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.
Australia aka The Chicago Cubs
Massive appetite, huge following and some big players down the years. However, zero success. Both Australia and The Cubs have wildly passionate fans and indeed a huge fan base. They also share something else in common. They never win. Thanks to a horrific draw, the Australians don’t stand a chance in the World Cup. Much like the Cubs, all the time.
Columbia – aka both recent title winning Connecticut Huskies teams.
Bold statement, putting Columbia in the same sentence as the Championship Huskie sides? Not at all. Columbia are a genuine prospect for the title for a variety of reasons. No, seriously, Columbia. The Huskies were 100/1 to win March Madness a couple of months ago, and essentially no one saw them coming. Columbia may be in an even better starting position than the Huskies. Group C is atrocious, compared to the other groups, and Columbia should qualify with ease. There’s also the little fact that Los Cafeteros finished second behind only Argentina in qualifying (of course, Brazil qualified automatically as hosts). They also recently beat form-side Belgium in Europe in a friendly. Yes, they will miss Falcao and his magnificent hair, however we all know about ‘The Sports Guy’ Bill Simmon’s ‘Ewing Theory ‘, often teams play better without their one big star.
Greece aka The ’91 Detroit Pistons.
The last of the Pistons ‘Bad boys’ teams, the ’91 team didn’t win anything and was just awful to watch. Greece won’t win anything, and are really awful to watch.
Ivory Coast aka the 2010 Cleveland Caveliers.
The Ivory Coast conversations starts and ends with one player. The 2010 Cavaliers were the exact same. Ya Ya Toure and LeBron James, respectively. Obviously Cleveland relied on its superstar. The Ivory Coast are very capable of a deep run into the 2014 World Cup if one of the greatest midfield players on planet Earth, Ya Ya Toure, decides he fancies it. Tall, deceptively fast, brilliant on the ball, an inventive passer and a terrific goal scorer, Ya Ya Toure might, just might, be approaching his very best right now. He is a very tasty bet for the tournament’s best player, if he can drive the Ivory Coast into the knock-out stages. If you have as yet to see him play, you are in for a treat.
Japan aka The 2003/04 Indianapolis Colts.
Remember the ‘3/’04 Colts got quite literally bullied out of the playoffs by the Patriots defensive backs? Remember Colts Owner Jim Irsay crying his way to the NFL rules committee to have the rules changes to protect his poor little team in future? Japan are going to be bullied out of contention by the much bigger, more physical teams in Group C. Heck, even Greece will probably figure out how to beat them, which is stay tight and score at set pieces with strong physical play. Japan just don’t have a Jim Irsay to whinge to the rules committee.
Uruguay aka The Oklahoma Thunder.
Two explosive teams both built around an attacking core that enables them to compete deep into tournaments. For the Thunder it’s Westbrook and Durant, for Uruguay it’s Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan. It’s all about attack with these two, and Durant and Suarez are perfect twins, high scoring players who are currently right on top of their games.
Costa Rica aka the 2008 Detroit Lions.
England aka The New England Patriots since 2004
They are supposed to be good. They have all the big names. Their local media thinks they are going to win every time they take the field, including Championship games. However, the reality is, neither England nor the Patriots post-2004 have won anything. Wayne Rooney is a massive name, and the English media love drooling sycophantically over him, while the rest of the World laughs at pictures of him in his thong on a beach in Spain. Tom Brady is deified in New England, and mocked almost everywhere else in the United States, as people laugh at pictures of him, be it on water slides or at Brazilian Street Parties.
Italy aka The New York Yankees.
Experienced teams that haven’t won anything for a while (Italy 2006 and the Yankees 2009), both sides are going through the difficult winds of change, as old stars are ushered out and new, younger players join the side in their place. Potential talent drop off? You bet, the Yankees are struggling to dominate as in years of old, and Italy are currently drawing friendlies with teams as pathetic as Luxembourg (Sorry, Luxembourg). Andrea Pirlo is Derek Jeter, playing at the highest level for the very last time.
Switzerland aka The 2013/’14 Philadelphia Eagles.
When the tournament is over, many will say ‘Oh, they were IN that tournament’? As they did for the Eagles and their weak tournament run.
Ecuador aka The 2010 San Francisco 49ers.
Ecuador could be a pretty decent little side, if they were able to win on the road. The same could be said for the 2010 49ers who went 1-7 on the road.
France aka The Portland ‘Jail blazers’.
With the Jail Blazer Portland teams as with France, anything, and we really mean anything here, can happen. You can start with actually showing up. Will France even turn up? Honestly, that possibility is actually in-play and that’s part of what makes France such a scintillatingly entertaining prospect. We repeat, anything can happen (You all recall Zu Zu Zidane’s World Cup Final chest-butt, right?).
Honduras aka Any Cleveland Professional franchise.
Honduras has never won a World Cup finals game. That is all.
