Six of One – Is international football better than club football?
Six of One is our regular look at a major issue from the world of sport.
This week we’re asking – does World Cup 2018 show that international football is more entertaining than club football?
World Cup 2018 – football’s great leveller?
We’re still some way off the final, but Russia 2018 is already being hailed by many pundits as the best World Cup of all time. Frankly, it’s hard to disagree – with this tournament delivering entertainment in spades.
With only one goalless draw (thanks, France and Denmark), countless controversial incidents and several big guns facing the humiliation of an early flight home, viewing figures for this year’s tournament have gone through the roof, with Belgium v Japan – in theory, the least attractive game of the knockout stages – attracting 12.4m viewers.
Is international football back in fashion with a vengeance?
It certainly seems as if this tournament has caught the imagination in ways that 2010 and 2014 never quite managed. In Russia, nothing seems out of bounds, with underdogs refusing to simply roll over and play to the script – to the point that when Japan went two up against heavily-fancied Belgium, this almost felt like the new normal.
For years it seems that interest in international football has been on the wane, with tribal loyalty meaning fans increasingly opt for club over country. Paper planes and Mexican waves were more common sights at Wembley than genuine crowd excitement about the Three Lions.
Of course, the turn against international football in the last decade wasn’t exactly helped by years of underachievement and the several ingenious new ways of exiting competitions cooked up by the England national team.
Certainly, Gareth Southgate’s bold decision this time around to overlook experience and blood a young, likeable group of players who look as If they enjoy their football has been key in the outbreak of World Cup fever across the nation.
But is there more to it than that? As touched on before, even non-England games seem to be generating huge interest amongst the British public. International football is proving to be a great leveller just as club football seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
When the likes of Messi and Ronaldo are forced to carry the weight of their nations on their shoulders in a desperate bid to seal their legacy, even those with only a passing interest in the Beautiful Game the rest of the year can happily buy into that narrative.
As last season proves, the sheer quality on display in the top reaches of the Premier League and Champions League ensures club football will always have the technical edge in terms of delivering magical moments to take the breath away. But international football – and the World Cup in particular – still has the best storylines.
All image sources from PA Images
Do you agree?
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