Okay, time to start cranking up the World Cup output, updating the big picture with quick takes on all things mundial. This week:
Teen titan Cesc
1. Why I’m suddenly bullish on Spain – not to win, but perhaps to make the final four. The magic of Cesc Fabregas, and the selection dilemma he represents. Personally, as Liverpool fan, nothing has made me happier than the teenage genius’s eclipse of our own Xabi Alonso as the reigning Spanish midfield maestro in the Premiership (the reason being, of course, that this means Real Madrid will probably offer an irresistable 30 million or so to buy him rather than our Xabi). There’s no question Cesc has the maturity to conduct the Spanish midfield in Germany; my only question is what does Aragones do with Xabi? Can they play alongside eachother, or are they (like Lampard and Gerrard) both essentially trying to play the same role? Would you invite one to hold and the other to play the more advanced role? I don’t know, but it’s a good dilemma to have.
Golden Boot Garcia: Remember where you heard it first
But here’s my more outrageous prediction: Spain’s top scorer will not be Raul or Fernando Torres or even David Villa; it’ll be Liverpool’s very own Luis Garcia. (That hatrick for Spain in the qualifiers should have sounded notice.) He’s been easily the most deadly marksman at Anfield this year, scores with both feet, with his head, and even one beauty with his chest. I’d put $20 on him winning the Golden Boot, in fact! I know Spain are relentless under achievers, but I have a feeling things are going to click in Germany because of the infusion of new blood and creativity (Cesc, Xabi, Luis) alongside the likes of Raul. What will turn around Spain’s fortunes, this time, I think, is that so many more of their players are playing every week in the character-building cauldron of the English Premiership. Now if only they were managed by Rafa…