This is going to be a really big World Cup for five main reasons.
1. There are few big teams missing from the World Cup this year.
In previous years there have been big teams missing out on the World stage but this year 20 of the top 21 teams (according to FIFA rankings) will be dancing the big dance.
2. There are some nations which are much stronger now than they have been historically.
Belgium, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay are all very exciting teams this year given their overall squad. Some key players have seen much success in domestic leagues these past few seasons and the experience as well as that winning mentality will keep these challengers hungry for more success. Few would be surprised to see these teams top their groups… could you say the same the last few tournaments?
3. It’s on South American soil – no. It’s in Freakin’ Brazil!
Brazil. The most successful World Cup nation with 5 titles. Can it get any better?
Historically European teams don’t do well during big tournaments on American soil. Any previous tournament on American soil has been won my and American team: Brazil (3), Uruguay (2), and Argentina (1). What could it possibly be? Too much fiesta between matches? Could it be the heat? Could it be the pretty, exotic women? Hmmm…..
4. There are multiple difficult groups.
I can see more work being skipped for this World Cup than any others in the modern era. Of course it all depends on where you come from and what your opinions are but there could be multiple groups of death in this tournament. Group B is an incredibly interesting group with Chile hoping to challenge the two finalists last WC, group D would beyond a doubt be the GoD if another team besides Costa Rica got drawn, and (as many of us Americans consider it) group G with our nemesis, Ghana, the ever-powerful Germans, and an incredibly talented Portuguese side. I will certainly be looking forward to many group stage matches this time around.
5. A lot of teams have much to prove.
Brazil – Still haunted by the last time they hosted the World Cup losing 2-1 to Uruguay in the Estadio do Maracana – a match reported to have been attended by 200,000 people. They want their 6th World Cup title and they want it badly but will the pressure prove to be too much?
Argentina – Not about to let their greatest rivals Brasil take their title without a hard fight. They would love nothing more than to bring heartbreak to Brasil as they take the trophy from their own backyard. Surely the likes of one of the greatest players in the world couldn’t go goalless in two consecutive tournaments, right?
France – Many people remember the French revolution which took place in South Africa last tournament. It only took a loss and a tie for the squad to turn on their gaffer. This resulted in them finishing dead last in their group, three points behind hosts South Africa. What was thought to be a very good and experienced squad proved to be nothing more than a shameful outing. Will France put on a show of redemption or will they be going home bleu again?
Belgium – Many people’s dark horse for making it deep into this tournament – but can it be considered a dark horse if no one is surprised? Belgium is an exciting prospect for this and next tournament with many of the squad members finding success in their domestic leagues. With a group like theirs however the final 8 could be only a few matches away and not far out of reach.
Spain – Being labelled as possibly the greatest national team to ever grace this planet Spain is looking to make it four major tournament victories in a row to follow up their 2008 Euro, 2010 World Cup, and 2012 Euro victories. Responsible for hosting two of the most historically competitive teams in the world with Real Madrid and Barcelona can Spain go on to show the world that there is more to follow their recent triumphs?
Germany – Having been one of the most feared opponents of the last tournament Germany are looking to improve upon their 3rd place victory. By my maths this puts them in the final.. but how will they size up this year?
Italy – No one would be terribly surprised if Italy took the (golden) cake in South Africa to follow up their 2006 victory.. but no one could have anticipated them bowing out of the group stages in 4th place. With a victory Italy could tie Brasil on World Champion titles (5) to bring home more than pride.
Mexico – Having barely scrapped their way into the tournament Mexico will be out to show the world they should have never made it such a close call. Will they be able to back their claim up in a tough group containing the hosts Brasil, a skilled Croatia, and an experienced Camaroon?
Holland – Having been so close to tasting victory in South Africa last tournament the Dutch team will be keen to revive the fight that brought them within touching distance of the greatest prize out there. An ever-skillful team follows in their predecessor’s footsteps but will the team with history in Total Football bring total victory this time around?
Uruguay – Some people may say the two World Championships Uruguay possess hardly count as victories because of the vast differences compared to the modern cup. Though they only played 4 games in each of their tournaments the Uruguayans did take top honours in the first ever World Cup in 1930 and again twenty years later in Brasil. Truth be told, having watched Uruguay in the last World Cup it wouldn’t come as a surprise they were going for their 3rd ever title. Now with the strike force of (the ever controversial) Suarez, Cavani, and Forlan they look to make fierce assaults on the opponent’s final third. Then again.. isn’t it defense that wins championships?
England – Despite having what is often regarded as the most competitive league in the World England seems to find a way to duck out of World Cups early. With the lone exception of their 1966 the Three Lions haven’t succeeded in bringing home the bacon. Even with their golden generation having chances at the silverware they weren’t victorious. Now with a new crop of up and coming players can the Three Lions secure their three points in a very competitive group?
Portugal – A fairly talented squad which has emerged in the aftermath of the golden generation for Portugal will be looking to show they are more than a few star names. Their key man, Ronaldo is a polarizing figure for many fans of football but love him or hate him you cannot deny Cristiano Ronaldo’s contributions on the field. He has rightfully earned the right to be called one of the greatest players in the game. You need only look at the playoff game vs Sweden to see what the right pass to this Portuguese can do. With the Euro 2004 final loss on home soil in their minds they’ll be hungry to step up this year and take their fate in their own hands. Can a Ronaldo-inspired Portuguese team prove they’re more than a one-man show?
Highlights of Sweden vs. Portugal –
Cote d’Ivoire – With a higher FIFA ranking than the likes of Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Turkey the Ivory Coast will be looking to showcase how African nations are improving more every tournament. No African team has made it past the quarterfinals before and with the golden generation of the Ivory Coast upon us they will want to change that. With European teams performing historically worse on American soil is there redemption on the horizon for African teams which failed to deliver in South Africa four years ago?
With history on the verge of being written what kind of wrinkles and smudges can we expect from the draft? We’ll just have to wait and see.
What are your thoughts on this year’s teams pushing for the right to lift the cup?
Photo credit to Luke Barclay at (http://society6.com/LukeBarclay/The-32-World-Cup-2014-Poster_Print#1=45)