What makes a World Cup legacy?
When Spain won the 2010 World Cup whilst executing a transplant version of the famed total football tactics of the Dutch against the Dutch in the final–a surreal case of the body snatchers indeed–coupled with the parallel success of Barcelona at the club level, it became clear that Spain was the soccer capital of the world.
This impressive achievement was stylistic and generational.
Thus far in the 2018 World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored four goals in two games, which includes the game-winning goal in Portugal’s 1-nil win today against Morocco, while Lionel Messi hasn’t registered a goal or assist after 90 minutes against Iceland in the group stage. Both Ronaldo and Messi, for instance, are world-class soccer players and generational icons. The point is whether Ronaldo is genuinely tipping the scale in his favor in real-time in his rivalry with Messi for best player in the world because he’s scored/scoring more goals than his Argentine counterpart on soccer’s biggest stage?
If the 2018 World Cup ends up tipping the scales in this heated debate–this premise being a whole other debate–will goals or style of play weigh heavier in defining the (proposed) best player of his generation?
Either way, Messi will have his shot(s) tomorrow to add some goals to his tournament résumé and for his country, as well as some weight to his side of the scale.
Today’s match between rivals Spain and Portugal fulfilled all the drama–before and during the game–short of a game-winning goal. And let’s be honest…this is one of those games where I should just point you to the highlight of the night.
Click PLAY, then click “Watch this video on YouTube” (FIFA stuff) and then please return to Jimmy’s Daily Planet.
Spain will view the 3-3 tie as a loss as they were pre-game favorites. They had the chance to win the game, collect three-points and sit atop Group B in pole position.
Portugal will likely view the 3-3 tie as a win as they were pre-game underdogs. Led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick that served as the scoring bookends for the day (4th and 88th minute), the Portugeuse now have an opportunity to sincerely challenge Spain to win Group B.
Slightly More Reaction:
It’s a little difficult to tell if Spain and Portugal will continue at this pace, both in style and proficiency, throughout the tournament. Was this performance by both nations more of an isolated rivalry game that, like Ohio State and That Team Up North, just ignites an unexplainable fire that fuels players to accomplish the spectacular? Time will certainly tell, particularly outside of Group B against comparable top competition.
Either way, the hype is real–and was heart-poundingly real in Spain vs. Portugal–for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
From Russia with love for the beautiful game.
Germany v. Portugal will be a true battle of titans from Group G as both have world-class talent all across the field. Each country has a legitimate chance at hoisting the World Cup Trophy in July and it will be a thrill to watch their first steps towards this potential history for the players, coaches and fans alike. After last night’s Group F match featuring Argentina v. Bosnia-Herzegovina, which saw a few flashes of Argentinian flare along with an inspiring effort from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran v. Nigeria each have their work cut out for them as the battle for the #2 spot will be fierce.
Ghana has been the nation that has eliminated the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) from the past two World Cup competitions. For some almost unexplainable reason, they just seem to have the USMNT’s number. For the 2014 World Cup, much of the discussion surrounding Group G/”The Group of Death” is centered on European powers Germany and Portugal. However, from an American’s perspective, the match today versus the African country of Ghana is unequivocally important. Not only could a win serve as a mild relief dating back to 2006, but 3 points would invigorate the Stars & Stripes before their next game against the Goliath from Portugal.
Here’s a video made from the World Cup in 2010 that might get the adrenaline pumping for those wearing the red, white and blue today…
(And yes, I know who scored the goal, but it’s about the incredible energy and excitement for the USMNT!)
(The Title is, “Soccer’s Golden Month!” in Portuguese)
90+ minutes, 32 national teams, 22 players on the pitch, 3 misguided referees (depending on who you’re cheering for) and one ultimate winner.
The beautiful game, for which it’s known universally across all cultures and languages, will once again step onto the world’s stage starting today at 4:00 p.m. ET for its biggest tournament: The World Cup. Having visited Los Angles in the summer of 1994 for my birthday when the United States hosted this magnificent sporting spectacle, I was fortunate enough to visit the Soccer Fest at the LA Convention Center. There, I saw something I’ll never forget. Despite being protected by thick transparent glass, its shining glory could not be contained. Golden in every way stood The FIFA World Cup ™ Trophy. Gazing in a moment of surrealism and, ironically, clarity, I had but one goal in life: to hoist that trophy above my head as a champion of the world wearing the red, white and blue.
