Football isn’t coming home, but England are

England

Football isn’t coming home. Image: Sky.

In a few hours time, the Three Lions will board the plane to England, but football will not be with them. Whilst it is a hard pill to swallow that we can no longer sing patriotically for our colonisers, unexpected disappointment has been the story of the World Cup for many fans of the big nations.

2018 has been breathtakingly unconventional. In my world cup preview, I said that perhaps the only certainty amidst the continually blurring lines between ‘favourtie’ and ‘underdog’ is that Germany will perform. Needless to say, I’m pretty hesitant to make any more predictions.

My logic was that Germany’s consistency and experience on the big stage would see them easily navigate the smaller countries and step up to the plate when it mattered. They couldn’t navigate Mexico, and then failed to step up when it mattered against South Korea.

Many attribute their early exit to the ‘champion’s curse’ – the fact that Italy won in 2006 and didn’t make it out of their group in 2010, with Spain repeating the feat in 2010 and 2014. Others say the Germans got complacent and had experienced such a high in Brazil that they weren’t motivated for the tournament.

Personally, however, I attribute the upsets of Russia 2018 to a much broader concept. Smaller nations are growing and bigger nations are struggling to adjust. If you’re Italian, Dutch or German, 2018 hasn’t been fun – but for most football fans it makes for barrels of excitement and shock.

France should win the final, but it would be only right that the World Cup characterised by uncertainty was taken home by the underdog. Expect the unexpected from Croatia.

The gap between the big and small nations is closing.

Is 2022 Australia’s turn?

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