Serbia’s win makes the World Cup matter
One thing is for certain, World Football has evolved dramatically over the last eight years. We are witnessing that on a near day to day basis where the word ‘upset’ is being used to categorize one team winning over the other. What the world is slowly realizing (center stage at this world cup), is that the playing field is getting more and more even day by day.
I’ve mentioned this thought before, but I’ll repeat it for the sake of posterity. The development of local leagues in countries where none existed combined with the global nature of football over the last eight years means that pretty much any team can beat anyone given a good day on the pitch in terms of performance and a spot of luck.
I don’t think Spain losing was a fluke at all, it can definitely happen again. On closer analysis, a greater appreciation of how thin the line between a salvage in the form of a draw and the embarrassment of defeat, is in order. It was about half a centimeter, give or take, from where Busquets screamer hit the bar. If you can accept that as the kind of margin of difference between the 2nd highest ranked team in the world (Spain) and the 24th, then one has to accept that the World Cup is anyone’s game.
If Spain and Switzerland weren’t enough to illustrate that point, Serbia’s win over Germany pretty much led any remaining credence to the same with their 1-0 display. It wasn’t the prettiest game of football, with enough cards shown to remind you of the contentious Netherlands – Portugal game of 2006.
On hindsight though, one could not have but expected such a physical encounter for a German side, the majority of which play in the Bundesliga where players are anything but gentle. Serbia took the game to Germany, matching them in terms of possession and played an organized defensive game. Which actually served to highlight one of the only predictions Pele ever correctly made when he once said that as the back four of every team become systematically more organized, we are inevitably moving towards a situation where scoring will become nearly impossible. For once, Pele has a point.
There is something else far more satisfying to the average football fan that was neither able to celebrate the upset or rue it, which has to do with another aspect in which the World Cup has evolved. The knock on the effect of the margin of victory or defeat slimming down to a mere nothing on the international stage actually exponentially increases the relevance and excitement of this tournament.
While countries have historically supported their teams good or bad with diligence and dedication, we’ll be seeing that tenfold now that football fans across the globe are beginning to accept the idea that maybe, just maybe the odds of their team winning the World Cup are better than whatever the bookie slaps on them at a billion to one. It’s an important idea that is going to ensure that Football increases its following dramatically over the next decade and beyond.
For the moment though, I just hope Serbia and Switzerland celebrate their wins to their hearts content because there is still a long way to go to the final and we should enjoy every minute of what is the greatest sporting tournament of our time. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the World Cup and that everyone gets a chance to play some part in the story it tells, is what makes it great.