Is Brazil the 2014 World Cup Favorite?
While the world generally recognizes World Cup hosts Brazil (and their 5 titles) as the favorites for the 2014 tournament, is such a prediction actually rather misguided and premature considering their lack of experience and the fact that the games haven’t even begun? Perhaps we should be looking at some of the other countries (particularly Spain) as the true World Cup favorites? Or maybe we should accept the fact that predicting a winner out of 32 teams is certainly no exact science and forgo all such thoughts? What should we expect?
The reason that we are all favoring Brazil is that they have the most historically impressive international soccer resume around the world and they are hosting the tournament. Additionally, they also happen to have trounced Spain in the 2013 Confederations Cup Final. And while that thrilling win sent the Brazilian fans into pandemonium, we must stop short of anointing them as world champions since the Confederations Cup is little more than a glorified run of friendly matches.
Spain remains the most talented team on the planet and they have won each of their last 3 major tournaments (2 EURO titles and the 2010 World Cup). Up and down the roster they simply ooze of talent and game-changing potential. Even their bench could probably handle most of the competition with ease…
But Brazil has the world’s budding superstar in Neymar, right? He’s like the next Ronaldo or Pele. Well, if Neymar wins this tournament then yes, he could be considered in that class of Brazilian legends. Until that day, he’s just another professional soccer player trying to make a name for himself, and frankly, I think he cares more about his latest hairdo than anything else…
And not to keep trumping up Spain, but they happen to have a striker probably more suited to burst onto the World Cup scene: Diego Costa. Costa represents one of the most intriguing players heading to Brazil. Brazilian by birth, he disgraced the nation and opted to play with Spain. Currently at Atletico Madrid (a team he led to the La Liga title and the Champions League Final), Costa scored 27 goals this season. Neymar, who last summer moved to Barcelona in a massive transfer, scored just 9.
But when we talk of the World Cup and its favorites, we must consider other teams with the potential of winning it as well. Lionel Messi’s Argentina must be considered, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Or how about other usual contenders like Germany, Italy, France, or the Netherlands. And maybe some other less-known but equally talented nations like Belgium or Uruguay could contend? Basically, the point I’m making is that this World Cup going to Brazil is anything but a foregone conclusion.
And one final factor to degrade Brazil over will be the pressure. The fans will be demanding a victory, and with most of the team’s key attackers still in their young 20’s, does nation have the leadership to go the distance on the world’s biggest stage. While Brazil will surely delight the fans in the tournament’s early stages, will they be there at the end, hoisting the trophy? In actuality, this World Cup is wide open and shouldn’t have anyone firmly toted as the favorite!