Given my fairly strong love for football, and the fact that the World Cup is probably the biggest sporting event in the world after the Olympics, it's maybe a bit odd that it's taken me so long to make a post commenting on it.
The reason for this is that I mostly don't care. I'm not a huge fan of international football, and never really have been. I support England, but I don't really care if they do well, and I'd take Liverpool winning a Premiership title or Champions League over England winning a World Cup. It's not so much a fact that I'm unpatriotic, more that I just don't really have the same level of devotion and passion towards England, and there's not much I can really do about that.
Some slightly more cynical people might think that I'm just saying I don't care because England are doing awfully in the tournament right now, but people who have ever spoken to me about this before will know I'm not lying when I say I've always cared very little about international football compared to domestic games. International friendlies during the Premiership season piss me off, because I find that the football I enjoy is replaced with sub-standard rubbish instead.
I think the World Cup so far does a fairly decent job of highlighting just how poor international football can be. You've got all these world class players and some fantastic talent, and they're all giving games that are distinctly average in quality. You have Spain losing to the likes of Switzerland, just because there's not enough organisation and creativity in the team as a whole to break down teams throwing ten men behind the ball.
Same goes for England really. There's no point blaming individual players for poor performances, because it's not about that. The fact is that you can take the best 11 players in the world and stick them in a side, but unless they're working as a unit on the pitch they're not going to win anything. You need the players to understand each other, and to all be pulling in the same direction, or you're not going to get anywhere. Being able to hook up a 50-yard pass is meaningless if the player on the other end isn't going to run into the space you're expecting them to.
The World Cup so far has just been a fairly boring, sub-standard affair. It'll probably pick up in the latter stages, when teams are more experienced playing together, and also when you've started to remove all the crappy teams who are perfectly happy to step up stall defending in front of their own goal, to make a thoroughly boring spectacle in the hope that they can nick a win. I see the merits of just sitting everyone behind the ball, because it's a tactic that can win or draw games against opponents you'd expect to lose heavily to, but it doesn't make for the most exciting matches by a long way.
The other downside of the World Cup is having to put up with people who, for a couple of months every four years develop a ridiculous interest in football, when for the rest of the time they utterly don't care. I'm perfectly happy for the World Cup to infect people with a love of football, but it's still annoying to have to come into contact with people who feel they should make comments on games when they really have no fucking clue what they're talking about, or people clearly feigning an interest in the sport because they feel they should. The sort of people who will give the response "England, of course!" when asked which club they support...
Despite my dislike for international football, I am still watching most of the games (thanks to the excellent online coverage by the BBC). After all, there are plenty of Liverpool players in the tournament, and really I just spend most of my time wanting them to do well. Even with England, I'll be happier with the scoreline if Gerrard (or even Crouch) has scored, because club-level football is my true love. I do still care about England, and I'd love it if they won it, but frankly I can't see it happening. We'll be lucky to get through to the next round, and unless we're going to have a massive improvement we'll probably go out to whoever we face in the second round. Same old, same old for England really. Despite losing in the first game, my money is on Spain, just because despite losing that game, they looked like a team that would tear apart any side which wasn't defending to the hilt.
But we'll see. As shit as the tournament has been so far, it can only really get better right? Even if it doesn't, at least we can all laugh at the French for their ridiculous implosion off the pitch. We can lose horribly in our final game, but we'll still have fared better than the frogs, which is what really counts.