World Cup 2014 Preview

World Cup 2014 will have the eyes of the world on it. How about yours?
World Cup 2014 will have the eyes of the world on it. How about yours?

By Browning Stupp

The greatest sporting in the world will soon be upon us. 32 games in 32 days kicks off in Brazil on June 12 and ends July 13 with a new World Cup soccer champion. Think Super Bowl, the World Series, and March Madness all rolled up into one and it only happens once every four years.

More than one billion people will watch the World Cup in soccer-crazy Brazil this summer where beautiful women, carnival-like parties, and soccer go hand in hand. Brazilians love their national soccer team so much that every time it plays it is a national holiday. The world’s best players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and a host of other superstars will try to lead their nations and vie for the ultimate sporting prize – the World Cup trophy.

What about the United States’ chances in 2014? The U.S. has perhaps its most talented team ever, but will that be enough to survive the ominous “Group of Death?”

After two years of qualifying rounds and virtually every country in the world competing, 32 countries and their teams were divided into eight groups of four. While Team USA won the CONCACAF or the North American qualifier, it was placed in arguably the toughest group during FIFA’S World Cup draw in December.

Group G, better known as the Group of Death, features four teams that could advance but unfortunately there’s only room for two. European powerhouse Germany leads the group followed by Portugal, better known as Ronaldo and 10 other men. Also included is Ghana, Team USA’s nemesis by virtue of eliminating the Americans in the last two World Cups. Then there’s quite likely the most talented U.S. team in soccer history led by captain Clint Dempsey,  Michael Bradley, who could start on any World Cup team, and goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The Other Groups
The rest of the pairings include Group A consisting of host and favorite Brazil, followed by Mexico, Croatia, and Cameroon. Group B is led by current World Cup champion Spain, The Netherlands, 2010 World Cup runner-up Chile, and Australia. Group C features Columbia, Greece, Ivory Coast, and Japan. In Group D there’s world powers England and Italy, followed by Uruguay and Costa Rica. Group E includes France, Switzerland, Ecuador, and Honduras. Group F has Messi’s Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. And lastly Group H sports Belgium, Russia, South Korea, and Algeria.

The top two qualifiers from each group advance to the knockout stages ultimately leading to the World Cup Championship on July 13.

The world’s best players will be on the biggest stage in sporting history including Messi, Ronaldo, Dempsey, Neymar – Brazil’s next soccer god – Germany’s Mesut Ozil the ever-controversial and ever-biting Luis Suarez of Uruguay, Mexico’s Javier Hernandez – better known as Chicharito – and the aging Wayne Rooney of England and Andres Iniesta of Spain.

Must See Games
Do your best to catch these stars and these five must-see games:
1. U.S. vs. Ghana on June 16. Not only is it a must win and the opener for both teams, there really is bad blood between them.
2. Spain vs. The Netherlands. This is a June 13 rematch of the 2010 World Cup final in only the third game of the tournament.
3. Brazil vs. Mexico on June 17. Mexico only made the World Cup as a wild-card but with the luck of the draw by beating powerhouse Brazil could win the group.
4. Germany vs. Portugal on June 16. Germany is rated No. 2 in the world and Portugal No. 5 with the loser facing the U.S. in a must-win game later in the first round.
5. England vs. Italy. This June 14 match should be a good old fashioned slug-fest with the winner more than likely capturing the group.

Where to Watch
If there ever was a time to travel to Brazil and be surrounded by beautiful women watching the World Cup this summer would be it, but if you can’t make it there check out these five soccer crazy venues in DFW.
Trinity Hall on Upper Greenville. Lift a pint or a few and enjoy a rowdy raucous time watching the matches.
The Londoner has five locations throughout the Metroplex that bring the British experience of pubs, pints, and the pitch together.
The Dubliner on Lower Greenville always is a good bet to enjoy a raucous time watching a game.
The Ginger Man in Uptown provides copious amounts of beer on tap and is a great place to watch the games.
Sherlock’s in Addison and Arlington also is a great place for watching a game at the bar or on the big screens.

All games will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC. Check out FIFA’s or ESPN’s websites for a full schedule. Here’s hoping the U.S. survives the Group of Death and that North Texans don’t miss out on the greatest sporting event in the world this summer.