They really weren’t the good old days for the World Cup

15:12 01 July 2014

England fans suffering in 2010.

England fans suffering in 2010.


Everything was better in the good old days, wasn’t it?

We all climbed towering trees, left our front doors open, spoke to our neighbours and sat spellbound as we watched spectacular World Cup tournaments – while eating Opal Fruits and drinking Corona (the soft drink, not the all-image-and-no-taste beer).

Sorry to burst bubbles, but the truth is that World Cups have been tedious for decades – until now, that is.

Brazil 2014 is already my favourite. There has been a refreshing return to attacking tactics, arguably not seen consistently since Mexico 1970.

We’ve had underdogs biting hard, great goals, great saves, late drama – and the added bonus of shockingly poor TV analysis to keep us talking.

I have to go back to the closing rounds of Spain 1982 to recall such excitement, when Italy beat Brazil 3-2 to trigger an explosion of goals.

Italia 90 will be the favourite of many England fans. But the Three Lions mewed meekly in most of their games, before roaring into life in heroic failure in the semi-final against Germany. The tournament was a triumph for cynicism and gamesmanship, with the hacking, diving, cheating Argentina facing the diving, cheating Germany in the final.

The current tournament is already far too entertaining to be touched by any of the recent bore-a-thons. But there is just one thing that I wish for – a classic final.

Up until 1990, no final featured fewer than three goals. But Argentina 3 West Germany 2 in 1986 – 28 years ago and counting – is the last of the great encounters. Some – including Spain 1 Holland 0 in 2010 – have been absolutely mind-numbing.

So if Brazil 2014 conjures another classic, it will be long overdue.


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