Argentina aka The 2007 New England Patriots.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina are simply stacked with talent. It’s insane. Messi himself with the incredibly talented Sergio Aguero up front. Higuain, Di Maria and Zabaletta are just some of the other star names. It’s a veritable Randy Moss of superstars, and they are all built around one massive star, for the ’07 Patriots it was Brady, for Argentina it is the incredibly gifted Lionel Messi. Can the little man change the ’07 Patriots script and finally get rid of the suggestion he doesn’t perform on the biggest of stages?
Bosnia aka Every Dark Horse ever.
Well hello there, Dark Horse! The phrase gets bandied about a lot, but Bosnia fits the bill perfectly. Powerful, strong side all over the park, with some genuine class and top goalscoring ability too, in the form of Man City’s Eden Dzeko. Pair that with a relatively easy group (they should finish first or second) and Bosnia might make it a lot deeper into the tournament than you expect. This is their first ever World Cup, and they might make a very big opening splash.
Iran aka the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.
20-134. That’s the record the 1899 Cleveland Spiders put up. Iran will go 0-3 and will be hoping not to concede about 42 goals in a really tricky group. They simply haven’t got a chance. Much like the ’99 Spiders.
Nigeria aka the ’78 Boston College Eagles.
Yes, we went there. I am sorry but, any country who’s league has score-lines in the 100s probably needs a closer inspection of FIFA’s fraud team. If that even exists. The home of the pyramid scheme is also the home to one of the most corrupt football federations in the World. Point shaving? Small fries for these guys. Sound bad? Sadly it’s entirely true. It might seem like a disservice to Nigaria’s World Cup squad, but it’s hard to ignore a league score-line of 109-0, isn’t it?
Germany aka The 2013 Detroit Tigers.
Many people’s favorites, both Detroit 2013 vintage and this German team have seemingly all the right things in place for a deep tournament run. Germany will no doubt school a few teams in the early stages, however, much like the ’13 Tigers, when push comes to shove something will go wrong, or a portion of the team will be found out. For the Tigers it was their bullpen and Prince Fielder. For Germany, our best guess is it will be their wildly over-rated goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer. Just don’t forget we told you first.
Portugal aka The Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings.
You can probably guess where we are going with this one. Much like the wonderful Adrian Peterson, Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to at least play in a title game. Sadly, like Peterson, this might never happen because of the cast of players around him. I am sorry but relying on players like Nani and Postiga, well, that’s just not going to get the job done basically. It is a shame, Ronaldo is on the top of his form. Does he have enough to single handedly bring his team to the top. In short, no. Have you seen that group? Yikes.
Ghana aka the 2013 St Louis Rams.
The Rams were the youngest team in the NFL in 2013 at 24.98 years old on average. Ghana are the youngest World Cup squad by far at 24.9. And that’s about all you need to know about a team that isn’t coming out of a very tough group.
USA aka The Boston Bruins.
Work with us on this one. Both teams are big, strong, and physical in their style of play (Jozi Altidore belongs on a gridiron somewhere!). Both teams have a well drilled system that has got them to the latter stages of the Confederations Cup and the Stanley Cup. However, lately in the Bruins case, the lack of a real proven goal-scorer has held them back deep into tournaments. Dempsey and Altidore are not a World Class strike force, an issue exacerbated by the USA leaving the legendary Landon Donavon entirely out of their squad. The USA can progress from a very, very tricky group, but, like the Bruins lately, will falter at the latter stages. Just can’t score enough goals.
Belgium aka The 2014 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Two good teams, with star names littered up and down the rosters. However, the Penguins faltered in the playoffs due to a distinct lack of overall depth. Belgium are a hot topic in World soccer circles, and many fancy them for a run deep into the finals. However, and you can guess where we’re going with this, their ultimate undoing will be tied to, that’s right, a distinct lack of depth.
Algeria aka the ’92 Pistons.
The ’92 Pistons, worse than the awful ’91 Pistons. Algeria, worse than Greece.
Russia aka The 36’ to ’40 Philadelphia Eagles.
Yes, that’s right, an Eagles pre-war team! Russia are a talented team that will however be handicapped by a coach, Fabio Capello, who employs conservative, frankly ‘scared’ tactics because of his inability to find success at International level, after a glittering club career. Capello seems to be ‘turtling’ his way over the horizon, as his tactics get more conservative the closer to ultimate International failure he gets. It’s a real shame as this is a decent Russian side. Back to the Eagles. We looked it up, their coach Bert Bell might be the worst pro coach of all time. Capello will never get called that, but, we’re trying to make a point here!!
South Korea aka the 2014 Chicago Cubs.
For one of the worst teams in MLB, we have what will be one of the worst teams in the World Cup. South Korea, like the Cubs, suffer from a serious lack of genuine talent around the park. An early exit beckons, much like the poor old Cubbies.