Time for the talk­ing to stop

Wishaw Press - - SCHOOL NEWS -

Af­ter years of talk­ing the World Cup in Rus­sia is al­most here.

It’s hard to be­lieve it’s been eight years since the Rus­sians were awarded the right to host FIFA’s flag­ship event and the bid­ding process still wran­kles with many.

But the time for talk­ing is about to stop (thank­fully) and the ac­tion on the pitch is about to be­gin.

The hosts kick things off against Saudi Ara­bia tomorrow (Thurs­day) and I can’t wait.

Make no mis­take: this is the most open World Cup for years.

As many as eight teams are in with a chance of lift­ing the tro­phy in Moscow on July 15.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Ger­many are al­ways strong and Brazil, France and Spain will all fancy their chances.

There will also be stiff op­po­si­tion from Bel­gium, Uruguay and (whis­per it) Eng­land if the Three Lions can win their group, which in­cludes Roberto Martinez’s Bel­gians.

With Scot­land be­ing stuck at home for a fifth suc­ces­sive time, my hope is that, like in 2014, the world’s best play­ers take their chance to shine.

De­spite the buck­et­loads of Cham­pi­ons League cash be­ing hoovered up by Europe’s top clubs, the World Cup re­mains the big­gest stage any player can make their mark on.

No other tour­na­ment draws the ca­sual fan in and play­ers go down in folk­lore if they can guide their side to the ul­ti­mate glory. Older footy fans will re­mem­ber where they were as Pele shone for the great Brazil side of 1970 or when Diego Maradona dragged his Ar­gentina team to glory in Mexico 86.

As a thir­tysome­thing my mem­o­ries in­clude Zine­dine Zi­dane an­nounc­ing him­self as one of the all-time greats at France 98 and Ron­aldo’s re­demp­tion in Ja­pan and Korea in 2002 when Brazil lifted the tro­phy for a fifth time.

For that rea­son I would love to see the lit­tle magician Lionel Messi get his hands on the golden tro­phy at the Luzniki Sta­dium.

To do that he will have to have a World Cup sim­i­lar to the other great Ar­gen­tine num­ber 10.

De­spite be­ing fifth favourites, Messi’s Ar­gentina can draw par­al­lels with Maradona’s mid-80s side.

They are a poor team with a de­fence that is,

This is the most open World Cup in years

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