You know how people call The Superbowl the biggest sporting even in the World? Goodness is that an erroneous statement. By a long shot, too. The Superbowl is a terrific night’s action (barring the last one, of course. Ouch, that was awful) however it simply pales in comparison to the overwhelming popularity World wide of The World Cup. You want statistics? Here you go. Approximately 112 million watched the Superbowl last season, with 98% of that group coming from inside the United States. The last World Cup final? 1.4 billion watched that. Worldwide.
It’s no contest.
The World Cup is the single greatest tournament on the planet Earth.
Now that we have bludgeoned you to death with numbers, you might as well be cool with this end enjoy it, right? To that end, we have created the following for you, a list of the World Cup teams from around the globe, matched up with a US professional team from years past and present. This is to help you identify the teams and perhaps pick one out you want to follow through the tournament. Apart from the United States, who you will already naturally be following, right?
Enough of the chit chat, let’s chop it up.
Brazil aka The 2013/14 Denver Broncos.
Massive expectations, huge pressure. They may not score an own goal on the first play of the game, as with the Broncos, but you can fully expect Brazil to collapse under the weight of pressure of hosting the tournament. Denver couldn’t handle being Superbowl favourites, to the point where they were literally chucking the rock out the back of the end-zone in the first seconds. This Brazil team is wafer thin, with very little depth to it, a real shadow of former great Brazilian sides. Meanwhile the pressure on them is going to be incredible. Neymar cuts a very Peyton Manning like figure, too many expectations on one man. Not to mention the fact that Neymar has been frankly awful this season for Barcelona. The big difference between Denver and Brazil? The World Cup hosts won’t make the final.
Croatia aka The Pittsburgh Pirates ’12 and ’13 versions.
Pittsburgh and Croatia, unlikely twins? Not at all. The Pirates have been sneaking up on people for a couple of seasons (not so much in ’14, sadly) and Croatia are the very definition of the phrase Dark Horse. The Croats are one of those teams that when you see them you end up saying ‘Oh, right, they have THAT guy, AND that other guy too’. Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandukic are all class acts and just the tip fo the ice-berg of a very good side. You can fully expect Croatia to make the second round at least, much like the Pirates making the playoffs the last couple of seasons.
Mexico aka The Toronto Blue Jays.
You couldn’t call either squad terrible, in fact both have a pretty decent group of players with some big stars in there. The problem is, like Toronto in the AL East, Mexico just ‘aint comin’ out of that group. Brazil, Croatia and indeed Cameroon are better poised to qualify ahead of the Mexicans. Which is a shame, as they are a decent little side. Alas, like Toronto, just in the wrong place (group) at the wrong time.
Cameroon aka The 2014 San Antonio Spurs.
Experienced teams probably just passing their upper level arc, and it’s a steep drop on the other side. The window for winning is probably right about now. It remains to be seen if Cameroon can take that experience and savvy and parlay it into a run like the current Spurs, however once you check their squad out, you can’t help being impressed at the many big names. For Tim Duncan read Samuel Eto’o. It’s now or never for both.
Spain aka The 2014 Miami Heat.
Two teams either right at the very tip of their peak, or two teams about to go into an era of uncertainty and change. Miami are poised to spend a long, long summer waiting to see just how many teams LeBron James is linked with. Without James the Heat would sink back miserably into the pack and we would be back to those largely empty Heat stands of the pre-James era. Spain are probably teetering on the brink of change too, however it is a little more unclear what will happen once their all-time greats Xavi and Iniesta, amongst other big names, retire from the International scene. For both Miami and Spain, is this one last final hurrah, or the point where both teams slid back to the pack?
Netherlands aka The 2014 San Diego Padres.
Like the Dutch, the Padres are in the middle of a rebuilding process, and many have them tipped for future success. 2014 is, however, probably too soon for both the young Padres and the rebuilding ‘Oranje’. For San Diablo it’s their young rotation (Andrew Cashner, Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Eric Stults) that gives them hope. For The Netherlands it’s an incoming batch of young talent headed by Kevin Strootman, Bruno Martins-Indi and Jordy Clasie. Both the Padres and the Netherlands are going to be good, maybe even great. Just not yet.
Chile aka The Oakland As under Billy Beane.
Outsiders and yet very good teams, very much capable of running off winning streaks with an underdog mentality. Unusual systems of play, coaches not afraid to think outside of the box. And yet, for all that, a massive steep incline ahead of them when facing more star-heavy teams. Both the As and Chile have and will cause a few shocks, but, sadly, probably won’t be around when the trophies are being handed out.