Friday, 15 June 2018

The beautiful game: world cup 2018 forecast (with perfect foresight)

Today, for something completely different. The World Cup 2018. Spoiler: you will see the future.
I can feel your sense of anticipation. The excitement. And relate to the sleepless nights in search of answers to the supreme existential question: is there any meaning to life beyond seeing your team winning the football world cup?

Well, life is good. And today is your lucky day - here are all the existential answers you have been looking for (you're welcome):

1. Italy won't win the world cup. They have bigger plans for the summer: leave the Euro without anyone noticing.

2. Holland won't win either. They decided some months ago not to participate in this year's tournament. Despite not having any plans at all for the summer at the time. Now they are considering going to Italy on holiday and organise daily football matches with the locals. There is hope for the Euro's survival.

3. The US will contribute as much to raise football's quality standards as President Trump to make a rules-based world great again. It will be beautiful!

4. Putin is a man of vision. Why participate in a G7 +1 summit when you can host the world cup? Russia's football team will play with the same flair, diversity and success that characterises the Russian economy.

5. England won't win. Nothing new but at least England has an excuse this summer: there is no time for distractions - the nation has to focus all its energy in turning the Boris-Rees Mogg Brexit master plan into a major success by mid-July. 2018. No one really knows what the master plan looks like, starting with Boris and Rees-Mogg, but there is no reason to panic as the deadline is still a distant five weeks away. Well informed sources in Westminster say that Brexiteers have never been more confident about delivering a successful Brexit and destroy the Euro along the way. After Boris has been spotted ordering a Pizza Margherita in Islington yesterday, rumours are rampant that he plans to invade Italy to kick the Dutch out of the country.

6. Belgium is the secret favourite. So secret that no one will miss them when they head home after the quarter-finals. The Belgium chocolate pralines remain world class though. Then again, that's not a secret.

7. Portugal will start the world cup as European Champion. And finish the world cup as European champion. If anyone wants to bet against it, please call me.

8. Spain will play Portugal in its first match. It's an early final. What would be the point to have the same match in the final again? Right....

9. France has a fantastic team. It's true that Napoleon suffered an history changing defeat in Russia (calm down Boris and Jacob, we know: Waterloo was epic) and that it still weighs heavily on the Grand Nation's collective memory. However, France has now an Über-President who can turn the nation around: young, dynamic, competent, eloquent, an ex-investment banker, a broad thinker with attention to detail. From my generation. Just like me in fact. Ok, France won't win.

10. Germany. It was in Stalingrad in 1943 that the new cool Germany was born (sure Boris and Jacob, we know: Churchill was magnificent). Who said that a devastating defeat can't mark the dawn of a much brighter and happier era? Cheer up Neuer, Kroos, Özil & Co: Germany's football will become even better following your performance in Russia.

11. Argentina has Messi. Messi! Messi! Messi! The clinical magician. Cruyff on the bench and Messi on the pitch have been a generation's football heroes. The ones who radically reinvented the game and in the process took us to places no one ever thought could possibly exist. It's a pity that Messi has Argentina.

12. Brazil has nothing in common with Russia, except being an emerging market. Brazil is Southern hemisphere; Russia is Northern hemisphere. Brazil is hot; Russia is cold. Brazil is a chaotic, lively democracy; Russia is an organised, sombre authoritarian state. Russia meddles in other countries elections; Brazil can hardly keep track of what is happening in its own elections. Brazil has Neymar, Coutinho, William; Russia doesn’t. Opposites attract. Brazil is the top favourite.

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