Shamik Das

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Europe is not enough as Messi and Rooney zero in on South Africa


DO YOU feel the buzz, well, punk, do ya?! Just 85 days and counting till the biggest show on Earth and only 115 days to the final...

I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it, the excitement, the anticipation, the expectation, heightened by the performances of two of the world’s finest in the past few days. I’m speaking of course of Leo Messi and Waaaaaayne Rooney, whose prolific form has sent their teams soaring to the top of their leagues and into the final stages of the European Cup.

Any other season and that Saturday night in Castille would be the highlight, the final port of call of a sizzling season in the sun - but not this year, this is 2010, this is World Cup year, and, though Spain and Brazil (and possibly Holland) are the strongest favourites, no one will bet against Messi’s Argentina or Rooney’s England - or maybe both - making it to the World Cup Final in Johannesburg on the 11th of July.

In his past 11 games Rooney has scored 16 goals - seven of them headers, including the winner in the League Cup Final - while Messi’s recent run has seen him hit eight in his last four, including a brace in last night’s Champions League stroll over Stuttgart, the highlights of which you can see below:

Apologies for the commentary, only slighly less sensical than Jon Champion and Jim Beglin on ITV last night!

So where do we go from here? The draw for the quarter finals of the Champions League takes place tomorrow, after which Rooney has eight more league games and a possible five in Europe plus two for England (v Mexico and Japan), while Messi could feature in another 12 league games for Barça, maybe five more in Europe and friendlies against Canada and Israel before heading down to South Africa.

Then it’s America, Algeria and Slovenia for England; Nigeria, South Korea and Greece for Argentina - after which we move into the last 16 and beyond, where the big boys face off, extra time, penalties, quarter finals, semis and the big one, four months from now...

Vuvuzelas booming out across the land, the charcoal aromas of a million braais drifting into the air, gazelles, wildebeest and springbok galloping into the sunset, 736 of the world’s best footballers, hundreds of thousands of fans, billions more watching on TV.

One country. One trophy. One world. One winner. May the best men win.

Lionel Messi 2009/10 stats from ESPN Soccernet
Wayne Rooney 2009/10 stats from ESPN Soccernet
Download the Mirror’s World Cup wallchart


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