2010 FIFA World Cup: A Scotsman's View On The Tournament
WARNING: may contain extreme bias towards England's opponents.
World Cup fever is only just starting to grip Scotland, and that's only thanks to a controversial ad campaign by Mars.
However, there's always the excitement of seeing the best players in the world on the biggest stage, all over the course of one month, starting tomorrow. The hosts South Africa face Mexico in the opening match (which I will miss thanks to my first day in my new job) of what may actually be the tightest group of the lot thanks to France's dismal form.
We Scots may have endured some of the worst qualifying displays under George Burley, but that certainly won't stop us from flooding bars and pubs to watch England's opener against the USA. And you can bet most of us will be willing on the players from across the Atlantic, rather than our fellow Brits.
Call it racism if you must, but a lot of Scots engage in a bit of banter with people of different nationalities, most of which is completely harmless. Some of us just don't like the way the English are bigged up by the media. Some think it's more of a healthy rivalry, or maybe we just don't do optimism.
A country which last qualified for a major tournament in 1998, Scotland have never made it past the opening round of the finals, so you shouldn't be surprised that many of the fans that went to France that year thought the same would happen. Those who dare to dream are often ridiculed, and called "numpties".
We are even gaining a reputation for playing "negative football" or "anti-football", but if it works for Italy then why can't we have a go? After all, those two 1-0 wins over France in recent times came from putting 10 men behind the ball and hoping to nick a spawny goal.
Back to the World Cup, and one thing I can't help but notice is that both the English and American communities here on Bleacher Report seem to be rather optimistic about their chances.
My predictions have them both going out in the second round.
In terms of who we'll support, Scots will adopt another nation for the upcoming month and I have concluded that there are three types of adopted nations:
1) Those who have family elsewhere. For example I have cousins in New Zealand and will support them, so as much as I doubt their ability to do well I do have a soft spot for the Kiwis.
2) Glory supporters who will cheer on Spain, Brazil, Argentina and the like (different to people who enjoy watching the talent on display in these teams).
3) Random countries (often minnows)—either teams we enjoyed playing as in FIFA games, or whoever we were given in the office sweep-stake.
And that's without mentioning that about two-thirds of us will be supporting the US, Slovenia and Algeria in the group stage, adopting new countries along the way until the end of the competition.
But all bias aside, this really is one of the most wide open World Cups in recent history.
Most aren't sure what to expect in Africa's first ever attempt at hosting the tournament.
Can Spain finally cast off their unwanted title of underachievers? Can Brazil get their sixth trophy? Will Messi lead Argentina to victory? Will England be able to stop talking about '66 and brag about this one instead? Or will we see another team (maybe African) be victorious on July 11.
One thing that is for sure, if (or more optimistically when) England are knocked out, there will be some celebrations and even more drunks north of the border.
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