The World Cup draw happened! World Cup fever builds…
Real soccer (hereafter, football) fans (hereafter, supporters) know that the best football is played at the club level in Europe. The World Cup can be such a disappointing and, above all, odd tournament (e.g. 2002 and 2006). Because of the elimination format, it often produces a winner that isn’t really the best team (theoretically, a team could win the tournament by tying every single game).
Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny the incredible awesomeness of the World Cup as an event. The whole world comes together for a mere month every four years (except for people in the USA and India) in recognition of the beautiful game. I can always hope for a great tournament in advance, right? Go USA (and Spain!!!)
It’s notoriously difficult/impossible to predict which teams will perform well, especially when I only saw a handful of qualifying games and friendlies in CONCACAF, Europe, Asia and South America, but here are my thoughts on the draw, which you can see here.
Spain and Brazil will end up on opposite sides of the draw if they both win their groups, setting up a potential dream final for the neutral observer. We all know how Spain will play (attack, attack, attack), but one can only hope Brazil decide to actually attack; it’s always a toss-up with them. They did in 2002, but in 2006 they set up defensively, and it was painful to watch.
Easy groups: A, C, F and H. We (the US) got a kind draw, but I’d be ecstatic if we made it to the knock-out stage. England, for once, should be a quality side. I haven’t seen the other two teams play, but Slovenia eliminated a very talented Russian team. Sad as it is to admit, that country of fewer than 3 million people may well be be better technically than we are.
Group G is the toughest: Ivory Coast, the most talented African nation, will probably fail to advance. But they could easily upset Brazil or Portugal.
Italy, even if they’re poor, should as usual find a way to squeak through.
Spain, without a real test in the first round, might not be ready for their knockout stage game against Brazil, Portugal or Ivory Coast. That would be really disappointing.
More thoughts later!