#eyesontheprize: the final countdown

despite the name tag of these World Cup posts, i took my eyes well and truly off the prize with regard to keeping y’all up to date with my thoughts and predictions about the quarter and semi-finals. it turned out that the timing of the games just didn’t fit my hectic schedule. sorry. eagle-eyed readers (i.e. those that look like Diego Forlan) will have noticed that i did, however, predict all but one of the winners of ties in ‘the 16’ – although, to be honest (for once), there weren’t any real shocks in there.

it seems, however, that my work timetable saved me from embarrassment given that i had a feeling that Brazil would come good against the Netherlands, Uruguay would put a handful passed Ghana and Paraguay would beat Spain. my only successful prediction of the quarter finals was that the wheels would finally come off Maradona’s nitro-powered box cart.

for the semis i had an even better escape. a few days away without access to the interweb saved me from incorrectly predicting wins for Uruguay and Germany.

so there we have it. the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be won by either Spain or the Netherlands, neither of which has lifted the trophy before. my tip, for what it’s worth, is the Netherlands – they’ve certainly played the more positive football of the two sides (with Spain having strung together three 1-0 wins in their last three games – zzzzz). given that in the 70s and 80s ‘Holland’, as few people over here knew better than to call them, were one of the most stylish and dynamic footballing forces around and yet didn’t manage to win, it would be nice if now that we’ve got round to calling them by their proper name, they finally got a star.

that having been said, if the change-of-name-to-a-more-inclusive-one type experience of the Germans is anything to go by then the odds are stacked against them. during the divided era, in eleven tournaments West Germany made it to six finals, winning three (with East Germany making it into (effectively) the quarter finals in 1974 and Saarland failing to qualify for the only tournament they entered in 1954). since reunification, however, not only is the combined Germany team yet to win the World Cup but it has made the final only once (in 2002) from five attempts. this, added to failures to trouble the wallcharts in 1930 and 1938 and only a third place in 1934 to heil Hitler about, makes for a far inferior record as a united country. and that is why, regardless of his almost certainly dangerous levels of insanity, i will always love David Hasselhoff.

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