2014 World Cup Preview

ゴーーールーーー !!!!!! 


Can you feel it? There is something special about to happen. There is electricity in the air, a growing rumble underfoot, a quickening of your heartbeat – and the cause is not the new Godzilla movie. In fact, it is the sporting event that puts all other sporting events to shame. It is the FIFA World Cup. For many, it is that moment every four years when petty local club loyalties are put aside and everyone rallies behind the nation. For others, it is the one time when you pretend to like football – soccer for Americans – just enough to use it as an excuse to take off work and start drinking at absurd hours of the day. (Hey don’t judge me for having a beer, or five, during a game that starts at nine in the morning, I didn’t invent the time zones.) If you happen to fall into the latter group, here is some information on teams representing ALTs from the 2013 – 2014 cohort that may be useful in furthering discussion past obligatory national songs and drunken chants.



Group B: Australia, Chile, Netherlands, Spain

Coach: Ange Postecoglou

Well-known player: Tim Cahill

Fun fact*: Australia’s national football team’s nickname is the “Socceroos.”

Although Americans are considered to have the “Group of Death,” the Aussies prospects are not much brighter. In the first round they will have to face 2010 World Cup runner-ups, the Netherlands, and the consistently dominate Spain, with Chile being no easy push over. Yet in a country notorious for its dangerous animals and neknominations, the Australian team is perhaps the most prepared to face severe challenges head on.



Group D: Costa Rica, England, Italy, Uruguay

Coach: Roy Hodgson

Well-known player: Wayne Rooney

Fun fact*: The only player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final is Geoff Hurst in 1966.


Everyone remembers back in 2010 when American Robert Dempsey showcased his Jedi mind tricks to score a very preventable goal on England’s keeper, Robert Green. Humiliating, yes, and what makes it worse is that England has been the victim of such trickery before. Who can forget the 1986 World Cup match between England and Argentina when Diego Maradona smoothly pulled off his “Hand of God” goal, which must have stunned – literally – England’s players so much that it allowed Maradona to score a second goal – a goal that is arguably the best of all time. Yet, even with this past and quite a bit of struggle simply to qualify for this year’s World Cup, England is looking to start fresh and make a much stronger showing this time around.



Group E: Ecuador, France, Honduras, Switzerland

Coach: Didier Deschamps

Well-known player: Franck Ribery

Fun fact*: Frank Ribery was in a car accident as a child leaving a scar on his face, hence his nickname “Scarface.”



Group G: Germany, Ghana, Portugal, United States

Coach: Joachim Low

Well-known player: Manuel Neuer

Fun fact*: Germany holds three World Cup titles giving them the third most behind Italy at four and Brazil at five.


If shivers are not sent down your spine upon hearing about Germany’s national squad this year then you probably were not listening. Germany did not lose a match during the qualifying rounds, winning nine matches and securing a 4 – 4 tie against Sweden. They also had the most goals in the European zone with 36. Germany was given the number two ranking position by FIFA, and it is extremely possible that they will take the cup, if they, like most of their European counterparts, can handle the threatening Amazonian weather.


Korea Republic

Group H: Algeria, Belgium, Korea Republic, Russia

Coach: Hong Myungbo

Well-known players: Lee Chung-Yong

Fun fact*: In 2002 South Korea allowed for the fastest goal in World Cup history when they were scored on 11 seconds into a match.



Group B: Australia, Chile, Netherlands, Spain

Coach: Louis Van Gaal

Well-known players: Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie

Fun fact*: The Netherlands have reached three World Cup finals, but not won a single title.



Group H:  Algeria, Belgium, Korea Republic, Russia

Coach: Fabio Capello

Well-known player: Alexander Kerzhakov

Fun fact*: Former player Oleg Salenko scored a record five goals in a World Cup match in 1994.



Group E: Ecuador, France, Honduras, Switzerland

Coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld

Well-known player: Xherdan Shaqiri

Fun fact*: In the 2010 World Cup, Switzerland was the only team to beat Spain.


United States

Group G: Germany, Ghana, Portugal, United States

Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

Well-known player: Tim Howard

Fun fact*: Goalie Tim Howard was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome in childhood.


Although the Americans are entering the World Cup after a stellar job in their qualifying matches, fate has dealt them a cruel hand in the initial group play. Up against the German powerhouse, Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portuguese, and Ghana, a team that has beaten the United States in the last two World Cups; the United States has little room for error. Yet, if there is one thing Americans love more than soccer – and let’s be honest, there are hundreds of things Americans love more than soccer – it is a story of an underdog succeeding against all odds.


Of course, it is always good to have a back-up team to keep the engagement and conversations going, especially if your team happens to be one of the unlucky ones to be eliminated sooner rather than later. The Japanese national team is as good as any to choose and could possibly win you some bonus points with your colleagues in the office. Led by Italian coach Alberto Zaccheron, Japan’s twenty-three players come from a range of teams and leagues, with over half playing in European clubs.[1] Although up against stiff competition in Group C with Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Greece, Japan’s national team has demonstrated their potential by advancing to the Round of 16 last World Cup and winning the Asia Cup in 2011. With such success this team should not be overlooked.

Although a time to demonstrate your national pride in thoughtful and often extravagant ways, let us not forget that the World Cup also provides us with a glimpse of our common humanity. The world of football in general, and the World Cup specifically, is an opportunity to share an experience with millions of individuals across the globe from diverse backgrounds So during the games go ahead and cheer for your team, but also raise a glass to your neighbor, friend or foe, and recognize that you are each simply seeking enjoyment from moments both ordinary and spectacular in this life.



Sean Mulvihill

[1] Hongo, Jun. “Japan Coach Names World Cup Squad.” The Wall Street Journal. 12 May 2014. Web. 15 May 2014. <http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/05/12/japan- coach-names-world-cup-squad/>.

*Fun facts were taken from “32 Teams, 32 Facts.” ESPN. 12 May 2014. Web. 15 May 2014. <http: //espn.go.com/video/clip?id=10923105>.

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