Every four years, 32 countries gather to compete for the ultimate sports prize—the World Cup—and as the Central Valley has evolved into a soccer based area, both local and international fans around the world prepare for the event that has taken the majority of the world by storm.
The 2014 World Cup hosted by Brazil, who last hosted the big cup in 1950, will surely prove to the world what all the hype is about because the talent and quality of teams in the eight-group bracket, could be the deepest yet.
Soccer analysts worldwide believe Brazil may be the heavy favorites to win—and why shouldn’t they with that home field advantage—but it will prove to be a competitive tournament, considering there are six other countries from South America alone.
Before we take a look at this year’s top competitors in the biggest sports tournament known to our planet we recap Spain who made a run for a 2010 World Cup win and also captured the 2012 Euro title in easy and convincing fashion.
Now, really, are they the team to beat, again? They are just a fantastic squad that perhaps should go down as one of the greatest national teams ever in that stint.
Then we see how repeating is not only tough to do, but rarely happens especially since the last country to do so was Brazil who won the 1958 and 1962 World Cup in back-to-back tries.
Spain is still a heavy favorite to repeat, however, when the World Cup has been hosted in either North or South America, a team from South America always wins. So by these numbers, the odds are more than likely in the favor of any country coming out of South America.
Due to the geographic proximity of Brazil, there will be many fans commuting from Argentina, Chile and Colombia to name a few and should provide some advantage as opposed to teams coming from overseas.
Brazil has the best squad from top to bottom in comparison especially with the defense that is as good as any in the world.
The United States will have a tough time getting out of the ‘Group of Death’ that includes Germany, Portugal and Ghana along with missing their caps leader in Landon Donovan.
Mexico should get out of their group with Brazil but once in the round of 16 it will be extremely difficult to move on assuming they play either Chile, Netherlands or Spain.
With so many world-class players already up and down this Brazil squad, nobody believed that Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari could successfully insert Neymar as the key man—until he proved it when a unified team dominated Spain in a 3-0 win for the Confederations Cup title last year, in part thanks to Neymar’s goal.
Scolari’s tactics of pressuring opponents from all sides of the pitch allow the new No. 10 space up top to roam, with teammates from defense, midfield and both wings sending him through.
While the impact Neymar brings is big, there is seasoned talent all over the squad. They get experience from goalie, Julio Cesar, who has been on the squad since 2003 but may have lost a step.
In the back four, with Thiago Silva and Dani Alves, Brazil have defenders who can also score. The midfield has five players who come out of the Premier League in England and striker Fred scores better than a goal every other game for his team.
The only weakness may be the fact that so much pressure is being brought on the team that if they don’t have a hot start then the pressure of playing at home could actually play to their disadvantage. The pressure is there both internally and from the fans as they don’t want to repeat the title loss of 1950, which is also the last time they hosted the tournament.
Argentina could also make a nice run with their superstar in Lionel Messi, who many consider the best player in the world. But Messi has had to learn that he can’t expect to do with Argentina what he does with Barcelona.
He does not play with Argentina’s international squad every week and they’ve had to learn to work together and after two World Cup exits, in 2006 and 2010, this year it seems they have found a rhythm, and Messi was prolific for his team notching 10 goals in 14 games in qualifying.
The form of the team was fantastic through the campaign—just two losses in 16 games and a plus-20 goal differential.
Brazil and Argentina are without a doubt the favorites to meet in the big game, but don’t sleep on Germany and Uruguay who will make a scare when their time comes as they should be competing in the semifinal.
German teams have always been physically strong and focused on defending. But in the past few years, they’ve developed some real technical standouts in midfield—Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, and Mario Gotze.
This has led to an offensive, attacking style that’s different from what we’re used to seeing, but its successful. They led UEFA in goals with 36 in qualifying. They’re one of the favorite this year—and they’ll have to make the final for this Cup to be considered a success.
The fact that 35-year-old Miroslav Klose will likely start is a major indictment on the lack of options up top. Germany has an overabundance of attacking midfielders, but somebody has to play close to goal, and starting Klose would have to worry some fans.
The question will be the balance of their defense since they have put their focus on the offensive play. They allowed 10 goals in qualifying, which was worst among group winners. Sami Khedira and Bastia Schweinsteiger will need to fit in time to take the pitch in top form.
All the other teams should have a tough time facing these tough squads, but Uruguay will also be favorite despite missing Luis Suarez as Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan should lead the team.