Alvin's World Cup diary

Welcome to Alvin Martin's exclusive World Cup diary, as the former Hammers and England defender gives us the lowdown on all that is going on in Germany this summer. In the second part of our regular feature running until July 9, we hear from Alvin at the end of the first week of the tournament…

We're now more than a week into the tournament and I can't believe how quickly it has gone. The build-up before it started seemed to drag on but, since the games started, everything has just flown by.
I've had a chance to see every team in action and I think it's been refreshing to see the attack-minded approach across the tournament. There have been some cracking games and, although it takes two or three games for the top sides to really find their true form, we've already seen some real quality.
Everything about the finals is so positive - the organisation is first class, the German people are very welcoming and the stadiums are fantastic. The only problem I've found is that the refreshments are very expensive - it cost me about £3.00 for a coke at the opening ceremony, so I won't be getting caught out by that again!
The weather here has been beautiful, I think we've had one cloudy day in 10 days. It's too hot for football, really, and you can tell the players have suffered a bit. I think it was something like 33 degrees for the Brazil v Australia game on Sunday, and that was played at six in the evening. It's okay if you're just watching I suppose!

I must admit, I was looking for Brazil to step it up a gear against the Aussies, but it didn't really happen. The game opened up in the second half but that was more down to Australia having to attack because they had gone a goal down.
You still look at Brazil and think they have another gear or two to move into but they certainly haven't started in the manner that a lot of people were expecting. I've also been very surprised with Ronaldinho, who has been very quiet in their two games so far. Having watched him star for Barcelona during their march to Champions League glory at the end of the season, I really thought he would turn up here and turn on the style, but it hasn't happened yet.
He has showed little glimpses of what he is about, but it seems that he has had some trouble adjusting to the style of the Brazil team and the players who are around him. In club football, you are training day in, day out with the same players and it is much easier to build understanding on the pitch with your team-mates, but it is harder to build that kind of rapport at international level.
I also wonder if Ronaldinho and Kaka have a little difficulty in linking up at times. They play in different countries at club level, and the Spanish Primera Liga is very different to Italy's Serie A in terms of attacking build-up and how they approach matches. Kaka is used to coming up against defensive opponents and playing on the counter-attack, and so has probably found it a little easier to deal with Brazil's two games so far. I'm sure there is more to come from Ronaldinho, and Brazil will probably get stronger as the tournament goes on, but it may well be without Ronaldo, who has looked a shadow of his former self in the opening two games. In fact, having watched him against Croatia, I reckon I could probably mark him at the moment!

People have compared Brazil's situation with England's, in that neither side have performed to their full potential and yet have still got results, although I would say that Brazil's first two opponents, Croatia and Australia, were both of a higher quality than Paraguay and Trinidad.
However, I think we've also got to take into account the heat in which England had to play their first two matches. People will say it is an excuse, but I was at the Paraguay game and it was absolutely stifling. The Trinidad game wasn't much better and it meant that we have had two very slow games, which doesn't suit England's style of play anyway.
Hopefully, in the later stages of the tournament, when we will be playing at later times in cooler conditions, you will see the team perform to their true potential and at a higher tempo, but there is no doubt that a general improvement is needed.
I've heard a few of the players saying that a lot of the criticism has been over the top, but it always is when you play for England. I've been there, when we've won a frustrating game by the odd goal, and have been absolutely battered from pillar to post, by people who don't really know what they are looking at.

Away from the football, everything else here has been first class. Aside from Germany, England are the best supported team here and I've seen quite a few Hammers fans, too.
There has been lots of banter among the fans, and it's all been good-natured. You always get one or two idiots who don't know where the line is, and we have to suffer consequences for that, but 99.9% of England fans have been fantastic and, when you consider how many of them are actually out here, they have been a credit to the country.
Everything else has been great, Talksport's organisation has been spot on and we have had no problems in travelling around the various cities or getting to our destinations. Sometimes you ask why England can't be like this - no roadworks on the motorways, trains all running on time
However, we did have one embarrassing moment on the road last week. We'd stopped off at some services and bumped into a load of Mexican fans who were on their way to a game. Anyway, standing among their group was a young lady who I would have to describe as one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. There were actually cars stopping just to look at her.
Myself and another of the Talksport boys, Matt Smith, were sitting there, admiring the view and trying to look as cool as possible when, all of a sudden, our colleague Ian Abrahams, AKA 'The Moose' walked out of the service station, pointed straight at the girl and shouted: 'Look at her!' She just turned round and glared at us as though we were total morons!
Aside from that, we're having a great time. What I've realised at this World Cup is just how important football is to people. They are all here for a reason and it's almost like a religion, something they have all been building up to for years. It unites people and the emotion and passion we have seen is fantastic…hopefully it will continue for England.

Look out for more from Alvin Martin soon on, or listen live on Talksport 1089/1053 AM