Rio de Janeiro: The 1986 World Cup was not all about Diego Maradona. It was also about that man and his ever-present cast on his left wrist. Gary Lineker, winner of the Golden Boot in that World Cup, had such an impact on the young minds across the world that most of them started to kick the ball with their wrist bandaged.
Lineker’s hat-trick against Poland is still fresh in our memory and there are still debates over what it would have been had he managed to connect that John Barnes delivery when Argentina were leading 2-1.
Twenty-eight years have passed. At 53, the man is growing old. He puts on his glasses to check text messages and has a grumpy look, obviously tired by the back-breaking schedule of the World Cup.
In Brazil as a BBC presenter, Lineker was having a quite lunch at the majestic Forte de Copacabana along with another former England captain Alan Shearer when The Telegraph walked up to him and asked for his take on Sunday’s Germany versus Argentina final.
“It will be Germany… I think. They are more organised and the team in form. They are also very fresh. I will be very surprised if they lose on Sunday,” he said.
Lineker has a point when he said that Germans are fresh. The Bundesliga, one of the most competitive leagues in Europe, was clinched by Bayern Munich in the last week of March. And since then Bayern coach Pep Guradiola was rotating his players giving them rest.
It was obviously done keeping in mind the World Cup and most of German players are from the Bavarian club.
Whereas the Lionel Messis, Javier Mascheranos, Angel di Marias and Sergio Agueros were fighting for their respective clubs trying to win the domestic league.
“Also, if you see, Argentina had a tough semi-final which went till the tie-breaker. It mentally drains you out. They hardly have time to recover from that match.”
In fact, Lionel Messi’s dad Jorge has revealed that the Argentine captain is mentally tired and exhausted. “Leo (Messi) said it looked like his legs weighed 100 kilos.
He was very tired,” he was quoted as saying. Messi, who was in top form in the group stage scoring four goals, has played a somewhat subdued role in the knock-out stages, barring a few moments of brilliance.
Lineker agrees that Messi is fatigued.
“I am a big fan of Lionel. But I don’t see him winning on Sunday. He is tired and that’s something I am not happy about. You have to be fresh mentally as well as physically before a World Cup final.”