Public Enemy famously rapped, 'Don't believe the hype.' That's pretty much how I've felt for the past month during the 'festival of football' in Brazil.
Sure, there's been lots of goals and some decent end to end games and Brazil 2014 has most certainly been a vast improvement on the bore fest played out, against the mind numbing vuvuzela accompaniment in South Africa four years ago. But, and there is a but, has FIFA's latest offering really been the free flowing celebration of the game that the pundits and wider media would have us believe?
I'm pretty sure that anyone fortunate enough to have actually travelled to South America and enjoyed the Brazilian hospitality and experienced the party atmosphere surrounding this tournament would get caught up in the hyperbole surrounding the whole event but in terms of the actual football, has this World Cup really been deserving of the lavish plaudits that have come its way?
There were some good open groups matches (and plenty of stinkers too) and watching James Rodriguez from unfashionable Columbia carve himself a reputation on the world stage has undoubtedly been uplifting.
Indeed, much of the more enterprising football has been played by the so called lesser international teams. Performances by the likes of USA, Chile, Costa Rica, Columbia and even Australia are worthy of mention.
By contrast, the form, although not necessarily results of established footballing powerhouses, has been largely disappointing. Aside from the early exits of countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy, there has been a flatness in performances - despite progression - from Germany and Argentina. Both nations appear to have slept walked their way to the semi finals. Whilst the Netherlands have entertained at times, much of their football philosophy seems to be a muscular one based upon bypassing midfield as often as possible. Total football it isn't. As for Brazil...their clumsy, unsure progress has been a surprise. A surprise mainly that a side as thoroughly average as the current crop of Brazilian footballers has somehow managed to get as far as they have!
There has also been a paucity of truly memorable high quality matches in the knock out stages. There has been some exciting games and plenty of drama but has there been anything even close to epic encounters such as Brazil v Italy in '82? or France v Germany that same year? And certainly nothing to rival the France/Brazil quarter final four years later or any number of matches during that World Cup for that matter. Supporters with even longer memories will recall with fondness the glut of goals in the 1970 World Cup and the catalogue of classic encounters that that tournament threw up.
Now, I'm not suggesting Brazil 2014 hasn't had its magical moments and hopefully the remaining matches will live long in the memory but aside from the magnificence of the background colour of this event, I'm not sure whether, on the whole, the football has lived up to the superlatives lavished upon it.