The World Cup is the biggest and the best football competition in the world, bar none, and it looks set to reach even greater heights with Brazil 2014.
The countdown to Brazil 2014 is under way. No football competition can galvanize fans like international competition, and the World Cup is where everyone will want to be in 2014.
Out of the 207 countries which embarked on the road to Brazil in 2011, just 31 teams and host Brazil emerged to qualify for the world's elite football competition in June 2014. Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, England, Holland, Brazil and Argentina will enter the competition with the highest hopes and the expectations of millions of fans resting upon their shoulders.
Let's look at why the 2014 World Cup in Brazil could turn out to be the best and most exciting World Cup since the competition began in 1930.
Who do you think will win the World Cup in 2014, and who will go out in an epic fail? Leave your comments, suggestions and World Cup thoughts and predictions below.
Never in the history of football will so many great players at the peak of their powers be brought together.
Argentina's Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of all-time, will be just 27 when the World Cup rolls around in 2014. Meanwhile, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo will be 29, England's Wayne Rooney will be 28, Mesut Ozil will be 25 and Brazil's great hope and recent Barcelona capture, Neymar, will be just 22.
Add to that Spain's Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, Colombia's Radamel Falcao, Uruguay's Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, any number of Belgian stars like Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard and Christian Benteke, as well as Germany's Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and there will be a smorgasbord of premier players and teams to enjoy.
Besides having talented players, Brazil 2014 will arguably bring the greatest collection of team talent ever seen to one single competition.
One look at the list of top countries shows that everyone has a realistic chance of taking the trophy home or of Brazil keeping it there.
Brazil, as host, is the early favorite, but Spain will be hoping to become the first nation to win four major trophies in a row when it defends its title. The Spanish have won an unprecedented three major trophies in a row.
They will be joined by Germany, Holland, Italy and England.
Football hipsters everywhere will be cheering on Belgium and Colombia—not to mention France, Portugal and the real dark horses of the competition—Mexico.
While stadium safety is on the minds of many considering recent concerns about international terrorism, any potential problems for Brazil 2014 should be adequately addressed in the oncoming year before the finals kick off on June 12, 2014
If Mexico can organize a World Cup and make stadium repairs less than nine months after an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1, then Brazil can do the same in regards to fan safety.
Having traveled the length and breadth of the world, literally, many thousands of fans will be more than happy to know that the stadiums at Brazil 2014 will be among the very best in the world.
At the moment, most of the stadiums are still under construction, but by the time the World Cup comes around, they will be more than ready.
The stadiums and respective locations are:
- Maracana, in Rio de Janeiro (capacity 85,000)
- Arena Itaquera, in Sao Paulo (68,000)
- Fonte Nova, in Salvador (50,000)
- Arena Amazonia, in Manaus (46,000)
- Arena Pantanal, in Cuiaba (42,500)
- Arena da Baixada, in Curitiba (32,864)
- Mineirao, in Belo Horizonte (70,000)
- Arena Pernambuco, in Recife (46,140)
- Arena das Dunas, in Natal (45,000)
- Castelao, in Fortaleza (58,400)
- Beira-Rio, in Porto Alegre (56,000)
- National Stadium Mane Garrincha, in Brasilia (42,200)
The very mention of the Maracana is enough to bring misty eyes to the most hardened of Brazilian football fans. Every child playing football dreams of scoring at Wembley or the Maracana, often with the help of the likes of Bobby Charlton or Pele.
It was in 1950, in front of a record 199,854 fans at the Maracana that Uruguay pulled off the biggest final upset of all-time when it beat Brazil, 2-1. Uruguay will be hoping for a repeat in 2014 while Brazil will be hoping to claim its sixth title in 20 tournaments.
Today, the stadium has been completely renovated and remodeled and will be the largest in the competition, hosting the championship match on July 13, 2014, with a capacity of just over 85,000.
At the Brazil World Cup, every fan will feel the samba beat.
Brazil's fans are renowned all around the world for their good nature, hospitality and fanaticism.
In 2014, the lucky travelling nations will be given the chance to show Brazil how to party.
Thousands upon thousands of fans will descend upon cities like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia. The Copacabana will be taken over by legions of footie fans, all intent on strutting their stuff on the world famous beach.
If FIFA and Brazil 2014's organizers have learned anything from previous World Cups, it is that fan zones, like those in Germany 2006, can be a huge success.
In Germany, many fans traveled from throughout Europe just to party in the zones while watching the matches on big screens. With a population of over 190 million in Brazil, I think it is safe to say that large screens should be organized.
As good as the football may be, the party might just be even better.
There is no arguing that Lionel Messi is the greatest soccer player on the planet.
From the very moment he made his debut for Barcelona on Oct. 16, 2004 at just 17 years of age, he has been destined for greatness.
Since then, and some 459 matches later, he has scored an amazing 345 goals. In short, there is no one who can match him as a player in modern football.
The player he is most often compared to is his Argentine compatriot and football legend, Diego Maradona.
Maradona was the last great player to have left his mark on the game. As Brazil 2014 approaches, the question on everyone’s lips will be, "Can Messi emulate Maradona's performances in Mexico '86?"
Yes, Messi can.
In 1986, Maradona was 26 years old and was at the peak of his powers.
In 2014, Lionel Messi will be 27 years old and at his peak.
If any player can make the tournament his own, it is Lionel Messi.