‘The 2018 World Cup is now over a week old, this is the ninth day of competition and including today, another 17 days (there will be seven days of the 24 without games as the tournament nears its end) when we will have football on our TV screens.
I’m still enjoying this glut of football to watch BUT as things have gone on, I am wondering just how high the quality and entertainment has actually been?
It helped when the hosts got off to a surprisingly good start, they were always going to beat Saudi Arabia but by knocking five in, it couldn’t do any harm to the whole mood/success of the tournament if the fans of the host nation were getting positive with their team.
We then had the six goal Spain/Ronaldo match on the Friday, Iceland grabbing a shock draw with Argentina, then a splendid Mexico showing to shock Germany – they could have won by a hatful!
From that point though, the reality has grown on me with each passing day, this is pretty poor stuff overall.
It is always good to have the underdogs giving the big boys a shock but that loses a lot of its appeal when you then have to accept, the big boys don’t look all that good.
Iceland grabbing a draw with Argentina wasn’t really in retrospect all that remarkable, they had shown in the 2016 euros they were no mugs and Argentina are shocking. We now realise why they struggled to even qualify for the finals.
Germany look a shadow of their former selves but could bounce back potentially, though France have been so tedious in their two narrow wins and Spain looked a bit clueless in their follow up against Iran.
Brazil were many people’s favourites but is this really a vintage Brazil side? We might see them take Costa Rica apart today but they were very average against a workmanlike Switzerland.
If you accept that the standards of entertainment and quality have dropped, what reasons would you come up with?
It is always going to be part of the problem these days, when every team is organised as a bare minimum. The first call being to try and make it as hard as possible for the opposition to score.
Maybe one of the stand out things for me is that in the past pretty much every country had at least one striker and often a support player (midfielder or winger), who were good to watch. Had a bit of quality and would have a go at the opposition no matter who they are.
This tournament, it seems like most teams have a main striker who will work hard, keep possession and end up running AWAY from goal before passing back to his centre-half. Hardly ever do you see a striker get the ball, turn, and run at the opposition. There has been the odd exception and actually Columbia looked really good to watch, attacking the opposition (Japan) despite going a goal down and losing a man very early on.
Is it being coached out of young players now, no emphasis on individual flair and taking chances, everything about keeping the ball and getting nowhere fast?
There are a fair few very good players missing with the likes of Bale, Aubameyang and van Dijk seeing their countries fail to qualify, whilst Leroy Sane was left at home by Germany. You also have the likes of Salah of course playing for teams who stand no chance, plus of course he wasn’t fully fit.
Maybe the key to it is that club football so dominates the game now, compared to the national sides.
The Champions League exerts a stronger and stronger pull as the biggest club competition in the World.
You look at the supposedly best teams at the 2018 World Cup and I find it very difficult to see any/many of them beating the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, PSG, Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and so on.
You see France, the country with the side who have so many of the highest rated players and biggest transfer fees, yet together their team looks so average and devoid of inspiration.
Maybe we will see the 2018 World Cup kick on again, especially once we get to the knockout stages. However, for now I just don’t see it, and things are that bad/average, I honestly see England with a great chance now, judged on that first 25 minutes against mighty Tunisia!