Cities all around the world are celebrating the New Year in mesmerizing style with fireworks that will paint the night sky in spectacular fashion. Tonight is one of the more special evenings because the entire planet parties with jubilation and optimism for what this year will bring. The possibilities feel boundless.
Few places welcome in the New Year like Sydney, Australia.
2016 was no exception.
Happy New Year & Here’s to a Great 2016!
Seeing as this workweek is nearly over, it’s perfectly fitting to start listening to music that puts us in the right mood for such a celebratory occasion. In today’s case, some good rock n’ roll with a modern twist is the right way to go to jump-start what will be a great summer weekend in July!
Ladies and gentlemen, the band from down under and some of Australia’s finest: Wolfmother.
They’re Sydney’s current operatic house band that rocks like barbequed shrimp and a can of Foster’s on a white sand beach.
Australia v. Netherlands (Noon, ESPN) will likely be a match juxtaposed with a tenacity for attacking the goal on the part of the Dutch following their offensive explosion against Spain and extended periods of calming possession to build team chemistry for games in the future. The expectations will be sky high for the Oranje, but if their performance doesn’t equal last Friday’s, don’t be too quick to criticize. The Dutch made their statement/published a thrilling headline, now it’s time to write the body of their story with engaging and enduring characters and flow. The Socceroos will be hoping to hop in a goal on the still developing back-three of the Netherlands, which could add some drama (for at least part of the game). Of course, let’s not discount a repeat showcase of goal-scoring wonderment by the Dutch, led by Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben. This could be the beginning of something quite golden for the men in orange…
Spain v. Chile (3:00 p.m., ESPN) is the battle for the #2 spot in Group B: period. The Spanish side is fragile, specifically mentally. The Chileans are inspired with 3 points and understand a win will all but send them through to the round of 16. However, as it’s been stated on this blog, don’t underestimate Spain. They didn’t win all those major championships the past 6 years without knowing how to rebound from a loss or setback. Nonetheless, a loss by Spain will officially end their reign as the best national team in the world.
Cameroon v. Croatia (6:00 p.m., ESPN) is likely going to see a determined Croatian side attack, attack and (you guessed it) attack a vulnerable Cameroon defense with the return of their world-class striker Mario Mandžukić. In an already hot and humid World Cup, a big win from Croatia (and its accompanying 3 points) will add some heat to the necks of the Mexicans sitting on 4 points.
Will today prove the end of Spain’s run as footballing royalty?
Can the Dutch improve on an impressive showing in their first game?
Should we learn the names of the Croatian team?
As the World Cup has already shown us just a few days into its month-long journey, anything can and will happen.
First of all, every fan (and team) should applaud and mimic the national pride the Brazilians showed last night by walking into the stadium for the first match of the 2014 World Cup with their hands on the shoulder of the teammate in front of them and by singing their national anthems with heartfelt passion.
It was a beautiful sight.
Three games scheduled today will continue the excitement from Brazil’s 3-1 victory against the Mandžukić-less Croatian side yesterday afternoon (the final score was a bit misleading). These matches include: Mexico v. Cameroon (Noon ET), Spain v. Netherlands (3:00 p.m. ET) and Chile v. Australia (6:00 p.m. ET). Not only will these matches provide us with a good idea of the dynamics for Groups A & B, but it’s also Friday the 13th. Just something to keep in mind. You never know what may happen?
After all, who would have predicted a Brazilian own-goal to open the scoring at this year’s World Cup?
Actually, Big Head the turtle probably picked that…
What to watch for:
Can Mexico erase the mighty struggles it endured during CONCACAF qualifying and compete at the highest-level versus Cameroon? It could go wither way for El Tri. In all likelihood, Brazil will win Group A, but it will be fascinating to watch which team will secure that coveted second spot. At this point, Croatia, Mexico or Cameroon could play themselves into the Final 16 with some purposeful and creative footballing rhythm.
Chile v. Australia will prove as a good example at this World Cup of two teams that may not be highly regarded, but who have the potential to be trouble for the teams that are better known and more heavily favored (ie- Spain and the Netherlands). As Croatia showed, a few dangerous crosses by David can put Goliath in a tricky, uncomfortable spot.
Spain v. Netherlands: a rematch of the 2010 World Cup Final. What form will Spain show up in? Will the Dutch be less physical and more fluid in possession and be more attacking-centric? The World Cup should always kickoff with the host nation before its home crowd, but this match-up warrants nearly as much hype. This game could be a nil-nil tie, a 2-2 tie or a thrilling 1-nil win or even a 3-1 domination. Don’t underestimate Spain and don’t underestimate the Dutch in 2014. The tournament is in the “games” phase right now, which means that an explosive offense can make up for early, silly defensive mistakes. Maybe not necessarily for the group stage, but this match can go a long way in defining each squad regarding its style of play and ultimate potential in its equal pursuit towards World Cup glory far beyond the round of 32.
Now, back to the Friday the 13th issue. In soccer, crazy things can and will happen. Today’s superstitious date adds just a little more spice to that Moqueca de Camarão. The question is: for what teams/players will this famed curse affect?
Perhaps keep an eye out for players wearing #13…
Mexico: Diego Reyes
Cameroon: Eric Choupo Molting
Spain: Juan Mata
Netherlands: Joël Veltman
Chile: Jose Rojas
Australia: Oliver Bozanic
Maybe the Dutch should wear black kits today, since their mascot is a lion, which is a member of the cat family…