Food or Futbol? World Cup 2014
By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor
PHILADELPHIA (BASN/BASN NEWSROOM) In spite of what many in America may believe, there is only one Super event.
Every four years the world comes to play – and settle scores on a patch of grass.
Unlike the Super Bowl, unlike the Olympics, the World Cup is the only competition where every country has a chance to compete; where the headline “Egypt defeats Israel” would not mean a prelude to World War III…
After several qualifiers and elimination games, 32 countries set it off in various cities in futbol – mad Brazil as the premise of hosting a Copa del Mundo as well as having a strong shot to win it makes for a tremendous powder keg full of pressure.
Mixed in with the pomp and driving samba rhythms are the sounds of protests that have threatened to take the bloom off the rose for Brasil as guest to the world for a little football.
Threats of work stoppages, job walk offs and displaced people saying jobs and food is more important than football – imply the country may not have been ready to produce this event no matter how beautiful The Beautiful Game may be…
Seeing tear gas grenades instead of team banners did not go unnoticed as the voice of dissent was getting drowned out by the horns of ceremony; it allowed me to flashback to President Obama’s first term – and his effort to get either a World Cup or Olympic Summer Games.
Few observers would speak on this being one of the President’s first job efforts; but just as a not – so – shadowy opposition was working against him on American soil, that arm of conspiracy stretched across the water as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA also conspired to deny the U.S. any event opportunities – because of who had won the election.
Think how much new construction and jobs would have been in effect right off the bat because of funding being allocated for something on as large a scale as an Olympic Games or World Cup! With a winning move right off the bat, pushing through a Universal Health Care Plan would have been made even more palatable to the American people – but I digress…
For BASN purposes, we will focus on the African teams as well as the Americans in our break down of the groups and how we believe they will fare:
GROUP A (Brazil, CAMEROON, Croatia and Mexico)
Brazil will have no excuse if they don’t get through in what should be an easy group given Mexico’s inability to gain stability at the head coach spot. The Cup is about stars and Xavier Hernandez “Chicharito” must play like one for Mexico to have a puncher’s chance.
Croatia isn’t afraid of anyone, but losing to Brazil from the jump will make matters worse, as they were likely the other team favored to go through this group. Samuel Eto’o has been one of the deadliest strikers in Europe for years, but Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions have been more prey than predator when it comes to previous cups – often being tossed into that ‘Group of Death’ – let’s hope The Lions don’t sleep on this potential opportunity.
Ultimately, no matter how far they go, Brazil will always have the most pressure because they must not only win – they have to win with style!
GROUP B (Australia, Chile, Spain, the Netherlands)
Hard for me to think Australia’s ‘Roos have a shot; but they are here, and a draw versus any of the competitors would be a major step up for this side; Chile has some underrated talent and could sneak in as the second club if the head to heads don’t allow The Netherlands at least one win.
Spain is a heavy favorite here – and while I admire their talent, they are scum because of the way African and African – American players are treated playing in La Liga. They didn’t pull that monkey chant or tossing bananas shit when the Cup was on African soil (because they know they’d get that ass whupped!) The Dutch have always had the talent, and went far in the last Cup; most onlookers are expecting the Men of Orange to go through with Spain.
GROUP C (Columbia, COTE D’IVOIRE, Greece, Japan)
If Africa is to be heard from early on, this could be the spot. The Elephants of the Ivory Coast have arguably the greatest striker in recent Premier League history in Didier Drogba (most Chelsea fans would agree) and Drogba, Yaya Toure’ and some decent work in goal could lead an Elephant Stampede into the next round.
I believe Drogba has been saving his energy for this one; and I will be quite surprised if Cote D’Ivoire does not go through. Sadly, every time I see the Columbian national team, I flash back to that excellent documentary, “The Two Escobars” and how a potential super side was torn apart by tragedy and the drug wars in that country. While Greece won the Euros in an upset a couple years ago, I don’t think they have another one in them on Brazilian soil. Japan, whose midfielder Keisuke Honda is a nice player, has too much missing to be a factor.
GROUP D (Costa Rica, England, Italy, Uruguay)
Were it not for Costa Rica sliding into this foursome, one might have been able to make a credible argument for this bunch’s comprising the Group of Death. Even with a healthy Alvaro Saborio, Costa Rica would be hard pressed to earn a point. There’s an old saying, “scared money – never wins.” That could well apply to either of these remaining sides.
All have strong cup pedigrees, and given the scoring skills of England’s Wayne Rooney or Uruguay’s tag team of Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan; the real wild card of this tournament falls on Italian striker Mario Balotelli’s shoulders. Italian ‘fans’ seem to overlook his skin color – only when they win; and if Balotelli’s will and skill can carry Italia forward, the vaunted Azzuri defense can get comfy playing keep – away into the next round.
GROUP E (Ecuador, France, Honduras, Switzerland)
This could have been as close to a walkover as possible for France were it not for the loss of team captain Franck Ribery. The French side can be formidable or terrible in the same 90 minutes; unless they have a steady hand guiding them on the pitch, their chance to get in rhythm while moving on will be severely compromised – so who will be the man with the plan for Les Bleus? Ecuador and Honduras may cancel each other out, and the Swiss side is kind of an unknown variable to this mix…
GROUP F (Argentina, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Iran, NIGERIA)
The great Lionel Messi is but one facet of an extremely powerful offense that Argentina can muster; his presence alone should make them a mortal lock to make the next round. Bosnia – Herzegovina will enjoy their first Cup, and Iran may not generate any scoring power at all, which leaves the door wide open for Nigeria’s Super Eagles.
Nigeria has been harvesting some of the best under – 23 players in the world over the past few years; now we get to see if the fledgling Super Eagles get to flap their wings into the next round…
GROUP G (Germany, GHANA, Portugal, UNITED STATES)
Germans are as steady as the day is long, and can counterattack after pressure better than most of the sides in this tournament; Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo expect to make the next round.
For the Black Stars of Ghana, there are no real weaknesses along their starting 11, so someone is gonna get their feelings hurt on the way to not advancing. U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann says his side’s not ready for prime time, yet his most prolific scorer, Landon Donovan, sits at home. It’s “Jozy’s (striker Altidore) got your spot and gone” – if the Americans can get at least 6 points; and actually, this would be applicable to the teams in this group – first one to 6 – is in.
GROUP H (ALGERIA, Belgium, Russia, South Korea)
Algeria needs to score – period. If they can muster any kind of offense, they should be over. Belgium is loaded – and they rolled through all the qualifiers; if they can hold serve in terms of quality play, watch out for them in the knockout round. Whichever side can beat Algeria out of Russia or South Korea, they will be playing for the second spot instead.
(Editor’s Note – Day One Began with the home side defeating Croatia 3 -1 on two goals by Neymar and one by Oscar)
Gol BASN 1 (Ingram, 25th minute)
Always outnumbered – never outgunned.
Copyright© 2014 Michael – Louis Ingram all rights reserved.