Like several fans across the world, former Indian skipper Baichung Bhutia too is very excited about the FIFA World Cup 2014. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, Bhutia spoke about the strong teams in the tournament and how players like Neymar and Messi have a great chance to add a World Cup trophy to their resumes.
Excerpts from the conversation:
First of all, we would like to know whether Football fever has taken you into its grip as well?
Definitely, since it’s a quadrennial event, the Football World Cup is huge for a football fan and a footballer. Football has the reputation of being a global sport and there are plenty of Football fans in India, who eagerly wait for four years for the World Cup. I am also looking forward to it.
While hosts Brazil are keen to win their sixth title at home, who according to you are the favourites to win the trophy?
There is not one particular team which I am looking forward to, but I think Germany has a fair chance. Four teams which are favourites to win the tournament are Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Spain. It is very important from Brazil`s perspective to start well, as they will get tremendous support from the fans.
Talking about star players, we have Neymar, Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. Who according to you is the player to watch out for?
Messi has always been compared with Diego Maradona. Neymar is often compared with Pele. But they have never won a World Cup like these legends. Cristiano Ronaldo has been in good form for Real Madrid, they won the Champions League. Neymar, who has done so well for the national side, also has a very good chance of winning the Cup. But I don`t think Ronaldo or Portugal can compete against the likes of Brazil or Argentina, thus they are not the favourites. But Neymar and Messi definitely have a good chance considering that the tournament is being played in South America, in Brazil, and I don`t think they will get a better chance than this.
All these big stars like Neymar, Messi…are they jittery before such a big tournament?
Definitely it happens. All these big players are under pressure to hold the coveted trophy in their hands. Without the World Cup trophy, their career seems to be incomplete. Thus there is a lot of pressure, they are jittery. Several players who performed brilliantly for their clubs, failed in the World Cup while playing for their national teams. At the same time, unheralded players became superstars in the World Cup.
There isn`t a bigger sporting event than the World Cup. With so much pressure, how does a coach relax his players? We would like to know about the Brazilians.
Different teams have different dressing room environments. The African teams, players are very fond of music and they use it to release the pressure off themselves. At the same time, there are dressing rooms where the players prefer to stay in silence, in order to focus on the next match. I think that the Brazilians want to enjoy their game in front of the home crowd.