Christ the Redeemer overlooking its creation
Christ the Redeemer overlooking its creation, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

Ahh… the World Cup. One of those events that the whole world will be watching together, despite of our time zone and geographic differences. It is unpredictable and exciting. It can get violent and definitely emotional. Unlike any other tournament (like the Olympics for example) there is only one gold medal, the world cup. This is a time in which the poorest slumbs of urban cities to the upper echelons of developed societies will tune in together in record breaking numbers for the love of the sport. There is nothing like it. My personal fav part of this international event is observing the emotional/scared/nervous/excited faces on the players standing before the fan-filled stadiums with their national anthems playing in the background. Freshman players show tears of joy for being called to play for their country while veterans of the team show little to no emotion understanding what is at stake.

On a side note, players usually get called “unpatriotic” by their fans for not “singing their national anthem” and most usually don’t (and that’s okay!) but look at this clip of ALL the North Koreans singing their anthem, including the guy crying at 0:43. eeerie.

Soccer is an international sport, a universal one. We (Americans) are probably the only bunch that know little about this historic sport. Though we have historically dominated over other sports as reflected in our Olympic medals we have yet to produce a World Cup. Unfortunately I cannot say confidently that we will earn our first in Brasil 2014. However, that didn’t stop hundreds of thousands of Americans from traveling to Brasil to support the Red White n Blue (see what I mean when I say we know very little about it?). In fact, Americans bought MORE tickets (other than Brasilians of course) than any visiting country to this World Cup. Our team will be well represented in June/July and should be  indicative of the shift in the traditional American psyche that “soccer is boring.” We are finally growing an appreciation towards this sport. As it should be.

I will say one thing, I firmly believe that the US will win a world cup in our lifetime. It won’t be anytime soon but the US soccer federation have been making the right steps in competing on a more international level. So I will cheer for the team. They’re heading in the right direction. This is be an opportunity for new coach Jurgen Klinsmann to prove himself and not let down all those Americans going to support the team. I am certain the US won’t go down without a good fight on the field.

*clubs* will be used to replace “soccer teams”

Anyways, if you are new to soccer and would like to appreciate the sport more, here are a few popular teams to follow next month as they battle it off for the World Cup.

1. Germany

I always say, once the US is out,  Mexico is my team, once the Mexicans get eliminated I stand 100% behind GERMANY!  You can always safe bet with the Germans. Not only do their clubs reign supreme in European soccer leagues, they have also produced prolific players/coaches well respected and admired internationally. Did I mention, our USA coach, Mr Klinssman is German, and he won a World Cup with the German blitzkrieg  team?

2. Spain

The Spanish are a lethal bunch. Though they have only produced only one World Cup for Spain, Spanish soccer clubs are well respected throughout the world. Real Madrid for example in many ways has been trying to monopolize the sport (for all the good reasons) by buying the most sought-out international soccer players on the market. These days it seems everyone is on the F.C. Barcelona bandwagon, too.

This team has the potential to repeat South Africa 2010. Just how far will they go? Well, we’re gonna have to watch and see.

3. Brasil

I won’t spend too much time on talking about this team because they have established themselves as one of the best in the international sport. I put them in third because they have not done too well the last few world cups! This time around I cannot understand why they didn’t draft some of their best players to play for the squad.

Whatever that is all about they must be confident with the squad they’ll be playing with this summer. They have a MAJOR advantage. Brasilians will come out in full force to their games. They have talented players playing domestically and abroad for major clubs. I am unfamiliar with this particular squad but from what my sources tell me and the limited information I have reviewed, they seem to be strong. Let us hope that the chemistry in the team is organic and consistent if they want to win their sixth World Cup title.

(Freebie) Argentina

Brazil’s nemesis. For all the right reasons. A friend of mine from Argentina weeped in front of me one night in Paris during the South African world cup 2010 after watching his team get destroyed by the Germans. The Argentines had eliminated Mexico earlier in the tournament so I naturally hoped the Germans would annihilate the Argentines. My wish was granted. Now… the Argentines that night were REALLY bummed out.  But my friend said something that has stuck with me over the years, “you don’t understand Tilo, we (Argentines) are born with the ball between our legs” . . .  and in retrospect, they are right!

Argentina has the potential. They have amazing players representing world class clubs.  With two world-cup titles under their belts and super star players like Lionel Messi, there is no doubt that they will remain in the tournament at least to the semi-finals. Simply put, one cannot miss this powerhouse!

Anyways, hope I shared some insightful information with you this evening! I am a huge soccer fan and have been talking about stats, teams and players with my brother. In case I didn’t give it of, we are huge Real Madrid fans and grew up cheering Mexico. We are setting a World Cup watch party at our home for important games. Stay tuned to see what we have up our sleeves.

Let us hope for Brasil to come through with their World Cup responsibilities. They are reported to be the country that has spent the MOST money for this world cup than any other country has. I wish their players fans and nation success! Thank you for keeping soccer exciting after all these years.

Ed

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