FIFA World Cup: Day Two column

As Ronaldo steals the show again, ponders when football might finally come home

I read today that there are more Peru fans in Russia right now than any other nation bar Russia. This lovely little insight that begs the question: which set of fans deserve to see their nation host the World Cup the most?

While Peru would make a claim, it seems like our dearly beloved isle will make a go of the 2030 tournament. The news of the bid brought me back to eight years ago: England had bid to host the right to host the World Cup this year and failed. My 11-year-old self was crushed, I cried (my sister still ridicules me for this to this day), my dream of seeing England play at a World Cup was fading. This experience still stings. With Russia and Qatar being places that I couldn’t express my freedom and be safe concurrently, it seems the next time I may get a chance to see my team at a World Cup live is in North America 2026.

But this aside, on our walk home from the YUMAs yesterday night, the now ex-Editor of Nouse, Jacob Phillips and I were discussing where post-Brexit Britain might host the greatest show on the planet. One of the more creative options that came up in conversation was to revitalise our shitty seaside resorts. A 45-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo could be banging in goals in Bognor Regis, Wayne Rooney could finally master the “Scholes role” after coming out of retirement in Clacton, a fresh-faced Thiago Messi could be running rings around Neymar III in Blackpool. And of course, the final will be played in front of 4,100 spectators in my hometown of Dartford, at the best stadium in the world: the “ecologically sound” Princes Park. I can dream at least.

Watching alone again, I first sat down to watch Uruguay vs Egypt and was so hopeful for Egypt throughout. I was jubilant at the trials of that bastard Luis Suarez, missing three opportunities to open the scoring. But the little cannibal got the last laugh, with Giménez pouncing in the final minute to put a Salah-less Egypt to bed. It was a great header, in all fairness.

Next up was Morocco vs Iran. Thought this would be a walkover having not seen Iran and the game I watched was comedic in the extreme. Slips, mishit overhead kicks and general rubbish ensured a game that was spectacular for all the wrong reasons. These hilarities included the winning goal: Morocco’s Bouhaddouz attempted to head a corner behind and diverted it into his own net. The best part is that if someone hadn’t told you which team was shooting at which end, someone could perceive the goal as an awesomely executed header. Such is life.

But the moment of the day was this: Cristiano Ronaldo may have finally secured his legacy of the best between him and Messi with a clinical hattrick in Portugal’s 3-3 draw with a chaos-stricken Spain. After being 1-0 and 2-1 up, Portugal found themselves behind 3-2 with minutes remaining. I turned to my friends in The Courtyard and smugly reminded them of his dismal free-kick record when he stepped up to take one from outside the box. And you can probably guess what happened next: he curled it over the wall, and my face turned redder than the average Question Time audience member. I resigned from Nouse Sport at the right time.

All in all, an excellent World Cup day. There is a new Sport team in town, and hopefully, they will be sharing their thoughts on Russia 2018 soon, but until then, you’re stuck with me. Tough luck.

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