International football has been shit for ages. People look at Italia ’90 as the last great international football tournament, but that’s mainly because of England’s progress, Gazza’s meltdown and Chris Waddle’s mullet – remember how crap the final was?
It’s actually been shit for a lot longer than thatas well. There’s been the odd moment since then when I’ve watched international football and thought it might be about to experience a renaissance – like in USA ’94 when the like of Hagi, Bergkamp and Romario excelled. But even that tournament was eventually won by a workman like Brazil, with one of the game’s greatest players of the decade, Roberto Baggio, cast in the role of the villain after missing a crucial spot kick.
Zidane and The Real Ronaldo have done their best to take stuttering competitions by the scruff of the neck and inject a bit of class, glamour and excitment into it, but the truth is that watching World Cup’s and European Championships usually bring with them an overwhleming air of disappointment, and the most recent international football tournament was no different.
The World Cup in South Africa was dreadful, rescued only by a naive Argentina and an entralling Germany. Spain were so far ahead of the rest that there was never any doubt who the eventual winners would be, and embarrassing performances from the likes of France and England only added to the depressing nature of the competition. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were tipped to be the stars of World Cup 2010, but neither really turned up. Holland showed signs of real quality until the final itself, when they resorted to kicking Spain off the park – a tactic which failed miserably. Pluis there were vuvuzelas, lest we forget.
Football is an amazing sport, the best of all. And international football tournaments should showcase the greatest players in the world. So why is it that, more often than not, those players who excel at club level week in week out make little impact on the world stage?
Euro 2012 will give the likes of England, France and Holland the opportunity to change the record, to inject some verve, vigour and excitement into a faltering tournament. Wayne Rooney, Ronaldo and the rest will have another opportunity to write themselves into national folklore through their performances on the pitch. And yet. in spite of the inevitable press lunancy that will accompany the build up to the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, the glitzy VTs and the excessive expecations placed on Don Fabio, do you really think that more than 10% of the matches will be worth watching?
NB. IT WILL STILL BE BETTER THAN THE OLYMPICS THOUGH.