It’s now been more than three years since the world was last united in the common cause of football under on roof. One hundred and sixty-two weeks since one of sport’s biggest events last graced out lives. Roughly 1,133 days since the drama in South Africa unfolded.
But fear not, for there’s now less than 10 months to wait until Rio De Janeiro plays host to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, promising more adrenaline and excitement than ever before.
Impossible though it may seem to dissect exactly what it is that gets one so royally psyched up for such an event, here’s 20 suggestions as to what might apply to you.
As the last World Cup showed, goal-line technology remains a contentious issue in football, just as it has been for many years.
Frank Lampard will most certainly feel the change is coming four years too late after seeing his “on-the-line” effort denied any joy, but the fact that goal-line technology is finally making its way into such a prestigious event can only be seen as a good thing.
The summer of 2013 has already seen goal-line technology debuted at the Confederations Cup and although there were still some kinks in terms of response time, the new venture was largely encouraging.
Lofted high in the stadium rafters, Brazil’s stadiums will all be equipped to support football’s most modern evolutionary trait, with German manufacturer GoalControl the ones supplying all the necessary equipment.
When one talks of the excitement surrounding a World Cup event, it’s impossible not to relate that excitement to its immediate surroundings and just how they’ll enthuse matters.
If the quality of the tournament itself truly does take on inspiration from its setting, Brazil is set to run off the excitement scale, thanks to the fact that Brazil is well renowned for its year-round party atmosphere anyway.
While Carnival won’t be around for the festivities, the South American nation has hot weather and the rousing atmosphere to match it, making for one of the most football-centric environments a World Cup has seen for some time.
At any World Cup, the natives will always be considered as at least slight favourites to advance past the group stage.
It only helps matters when said nation is already one of the heavyweights of the game at the time of the tournament’s commencement.
Although just ninth in the FIFA world rankings (however much that says), 2013 Confederations Cup winners and consistent World Cup challengers Brazil have their best chance at winning the whole thing since 2006.
Playing on home soil, the Selecao are more used to the coming climate than anyone and have assembled a remarkable squad, boasting the talents of Neymar, Thiago Silva, Hulk, Oscar and Paulinho, all of whom are entering very promising stages of their careers.
When filtering in the support of a home crowd and the sense of unity only something like that can create, it’s no wonder the home nation is at short odds.
Tipped for the last few consecutive tournaments now as a team likely to challenge for World Cup honours, Germany have taken on a Holland-esque trait of not living up to expectations.
Third in South Africa 2010, third in their own backyard four years before that and runners-up in the 2002 edition of the competition, Joachim Loew’s side is bound to be getting a little frustrated.
On the face of things, Die Mannschaft have as much right to be looked upon as favourites as anyone else. With one of the most dazzling and deepest squads around, only the humid climate may be a burden against their natural talent.
Specifically in midfield is where Germany will look to dominate, with players such as Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marco Reus, Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze all set to star, as well as a mounting list of others.
That being said, there was a similar sentiment heading into Euro 2012, where the Germans were once again knocked out in the semifinals, so there’s a heap of pressure placed on the European nation’s shoulders.
Having said that, however, whatever Germany are feeling in terms of pressure, one can bet Spain will be feeling tenfold.
The first-ever country to win three consecutive major trophies will either crumble at the fourth time of asking or go on to break their own record, again distancing themselves from the rest of this mortal realm.
Whether or not one can judge La Furia Roja’s Confederations Cup collapse to Brazil as a precursor of 2014 or not is debatable, but one thing’s for certain: The side is certainly fallible.
In what’s looking to be a time of slight transition for Vicente Del Bosque and his merry group of men, myriad questions surround their chances.
Will the rest of the world have finally sussed out the tiki-taka way of life? Are Spain’s next generation up to the same task? Will Xavi ever finish a game with the pass accuracy of something that resembles a normal human being?
All these questions and more will find their answers in the summer of 2014.
Looked upon as one of the few true football cathedrals, bearing witness to some of the sport’s greatest moments down the years, the Maracana once more plays host to the ultimate event.
