The final countdown

As we await the re-match of the first International football game I can remember, I cast my mind back to the days before Lilian Thuram broke the hearts of not that many people in Croatia with literally his only two international goals. Back to the time that I can’t remember.

From the game of two balls to the final that wasn’t, the Miracle of Bern to the Almost of Mexico City, World Cup finals defined the beautiful game for generations.

Then I was born and it all went to shit.

What was once the cherry adorning the icing on top of life’s tastiest cake went sour, and we were all left interested more in the drama than the football.

Incredibly, none of the first 13 finals saw a score to nil. Every single team managed at least one goal and the vast majority popped in 2 or more.

Since then, 7 of the 14 competing finalists have failed to score, and one of them even lifted the trophy. Pele would be turning in his front row seat.

If you’re wondering how and why this happened, you’re in the wrong place. I personally blame over-popularisation of the back four, a strategic focus on neutralising attacking playmakers and the globalisation of football.

The concerted move away from playing five up top probably hasn’t helped either.

And that’s why every final goal since 1994 has been from either a set-piece, an accident or a Ronaldo. And it won’t change on Sunday, because the human race just doesn’t deserve it.



…AAAAAND I was wrong. Start as you mean to go on.