The World Cup is less than a week away; a welcome football orientated relief from the stressful goings on at their club for Charlton fans. Whisper it quietly, but you might actually be able to fully enjoy this, or at least the bits that don’t involve England.
Nonetheless, the Addicks will never be far from the minds of many. With that in mind, it’s worth noting the Charlton connections in Brazil this summer. It might just make the tournament that little bit more exciting*.
*it probably won’t, but enjoy anyway.
Predict which minute the Madjid Bougherra shaped wall will crumble
The Algerian defender endured an error-filled 18-month spell in SE7, but Bougherra, a Rangers cult hero (no, really) who was once linked with a move to Barcelona (no, really), will be leading his country (no, really) in Brazil.
The Addicks parted with £2.5m to sign ‘Magic’ from Sheffield Wednesday in 2007, one of those many Pardew signings that didn’t quite live up to expectations, but he certainly wasn’t the worst; his worth was shown after the defence became a total shambles following his move to Rangers in 2008.
He was often solid, dominant in the air and strong in the tackle, but a costly mistake was never far away. He had this incredible capability of doing his best Richard Rufus and Gary Doherty impressions within the same half.
So when Algeria face Belgium in their first game in Brazil, Bougherra will no doubt begin the game in excellent fashion; keeping Romelu Lukaku under control with relative ease.
Predicting an innocuous long ball making Bougherra look like a non-league centre back while the commentators gush over his display isn’t difficult; the skill is predicting the time that it will occur.
Scout Charlton’s new signings
Owing to the fact that any player currently on the books of Standard Liege has a decent chance of appearing in a Charlton shirt at some point before they end their career, it’s probably worth keeping an eye of the Liege players in Brazil this summer.
However, there will only be two at the World Cup with the Belgium squad largely filled with players playing abroad. Japan’s first choice ‘keeper Eiji Kawashima kept Yohann Thuram out of the Liege side last season, if that counts for anything, and Laurent Ciman will provide back-up in defence for the Red Devils.
Hardly inspiring for the overall quality of Liege’s roster.
Cheer on Reza in the Clash of the Titans
Such is the nature of the World Cup, there’s going to be some gigantic clashes between nations and individuals right from the start of the competition.
The biggest? Arguably the world’s best player (sorry, Cristiano) Vs the Prince of Iran. Lionel Messi Vs Reza Ghoochannejhad.
Reza is capable of stuff like this:
Messi has this in his locker:
There’s surely only one winner between the talismanic pair when Argentina and Iran clash on June 21.
But, in all seriousness, both are vital figures in their respective sides. Messi may have fellow world class players surrounding him to share the sizeable burden on his shoulders, but the Argentinian public expects the Barcelona man to live up to his name on the biggest stage after a relative failure in 2010, while Reza, a transformed figure in an Iran shirt, will have to repeat his goalscoring exploits that led his side to Brazil if they’re to be any sort of threat in Group F.
You might also want to make Reza’s Iran your second team, especially if supporting one nation that has a decent chance of getting to the quarter-finals is far too much success for you to handle. The Iranians will do well to pick up a point; much like Charlton when Reza played last season.
Feel smug after Christian Bolanos knocks England out of the competition
While you’re non-Charlton supporting chums focus on the threat of Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz ahead of their game with England, you can impress with your outstanding knowledge of experienced winger Christian Bolanos. The 30-year-old has over a half-century of caps for his national side and has made a name for himself in Scandinavian football with over 100 appearances for Danish giants Copenhagen.
But the highlight of Bolanos’ career must surely be his brief trial in SE7 in 2006, not least his exciting display against the New Zealand national team at The Valley, during which he impressed enough to convince Iain Dowie to attempt to sign the Costa Rican.
Work permit rules prevented Bolanos from joining the Addicks on loan from his club at the time, Saprissa, but some Charlton fans (probably just myself) have been fond of the wideman since and followed his career intently.
So when Bolanos ghosts pasts Leighton Baines to score the goal that knocks England out, take some solace from the fact you were aware of his powers long before the entire nation raised an eyebrow, or threw an offensive gesture, his way.
Barcelona’s Alex ‘he played for Charlton, dontchaknow’ Song
No doubt there will be some focus on the former Arsenal midfielder during what will probably be a brief stay in Brazil for Cameroon. The commentators will be quick to mention his Arsenal connection, and will surely follow that up with the fact he’s now a Barcelona player. Quite a CV.
They won’t, however, refer to his 12 games for Charlton in 2007. A quick ‘do you remember when Song played for us?!! #cafc’ Tweet should do, but reminding whoever you’re watching the game with that a Barcelona player once played for the Addicks is the preferred method of dubiously suggesting Song’s time in SE7 was crucial to his development.