World Cup Preview: Top 5 Teams to Cheer For (Besides the United States)
Its been a long 4 years, but the World Cup is finally back! Now I'm not a
futbol soccer fanatic, but I would like to believe I know a little more about the beautiful game than the average american.
When the World Cup draw was announced in December 2013, excitement turned into dread. The United States, coming off a weak draw in the 2010 Cup, drew into 2014's "Group of Death." Group G opponents include:
1) Germany, the 2nd ranked team in the world and favorite to win.
2) Ghana, a team that has eliminated the USMNT the past 2 world cups.
3) Portugal, home to FIFA superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
The odds appear to be stacked against the United States, even Coach Jurgen Klinsmann thinks expectations of the U.S. taking the cup 'unrealistic.' Though the USMNT roster is the most talented I've seen, even with the subtraction of Landon Donovan, I'm cautiously optimistic of their chances.
Fear not fair weather fans, should the United States make an early exit, I've assembled a list of teams you can cheer for instead and keep the excitement of the World Cup alive.
In the debate between Messi vs. Ronaldo, I side with Messi. Lionel Messi is a nightmare for defenders and he will look to shine on the world stage. Argentina relies heavily on its offense with an arsenal of talented scorers. To say Argentina was disappointing in 2010 is an understatement. Ranked 5th in the world, Argentina may prove to be one of the more explosive teams in the tournament.
Chile has been a dark horse pick by many soccer experts to come out of Group B, leaving out either defending champs Spain or the Netherlands. Stars Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez are some of the best players in the world. If those two shine on the big stage, Chile could be the cinderella of the world cup.
Compared to years past, expectations around the English Football Team are low, but that may be to their advantage. They still have Wayne Rooney, vets Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, and a roster full of Premier League talent. New manger Roy Hodgson had nice showing in the 2012 EURO tournament just six weeks after being hired. If Rooney takes over games and the talent around him exceeds expectation, excitement will return to the Queen's country.
The 2010 champions are prime to defend their title with a loaded roster and a number 1 FIFA ranking heading into Brazil. This Spain team can be best compared to the San Antonio Spurs for lack of a better comparison. They thrive on defense and lull teams to sleep after scoring a goal by retreating into their half of the pitch. Spain's depth and experience may prove too much for the rest of the field.
Why not cheer for the home team? Brazil arguably produces some of the worlds top talent year after year. They have the advantage of having a home crowd behind them. Anything short of winning the cup will be massively disappointing for the Brazilian squad. They are a fast team that will play with a lot of energy. Neymar, their most talented player, is exciting, but inexperienced on the big stage. Should the beloved Yanks find themselves out of play, I will be cheering on Brazil.