Long Awaited World Cup Set For Big Kick Off

worldcup (easports)

The first kick-off of the 2014 World Cup will take place later this evening. If your reaction to that is a sigh of relief, then you are likely not the only one. There has been an awful lot of build-up to these finals, with the analysis and predictions and hopes and fears gradually growing louder and louder. With no major European club football to speak of for nearly a month, the only thing to do was to look forward to the major tournament ahead. Surely it is a glorious summer when possible transfer deals are not the big talking point for football heads. But the time for action has come, finally.

It is no surprise that people are excited, of course. There is no World Cup that would not be celebrated, or treated as anything but the ultimate competition the game has to offer. But this time around, it is even more special. This is a World Cup in Brazil, the home of beautiful football. It is a rare treat for the players involved, knowing that they some of them will get to claim the game’s grandest accolade in the country which has always always managed to breath creativity and flair into the game at the highest level. To win a World Cup in Brazil is about as big as it gets.

Brazil is a special place in the footballing world, but the people will be very demanding on the players; particularly their own team. Brazil simply have to win the competition, or it will be considered a huge failure. But not only do they have to win, they have to win it in style. Dunga, who was in charge in 2010, was a treasured player, but one who was never accepted as manager because his team lined out in a very structured system. It was not expansive enough for fans of the seleção, and he was quickly ousted after their quarter-final exit in South Africa. Luiz Felipe Scolari is now the man feeling the heat, and he won’t be welcome in too many places if Neymar and his team mates fail to light up the competition.

Scolari will likely be sweating more than once then, because there are any number of teams capable of stealing a march and going all the way. It is getting very difficult to argue against this Spain team being the greatest of all time. Claim a fourth major international title in a row, by and large with the same group of players, and they will have settled the argument forever. The Xavi and Iniesta axis is still functioning exceptionally well, even though Barcelona’s dominance has slipped somewhat. It was never just about the Barca boys though, and nobody boasts more strength in depth than the Spanish do. That may be pivotal.

Conditions will certainly come in to affect over the duration of the competition. If not the temperature, then the humidity will certainly affect the players, and the high-octane up-and-at-em style will surely not be a common one. It will be the team who deals with the conditions best and uses the ball with the most intelligent that will likely triumph. With the conditions impacting on play so much, then surely the other South Americans will have a big say in the tournament. What would the reaction be to Argentina claiming the title on their old nemesis’ soil? Well they surely have the players to do it. It is certainly the only thing missing from the trophy collection of Lionel Messi, and he will be flanked by the likes of Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano. All supremely talented players in their prime, so when would Argentina ever have a better chance than right now? Not that Uruguay, Colombia or Chile should be discounted either. They are all right in the mix.

The European contingent should take heed that only once has a European side won the trophy when it was played outside of Europe. That being said, it was last time out in South Africa, so perhaps the curse is lifted. Europe will bring plenty of would-be contenders itself, with the usual suspects in Germany, Italy, Netherland and France, as well as the new kids on the block in Belgium. Some will go a long way, but just as interesting will be the manner in which some of them inevitably flop before we even get half-way through.

Spare a thought for the unlucky players who have lost their place to injury. There were more than a few. Franck Ribery, Marco Reus, Radamel Falcao and Christian Benteke were all key players of strong sides headed for Brazil, and all will miss the tournament because of various ailments. But one injury in particular was exceptionally cruel, when the young Croatian midfielder Ivan Mocinic was ruled out of the tournament, the day before his side take on Brazil in the competition’s first game. What horrific timing.

There are also a lot of the older generation who may well be expected to hang up the international boots after the World Cup, and what better place to have your international swansong than the home of football? The Pirlo’s, Gerrard’s and Mondragon’s may be at the end of their time with national sides, but they will all surely be even more motivated to make sure they go out on the highest note possible. And if they all can’t go the whole way, then they will just have to enjoy soaring across the sunlit Brazillian pitches on their last ride.

Please, let’s just kick the thing off now. Waiting to see what happens is too hard.

Image courtesy of EA Sports

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