The World Cup, a week in

Dave Renton

Judging by the online bookmakers Oddschecker, the odds seem to be shortening on Argentina and England, while lengthening on Germany. England have become clear second favourites behind Brazil. Neither team deserves the position. Of the teams I've seen, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Italy, the Ivory Coast and Portugal should all feel confident of playing England, were they picked together. Spain haven't played yet, but should have nothing to fear either.

The common cliche that England have the best midfield in the competition seems to pall against reality: Joe Cole doesn't cross, Beckham remains slow, and Lampard is surely one of the most over-rated players in Europe: he doesn't run back, and Gerrard's threat is nullified to make space for him. Guillem Balague was surely more accurate when he suggested that if Eriksson had the choice, this would not be his first four.

Brazil too are over-rated; Kaka and Ronaldinho are real stars, the rest of the team seems slow and complacent.

Ironically, I think that England could beat Brazil, but so I think could any of the other seven teams I've mentioned above.

Before the start of the tournament, I said that I'd be supporting Trinidad and Tobago, and I'm proud of how they've done. Fingers crossed for them to take points of England. Histomast is right to call Shaka Hislop a legend; although I personally would give Carlos Edwards even more of the plaudits.

But if I had to pick a winner I'd still go for the two teams I put money on, on the very opening day: Germany (because the hosts always have the best of the referees) and Argentina (as the team with the best squad in the tournament): I was able to pick both at 9:1. (And Spain's Fernando Torres at 33:1 for top scorer) England are 5:1 with William Hill.




June 2006

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