In case you haven't heard, the World Cup starts today, and it is hard not to leap out of bed with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old on Christmas morning.
The cars are decked out in flimsy England flags and the supermarket shelves are stacked with Crouchy-endorsed Pringoooooaaallls - everything is ready for a month-long sporting feast.
Even if you are not a World Cup junkie who would leave his wife's bedside during childbirth to catch the second half of Honduras v Switzerland, it is hard not to get caught up in the excitement and drama of the tournament.
Yes, it's overhyped. Yes, it's irritating if you want to watch anything else on the TV between now and July 11. And yes, England will almost certainly go out on penalties.
But it's just so exciting. There is nowhere I would rather be for the next month than my front room.
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Last night's FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Celebration Concert, to use its full name, was everything you would expect; a vaguely uplifting knees-up spoiled partly by fierce stage-management (even Franz Beckenbauer was given the hurry-up) but mainly by bland commercialism.
You could say it reeked of the stuff, but bland commercialism does not reek of anything. It emits a mild perfume - not unpleasant but clearly artificial. Like one of those air fresheners you plug into the wall.
It might have been the way the BBC told it, mind. Despite getting Trevor Nelson to present the hour-long 'best-of' package, there was no attempt to treat the occasion as a serious musical event, showcasing the more obscure and interesting artists such as Vieux Farka Toure (a shocking omission - who doesn't love a bit of Malian blues?).
The result was 15 minutes each of the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys and Shakira doing what they do. It was fine, but hardly ambitious. In the last 12 months, is there a sporting event anywhere in the world that has not been serenaded by 'I've got a feeling that tonight's gonna be a good night?'
Still, anything with Archbishop Desmond Tutu can't be all bad.
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Opening ceremony - 1pm
A VIP list headed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will descend on Soccer City in Johannesburg to watch thousands of schoolchildren make pretty patterns on the pitch with ribbons, and other opening ceremony staples. R Kelly is the organisers' mystifying choice to sing the World Cup anthem, but the ceremony will be tinged with sadness following the death from meningitis last month of Siphiwo Ntshebe, whom Mandela had picked to sing.
Group A - South Africa v Mexico 3pm
It might not be an opening game to set the heart racing, but it is South Africa's biggest sporting moment since the 1995 Rugby World Cup final. Fifteen years from now, will Matt Damon be playing Aaron Mokoena in a biopic of this tournament? Perhaps not, but coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has taken a leaf out of the oval ball game's book by naming his team 24 hours in advance. Mexico showed they are dangerous in attack against England at Wembley recently and will provide a stern test.
Group A - Uruguay v France 7.30pm
An intriguing encounter for the first evening, if only to see what sort of state the French are in. Raymond Domenech's men are an unhappy bunch by all accounts, with the coach's plan to bench Thierry Henry causing consternation. Still, nothing unites a squad like a good win, and this game could set the tone for France. Uruguay's star striker Diego Forlan has shrugged off a minor injury and poses the South Americans' biggest threat.
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Water cooler chat: England's team to play the USA
Fabio Capello says he has already decided on the 11 players to take the field in England's opening game against Team USA on Saturday. Most contentious is the goalkeeper position, where Joe Hart is the man in form and David James is the players' favourite but Robert Green looks set to get the nod simply by virtue of inertia, having played much of the qualifying campaign. Quite a vote of confidence for a man who once had 'England's number 6' stitched into his gloves. Gareth Barry has not recovered from injury, so the probable team takes on a decidedly 2006-ish look, with Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard getting a 63rd attempt to 'click' as a central midfield partnership: Green; Johnson, Terry, King, A Cole; Lennon, Gerrard, Lampard, J Cole; Heskey, Rooney.
What to say: 'Hart's distribution is suspect and James is a loose cannon, so Fabio has made the right choice going with Green.'
What not to say: 'Six million quid a year and he's picked the same team as Sven.'
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World Cup jargon: Jabulani
The name of the controversial match ball developed by Adidas for the tournament. It means 'rejoice' in Zulu, but the players certainly haven't taken the message to heart, roundly slating the ball for its unpredictable flight. Brazil striker Luis Fabiano said it appeared to have supernatural powers, so bizarre is its flight path, while his compatriot, goalkeeper Julio Cesar, reckons it is like one of those 'Shoot 5' balls you get in the supermarket 'Shoot 5' balls you get in supermarkets and petrol stations. The only players with a good word to say just happen to be those sponsored by Adidas like Frank Lampard. Of course, sensible countries like Germany have been using the ball in domestic competition for much of the season but England are Jabulani virgins, even though it was developed at Loughborough University. Still, England players don't normally need a dodgy football to send their passes astray so the big question is whether anyone will notice.
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Caption of the Day: 'Robbie Earl' GMTV fail to spell the name of one of ITV's (and Eurosport-Yahoo!'s leading pundits for the World Cup.
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