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Maybe I was wrong about the World Cup…

Greg Devine


Football Stadium World Cup

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Not so long ago, I wrote an article about the World Cup, in which I explained that I wasn’t really looking forward to it. 

I may have been a bit hasty…

I wasn’t wrong about the host country; Qatar should never have been awarded the rights. I wasn’t wrong that it shouldn’t have been held in the winter; it still doesn’t feel right. But I was wrong about not looking forward to it. I’m completely hooked! In my mind, football is coming home—again, after the women brought it back earlier this year.

The tournament has been great to watch, particularly the final group games. Having all four teams play at the same time means 90 minutes of rollercoaster emotions. I’ve watched the games in the pub, in my dorm with my flatmates, and even at the university library. Everyone has been completely gripped, even those who don’t really care for football. By playing the final group games at the same time, every goal had more meaning. Teams didn’t know the other competitors’ results beforehand, so they had no choice but to go all out to win the game. This made for some incredible football.

Watching England’s games honestly gave me goosebumps. I watched the first game back in Sheffield, with my mates from home. It felt great to be back with them after being away in Newcastle for so long. Winning the game against Iran as comfortably as we did made the day even better. Our game against the USA may have ended 0-0, but being in a student pub in Newcastle that had some American punters visiting resulted in some great (friendly) banter. I watched the game against Wales in the Newcastle Fan Zone. It was probably one of the best nights out I’ve had since coming to the city for my university studies. I was completely drenched in beer by the end of it, but I didn’t care…England won, and the spirit of those around me was fantastic.

Jude Bellingham is quickly becoming a household name. He’s been nothing short of sensational. He can score goals, his movement is sublime, and his passing is ridiculous for a player of his age. The way he’s playing, the sky’s the limit for future tournaments. He’s rapid and his height is dominating; he also possesses a technique that cannot be trained and is a natural gift. I believe he’s the future of the England team. At only 19 years of age, his career should only go from strength to strength.

England aren’t the favourites to win, but I think that suits us. Being the underdog typically works for Southgate’s team. Brazil, on paper, has the best squad in the tournament. Their second eleven could win the World Cup, never mind the first eleven they’ve been fielding. France will always cause trouble, and they’re the current holders of the World Cup. Mbappe is probably the best player in the world right now; I’m truly terrified of him going up against England’s defence. His pace and ball skills will be a nightmare for our back line. 

Portugal and Argentina have Ronaldo and Messi, and cannot, therefore, be ruled out. Messi was dazzling against Australia; he showed that he still possesses the attributes he’s been applauded for throughout most of my lifetime. Argentina probably has the same chance of winning the tournament as England, but Brazil and France are still my favourites. All in all, we should see a great knockout stage. Two legends of the game, who have never won it, playing in their last World Cup; rising talents enjoying their breakout tournaments; and female officials finally getting their (deserved) chance to shine on the world’s biggest stage.

The World Cup 2022 remains incredibly controversial. I’ve got to be honest, though, I’m loving it so far.

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