The Greatest Show on Earth


PT Barnum may have been right 150 years ago, but The Greatest Show on Earth these days gets underway this afternoon, despite the shameful corruption displayed by Fifa.  By comparison, the Olympics is a sideshow.  My first experience of the World Cup was watching Scotland play Zaire in 1974.  For 20-odd years the tournament had participation value for Scotland, even if the joy of being there was short lived.

These days the joy is all about being a neutral football fan and soaking up the drama and brilliance from the game.

Statistically it is difficult to look past Brazil, who will benefit enormously from home advantage.  European teams have never won the tournament in the Americans, where Brazil and Argentina have won every competition since Uruguay triumphed in the last time the tournament was held in Brazil 64 years ago.

Leo Time

Lionel Messi was, until recent times, the undisputed best player on the planet, but his position in the all-time greatest list is in considerable dispute.  Ask an older Barcelona fan, who has watched Cruyff, Maradona Ronaldo and Messi all do their stuff at the Camp Nou, and they are likely to tell you Leo is by far the better player.  His stats as a striker bear this out, but ask an Argentinean, and he’ll scarcely get a mention in the same breath as Diego.  There is not even a debate that Messi is the greatest Argentine.

After giving a spectacular display of goal-scoring prowess in 1982, then 25-year-old Diego Maradona singlehandedly led Argentina to their second World Cup in 1986 and back to the final four years later.  By Comparison, 26-year-old Messi has looked comparatively pedestrian in his two previous tournaments.  He’ll be 30 by the time of the next tournament, which will be held in the completely different environment of Russia.  If Messi is to be considered an all-time great, he needs to take Argentina to the final.  If his career ends without an outstanding World Cup, he’ll slip somewhere between Eusabio and Cruyff  in the list.

I’d like Belgium to win.  Belgian clubs and FA go about their business correctly and brought a remarkable bounty of talent to Brazil.  It’s always been easy to back Brazil but I’m still not over the Neymar thing.  The guy is an abomination in the Brazil No. 10 shirt, a vastly over-rated charlatan.  Anyone but Neymar, please.

Bertie Auld live chat, tomorrow, 1pm, on CQN.  Be there.

Visit the CQN Bookstore to get Tommy Gemmell to sign your personal copy of his tome, All the Best.

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  1. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon ....The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on


  2. bognorbhoy oscar in my thoughts on








  3. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon ....The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on

    Hahahahahahaha…..cannot belief I beat all you ghuys to it….

  4. squire danaher on

    jonny the tim



    13:03 on 12 June, 2014




    My mate is a WH manager



    They lay these specials for 50k



    The idea of WH giving away £1m on the opening day of WC seems odd to me..

  5. Fancy a Germany – Argentina final Paul so there could yet be a European winner this year.

  6. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon ....The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on

    Paul67……. The only reason Messi might not be the best player in the World is because, with his level of skill, there is the possibility he is from another planet……..

  7. prestonpans bhoys dam justice for the 5 on

    Nothing better than going abroad and watching Engurland get beat, looking forward to it………………….

  8. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon ....The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on




    THAT was a dear case..!!….it’s only a wee bit of wood after all….hahahahahahaha

  9. ArranmoreBhoyLXV11 on




    My first World Cup,full memories,Panini sticker collecting was Munich 74, when Scotland remained UNDEFEATED, and never won the cup…lol..



    Still see Billy Bremner just missing !!!

  10. Billy Bhoy 05 on

    billy bhoy 05



    13:05 on 12 June, 2014


    squire danaher



    11:27 on 12 June, 2014


    billy bhoy 05



    10:52 on 12 June, 2014



    I am not attacking you for raising the issue but IMO YES/NO bookie coupons are quite possibly the worst value available from such shops – and that’s saying something.



    Thanks for your response and I take your point but we are only putting on 50p a line for a total £1:00 bet, and it gives us a wee interest. We do similar at the Grand National and usually one of us wins.

