With the 5-0 trouncing of Saudi Arabia by the host Russia, the World Cup 2018 had started. Although the choice of Russia as the World Cup hosts is controversial but is it not the only one. Since the starting of the 22nd century, the choice of the host is a bit controversial, like the Germany 2006, Ukraine in Euro 2012, South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014. Each of the host choices will be followed by the allegation of mistrust and corruption. But for the football lovers, let’s hope that this World Cup will be one of the classic and best in a long time.
My first World Cup that I had watched is USA 1994 final between Brazil and Italy. I had watched the game without knowing with the team to support as I don’t have interest in the football during this time. After watching 1994 final, then I had started to gain some interest in football, started to play it and read the history of football, players, and the competition. Then I had started to admire Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta and form them on I become an avid supporter of Argentina. Since then, I had started to watch the World Cup supporting Argentina and from then on, they are some ups and down watching the World Cup while supporting Argentina.
In 1998 World Cup, Argentina was led by the captain of 1978 winning team Daniel Passarella. He has had implemented some strange rules such as a player much not have long hair and due to his one of the greatest striker in Argentina during that time Claudio Caniggia was not selected. It a bit peculiar to watch Gabriel Batistuta playing with short hair but they are nothing short of dismal performance , Argentina were absolutely stellar in the tournament and had progressed to second round knocking out England with Micheal Owen become the talking point with his wonder goal but Argentina cynical play perpetrated by Diego Simone whom had made David Beckham sent off, intelligent set piece play that had led to Javier Zanetti equalizer, and great composed penalty shootout had led them to a meeting with Holland in a repeat of 1978 final . Holland is the first one to take the lead, but Claudio Lopez had equalized later. Argentina was dominant in this game with Gabriel Batistuta had hit a post in the second half and dented Argentina the lead. With Argentina player Ariel Ortega sent off by the referee due to aggressive headbutt on the Holland Edwin Van Der Saar, they had been knocked out by a brilliant one leg skill by Dennis Bergkamp who had controlled, turned and shot and scoring with his right foot to knockout Argentina. The next thing is France finally won the World Cup for the first time and they had become the first host to win the World Cup since Argentine in 1978 amid the controversies with Ronaldo in the final but one thing that can’t be denied is the France team in 1998 were strong and able to withstand any situation.
4 years had passed and in 2002 the World Cup had moved to Asia the very first time that the continent had hosted a World Cup. The World Cup started with one of the best World Cup theme composed by Vangelis that combined the Asian style and the World Cup greatness. On the football field, this is the final where the holders qualified automatically as FIFA had changed the rule that makes the holder compete in the qualifying round. The first match is between the defending champion France and with the African debutant Senegal with Zidane the talisman of France had been injured before the start of the World Cup. The results are France 0 – Senegal 1 and it had sent a positive momentum for Senegal as they had become the first African team since Nigeria in 1994 to reach the quarter-final only to be knocked out via a golden goal by Turkey. Speaking of Argentina, they come with a high expectation as they had great results in CONMEBOL qualifier with highly rated Marcelo Bielsa in charge however thing did not turn so well as they had been knocked out in the first round. The World Cup had been decided in the final by Brazil and Germany with the German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn after a brilliant performance throughout the tournament making an uncharacteristic mistake that had led Ronaldo to score the first goal and scoring again later to make the top scorer in this tournament by 8 goals. He is the first man since Mario Kempes in 1978 to become top scorer with 8 goals.
In 2006, an uncharacteristic substitution by the Argentina manager Jose Nestor Pekerman in the quarter-final against the host Germany led to Argentina lost the momentum and being knocked out by German via penalties establishing their status as the king of penalty shootout in the World Cup as the German had not lost any penalty shootout that they had contested in the World Cup. It is tragic end to the one of the best Argentinian team in the World Cupspearheaded by one of the best playmakers Juan Roman Riquelme and they superiority of Riquelme and the Argentinian had been shown in the second goal in the group stages against Serbia Montenegro where a 24 pass with Riquelme in heart of the passes had led to one of the best team goal scored in the tournament history. Apart from that Italy had won the World Cup amid the Calciopoli scandal but the most iconic memory of the World Cup is the disgraceful end to one of the best player in the current generation where Zidane had been sent off for headbutted Materrazi and leaving the field with the World Cup trophy beside it is one of the memorable shot of the World Cup.
Under the legendary Diego Armando Maradona, Argentina had struggled to qualify for the World Cup2010 but at the last minute able to book their place in South Africa. Like 2002, this is the first time that the African continent had hosted the tournaments. One of the memorable moments in this World Cup is the introduction to the sound of vuvuzelas, the horrible mistake by the linesman and referee in the German 4-1 thrashing of England in the second round when a clear goal by Frank Lampard had been denied by the referee and the next thing Spain had become the new champion form Europe and the first team since Brazil to win outside of the continent. Speaking of the final, it is a horrible final with Holland decided to just kick Spanish player out of the park. About Argentina, Maradona tactical frailties had been exposed by the German when they had met them in the quarterfinal where Argentina had been trashed by German 4-0 with most of the German goal comes from the left side.
In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Argentina had missed a great chance to grab the cup in the arch-rival territory as Brazil had hosted this tournament. Brazilian had wished that the current team is able to banish the ghost of 1950 but instead they had received a tremendous shock when German had humiliated Brazil with an unbelievable scoreline of 7-1 in the semi-final. Brazilian player and the fan had been totally shattered and the results also send shocking shockwave in the footballing world. This World Cup had shown the emergence of James Rodriques form Colombia as he had been outstanding in the tournament that had earned him a lucrative contract with Real Madrid. Besides, Holland had stunned the defending champion Spain with a 5-1 win over them and these results coupled with a defeat to Chile had led them to be knocked out from the first round. It looked like jinx as, since 2006, the defending champion had been knocked out in the first round. Argentina meanwhile had reached the final for the first time since 1990 and the final had been a repeat of 1990 final where again German had been victorious to become the first European team to lift the trophy in South America. Messi and co had missed several opportunities to take the initiative in the tie until Mario Gotze form German had sealed it in the final minutes of the extra time.
For the current World Cup, I am hoping that Messi will be able put his name in Argentina football folklore following the feat of Mario Kempes, Daniel Parallel, and the most famous Argentinean footballer Diego Maradona. The World Cup had a history where a team who had struggled in the qualification will perform unexpectedly well in the tournament. I am hoping to see Argentina to lift the cup as 4 years ago they had squandered big time in the final. Apart lets hope for the first time ever that an African team is able to progress to the semi-final as in the 2006 Ghana via Asamoah Gyan had squandered a great chance when he had wasted a penalty in the final minute of the extra time. If Gyan had been able to score then we had seen an African team in the final via Ghana.