There’s no doubt there’s the twin whiffs of a deathly unimpressed host nation and murkier-than-usual FIFA corruption hovering over this World Cup. Brazil seems as enthusiastic about hosting the tournament as hosting an attack of boils – watch John Oliver for an entertaining / depressing run down, or this photo essay gives you an idea. It’s not great, and the folly of building stadiums like the Arena Amazonia stadium in Manaus (with a pitch that’s a bit shit) in a country where new hospitals would be handier, seems like, well, folly.
I’ll leave the pat explanations there. Reality is, once we get underway tomorrow morning, most football fans will be too busy finding ways to manage work, family and responsibility in general to be in front of televisions or posting animated GIFs of tremendous goals and fouls on Twitter to worry.
That’s because, with respect to the other World Cups, this is *the* World Cup. Football, as we’re allowed to call it, brings the whole world together to play a game that’s easy to understand and, when done right, can move you to tears. I mean Arjen Robben, who plays with hipster-football-fan’s-choice Holland, can dive about like the best, but he can also do this. Let’s face it, hating the villains is as much fun as appreciating the heroes. That’s, well, sport. And life really, innit?
For my sins, I will support England, as per usual. The golden generation is managing, modelling and boring people on the telly these days, so now we have a team that most people haven’t heard of, Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard aside. It could go really well, as the crushing pressure *should* be less. It’ll go right back up again if they get to the knockouts though, of course.
I know this is hipster-football territory, but if I can support a player, it’ll be Pirlo. My soft spot for passing midfielders with time on the ball is deep (one, two), and Pirlo is the current master. Pour a nice chianti and wallow:
Steve Braunais has a galaxy of pundits picks – it looks like he’ll write through the tournament
sportsfreak.co.nz has had comprehensive previews of all the groups, and will cover the tournament no doubt
Kiwi freelancer Ben Stanley is over in Rio, he’ll be worth following
Hadyn Green came out of semi-retirement to write a sort of anti-World Cup World Cup preview
If you’re feeling generous, the Ockers are our closest to taking part – here’s a typically awesome guide to watching the cup in our timezone with @rustyjacko
App wise, just get the official FIFA one, and the strangely mesmerising Score!, for pretending you’re Pirlo on the bog
Grantland has had some cracking articles and videos already – check out this tactics 101 piece. It may be aimed at the supposedly non-football-aware, but I definitely learned a thing or two
FiveThirtyEight says Brazil will win. I think it may be Spain or Argentina, but 538 is much smarter than sportreview, in fairness
For day to day tournament coverage, I tend to go Guardian. I think they’re ace. Here’s their writers’ predictions, and a ‘which world cup team are you?‘ quiz. I am Spain, just FYI