Hello there, happy Sunday. It’s World Cup final day as France take on Croatia at 4pm. I can’t be the only one who can’t wait for it!
How is the game going to go? It could be an absolute cracker, but I can see it being a bit of a cagey affair. We may not see too many risks being taken, because nobody wants to be the player that lets his country down in the World Cup final. It may take a while for the game to get going as they both feel each other out.
France will be clear favourites to get the job done, but there’s no way anyone can write Croatia off. They have some special players, and their midfield is amazing. Can they stop the French though? France are so strong going forward, but are also really good defensively. We saw this in the semi-final when they took the lead against Belgium and then sat back and put in an amazing defensive display. I think we could see more of the same today if they take the lead. They could sit back and soak up the pressure before hitting on the break. With Kylian Mbappe’s pace, playing on the counter is extremely effective.
It should be a really high-quality game, as you would expect since it’s the World Cup final. Every player on that pitch needs to show up and put in the performance of their lives today. They’ll definitely be up for it, there’s no doubt about that. This is the biggest game any player on that pitch has played in their lives. None of them have played in a World Cup final before, and this could be the only time they play in one. There are plenty of players that have won Champions Leagues, league titles and domestic cups, but nothing compares to this. It’s the biggest game in world football.
As I’m writing this, it’s just two hours from kick-off. Some players will be excited, while others will be nervous. They know the world will be watching them. Over one billion people watched the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. There could be more this year. The players have the weight of their nation on their shoulders. They could turn themselves into heroes with a win today and write themselves into folklore. The Croatians, in particular, are already heroes in their country. Even getting to the final is a huge achievement for such a small country.
Getting to the final is a huge achievement for the French too, of course, but they expect to get to the latter stages of these tournaments. Croatia only became a country in 1991, and have a population of just over four million. That’s less than Ireland. When you see just how shit Ireland are, it shows how incredible this is. I think a lot of people will be supporting Croatia today, because everybody loves an underdog. I’m a neutral, and I’ll be just enjoying the game without really shouting for anyone, but I would be delighted to see Croatia win it. I suppose I’m not quite a neutral then.
We’ll see how it goes anyway. I hope we see an absolute cracker. A 5-5 draw ending in a penalty shootout would make a lot of people happy. That’s obviously highly unlikely, but it would be great. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that it’s a good one.
There was some Premier League news this morning, as West Ham announced that they have signed Felipe Anderson from Lazio. The Brazilian midfielder has moved for around £35m, but that could rise to over £40m with add-ons.
Anderson is their seventh signing of the summer, following Issa Diop, Andriy Yarmolenko, Lukasz Fabianski, Fabian Balbuena, Ryan Fredericks and Jack Wilshere to the club. Fredericks and Wilshere came in on free transfers, but the Irons have spend around £85m already this summer. Their fans can definitely get excited about next season.
It seems that this has followed last season’s scenes at the London Stadium when there was a pitch invasion and West Ham fans surrounded the directors’ box and hurled abuse – and other things – at the club’s owners. I’m not saying that that was a good thing or anything, but this summer’s transfer activity could well be because of that. The owners knew they had to do something to get the fans back onside, and this is their attempt at doing that. It seems to have worked anyway, as I would imagine most West Ham fans are delighted with what they are doing.
The first thing they did was bring in Manuel Pellegrini, which was a huge statement of intent. They obviously promised him that there would be a big investment in the squad, because I don’t think he would have came in if there wasn’t. Things are definitely looking up for West Ham, who will surely be aiming for a top-half finish next season.
I think aiming to break into the top six is wishful thinking if anybody is thinking that, because they’re still some way behind those clubs already there, but I don’t see any reason they shouldn’t be aiming for seventh, which will likely secure a place in the Europa League qualifying stages. They could also aim for a good run in the FA Cup, and there’s no reason they can’t do that. We’ll wait and see how they get on anyway. I have no idea if they plan to spend more, but I wouldn’t be surprised since they have done so much already. Things are beginning to look a lot more positive.
Anyway, that’s it from me for today. It’s raining in Dublin today, which is very odd. We’re not used to it now, because it’s been so nice out for so long. We definitely needed a bit of rain though. The grass isn’t even green anymore; it’s more of a burned brown colour at the moment. Hopefully a day of rain will see that get a bit better. I don’t mind that it’s raining anyway, because my day has been planned around staying in and watching the World Cup final.
I’ll be back here tomorrow anyway. I’ll probably do a bit of tweeting about the game anyway, so that – and any other news – will be on Twitter. Have a good day and enjoy the game.