As World Cup fever sweeps the nation, leading members of the community have unanimously backed Brazil to be world champions.
And while the likes of the Chief Rabbi and Maccabi football managers want to see England win, when put on the spot, they predict the Samba boys will soon be celebrating on home soil.
Having won everything in Jewish football last season, David Garbacz, manager of treble-winning Hendon United A, said: “No great marks for originality but Brazil really are very worthy favourites. They proved when winning the Confederations Cup relatively easily that they can deal with pressure and expectation of home advantage and I fully expect Neymar and his mates to be the team to beat.”
His sentiments were echoed by Norstar Raiders B’s Division Two winning manager Jonathan Adelman. He said: “Spain, Germany and Belgium could do Europe proud, but in terms of a winner I can’t see past the South American trio of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. But if you put me on the spot I’ll go for a home win, and Paulinho to get the winner in the final!”
L’Equipe’s manager Daniel Cordell is also predicting glory for the hosts, saying: “I think it’s very tough to look past Brazil with the quality they have in the team and the added bonus of being on home soil,” whil another backer of the Brazilian boys is SPEC player-manager Ricky Lawrence, who said: “Although they left some decent players out of their squad, I think with home advantage and after their displays in the Confederations Cup they will come out on top.”
Other South American sides are also being touted, with Lionel Messi being backed to fire Argentina to success. Woodford Wanderers’ Division One winning manager Tony Charles said: “They seem to have been granted the most favourable draw of all the seeded teams and are bursting with attacking talent.”
Loughton Orient player-manager Dan Curtis agrees, saying: “I think they have so much talent going forward that they will be the ones to watch.” North West Neasden manager Stirling Kay is going for a South American outsider in Chile, saying: “I think they will surprise every one. They’re great on the ball, will feel at home in the conditions and are technically very good.”
The current World Cup holders, Spain, get a vote of confidence from Norstar A manager Phil Peters and Hendon C’s Adam Glekin. Peters says: “The heat in Brazil will mean ball-retention is key, and there’s still no team out there that can do that as well as the Spanish”. Glekin said: “I fancy them. They have a tricky group but if they come through that unscathed, think they’ll get stronger as the tournament goes on.”
England get two votes, though more in hope than expectation, with AC Mill Hill player-manager Joseph Levy saying: “Because just like Spurs, without hope we have nothing.”
And away from Jewish football managers, Brazil are also favoured by leading members of the community. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “I will obviously be rooting for England and I believe they will do well. Brazil are in top form, have won 13 out of their last 14 games and their home fans will spur them on.”
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Reform Movement Rabbi, said: “I would love England to win and ever the dreamer, my hopes are high. But if I must make a serious prediction, in the Talmud, Avot de-Rabbi Natan says ‘each and every man is a king in his own home’. With players who grew up in favelas literally minutes away from World Cup stadia, Brazil are my favourites.”
And not even a former member of the English FA can see Roy Hodgson’s three Lions coming home triumphant. Simon Johnson,Chief Executive of Jewish Leadership Council, though a former Director of the FA, said: “You would have to favour the hosts Brazil. My former friend Mr Scolari will have them well drilled and the passionate home crowd will be a real asset. However, I think the pressure will get to them.
“I am going to go for Argentina. They are the best team in the world going forward and have so many weapons available to them that I am going to favour them.”