Come June 11, and the world will witness probably the biggest football festival ever till date. The 32 nation event gets bigger and better as time progresses on. Countries that end up losing let bygones be bygones and try to achieve the highest honor available for them to get while playing as a country. This time around too the hype around the event has been huge with tickets being pre-booked and stadiums being sold out.
As an Indian national, it does seem natural by now to see India nowhere in the scene to qualify for the mega event. But things are beginning to change and the Indian football scene is on the upswing. By having made it into the Asian Cup, it has shown its prowess in the continent but things look tough for the football administrators in the near future. The problem begins for them right from the grass root level. With the country lacking basic infrastructure and players not having the physical prowess to compete with their counterparts outside the sub-continent, it makes things a tad tougher.
The first step any layman with little knowledge about sporting administration would suggest the AIFF (All India Football Federation) is to privatize the sport so that funds can flow in; which could be used to overcome the technical and infrastructural problems faced by the authorities at large. Secondly, in my personal opinion, if I could change one thing, it would probably be the people’s attitude towards the ‘beautiful game’ in the country. Every 4 years, all football fanatics during the world cup will pick up one country of their choice, preferably known names like Brazil, Argentina, France or England and back them to win the cup and forget that there is a lot of untapped potential in the country. People from the north-east are born soccer players and those from Bengal play with their hearts on their sleeves.
The poor story of India aside, let’s have a look at the favorites to win the Cup this time around.
The European champions are looking good enough to set the tournament ablaze with their power-packed team which boasts of a striking pair of David Villa and Fernando Torres supported by the creative Catalan twins; Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Such is the depth in talent that Arsenal captain and probably one of the best attacking midfielders in the world, Francesc Fabregas finds his place only on the bench. Led by the ever dependable Iker Casillas in goal, Spain are probably hot favourites to win the tournament. But considering their tag of big chokers in the past, one may rethink about his decision to support Spain.
They are supposedly the strongest team in terms of physical fitness and do themselves good with tall defenders and strikers which make their aerial game a success. Led by the inspiring Michael Ballack who plays his heart out when playing for his country, the Germans will look forward to a good run in the tournament. The team is known to be technically superior than any other team at the moment and the defence is one which is hard to break down.
A side which boasts of the likes of Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Diego Milito in attack, Argentina is definitely one of the frontrunners for this year’s tournament. With experienced campaigners in midfield and defence, they will be a tough team to beat. Lionel Messi is undoubtedly the best player in the world right now and with the able support of Tevez and Aguero, the team can break any defence in the world at the moment.
The country with probably the largest fan following around the world, England is always in the news during the cup for non-football reasons. This time around, the loss of David Beckham has shaken the football fraternity as they seek to cover up their merchandising losses. Though the team has performed well in the run in into the tournament, they are too known as big time chokers in big tournaments. The John Terry saga too does not do anything good for the team morale. The British hopes pin on their midfield which boasts of the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. With Wayne Rooney in top form, the team should revolve around him. The only problem arises for them in front of goal. In Robert Green, David James and Joe Hart, the country cannot boast of a world class keeper. This shall be the last chance for world class players like Lampard, Gerrard, Ferdinand, Terry and Ashley Cole to win the cup and they shall certainly try their best.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz pursuing Economics (1st Yr.) from Ramjas College, University of Delhi. Football is his religion. Â Writing has always been one of his areas of interest.