As an Englishman, I am well past the stage of who to support in the World Cup.

Unlike in club football where I ‘support’ a variety of teams, international football provides me with one.  

Despite my Dutch heritage, I never want them to win and my Scandinavian roots rarely if ever come into play in a major tournament.

So now I am working out who I most want to lose.

Tonight we have a tricky one: Brazil or Germany.   Who do I least want to win?

This Brazil is not a classic Brazil side.  They are good defensively and they are functional elsewhere on the park (see how I am getting the hang of this football lingo?) but no one watches Brazil to see them defend.  But not many people are exactly enthralled by Fred who is, in football parlance, crap.

Neymar is injured and out of the tournament.  He is adored in Brazil but I don’t rate him in the Messi category.

Germany, their opponents in the semi-finals, are most people’s idea of the team they love to hate.  But the stereotypical dour, efficient German machine is long gone.  They play a brand of football we in England would die for (even though I prefer the classic Spanish tiki-taka) and it’s terrifically exciting when it comes off.  Superb physical conditioning combined with great skill and mental toughness.  Don’t you just hate them?  Well, only a bit and certainly not because of the war.

I am supposed to hate Argentina because of the Falklands War but that would be as silly as me hating England because of Thatcher (although come to think of it).  So I have a strange ambivalence about them.  I love Messi and I want him to prove to the world that he is among the greatest players who ever lived.  And he doesn’t cheat.  Unlike some.

And some includes Arjen Robben.  A wonderfully talented footballer but a hideous diving cheat and I can’t separate the two.  van Persie I like but less than I might because he plays for Manchester United.  But I do like Dirk Kuyt because a) he played for Liverpool and b) he comes from Katwijk where I went on holiday in 1984.

There have been other countries I have wanted to see fail.

Chile because of General Pinochet and specifically because he was Thatcher’s friend.  Switzerland because so many British tax exiles live there, although it could be regarded as a bonus since Phil Collins lives there too.  The USA because of George Bush and Iraq.

Oh I could find all manner of reasons to dislike the other countries too.  How could you support Italy after Berlusconi?

So, who do I want to win the World Cup?

Well, it’s who I don’t want to win it really and at the top of the list comes Brazil closely followed by the Netherlands and Germany, the latter two on the additional flimsy grounds that they are light years better than us.

It’s Argentina for me then.  Not a victory for the Malvinas, General Galtieri, Eva Peron or even Ossie Ardiles.

No, for that little man, the number 10 who doesn’t dive, doesn’t roll about after the most mild of fouls and plays better than any man currently alive.