. In 2006, Zinedine Zidane provoked by Marco Matterazi was sent off for a subsequent headbutt. I would not be surprised if a Messi, Rooney or Fabregas would miss the World Cup Final.
France in a group consisting of host nation, South Africa and Uruguay may face some unexpected problems and truth be told, were it not for Zidane in the last World Cup, France would have gone home way earlier than they did. In 2002, they were knocked out in the group stages, would not be surprised if it happened again in spite of all the starpower.
Portugal in a group consisting of Ivory Coast and Brazil may face a danger of getting eliminated early after underperforming under former Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Quieroz.
My pick for the 2010 World Cup dark-horse is Serbia. Serbia qualified for the 2006 World Cup by conceding only one goal in ten qualifying matches, the best among the 51 teams participating in qualification. While Serbia lost all three matches in the group stage, it has to be noted that Serbia were missing Nemanja Vidic for the World Cup due to injury.
In the 2010 World Cup, Serbia qualified above France in their qualification group and if they can qualify above Germany in the group stages, they will avoid England and most likely face the United States, I can see them causing headaches to teams in the latter stages especially with that rock solid defense.
Needless to say that English football and dodgy refereeing are as prevalent as Italian football and corruption. In the 2006 World Cup, Graham Poll made a fool out of himself by issuing THREE yellow cards to a player at the World Cup and this year, Howard Webb seems to be the one who is set on representing England. This is the same Howard Webb who is afraid to make calls during important events even if it happens right under his nose (John Terry on James Milner in the FA Cup semi final), it would be interesting to see how he officiates at the World Cup.
How many times this season have we witnessed our favorite club being at the receiving end of unjust refereeing decisions? Didier Drogba's goal against Manchester United is the most recent that springs to my mind but it is almost certain that similar refereeing decisions will spill over to the 2010 World Cup. And mind you, Zinedine Zidane was sent off in the 2006 World Cup Finals only after the referee witnessed on the screen what had happened between him and Marco Matterazzi but as usual Sepp Blatter will say that the absence of video technology only adds to the drama.
To fulfill his prophecy started by the media, Lionel Messi must win the World Cup. All the better if he were to win it with a 'Hand of God' but I am sorry, it will not happen. Not with Diego Maradona in charge of the Argentinian national team. Talent gets you far and Lionel Messi has that in abundance but work ethic and organization gets you further. And Mr Maradona, as great as he was as a footballer, he could not even manage his weight, yet alone the national team.
Puyol, Pique, Fabregas, Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta - all Barcelona's youth products (of course you could argue with Fabregas and Pique but you get my point) and all could start for the national team. Who wouldn't dream of managing that wealth of talent and who could deny how much Messi has benefited from the brilliance and vision of both Iniesta and Xavi. While Messi will need to get accustomed being without the two, Xavi and Iniesta will not cry for Argentina with Fernando Torres and David Villa in front of them.
If you have made it up to here, give yourself a pat on the back. You must be a real football fanatic.
Whoever you support (that is if you are supporting England), may the best team (England!) wins the 2010 World Cup and let us hope that whatever drama ensues, may it be restricted to drama on the field.