(I’m calling Germany to win it in an irritatingly comfortable fashion, by the way)
With the World Cup reaching a crescendo that Ludwig van Beethoven himself (or at least Brandon Seller) would be proud of, here are a few tips for watching the biggest sporting event in the world, tips that differ from my old tips for watching sport in general.
1) Root for a team
There are two sides playing, so pick one of them! Although tactical purists (like Jonathan Wilson and Andre Villas-Boas) will watch the game exclusively to analyse the teams’ performance, to provide background research into next season’s ‘Team Preview’ seminars or articles, us mortals have a great capacity for becoming incredibly emotionally attached to a thing at very short notice; this is why divorce exists.
And this is, on paper, the greatest game of the next four years; if there was a time to prioritise emotional madness over cold pragmatism, and shout ‘Deutschalnd Uber Alles’ in a slightly racist accent at a man completely disinterested in football, this is the time to do it.
2) Pressgang family members into watching it with you
This is one of few football matches that non-football fans will learn about in detail; anyone can ignore the ‘Football’ tab on the Guardian homepage, and go straight for the ‘Culture’ or ‘News’ section, but the result, and analysis, of this game is likely to be plastered all over the front pages of everywhere. So if everyone knows that player x had a poor game the next day thanks to the media, you can show yourself to be a footballing guru by saying that player x sucks during the game, gazumping the mainstream media’s opinions with your own, that people will admire because your ideas will soon be reinforced by ‘credible’ news sources.
And if you combine this with tip one, you’ll end up with a whole family from Essex wearing Lederhosen and necking Beck’s. Gut Anruf.
3) Beer helps
Speaking of necking alcohol, beer is a good thing for the final; I don’t drink, but it helps loosen the moods of others, and leads to a more natural atmosphere of relaxation and random outbursts of swearing at referees; considering the Final takes place every four years, this is the best possible time for unrestrained emotional outbursts and anger, especially seeing as you’ll all be too drunk to remember it he next day.
4) Compare every player to ridiculous English equivalents
This can be done in one of two ways: the positive one, where these foreign players are just like the brave English boys, but they have a bit more luck, a bit better coaching, and a touch more footballing ability; the negative version is the tragic realisation that Germany have Ozil, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Khedera, Gotze, Muller, and Schurrle to choose from in midfield, while England can either play Wilshire, or Henderson.
Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
- Messi – Wayne Rooney
- Mascherano – Scott Parker
- Di Maria – Jordan Henderson
- Muller – Daniel Sturridge
- Kroos – Jack Wilshire
- Schweinsteiger – Steven Gerrard
- Neuer – Joe Hart
- Lahm – Glen Johnson
5) Watch the trophy presentation
The players, coaches, and referees, while fundamentally existing solely for your entertainment and to create a feeling of hopeless aspirationalism, work very hard at their jobs; even if they have a shocker on the day of the Final, it takes a good decade as a player, and two or three for a coach or referee, to even be considered to participate in a Final.
So while I’ll tear into their performances with my friends, and perhaps on this blog, I like to think of the trophy presentation as a reward of effort in a general sense, as opposed to a reflection of the players’ performances on the day, which is subjective and interpretative. We don’t all like Per Mertesacker as a player, but I think we can all accept that he is determined and committed to his profession, and so if Germany win it all tonight, I’ll applaud him as loudly as I can, regardless of his performance.
Unless I plump for Argentina, at which point I’d probably be Seig Heil-ing out of sheer anger.