TODAY is when the real action starts.
Not that there hasn’t already been plenty of drama in what has been a fascinating 2014 World Cup.
Which is only fitting in the “spiritual home” of football, which has, so far, hosted one of the best-ever Mundials…bites and all.
Despite contending with the teeth marks of Luis Suarez, who has more bites than Wayne Rooney has World Cup goals, the on-field excitement has maintained our attention, with some superb match-ups of end-to-end soccer, including last Saturday’s draw between Germany and Ghana, then the next day Portugal saving their skins at the death in the Manaus sauna against the surprising States.
Before that there was Costa Rica doing CONCACAF proud by upsetting Uruguay, then Italy, and the defending champions being overwhelmed by the Dutch and shown the way back to Spain, where their plane was hit by lightning…as if they hadn’t suffered enough trauma.
And what about Messi magic, or the fluent French, or the Selecao’s stuttering start, the game’s Rolls Royce not yet running sweetly, although Neymar has been on song from the first whistle.
Off the pitch, Brazil has been a gracious host, as reported first-hand by some friends who made it down to the Land of Samba for the first two weeks of the tournament.
Rocky can’t stop talking about his excursion to the home of his favourite team and Rufus has the pictures to prove it, although there aren’t any photos of the case of non-alcoholic beer they consumed on Copacabana and then got a translation of its sobering contents.
And Megas and Sebastian were in the stadium on Wednesday when Argentina literally took over Porto Alegre and edged Nigeria in a cracking encounter.
Back in T&T, Andrew, Alfred, King, Weasel and Desmond have passed the inspection committee’s official “venue test” and will be contending to host the crunch days to come, along with Rocky’s “Maracana” and Rufus’s “Wembley”.
For some, like me, a return to work gave my liverstring a much-needed rest after ten straight days of “watching” football while on vacation.
During that time, my own sister put a copy of the Express World Cup magazine in my lunch pail so I could eat it, just like I said someone would make me do after talking up the chances of England in an article on the Vic Posse’s pre-event auction.
While the English limped home like toothless lions, the Vic boys holding Brazil’s ticket are sitting uneasy and looking over their shoulders at the Germans and Netherlands, with France also in contention and Argentina yet to hit full stride. And Colombia, Costa Rica, who sold for $40, and Chile are ready to penetrate any chinks in their big-name opponents’ armour.
Mighty Mexico, who always raise their game for the World Cup, are still in contention, along with arch-rivals USA, playing a Latin-German brand of football which is pleasing to the eye.
What could have been a classic clash on Thursday, between Jurgen Klinsmann and his ex-assistant, was slightly subdued in rainy Recife. And you wondered if Klinsmann was happier about moving onto the next round from the Group of Death than he was upset about losing to the land of his birth.
The Americans can further improve and go deep into this competition…says the man who picked England for a good run!
But there’s no bigger name than Brazil and their championship aspirations will get a stern test today from the Chileans, then Colombia, who I have a soft spot for, tackle Uruguay, minus Suarez, to get the second round under way.
Better grab a seat!