The Greatest Show on Earth is about begin. Please take your seat, and your blood pressure pills. Because drama, is just around the corner. Hearts and records will be broken, dreams shattered, and so on...
So much for an introduction. Let's get right to the point. Imagine a Football team:
-----------------------------------Julio Cesar (GK)
Bosingwa (RB) -- Rio Ferdinand (CB) ---Simon Kjaer (CB) -- Pepe(LB)
------------------Michael Essien (DM) -- Andrea Pirlo (DM)
-----------Arjen Robben (RW) -------------- Michael Ballack(LM)
--------------------Fernando Torres (ST) Didier Drogba (ST)
Subs: John Obi Mikel, Josy Altidore, Nicklaus Bendtner
If you are somewhat interested in the sport, you will recognize more than one name on that lineup. If you know a little bit about Football, or hang out with people who do, you can appreciate the quality of such a team. And, if you claim to be a Football connaisseur (like everyone in the world come World Cup time), then you know for a fact that as a manager, you could easily lead this starting Eleven to glory in South Africa. Easily. I'd call them the Winning Eleven.
However, we won't get to see this dream team perform this month, simply because, well, they're from different countries, and, they're ALL injured. Some are fighting the clock to return to fitness before their opening match (Pirlo, Robben, Drogba, Torres, Josy, Bendtner, Kjaer, Cesar). Others are already on vacation (due to a long-term injury), irresponsibly spending-pounds-then-gaining the pounds (or kilos) they'll all have to vomit back out, come the very dreaded pre-season training sessions of early August. In other words, about 10 of the 20 best footballers in the world will not be in action starting June 11th. Forget about the stars left out of their national squad by (by far) the worst crop of coaches we've had to endure in a while. That's an even sadder story.
So, what this global injury crisis means to the game is: more room for unknown talents to finally bloom, and get their "big-money-move" to a big club in Europe; and the opportunity for underdogs to stay alive in the tournament 'till July. Or, it simply means that the path to the Final for The Football superpower (Brazil) is turning into a walk in the park.
In 2002 (remember that very crappy world cup where people in the stands looked like puppets, and referees helped South Korea get to the semi-final? Yeah, that one), out of the 8 teams who played in the quarter-finals, only 2 had been previous champions, and Brazil cruised to their 5th title. Although it was nice to see fresh faces at such a late stage in the tournament (Turkey was badass!), the outcome had sadly been written in advance. A Germany-Brazil final.
New continent+injuries = easy routes for those teams we're all a bit tired of seeing at the final (Germany and Brazil have a combined 14 appearances). So, in an attempt to sarcastically revive religious fervour, let us pray. For Robben, Pirlo, Drogba, Torres, Bendtner, and all the future casualties of friendly fires to be 100% when the whistle blows, because with or without 'em, the show must go on. And when it does, Brazil wins. And NO one wants to see that happen ;-). Again.
Have a great World Cup everyone!
My Predictions: The Clockwork Orange is back. If Robben is fit, the Dutch will be Champions. Finally.