The biggest stage for world football has finally caught up with our lives again.
As summer break is kick
ing off for the schools here in the states, many Americans(hopefully) and the rest of the global population are preparing for an international feast. I myself, in particular, am expecting a cup filled with unexpectancies, partly because of the, lets say “interesting” club season, but more importantly due to the nature of the tournament. In England, we saw quite a race for the title; with the former, now more appropriately labeled current top-tier club Liverpool, and the usual Champions Leagued qualified-Arsenal, having been earnest contenders for Premier League silverware, rivaling the mighty Chelsea and Manchester City outfits. For certain portions of the season, the Merseysiders, the Blues, City, and the Gunners all had times were they championed themselves at the top of the table, boasting just a few points. And yes, we saw the collapse of United, as they fEll from grace as a global power. But alas, thats football. In Italy, we saw Juventus again overwhelmingly dominate Serie A, racking up 102 points, nearly 20 points ahead of second place-finishing Roma. Strong seasons though, from Napoli, Fiorentina, and Roma all also evidenced the presence of a new era of strong Italian players that look to bring about a promising tournament for their country. In Spain, we saw a fierce bate between the rival Madrid sides and a weaker Barcelona vying for La Liga glory, with Athletico claiming the prize in a tight, tight race. The tension in this league showed us that there is a considerable amount of strength in the Spanish league, with both Athletico and Real Madrid being finalists in the Champions League. In France we saw PSG and its star-studded squad wreck havoc on the majority of the subpar French squads, displaying the talents of many international stars (as well as the premier league did). Ligue 1 has truly upped its play in recent years serving as a producer for top class players and and as a realm for exciting football. In Germany, it was another fight between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, two massive sides. It seemed to be a contest between two sides of equal strength, but the Bavarian giants went on to dominate the league, showing no signs of slowing down.
The world cup is truly a great event. It brings together a multitude of different cultures and unites us all to enjoy the game of football. This is the time when we get to see which players truly can live up to their live potentials, and which players will be future stars.
Although there are far more injured players, these are players who are the most notable losses for this summer’s tournament. The saddest part about this list is that these are players are at the peaks of their careers and are missing the chance to prove themselves on the world stage. Also, their absence is particularly detrimental to their respective teams, as these players are responsible for both inspiration and creativity. Ribery has been the leading man for France these past few years, serving as the key man in the midfield, going on inspiring runs and notching up countless superb passes. Sadly, France will be at a lack for intelligence in the midfield. The absence of Reus should result in a rough patch in Germany’s campaign, as they will lack a daring attacker, which will call for more from their box-box midfielders and put more pressure on the prolific goal-scorer, Klose. Belgium looks to be a very promising squad this time around. Filled with a slew of talented youth players, they look to be a reckoning force. However, the loss of Benteke will put a lot of pressure on the young Romelu Lukaku, as he will be left to lead the Belgian front line. Strootman, another developing youth, has been instrumental for the Netherlands, working alongside Robben to make runs down the flanks, providing a multitude of crosses for the Dutch strikers. Arjen Robben will have to pull a lot out of his hat, as he will be left on his own a little more on this outing. Falcao is one of the world’s premier strikers. He has proved himself as capable of tearing of defenses and scoring incredible goals. Colombia will truy struggle to get on the score sheet without their deadly poacher. Montolivo has been pulling the strings for Italy along with Pirlo, De Rossi and Marchisio, playing a little more up front to serve up some creative passes. More reliance will be put on Pirlo and there other seasoned midfielders to generate scoring opportunities.
Key Players to Watch
Yes, this list is very short and very biased. However it is these players that have the chance to make the biggest impacts in Rio. Ronaldo is currently the best player in the world, I believe. He is the most complete midfielder, boasting amazing pace, flashy skills, great strength, and a deadly goal-scoring ability. He is coming off both a fantastic individual and collective season with Real. This is his time to lead Portugal, and win the prize he has so long been wanting. This is his chance to overshadow, and come out from the small shadow he has had to live under for the past few seasons. Due to his doggedness and his success with Portugal as of recent, I feel that this feat is very much in reach, and that he has the chance to be considered one of the greatest. Messi on the other hand has a lot to prove. He has had a string of lack luster performances with Argentina, failing to achieve anything of real significance. He has been criticized for doing well at Barca because he is surrounded by such a star-studded group of players. He has come off a poor club campaign, and will be looking to use his natural talents to allow him to join the list of greats. He really needs to win this coveted prize if he wants to be considered in such talks. Coming off another great season at Chelsea, Hazard will be a dangerous threat to any side. He has an amazing understanding of the game, a knack for reading the field, and the ability to effortlessly dribble past all opponents. Along with his youthful Belgian squad, he will be able to perform well this summer if he plays his cards right. Neymar. The Brazilian wonder kid has a lot of pressure on him this summer. He has been an up and coming star these last few years, and as a player of the host nation, a lot is expected him. And I mean that he is expected to win the cup. His intensity, and flair will allow him to lead the attack with this strong Brazilian side. Suarez has just had the best season of his life. He racked up over 30 goals this season for Liverpool and has never looked better. His daring mentality, his ease to shoot from all areas and his unselfishness will make him a precarious opponent. And not to forget, there’s Balotelli. The hot-headed Italian has shown that he is capable of quality performances and has really kept Milan alive these last two seasons. His knack for goal-scoring and his pure skill should prove vital for Italy’s campaign.
I am very excited for this tournament. It certainly will be one that will show us the new age of football, a new age of players who take more risks and are willing to go to the greatest depths to achieve success. I myself am rooting for Italy, and I’m expecting a lot from Pirlo and the Azzurri. Cheers to all for a great tournament. Rio 2014 starts now!!!!!!