FIFA World Cup - a rugby man looks on in envy

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Just occasionally us rugby types get a little envious of the world of soccer, not least this week when the 2014 FIFA World Cup gets under way in Brazil.

While the host nation will be hot favourites to win the 20th playing of the event, there is sure to be some strong challenges from the European contingent, led by the all conquering Spain, Germany, Holland and even unfancied England who could yet shock the pundits.

For while the rugby equivalent is exciting, and competitive, it is generally only one of two teams who are really in with a shout, as was the case down under when New Zealand won when hosting the event last time out.

There again in the 19 times played on 15 occasions a country from the host continent has won the football version.

Should this be taken into the reckoning we are looking at the winner being one of six teams, including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Columbia and Uruguay.

A closer look would, however, suggest that only Brazil and Argentina are serious candidates to lift the small, but invaluable trophy on July.

A dangerous thought pattern, as is trying to pick the European side with the best chance.

For what it’s worth, my money is on a Brazil v Spain final when the two classiest teams in the tournament will surely provide a spectacle to relish, even then I would be equally happy to see Brazil meet Argentina on the big stage.

The speculation could go, and indeed will go on with cases to be made for Belgium, arguably the form team of Europe, and due a big day in their otherwise poor history in the competition.

But instead I would rather sit back and watch the contrasting styles from the pure silk of Brazil to the frenzied, but limited directness of England who will give it their best shot, though it is my contention their lack of technique will be too much of a handicap in such a classy gathering. A last 16 
place is possibly their best hope.

Holland could also be interesting, given their need to compensate for the thuggery of the 2010 final in which Spain were worthy winners.

So to all of you who take the beautiful game for granted, just rejoice. We rugby guys just wish we could have such a veritable feast when we have our own competition.

I just hope I am on the money with my choice of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil to beat Spain or Argentina in the final. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, just enjoy the intervening 31 days. It promises to be a great month, even for non-lovers of the game. The colour, the noise, the high and lows all making for a wonderful festival of sport.