Okay, so, just wait a second. You’re probably wondering why Argentina is up there and not the reigning champions, Germany, or European champions Portugal or even Brazil, who are always favorites.
Simply put, I’m just contemplating how three of the teams I’m cheering for will fare in the World Cup.
I say three of the teams because as I mentioned during the 2014 World Cup I had a certain hierarchy when it came to teams on the international stage. That hierarchy hasn’t changed and Argentina is really there only because I want Lionel Messi to win, as I did in 2014. I’d be remiss to say I usually add the African teams, whoever they may be, to my list of teams to cheer for when World Cup time comes around.
I’ll probably do a predictions piece closer to the tournament itself after a look at the CONCACAF teams. On to real business then.
The big question with Spain is whether the Diego Costa trick will finally pay off.
The disappointment in 2014 can probably be written off because he wasn’t fully fit or integrated into the side and in Euro 2016 they came up against an impressive Italy side. Still, they will be legitimate favourites for a reason. Few teams can match the mixture of experience and talent in this squad. They wont have the same expectations as 2014 and the loss in 2016 will have them even more determined to prove themselves. I think most folks will have them as a semifinalist.
It won’t be an easy road, with the possibility of facing either Argentina or France as early as the quarterfinals. It will probably be Argentina as I don’t see France finishing second in their group. Still, this Spain side shouldn’t fear anyone once they reach that stage and if things click in the attacking third they will be tough to beat, as you expect them to control the midfield regardless of the opponent.
France is coming of a tough loss in Euro 2016 and a solid qualification run. It’s an exciting group but there’s still a feeling they lack enough experience to go all the way.
As mentioned before, I expect they will be on the other side of the bracket from Spain and Argentina. That’s likely to lead to an interesting rematch with Portugal in the quarterfinals, or even worse, a feisty Uruguay side. There’s also Brazil to worry about on that side. I still don’t fully trust Didier Deschamps as I feel he hasn’t gotten the best out of Paul Pogba though only Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri have so far. The balance in midfield will be key. The best choice would be to start Steven N’zonzi to control things in midfield with N’golo Kante and Pogba but we’ll see. There’s also the hope that the youngsters up to Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, with 25 caps between them, don’t falter on the big stage.
I’ll probably still blame Deschamps if it falls apart. Arsene Wenger next up on the plate perhaps?
Ah, Argentina. There really isn’t much to say about them is there?
It’s baffling that a side with this attacking quality has relied on one alien to win something, anything, in the last decade. There’s only so many times one can ponder why Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain can’t/won’t step up to the plate. True, the rest of the team, minus Javier Mascherano and an improved Nicolas Otamendi, is average but that doesn’t stop Messi playing his part. If Messi drags this side to a title as Diego Maradona did in ’86 it would shut a lot of mouths. Possibly. Maradona had one finals loss and one win sooo….. Even if he doesn’t win, Messi is still arguably the best ever.
Also, with Jorge Sampaoli, Argentina has possibly the best coach in the tournament. He hasn’t been able to get it all together for the Albiceleste just yet but you can’t sleep on him in this tournament.
As an aside, I’ll say I always have a soft spot for England. Not sure why. Interested to see how this group does. And, again, let’s not forget Germany. One of these teams will have to play them at some point in the tournament. I’d bet if that team gets past them they’ll win it all.
France are one of the national teams I like to support and I really like this group. Good piece here on what this tournament would mean for them and the country. I do hope they win it, and it’s a strong possibility, but overcoming Spain and Germany will be tough.
I think Italy, England, Portugal and Croatia are more dark horses than contenders. Too much issues with all of those sides. Italy don’t convince, Portugal are too Ronaldo-dependent, Croatia hasn’t put it all together and England have a lot less experience than usual. Still interesting to see how they all do during this break.
Agreed. Still plenty of questions for France but they have plenty of talent coming through. Hopefully Fekir makes it back but this side should put in a god performance as hosts of Euro 2016.
Great feature here. France is one of my favorite international teams and that tournament was just shocking. I remember being up at whatever 0’clock to watch that first game. Crazy.
I think there’s time to sort things out. They have a solid core of stars, as the author mentioned, so they should be fine. Some players will get back on track with club ball and others with more time with the team.
Two good players here. I think Lacazette is more likely to leave but I wouldn’t be surprised if they both stay at their clubs. France has the talent. Will they be able to make the most of it when hosting Euro 2016?
Interesting read on the France v. Germany game in the 1982 World Cup.
If for some mind-boggling reason you don’t already know, Thierry Henry retired today.
The day was then filled with a non-stop stream of, well-deserved, tributes to the former Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bull and France legend. After my initial selfish response upon hearing the news(as I wouldn’t get to see my favorite player show some magic on the pitch anymore) and a long, important, personal day, I’ve decided to add my two cents.
It won’t be long, not because I don’t have a lot to say but probably because I have too much and I don’t want to ramble on. (Plus, I’m sure a lot of what I will say is said in some way in the many articles below)
No player, and I mean no player, could match the mixture of power, skill, passion, pace, intelligence and composure of Henry. (Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo fans can stuff it, though, I respect both players greatly).
Who can forget that flick and volley versus Manchester United(my favorite goal of his, and maybe all-time), the steam-rolling run versus Real Madrid and the hat-trick against Liverpool?
One thing I keep asking myself when I consider watching Henry is this. Has he ever, ever scored a bad goal? Sure, there may have been “poacher” goals but that still requires positional sense and composure to finish. Has Henry every just bundled one in? I don’t think so.
His drive to win, which did lead to the unfortunate Ireland incident, was fun to watch as was high expectations for his teammates. His assists are an afterthought but he did have a few good ones. Quite simply, the man was a genius.(Now that I think about it, I probably subconsciously preferred my socks up high when I played in order to emulate the No. 14)
Mr. Va, Va, Voom is most well-known for his time at Arsenal, and that’s obviously where I latched unto him but he’s proven elsewhere that he’s well worth all the praise. Sure, there was petulance and a somewhat overbearing nature(at least for some, I was fond of it) but one cannot deny that he didn’t deserve to win everything he won internationally and in the club game.
So, look below if you want to be nostalgic and read about all facets of the legend’s career. I know I will. Youtube videos, and that “Legend” documentary will be replayed again and again this weekend.
Hopefully, we’ll be back on track with more regular postings soon. Still getting adjusted to this new schedule. Thanks for all memories Thierry Henry.
Until next time.
I can’t believe I keep forgetting to put this up. This is a great excerpt from a recent Thierry Henry interview.
The retirement of my favorite player is becoming a strong possibility after the New York Red Bulls lost in the MLS Playoffs and Henry announced he wouldn’t return to the MLS side.
Maybe he’ll pop up some place else for one more year. I don’t think so though. Guess we’ll see.