So there we have it. After anti-FIFA protests which are still ongoing and journalists forever plugging pictures of a nearby beach to make sure we know their whereabouts, the World Cup has finally begun.
Thursday night saw the opening game of the tournament with Brazil undeservedly beating Croatia 3-1 at the Arena de Sao Paulo. Countless decisions went Brazil’s way, including a dodgy penalty shout following a dive by Fred. Home advantage! However, in real time, I would imagine it being a difficult one to spot for referee Nichimura, who was approximately 60 yards away from the incident.
World Cup coverage at Stretty News will not just feature in written form. The hardworking folk that work hard alongside myself will be broadcasting discussion from a Manchester United perspective throughout the tournament (more information). Although, the blog will be updated with lots of content from serval respected writers.
Friday kicks off the inclusion of Manchester United players in Brazil with Mexico playing Cameroon and Spain up against Louis van Gaal’s Holland. You would expect Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie to definitely start but there is less certainty over Juan Mata while David de Gea is second or third choice goalkeeper at Spain.
It will be interesting to see how Louis van Gaal sets up. Throughout the pre-World Cup friendlies the newly Manchester United manager has tested numerous formations (4-3-3, 3-5-2, 4-4-2), and it remains to be seen what system his players gel better with. Not knowing your main strengths ahead of a tournament is an area of concern but for the sake of negative press I hope he has it covered.
Mexico 2-2 Cameroon
Spain 2-0 Holland
Mexico are an unpredictable side. They’re very poor defensively, decent through the middle but a real threat up front. Hernandez has a fantastic international record.
The big question regarding Spain is whether they can keep their incredible run going? I think they can due to uncertainty as to whether anyone is capable of outclassing them. Holland will qualify for the knockout stages. Then it depends on who the opponents are.
@Janzuaj1324 asked: “How do you think Nani will do? He was brilliant against Ireland when he came on. Does he still have a future at United?”
Nani will start for Portugal on the right up the line from Pereira. He is undeniably frustrating and has spent the majority of the last two seasons injured. I cannot see him turning it around and setting the world on fire throughout the campaign, but Nani is always capable of providing brilliance.
@ChimpinATopHat asked: “There’s always a “big” team that implodes, who are you picking to go this time?”
Belgium have a fantastic squad but I don’t think they will fulfil expectations. No real full-backs.
@jt_man_united asked: “How do we manage to consistently get crap refs at this level?”
Don’t know. Can we just get some of that vanishing spray to test on Sepp Blatter?
Meanwhile, Manchester United have been linked with Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. It is believed Louis van Gaal sees the German as his main target to help rebuild United after years of struggle in the position.
In regards to age, Schweinsteiger turns 30 in August. Some might say he’s too old, injury prone but can grab a game by the scruff of its neck. It worked quite well last time around when we signed Robin van Persie, so I would never say no to an opportunity that occurs with someone of that class becoming available.
Van Gaal will build for the future with additions of youth and prospect, maybe even a look into the reserves and academy. However, the new manager may feel the need to throw in something short term that gets the ball moving straight away.
Even with the signing of Schweinsteiger, I feel we would be still short in midfield. It’s not the only signing needed but one that would contribute to an improvement. Tom Cleverley is not good enough to be in the starting eleven, Michael Carrick is on a downslide and Darren Fletcher is n0t half the player he once was. That leaves us with Marouane Fellaini and Anderson. The former may improve and deserves longer than a single season that he spent a lot of injured on the sidelines. As for Anderson, there is no hope for him anymore. No hope.
So, in conclusion, I’d love to see United sign Schweinsteiger. I just don’t believe he is all that we need.