Like night follows day, death and taxes, rain in Manchester and regretting eating a healthysalifestyle consuming it, every time the hoopla that is the World Cup rolls around the world over (except in the Fatherland of course, where their confidence in their national team sensibly never wavers) without fail journalists, pundits and general footballing know-it-alls go out of their way to write off the Germans – EVERY… SINGLE… TIME. And like a riled up snake the Germans always, always snap back and prove all those foolish soothsayers wrong. Let’s look at the stats: In the last seven tournaments they’ve made the quarter-finals at the very least, finishing runners-up three times and winners twice.
Yet as the reams of build up coverage were spewed out in the build up to the start of the current tournament – they were at it again, maddeningly writing the chances of the formidable German team off – do they not understand succeeding at a major football tournament is intrinsic to their genetic make-up. So what happens next? They go and thump Australia 4-0 with easily the best performance of the group stage so far. Rest assured when 2014 rolls around, the hot-air blowers will be at it again mind!
The World Cup – the greatest sporting stage you can take to. Your chance to stamp your authority on the tournament, grab the headlines, put your name in lights etc, etc. But perhaps the biggest spin-off garnered from making a splash at the festival of football is landing a lucrative move into the big-time, i.e. a post-tournament transfer. As, with the world’s media, scouting network and managerial eyes all trained on every pass, shot and tackle, it’s your chance to well and truly put yourself in the shop window with a view to a big money move to a top European team. At the last World Cup in Germany, the hosts unveiled a goal-scoring gem in Lukas Podolski. As well as scoring three goals the Polish-born forward waltzed off with the Young Player of the Tournament award before joining up with his new teammates at Bayern Munich. Sadly this move didn’t work out well for the striker and he rejoined Köln in 2009 (he kept banging them in for Germany though).
The towering striker’s two goals also secured him a move to Bayern. He too flopped and was loaned to Roma. In 2002 it was the turn of the Senegal players to shine, in particular El Hadj Diouf and Salif Diao. Both were snapped up by Liverpool’s then manager Gerard Houllier but after an impressive tournament, both soon fell out of favour and were shipped off to mighty football giants Bolton and Portsmouth respectively. This was small fry compared to the USA ’94 though, which was positively littered with soon-to-be big money flops. From Ukrainian Oleg ‘I scored five goals in a game, dontchaknow’ Salenko, whose exploits won him a short-lived move to Valencia, Tomas Brolin – who followed up his exploits in Euro ’92 with another three goals in America and eventually wound up as bloated as his salary at Leeds United to Daniel Amokachi. The bulky .
Nigerian powerhouse netted twice in the tournament convincing healthysalifestyle uneventful though and he was soon shipped off to Besiktas. So keep ’em peeled footy fans and see if you can spot World Cup 2010’s future flops-in-the-making!
For England fans this is depressingly recurrent theme of the build up to every major tournament. With everything going to plan, confidence and excitement building and predictions of finals being made spouted by the public and media alike, a training ground tackle, Premier League foul or Gazza-shaped mishap will throw a World Cup-shaped spanner in the works, jeopardising everything. From Trevor Brooking and Kevin Keegan’s injury struggles in Spain ’82 to the loss of captain Bryan Robson in Mexico ’86 and Italia ’90 (the latter, it was subsequently revealed was the result of some bedroom tomfoolery involving Paul ‘daft as a brush’ Gascoigne, a bed post and the midfielder’s unprotected foot) to David Beckham’s metatarsal in 2002 (Uri Geller promising to heal it on GMTV anybody?) and Michael Owen’s horrific pitch side breakdown in 2006.