  11. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon ....The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on

    Guess what country I got in the work’s draw………Ivory Coast…….honest …. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  12. minx1888 praying to Wee Oscar on




    13:08 on 12 June, 2014





    Just bought a case of wine,£41 quid off the case.




    Hope there is plenty white in there for me?

  13. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    Good deal oldtim.



    Do you want the chemical composition of your red wine? 8)

  14. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon ....The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on

    bognorbhoy oscar in my thoughts



    13:05 on 12 June, 2014



    \\\\o//// …….. My dad can lift more than your dad…..

  15. I just want to test the Celtic take on my Aussie perspective on the Independence referendum.



    I have been in Australia since 1967. I left Scotland for all the obvious Glasgow area Catholic school teacher reasons: luckily I missed the Sevco good nine in a row years.



    If I had a vote in the referendum, I would vote yes: the Scotland I left was a safe haven for RAPEEPIL: still is.



    I look at Norway: one of the high performers in Europe: similar population circa 5 million.Fantastic standard of living; great social security services; wher does it all come from? Rain, hydro electric power down loaded to Denmark at a profit!!! then there is oil! as much as we have and more.



    So we have oil, we have rain, Why are we the poor country cousin. I believe our hydro power is exported to England at a loss and returned to us at a premium! I might be wrong.



    Regardless, Norway is richer than we are. Yet it has to import most of its meat: there is not much arable land in Norway: We have heaps!



    Lat point in 1488 Scotland had four Universities: Englsnd had two:



    Today we have six England has …… I don’t know how many.



    Who did well out of the 1707 union of parliaments: not Scotland: Vote with the facts not your fear.

  16. May the best, most skillful and entertaining team win.



    Miracles do happen – sometimes.




  17. Agree with Paul: Neymar has left a bad taste in the mouth, so I won’t be shouting for Brazil.



    Would like to see a European country win it, Belgium would be great but I can’t see it: Germany maybe.

  18. Good call, Paul, nicely summed up the Messi legacy.



    The little genius gets it easy these days compared to the physicality dished out to his predecessors – the Butcher of Bilbao’s assault on Maradona a prime, brutal example.



    But… Messi’s underperformed all season – perhaps he knows this is/must be his time too.



    Argentina for me, but with Aguero as top scorer, 28/1.



    Neymar needs to wear his true identity on the back of his jersey – ‘Wee Dick’.

  19. 67 heaven.



    Well done on your podium….ya olde fox…jonny the tim was like Johny Ringo waiting for his chance, until I phoned him :)))

  20. squire danaher on

    Brazil will get every dubious call going



    Forget South Korea 2002, this will be hunlike in its barefaced-ness



    First bet of WC is 10/11 Cameroon over 20 card points v Mexico (10 for a yellow, 25 for red)



    They booted Germany off the park last Sunday in a friendly, wait till the real action starts.

  21. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon ....The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on




    13:17 on 12 June, 2014



    Hahahahaha….I wouldn’t have…..

  22. Bertie Auld, 1pm tomorrow, be there.



    I will actually be there:-) in the same room!


    Looking forward to it hugely.

  23. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon ....The angels are with Wee Oscar in Heaven.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on




    13:26 on 12 June, 2014




  24. Maradona for me . I think Messi is terrific but Diego played at a time when brutality on the park was the norm, don’t think Leo would fancy that.


    Dragging Napoli to two championships is an achievement sometimes overlooked

  25. Nooooooooooooo!



    I can’t believe I’m going to miss a chat with Bertie tomorrow.


    I call him Bertie after he vehemently corrected me after addressing him as Mr Auld on a serpendipitous meeting in the Carfin Grotto Visitor Centre.



    Please someone pass on my best wishes.

  26. squire danaher



    I tend to agree and I had a punt on Neymar top scorer and Brazil to win the tournament for that very reason.


    Neymar will dive all over the place and Brazil will get penalties.



    I just hope the world cup is won by the best team and not through diving and dubious refereeing decisions. My experience tells me that it will be a huge factor though. Unfortunately.




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