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Shaka Hislop: Brazil, says my head, Argentina, says my heart, Achtung! warns experience

Who I’d like to see win the World Cup and who I think will win are two completely different things.

I’d like to see Argentina win it. For Leo Messi. To take his rightful place on the “best ever” shortlist, Messi, who, in my opinion, is the best player of his generation, needs to be a member of a team that wins a major international competition.

Photo: Argentina’s Lionel Messi (centre) celebrates after scoring against Ecuador during their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Quito, on 10 October 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Pablo Cozzaglio)

I don’t think Argentina will win, though. I say that because Argentina—well, this Argentina anyway—tend to find a way to get it undone.

I’m backing Brazil to win. As I write, there are still a few concerns, most importantly, the fitness and form of Neymar who is coming back from his injury. As critical as I am of Neymar, his antics and seeming lack of responsibility in the blue of PSG, that is in total contrast to the Neymar I see in the yellow of Brazil.

And I have to say that I never thought I would ever see such panic as I am currently seeing surrounding the (un)availability of a 35-year-old right-back. If Brazil can patch that Dani Alves-sized hole, I think they’ll be okay.

I think they think they’ll be okay too, which is more important.

The greatest hurdle to Brazil’s lifting the World Cup is Germany. Why? It’s very simple. From a manager, in Joachim Low, who commands the respect of everyone on the team and off it and who has the authority that Low does, to a team that always seems to add up to something greater than the sum of its parts, the Germans always bring their A-game.

Photo: 2014 World Cup winners Germany pose with the championship trophy after their triumph in Brazil.

And that makes them always the greatest threat to any pretender’s claim to the crown. I would only delete the word ‘always’ from what Gary Lineker said after England went down to the Germans in the semifinal of the 1990 World Cup.

“Football is a simple sport: you have 22 players chasing a ball for 90 minutes with Germany always winning in the end.”

About Shaka Hislop

Shaka Hislop
Shaka Hislop is a football analyst with ESPN and a 2006 World Cup player with Trinidad and Tobago. He played professionally in England with Reading, Newcastle, West Ham and Portsmouth and has an Executive MBA in Business Administration and a Mechanical Engineering degree from Howard University. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame athlete in Trinidad and Tobago and Howard while he was the inaugural winner of the England PFA's Special Merit Award for his services to football.

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98 comments

  1. I would like Brazil to win it for Brazils’ sake

  2. I disagree. Messi has already engraved his name in the Legend’s book! No need to win a WC to be considered great.

  3. YESSS. MY FAVOURITE COUNTRY TO WIN SINCE THE 70s.

  4. I tip Spain,cause i live here.

  5. So wait nah… nobody eh taking on de samba boys??? Alright… alright…

  6. Brazil needs to be victorious at this World Cup to reestablish their dominance on the World Football stage.

  7. Shaka Hislop blast pep his first year at city so think of his judgment

  8. Yea…. as he learn to score penalties in finals….

  9. When Maradona won it , he was in exile prior to the finals …my humble opinion as an Argentina fan is …it’s theirs for the takeing. ..Viva Argentina. ..Viva Messi…

  10. What a load of crap he has not done much for Argentina, they were lucky to qualify, yes he is a good player but he has nothing on Maradona now he was class.

    • Never heard of him cheating–like the hand of Maradonna.

    • Racheed Mohammed course I have 🙁 but every footballer is a cheat falling down like it’s the end of the world, let’s face it the man was a genius with a ball fella

    • Doesn’t need a wc to prove anything. If that was the case players like platini, cryuff, goerge best, eusebio should not be remebered as great players then. Plus Messi is argentina all time leading goal scorer if he’s not been a good player for Argentina how come he managed to be their best scorer. At the end if the day I’m not saying he’s the best ever. But to deny he’s not been an absolutely brilliant player over the years would just be ignorant.

    • Without messi Argentina wouldn’t be at the w/cup n if the rest of the Argentina players do their part especially higuain Argentina would have been world n copa champions. So better u watch cricket or tennis cause u sure don’t know shit about football

  11. If they do not win it he will go down as a great player that never win a world cup .

  12. And if they don’t win Messi should retire again permanently

  13. Supporting that, good prediction.

  14. Too bad he aint gonna be close to get it lol

  15. Shaka eh know what he talking about

  16. I’ve loved and admired since the days of Hans-Peter Briegel and Karl Heinze Rummenigge. A German team has always been lethal. They always play as a formidable unit.

  17. Shakka continue wishing on that
    Cause I team win world cup not player

  18. We respect your opinion Shaka, but not Argentina with that defence

  19. Winning a world cup says you are the best team not player.people just don’t want to admit that he has surpass the great Pele.just like they won’t admit Germany is the greatest football nation. They gone pass Brazil

  20. Sacarsm.. Every player that has ever won a world cup is better than Mess I and Christiano. He is simply the best individual player ever

  21. Hannibal Najjar

    I share the sentiments of Hislop.

  22. That’s the same thing with me

  23. Messi is not even the greatest Argentine player….plain and simple

  24. Partially agree, would augment his status as the best ever but I don’t think he has to be win world cup to cement that status.

  25. Last I checked football is a team sport. Many great footballers have never held the cup. DieMannschaft will make history in 2018.

  26. korey is spot on all the way.

  27. Argentina good but not that good. he’d be a great like Patrick klivert and rui Costa and dem .

  28. #DieMannschaft would repeat as #Worldchamps2018 they play as a unit no player is bigger than the game. There is talent on and off the bench.

  29. Shaka sums it up perfectly for me……ah remember why I like that Shaka fella so much….

  30. League

    Zubizaretta most La Liga appearances with 622- Messi 415 counting

    Champions League

    Clarence Seedorf won CL 4 times with three Clubs- Messi 4 times one club counting

    Worst finish domestic league CL winners Liverpool 5th with Gerrard- Barcelona 1st- 3rd Messi (both debuted age 17)

    World Cups

    Pele won 3 World Cups- Messi 0 and counting

    Muller 16 world Cup Goals- Messi 5 and counting

    Career Penalties

    Matt Le tissier 98% conversion over 16 years- Messi 75-77% over 14 years counting

    Chelsea (Argentina Matchup)

    Sergio Aguero 7 in 11 matches- Messi 1 in 8 matches (745min per goal)

    Career Yellow Cards

    Maradonna 20- Messi 72 counting

    Speed

    Bale 36.9kmh- Messi 32.5kmh

    Tackles

    1st Alexis Sanchez 1.5 tackles per game (2017)- Messi .7 tackles per game (2010-17)

    Walking Around

    Messi 80-83% Sprinting 1% The rest is jogging.

    Short List as the Greatest ever? In Shaka’s own voice Ehyyyuumm. Great but greatest ever? Greatest shortman ever! Probably! In this generation? Ha!

    This is like saying Rihanna is a greater artiste than Michael Jackson because she has more youtube views.