Bravo to England, but I fear that the next matches will be unpredictable. When you think of all of the big teams that have already lost, there seem to be a lot of wild cards. The home team of a World Cup always gets a big boost, and certainly seems to have helped Russia so far, just like France in 1998.
While waiting for the France-Belgium match, it has been fun to watch all of the reports about the friendly rivalry between the two countries, who basically really like each other. Regarding the neighbouring countries to France, Switzerland is about the only other country that could have received this treatment -- Spain, Italy, Germany and England could all go to hell and France would rejoice, at least in terms of football. Of course in the unlikely event that Luxembourg would ever qualify for such an event, the underdog factor would make a lot of the French support it just for that reason -- I know that I would.
Anyway, all of the reports come from two places -- the various towns straddling the Franco-Belgian border where people forget in which country they are living until a moment like this, but also all sorts of campgrounds in the south of France where sometimes the Belgian contingent has quite a big percentage -- up to 30 or 40% in certain cases. Basically, everybody has been saying that they support their own country and in just about all cases will watch the match with people of their own persuasion. But just about 100% of the people will support whichever team makes it to the final, just about the only exceptions being mixed marriages or ethnic origins.
Now that things are getting serious (?) both President Macron of France and King Philippe of Belgium will be present in St. Petersburg tonight.
Meanwhile, the RATP (Paris transport authority) and the STIB (Brussels transport authority) have been engaged in friendly jousting today with the RATP claiming that the Brussels metro station Hermann-Debroux has been renamed Griezmann to honour the French football star Antoine Griezmann.
Seeing the match in Paris was fun. And all the guys next to me came to greet me at the end of the game. Whilst the bartender gave me a beer to console me. Nice experience. And yes the French were either better or luckier. But if they were luckier maybe we were luckier than the Brazilians and not better than them ... there is no team at that level that doesn't deserve to be there.
They're finding the dates extremely convenient. Champs Elysées and Eiffel Tower closed today for military parade, concert and fireworks, Champs Elysées and Eiffel Tower closed tomorrow for giant fanzone and mob scene. If France wins, the Champs Elysées will be closed again Monday afternoon for the champions' parade.
I don't think anybody really has an "official" World Cup song. One just rises above the others sooner or later. The clue for the "winner" has more or less become the number of YouTube views these days.
Anyway, based on the songs, it looks like Belgium will win. The English song is so wistful and not all that optimistic.