July 25 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, June 12, 2014
All eyes on Brazil 2014
Remember when it was ‘only’ 30 years of hurt, since Jules Rimet was gleaming in English hands at Wembley?
In 1996, Baddiel and Skinner sang of football ‘coming home’ for that summer’s European Championship finals and Terry Venables’ men went so close on home turf.
They lost a semi-final penalty shoot-out against Germany, just like Bobby Robson’s squad had at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and all we have known since is more pain.
At France ‘98 it was spot-kick hell against Argentina, after David Beckham’s red card, then a woeful Euro 2000 campaign ended at the group stage.
Brazil ended our World Cup dream in 2002, Portugal knocked us out of the 2004 Euros and 2006 World Cup on penalties, after Wayne Rooney was sent off for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho, and we missed the 2008 Euros altogether.
The Germans did us again at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – but only after Frank Lampard’s perfectly good goal was never allowed to stand – and then it was back to shoot-out suffering against Italy at the 2012 Euros.
According to statistics unveiled by the New York Times, England has the most pessimistic football fans on the planet. Go figure.
Almost 20,000 people worldwide were questioned in a YouGov poll, with only four per cent of English respondents picking their own team to win the World Cup, despite Roy Hodgson’s men being among FIFA’s top ranked teams.
Are they being realistic or subtly playing down hopes of actually being pleasantly surprised by the class of 2014 in Brazil?
Hodgson has gone with plenty of youth in his 23-man party and it is hoped they do not freeze on the big humid stage of south America.
Ironically it is Italy, the last team to face us at a major finals, who are up first on Saturday night. The waiting is almost over.
But before England launch their World Cup bid, we can look forward to seeing the hosts take on Croatia tonight, another three games tomorrow – including a repeat of the 2010 final between Spain and Holland – and two more early kick-offs on Saturday before Hodgson’s hopefuls hit our TV screens at 11pm.
Here we go indeed.
*Colin Munford will be watching the first match of the 2014 World Cup. Follow @London24Sport on Twitter tonight and read his online blog on this website tomorrow.