It’s pronounced futbol for the next month

By Tony McDaniel

Every four years the world turns its focus to the most unique and exciting sporting event in the world the FIFA World Cup.

In the United States, we don’t view the World Cup the same as most countries do. We, as Americans, become moderately excited for a few weeks and then forget about soccer altogether until another World Cup presents itself.

This year I’d like to see Americans try something different. For the 2014 World Cup let’s be soccer fans.

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Actually, I take that back let’s be futbol fans.

I think the best part of the World Cup is not the game being played on the pitch, but the reaction to the game by the people watching around the world. No other sporting event can make entire nations of people scream out in joy, while making another nation on another continent break down in tears at the same time; that’s the magic of the World Cup.

Unfortunately, as Americans, this year we are probably destined more for tears than we are cheers as team USA is playing some of its best futbol in history, but it won’t be enough.

Just to reach the round of 16, the USA will have to be at least the second best team from a group that contains two international powerhouses: Germany and Portugal. The U.S. will also have to deal with Ghana who has eliminated the Americans from the last two World Cups. Realistically, the U.S. will probably finish fourth in their group and be home from Brazil by July.

With our team certain to be knocked out very soon, Americans may need another team to root for.

When it comes to talent it’s hard to look past the defending champions of the 2010 World Cup, Spain. Spain’s manager Vicente del Bosque has assembled one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport. From top to bottom the Spanish are stacked and have won every tournament they’ve entered since 2008. It’s hard not to pick Spain as the favorites to win, but there are plenty of teams that have the skill to unseat the Spaniards.

The Germans have not won since 1990, but 2014 could be the year they win their fourth World Cup. In Brazil, Germany brings with it a strong defense anchored by Philipp Lahm and an attack that boasts one of the best young footballers in the world, Thomas Muller.

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The host nation, Brazil, also poses a threat to Spain’s reign of dominance.

Brazil’s attack is strong, possibly one of the best at this year’s World Cup and with names like Neymar, Hulk, Fred, Oscar, Bernard and Jo, it’s hard not to like the Brazilians based on names alone. Brazil has one thing no other nation at the World Cup has, a home-field advantage, and they may need it. Brazil was lucky to have an easy draw for its group stage, but may have to face England, Spain, Italy or the Netherlands, before it even reaches the semi-finals.

If you’re looking for an underdog to root for, Japan has an easy group to work out of and could upset Italy or England in the round of 16.

Croatia could be another interesting choice. It will almost certainly finish second behind Brazil, but unfortunately could meet either Spain or the Netherlands in the round of 16. If the Croatians manage to pull of an upset, prepare to watch a good team dressed in what looks like a cheap tablecloth to make a run at the world cup because their road after the round of 16 could be an easy one.

The World Cup is the best event any sport has to offer, and no matter what team you watch, the most important thing is that you watch and soak in all the glory that is international futbol.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected] and @tonymcdanielDE

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