12 Jun 2018

2018 World Cup Preview: Football, Fashion & Song

From Squeaky Bum Time: A Football World Cup Podcast, 3:00 pm on 12 June 2018
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Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Some scars never heal.

Four years ago, in the tropical southern city of Belo Horizonte, 2014 FIFA World Cup hosts Brazil were dismantled and destroyed by superior German engineering.

This 7-1 defeat shattered the hopes of the most football-mad nation on the planet.

The game’s legacy now lives on like a poltergeist in the closet, or a scar that will never heal.

Four years on in Russia, Brazil are once again among the favourites for this year’s tournament. The team is playing arguably the best football in the world, and is full of attacking verve and steely resolve.

Yet, if it’s a sixth World Cup trophy the seleção are after, they’ll likely have to go through Germany, a team that always delivers when it counts.

In the first ever episode of Squeaky Bum Time: A Football World Cup Podcast, the BBC’s South American football correspondent, Tim Vickery, tells hosts Emile Donovan and Max Towle that Brazil is more aware than ever that their reputation as a footballing powerhouse is on the line.

“[The 7-1] is clearly there - even those who weren’t on the field that day or in the squad are very, very aware that they’re defending the prestige of Brazilian football,” he says.

“If you think back to that game, there was one team that was wonderful passing the ball to players in the same colour shirts, and it wasn’t Brazil, it was the Germans.”

Yet, he says, the scar will be used as motivation. There’s a legacy to continue.

Vickery rates Germany as his favourites to claim World Cup glory, alongside France, Spain and Brazil.

“I would be very surprised if the title goes beyond that top four.”

In his time he’s rarely seen a team as dependent on one player as Argentina are on Lionel Messi. The superstar forward may have led his side to the final four years ago, but Vickery is sceptical of repeat success.

“Without Messi this team wouldn’t have got close to qualifying,” he says.

“I suppose the one positive is he’s much more healthy this time around, but this team is such an unknown quantity. There’s a vague idea of what the starting line-up is going to be … and it’s a real possibility that they could have real defensive problems and crash out at the group stage.”

Uruguay and Colombia are threats to go deep into the knockout stages, while Vickery says the vanquishers of the All Whites’ hopes, Peru, are a much improved side capable of providing a shock or two.

Also in the episode, Emile Donovan and Max Towle discuss the biggest storylines in Russia, before being joined by RNZ Music's Yadana Saw to rate whether the Will Smith-featured official song “Live it Up” will join the mostly vacant pantheon of great tournament anthems, and decide who has the nicest, shiniest kit, and whose threads should be dumped in the discount bin.

THE RUNDOWN

(1:22)… Max & Emile draw a line in the grass and pick their favourites to win it all

(8:25)…The BBC’s legendary South American football correspondent, Tim Vickery, assesses the chances of the continent’s five teams

(21:15)… Covering the big storylines overshadowing the tournament

(26:12)... RNZ Music’s Yadana Saw weighs in on worst World Cup songs

(37:34)... The team discuss the World Cup's biggest fashion statements

RNZ Music's conclusive and methodically researched bingo chart

RNZ Music's conclusive and methodically researched bingo chart Photo: Yadana Saw

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