Everyone in the world seems nervous

Ten days away from the start of the world cup and every soccer fan, or at least the writers, seem to be losing faith. No matter where you look, it seems every country is heading for trouble. Except, perhaps, the US, where as usual, barely a peep is heard about the national team. Ironically, they’re the team with the most to worry about.

Even Brazil seems rattled right now. Edmilson is off due to a knee injury. Ronaldinho claims to be so tired he can barely stand. They’re even worrying about how many sausages Ronaldo has been tucking-in. While everyone else is tuning up with actual national teams, Brazil is playing against children (under-21 sides from club teams). I guess they know what they’re doing, but even the fans of the undisputed best team in the world are getting concerned.

Most teams are still nervously tinkering with line-ups. Some of this is just to give the regulars a rest, and much of it is over-blown, but Germany is still desperately searching for a defense. Any idiot would know just to throw Ballack, Klose, and Schweinsteiger up front, but you’d think they’d have had the back sorted sometime before now. It doesn’t look like they can stop anyone. Klinsmann should have had nothing else to think about for months. Apparently, a California beach isn’t conducive to that sort of thinking.

England has the whole Rooney saga. That’s shaping up to be their next ’if only …’ excuse. As in ’if only the plane hadn’t crashed in Munich’ , ’if only Maradona hadn’t cheated’, ’if only Becks was healthy’. They pull a new one out every four years–some lame, some not. They do look a bit lost right now with Owen alone up front. They actually look a little better with the novelty act, Frankenst–er I mean, Crouch in there with him, but Sven is right not to trust that. So the tinkering continues there. Including throwing a 17 year old who doesn’t even play for his club team into the mix. They’ll be ok with or without Rooney–but only ok, and that’ll never be good enough in Blighty. They’re right to be worried.

Italy is being overwhelmed with the match fixing scandal. Practically everyone on the national team has a link to it. The consensus seems to be that that distraction is going to be too much for them, and they’ll quickly duck back home in shame. Maybe a proper problem like this is just what they needed to keep the focus somewhere else than on their game. The only other thing they’ve been whining about was that Luca Toni misses too many chances. He only led the universe in scoring–how many did they expect him to stick in? But, that’s the Italians. They have a habit of inventing disasters, maybe they’ll do better if they already have a real one. For ninety minutes they can just go out and play and forget about everything else. See if that works–nothing else was.

Anyway, it seems no one is comfortable right now. That’s as it should be. The tension is building, and suddenly everyone has doubts. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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