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The Beautiful Game’s Russian Blemish?

 

2018 world cup poster

(The official poster for the 2018 World Cup in Russia spotlights former Soviet goalie and esteemed Ballon d’Or winner Lev Yashin, courtesy of FIFA World Cup’s Facebook page)

And the 2018 World Cup groupings are…

  • Group A: Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay 
  • Group B: Iran, Morocco, Portugal, Spain
  • Group C: Australia, Denmark, France, Peru
  • Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
  • Group E: Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia, Switzerland
  • Group F: Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden
  • Group G: Belgium, England, Panama, Tunisia
  • Group H: Colombia, Japan, Poland, Senegal

Way Too Early Predictions of the Group Winner & Runner-Up are in bold.   

Instant Reaction: There’s no “Group of Death” and the 2018 World Cup in Russia will showcase a seemingly underwhelming collection of the (supposedly) best 32 national soccer teams in the world. Without any matches even occurring, one of the major stories related to next summer’s competition is the group of prominent nations that won’t stepping onto soccer’s biggest, brightest stage.

Slightly Longer Reaction: Despite some of soccer’s most notable nations and their leading star players and, in some cases, burgeoning international soccer brands noticeably absent (the United States with Christian Pulisic, Italy with Gianluigi Buffon, Netherlands with Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, Chile with Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez, Austria with David Alaba and Wales with Gareth Bale), a World Cup provides the ideal opportunity to elevate the sport’s next big name who presently flies beneath the radar focused almost exclusively on Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Manuel Neuer. Think back to 2010 and 2014 with Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben of the Dutch and Uruguay’s sniper and FIFA’s 2010 World Cup Golden Ball winner (tournament’s best player) Diego Forlán.

Who’s going to deliver a World Cup performance akin to Diego Forlán or Arjen Robben? Watch out for Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, France’s tank Paul Pogba and its talented youth movement, Argentina’s Paulo Dybala, Brazil’s speedster on the flank Douglas Costa and Germany’s Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller, for starters.

*Also, keep an eye on the fundamentally sound players for Japan regarding ball control. Trust me.

Insanely Early World Cup Final Prediction: How about Germany vs. Argentina, a repeat of the 2014 World Cup Final that so the Germans lift soccer’s greatest trophy? I may go back-and-forth several times in the next few months for giving Germany or France the advantage in a potential game to reach the final that would be determined by a razor-thin margin, as of right now.

When was the last time a World Cup Final featured the same two national teams in consecutive cycles? Glad you asked. It was 1986 and 1990 between, that’s right, Argentina and West Germany. Argentina won in 1986 and West Germany hoisted the golden trophy to the soccer gods in 1990. Furthermore, West Germany was the runner-up to Itlay in the 1982 World Cup.

Crazy Early and Stressful World Cup Champions Prediction: Argentina (see paragraph above for intriguing precedent occurring again)

More importantly, this could be Messi’s last best chance to win a World Cup for his legacy (he’s 30-years-old), which could be the special “it” factor for Argentina against its toughest opponents in Russia next summer. Cristiano Ronaldo (will be 33-years-old next summer) has that incentive too, but Portugal’s squad may or may not be equipped to string together a magical World Cup title run.

We’re only a couple weeks six-and-a-half months from the thrilling, world-class opening June 14 match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia that will feature global superpowers host Russia and Saudi Arabia. Remember that slightly underwhelming dynamic surrounding this World Cup mentioned earlier in this blog post?

There’s just no concealing it.

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History’s Clock Never Stops Ticking

The present and the future becomes the past in a hurry.

Having said that, Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming World War II epic Dunkirk about the past during the mid-1940s is a heroic present for the 21st-century future.

400,00 men. 933 ships. 9 days.

The harrowing events portrayed in the film Dunkirk strive to capture the legitimately incomprehensible odds Allied soldiers faced against the merciless German army during World War II on the beaches of France. Incredibly, the battlefields of World War II may never be seen again in the context of the three figures listed above. Wars, throughout time, have contained many threads of commonality with innovative changes and strategies according to the century and respective technological advancements. Still, the magnitude of the Battle of Dunkirk is still staggering.

And it’s that reality of history, the scale of the Battle of Dunkirk, that sparks curious intrigue for Mr. Nolan’s first filmmaking venture into an event during a historic war that defined the 20th-century. Beyond Dunkirk being the first war film by Mr. Nolan, which is an exciting moment as a directorial benchmark and cinematic reference point, one of the storytelling gifts the aforementioned director gives movie fans is the skill to scale a moviegoing experience onto the largest IMAX screen while simultaneously grounding the story and characters in deeply intimate struggles (internal and external) with powerful acts of heroism, defeat, and mystery.

And mind-bending surprises in the finale.

Or, in another word, prestige.

Weather’s Wonder Woman

If you want your heart warmed, you’re in the right place. I discovered this story because of a recent tweet by Gal Gadot, the actress currently playing Wonder Woman.

Mélanie Ségard is a 21-year-old with Down Syndrome and she is an inspiring role model for men and women with Down Syndrome. Put more truthfully, Mélanie Ségard is an inspiring role model for all men, women and children. Her dream was to be a weather girl. And, thanks to a French nonprofit, something special was set-up for Ms. Ségard in the middle of last month.

But her lifelong wish was picked up by Unapei, a French nonprofit that advocates for “an inclusive and supportive society.” It asked: Why couldn’t a woman with Down syndrome present the weather on TV?
–Amy B. Wang, The Washington Post   

There are countless variables in the world, yet one of the greatest constants is the surprisingly uplifting spirit and support from people we’ve never met before in our life. Mélanie Ségard’s story is proof of this touching act from strangers.

Not one, but two, television networks invited Ségard to do the weather. She went with the national public network France 2, and trained for four days with the station’s weather team. One presenter, Chloé Nabédian, gave her tips on how to present in front of a green screen.
–Amy B. Wang, The Washington Post

Get ready to have your heart melt while smiling wide.

Magnifique.

DUNKIRK Looks & Sounds EPIC

The very first trailer announcement for Christopher Nolan’s next cinematic project Dunkirk just landed on our shores.

Watch and get chills of excitement.

Watch again and get more chills.

Using the same marketing playbook as his 2014 science-fiction epic Interstellar, Mr. Nolan, Syncopy and Warner Bros. are offering the first theatrical glimpse about a year out from the release date (July 21, 2017). Given the success and ground-breaking nature of previous films from Christopher Nolan, his World War II story about the Dunkirk evacuation will have relentless buzz and anticipation. Nolan Fans, like myself, have been excited for this movie ever since it was revealed Chris and his brother Jonathan were spotted scouting shooting locations in the French commune. It’s fair to presume that attention for this film will not only last, but build with excitement during the next yearlong time frame.

And yes, I have the exact same question as you: Can I buy my ticket today?