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Column: World Cup Certainties

Like "tedious old friends" or "nagging, recurring injuries," there are a few things you can expect from every World Cup, writes Dave Hill of the Guardian. One of these, which definitely receives way too much attention from the press every time, is the specially designed ball, which every year goalkeepers complain is inclined to swerve unnaturally. TV pundits love to pounce on this stuff, too. You can imagine how many across the globe attributed Philip Lahm's first-half strike to the ball's ergonomics. Another certainty according to Hill: the team that's lauded to the skies for playing beautiful, free-flowing football always seems to disappoint. Colombia in 1994, Brazil and Spain in 1998, Argentina, France, and Portugal in 2002, and this yearyes, there's still a long way to goBrazil is moving on but not exactly turning heads, while France is suffering a crisis of confidence. The last routine element he discusses is the endless debate about England's approach, which many will say is a negative one. But something always happens mid-way through the tournament: revolt, an injury to a major star, or the emergence of the next big thing. Says Hill, "We are at that point of the England narrative now." He thinks the turn for the English will be negative, as in they will cave before the first team they come across that has a decent side"like they did in 1998, 2002, and Euro 2004." If that's the case, the English will badly need at least a point against Sweden later today, because they will want to avoid what looks to be a very in-form German side indeed.

Read the whole story at The Guardian »

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