MANY are already saying that this is the best World Cup Finals ever and, as we reach the quarter-final stage, it’s come down to a straight split, with both South America and Europe having four teams left each.
Before I went away on holiday, I speculated whether a European team could win in South America, with one of my initial tips, Germany, still being very much in the mix.
Hosts Brazil have up to now flattered to deceive, clearly putting much of the emphasis on their three star players, Neymar, Neymar and Neymar.
Being in another time zone for the last fortnight, my World Cup experience has been somewhat different, with matches starting as early as 9am.
It certainly didn’t dampen the experience and, in fact, when England were effectively knocked out by Uruguay on that Thursday, at least I had the rest of the day to forget about it, and enjoy myself elsewhere.
As for England, to a degree I think it actually came down to the footballing gods.
Yes, there were mistakes made but I do have a lot of sympathy for Roy Hodgson, who seems to have come in for some quite vicious and, in my opinion, unjustified criticism.
Apart from winning the whole thing, he was always going to be damned whatever he did.
It certainly presented a different perspective watching the Uruguay game in a packed bar, being one of very few Englishmen there.
I’m actually glad I missed the fall-out back here from the back-to-back group stage defeats, sitting thousands of miles away with predominantly neutrals was somewhat different.
For all their detractors, there is a strong argument that England were extremely unlucky in their second game, with Rooney hitting the bar at 0-0 and the Uruguay skipper Godin clearly should have been sent off for a second yellow card.
On another day, England could have found themselves 1-0 up playing against 10 men.
As for the John Terry argument, all well and good citing his obvious experience at international level, but have we all forgotten the ‘reasons’ why he retired from playing for the national team?
And, so to Luis Suarez, and full marks to the punters who cleaned up having wagered he would do what he did.
As shocking as it was, I found myself watching it on American TV, along with footage of his previous incidents at Ajax and Liverpool, interspersed with the Tyson/Holyfield clip, and wasn’t that surprised.
He is a world-class player, but clearly has ‘issues’.
I doubt anyone can change him. In a game that both domestically and internationally has welcomed back into the fold adulterers, alcoholics, drug- users, drink-drivers, wife beaters and, in the case of Manchester United, backed a player who jumped into the crowd and attacked a fan – something which had he done in a pub car park, he might have got a custodial sentence for – biting is just another one to add to the list.
In short, Suarez, possibly prompted by Barca, has apologised.
Come the end of another long ban, he will be back in the fold, banging them in and while the footage will get a regular airing, his club at the time will pay him top money and the punters will still flood through the turnstiles, ready to chant his name.
That’s football and on that subject – bring on the quarter-finals.