The Libero - Germany are everything we are not
Published: 30 Jun 2010 - 08:38:58
Well, thank goodness for that. With England players and staff having arrived home with their tails firmly between their legs, ready for a lengthy period of introspection, fans can finally sit back, relax and enjoy what is left of the World Cup.
That may sound treasonous, but considering Fabio Capello's collection of overpaid, overhyped and underperforming stars never stood a chance of delivering on the biggest stage in the first place, surely it's better they are no longer in a position to give out any more false hope.
The way they went out was humbling and humiliating, shameful even. But we all know that, we've had three days to stew about it, and an even longer inquisition is expected over the next two weeks before Capello learns his fate.
At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how they took their leave. Four-one thumping or heroic penalty shoot-out defeat, the end result is the same - an early flight back to Blighty to face searching questions as to why they didn't live up to their billing. Again.
There was a huge sense of inevitability about the result, so deeply ingrained are the myriad failings of the national team. Was anyone really that surprised to see them exit? Or indeed, the ultimate manner of their exit?
But, fortunately, as one World Cup ends, another begins. So, bid goodbye to 90 minute-long periods of tension, despair, anger and recrimination and say a cheery hello to stress-free matches filled with exciting and consequence-free football!
It's time to pick a team that a) is good, b) you actually like c) will not cause depression or anxiety if they lose, to follow for the remainder of the tournament. And the beauty is that, even if your chosen nation go out, simply pick another one. Wow, this is what being Welsh must be like.
So, who to go for as we enter the quarter-final stage?
There is Spain, the reigning European champions, a squad so packed full of talent that not even Cesc Fabregas can get in the starting line-up. They may have lost to Switzerland but that was nothing more than a blip and in David Villa, they have one of the best strikers in the world at the moment.
What about Argentina, with their incredible array of attacking talent and coach who never ceases to entertain - or surprise. Lionel Messi, like Villa but unlike Fernando Torres, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, has brought his talent to the World Cup table, while Diego Maradona, love him or hate him, is an incredibly compelling character.
Then there is Brazil, everyone's favourite second team who have this time round shown a rugged new side to go with their impressively fluid attacking play. Even Robinho is willing to track back and muck in for this side, and that's saying something.
The Netherlands are always a joy to watch and although they are yet to hit top form, Arjen Robben's return to fitness means further improvement is inevitable. Much like Robben on the wing, the Dutch seem to be timing their run perfectly.
And how about South American surprise packages Uruguay, with their impressive forward line, and Paraguay, victors over outgoing world champions Italy? Neither side should be trifled with at this stage of the competition.
Or Ghana,flying the flag for Africa with their talented young side, and with as good a chance as any of reaching the semi-finals?
No, none of the above. This may be the second treasonable offence of this blog, but there can only be one team to follow for the rest of the tournament: England's conquerors, Germany.
What is there not to like about the Germans? They are young, talented, exciting and strong as a unit. In fact, they're pretty much everything England are not at the moment.
Six of the side that won in Bloemfontein were in Germany's U21 squad last summer. One of those, Mesut Ozil, has been one of the players of the tournament so far. Another, Thomas Mueller, scored twice against England. This team clearly has a big future.
So while we contemplate Capello's bizarre attestation that 29-year-old Bobby Zomora represents the brave new world of English football, why not swallow your pride, laugh history in the face and cheer on Joachim Loew's excellent team for the rest of the tournament. You never know, it may be cathartic and at the very least, you'll get to watch some decent football.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
- Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.
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