20 years later (and one month from now) and one national team (which, sadly will not include me) will have the honor of fulfilling that very exercise. It will be historic, powerful and rewarding in every way imaginable. Fans will remember this moment forever. Stories will be told and, if one’s lucky, will be given the permanent tag of a national legend in his country.
So, what teams should we be watching a little more closely than others? What players will stand-out with stellar performances?
I’m glad you asked.
Teams to Watch (in no particular order):
Brazil – They’re the hosts in a futebol-rich culture with a young superstar in Neymar (22) who is looking to provide his fellow Brazilians with a few Pelé flashbacks/comparisons. Are they the best team? Debatable. But expect them to make some noise well beyond the group stage, both on the pitch and in the streets with a party or two…
Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, and Nani are three of the players on a team that finally shined for a few games internationally at the 2012 UEFA Euro 2012 tournament. They’re fast, athletic and dangerous. Plus, Ronaldo is at the top of his game right now. As mentioned before on this blog, the slogan this team should have on the side of their bus is: “We Have a Star Player Named Ronaldo Who Speaks Portuguese Playing at the World Cup in Brazil…I Mean, C’mon.”
France – Franck Ribéry With Ribéry ruled out of the competition with an injury, so go France’s chances to advance far in the tournament. Unfortunate for them, but likely true.
Argentina – There are infinite discussions about Neymar and Brazil’s chances for a return to World Cup glory. However, recall that Lionel Messi is still searching to cement his legacy as an elite footballer beyond his ridiculous club statistics and silly awesome performances at Barcelona. A World Cup hosted by a neighboring South American nation…It’s almost a perfect situation.
Germany – Neuer, Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Schweinsteiger, Özil, Müller, Kroos, Götze, Podolski and Klose. Elite, veteran leadership coupled with a dynamite youth movement. Damn (or Verdammt). Enough said.
Belgium – This team could very well become the trendy pick/fun team to follow at the 2014 World Cup. Think Uruguay in South Africa four years ago…
Uruguay – Two names: Luis Suárez and Diego Forlán.
Holland – They will have (arguably) the best offensive/attacking set of players in Brazil in Robin Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Conversely, their defense will be young without a tremendous amount of experience (beyond a few of the defenders from Feyenoord). Still, Louis Van Gaal is their manager, so this orange Lion may roar with surprising purpose and confidence in the jungles of Brazil…
Spain – Yeah, they only won the World Cup in 2010 with a squad that features many of the same players who stood before the globe as soccer’s biggest champions in South Africa. How soon people forget as Spain has garnered very little fanfare going into Brazil. Their first game versus the Dutch (FYI- a 2010 Final rematch) will be telling in terms of the team’s initial momentum in trying to reach peak form again.
Players to Watch (in no particular order):
Arjen Robben (Holland)
Diego Forlán (Uruguay)
Fernando Torres (Spain)
Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Philipp Lahm (Germany)
Iker Casillas (Spain)
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Wesley Sneijder (Holland)
Mario Götze (Germany)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Gonzalo Higuaín (Argentina)
Michael Bradley (United States of America)
Robin Van Persie (Holland)
Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Mix Diskerud (United States of America)
Before any kickoffs, what teams will likely make the final?
Again. I’m glad you asked!
A Projected 2014 World Cup Final:
Germany versus Argentina
And (as of right now) it’s looking like the 2014 World Cup Champion will be…
In picking the winner of the 2014 World Cup, a meeting with a marketing professional yesterday provided me with a unique perspective to use for this prediction. It stemmed from a phrase she used repeatedly, “leadership through guidance.” Regarding soccer, it’s not necessarily just about star power, but evaluating what team has the players and coaching staff to translate their vision into beautiful soccer on the Brazilian pitch in moments of chaos, clarity and some unexpected confusion.
Bottom line: It’s going to be a fun, wild and all-around b-e-a-utiful month of world-class soccer and partying in Brazil.
É Kickoff Time!