“When the media tell you it’s an easy group, that’s when you have to worry.”
– Cesare Prandelli
It’s an easy group.
Uruguay, Costa Rica and some two-bit little island off the coast of France. No, not Ireland, the other one. Whatchamacallit with the turnips. What’s to worry about? Uruguay, who used to be formidable back in the day but it all petered out when they started picking Suarez. Costa Rica, who might have stood a chance if it was the World Cup of growing coffee beans, but it’s not. And the turnip people. I ain’t bovvered!
It’s not like we drew a difficult team like Germany. Ok, they haven’t beaten us in a major tournament ever in the history of football, but that’s only really because they have been far too German in the past. This is almost certain to have changed, now that they are full of ring-ins with names like Boateng and Gomez that don’t sound very German at all. Or imagine if we’d ended up with the Dutch! *shudder* once they start fighting amongst themselves, beating them just seems impolite. Brazil, of course are at home and would have been impossible to beat in the early stages before they inevitably forget that the ball goes in the net, not down the rabbit hole to potter about in Alice’s sordid acid trip. And then there’s the Spanish…
Oh, shut up…
Raymond Domenech has compared the astrology charts of our two respective sides and assures me that “France would have been very tricky indeed in June, with the way Jupiter is rising into the third house of Capricorn” (Translation: he thinks the French will spend some time preparing for the tournament at altitude and this will stand them in good stead). Argentina are considering saving money for their cash-strapped economy by only taking two players across the border with them for each game – Messi and the reserve goalkeeper from Deportivo Santamarina. So in short, unless Messi injures himself, we’d have been royally screwed if we’d drawn him, I mean them.
We could have struck South Korea, and it’s a relief that we didn’t because our whole team would have got “North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe – we didn’t start the fire!” stuck bouncing endlessly around at high velocity inside our brains and the poor lads wouldn’t have known which way was goalward. Portugal would have sent secret agents to get us drunk the night before on 10 Year Old Tawny, the Belgians would have poisoned our breakfast waffles, and if we’d struck Russia, Roman Abramovich would have paid our team 50 rubles a piece to lose, and we’d have probably taken it.
Mexico beat New Zealand by something like 100-3 on aggregate the other week, and Italy could only manage a draw against the same opposition at the last World Cup, ergo playing the Mexicans would have been no fun at all. Australia, of course would have been our worst nightmare. Not sure how we would have coped with the terrible ethical dilemma of whether we should beat them fair and square, or get another dodgy late penalty just so we can listen to them squeal a bit longer. And there is no pressure greater than the sheer weight of the necessity of winning that comes with playing USA. Can you imagine the consequences of letting them think they are good at a sport that one or two other countries in the world play from time to time? It doesn’t even bear thinking about. We’re much better off well away from them.
As for everyone else, our biggest competition comes from a team by the name of our own complacency. Cesere doesn’t get worried unless he thinks it’s an easy group, so therefore we all must take it upon ourselves to do our bit and make sure that he treats Group D with the seriousness it deserves. Absolutely none. Got it?
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.