The biggest fear for players selected for World Cups is either getting injured in the warm-up friendlies or, in some cases, not making the final cut.
Advertisers have the same fears for these young men too, as they’ve signed a lot of them up for huge fees and pray that they make it and, when they’re finally in South Africa, play well.
Adidas, which spends a ginormous part of its marketing budget every four years on the cup (it’s also a major league sponsor with Coca-Cola, Emirates and Visa) is putting its money on world player of the year Lionel Messi of Argentina and Spanish star David Villa.
They’re the stars of its new ‘fast vs fast’ commercial launching its F50 Adizero boots (they help you run fast). The ad, by Amsterdam 180, pits Messi, who runs faster with the ball than without, it claims, against Villa, who just runs fast.
The ad also features retired French star Zinedine Zidane (he got sent off in the last final you may recall) as a sort of ghostly presence hurtling around in a retro car. He seems to be the god-like judge of the competition between the two players although he may be doing something else entirely.
It’s all a bit silly but then so is football these days.
But what if either of the two competing gladiators get injured? They’re both certain to be selected of course but they may flop in South Africa when they finally take to the pitch or their teams might cock up. Argentina, with Diego Maradona installed as manager, are many pundits’ favourite to implode, talented as they are.
So it will be ‘squeaky bum’ time, as Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson calls it, at Adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach (it’s in Germany).