On July 13, 2014, the millions watching from all over the world, and not to mention the near 80,000 people in attendance, will feast their eyes on what should be an extravaganza the likes of which we hope not to have seen before.
One of the numerous existing Brazilian venues to undergo renovations in time for Rio 2014, the Maracana has had its share of bumps and bruises of late.
However, any concerns over readiness were swiftly swept under the rug when England and Brazil had a friendly back in one of the most recognisable locations in world sport.
The scene of Pele’s famous 1,000th career goal and the venue for the inaugural FIFA Club World Cup, one can only pray that more historic moments of similar magnitude are created in the Maracana's near future.
With Europe, Asia, Africa and North America all claiming the past eight tournaments, the World Cup once again returns to South America.
Argentina were the last nation from the continent to host the event, with Buenos Aires playing host to La Albiceleste’s World Cup triumph back in 1978.
Since its infancy, football has always shared a certain affinity with South America, and that relationship promises to be revived in its fullest next summer.
Teamed with some of the most idyllic scenes a fan can hope for at such an event, the aura of the World Cup once again returns to a part of the planet with passion and football, two of the things closest to its heart.
Timed rather nicely due to the time of the year, Brazil will actually be experiencing its winter season when the World Cup comes to town.
That’s not to say one will need to pack a trench coat and several brollies, but merely that the climate will be that much easier to cope with for the nations not quite as used to the heat.
That being said, the new stadiums in Brazil are being equipped to deal with any and all weather forecasts that could be viable for that time of year.
Adding somewhat of a slightly unpredictable nature to the whole affair, weather is essentially the one thing out of any side’s hand going into the competition and, as ever, looks set to play its role.
No, not the seven-foot-nothing, 1980's law enforcer donned from head to toe in questionable mock metal, but more of a trusty companion on wheels that Robocop may have used as a sidekick.
As explained by Sky earlier this year, Brazil have chosen to invest in $7.2 million (£4.74 million) in a batch of iRobot 510 Packbots, designed primarily for detecting and neutralising bombs such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Just another venture in event safety management. One can only hope that the modern marvels aren’t required, but it represents an intriguing investment for the hosts, nonetheless.
What’s more, it was announced by the Telegraph’s Robin Yapp back in 2011 that local Brazilian police will be armed with hi-tech glasses capable of identifying troublemakers via facial recognition technology.
Not quite the 2013 Marty McFly and Doc Brown envisioned, but impressive all the same.
While the technology boom may have taken place decades ago, there’s simply no keeping up with the rate at which modern science continues to transform our day-to-day lives.
Fortunately, sports is one of those sectors that’s constantly in a state of improvement, not least of which just how easily we’re able to view events and become involved with the action.
Regardless of whether you’re in Beijing, Rome, London, New York or any other multitude of places, an Internet connection is all one needs to get closer to the action in Brazil.
Admittedly, there may not be any great advancements in how Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr and others operate between now and June 2014, but the process itself is a feat of modern technology.
In total, Brazil is introducing no less than six new stadiums in time for the 2014 World Cup, spanning across six different states, and promising to add more than 310,000 more seats to the tournament.
|Estadio da Maracana||Rio de Janeiro||76,935|
|Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha||Brasilia||70,000|
|Arena de Sao Paulo||Sao Paulo||68,000|
|Estadio Mineirao||Belo Horizonte||62,500|
|Estadio Beira-Rio||Porto Alegre||51,300|
|Arena Fonte Nova||Salvador||56,000|
|Arena das Dunas||Natal||42,000|
|Arena da Baixada||Curitiba||44,000|
Just as South Africa’s latest creations proved to be fine additions three years ago, the new venues being readied in Manaus, Recife, Cuiaba, Natal, Brasilia and Sao Paulo should prove as fine as any other nation could offer.
By now, football has a truly well-established hierarchy, a group of countries that continue to impress on the international stage, enough so that their involvement in these events is almost without question. However, it’s always nice to see that upper echelon of the sport be broken up by the unassuming presence of a minnow country, defying the odds to come challenge the world’s big boys.
So far, Iran are the only qualified nation who could really be looked upon as infants among the company they’re set to keep next summer, having played in only three World Cup before.
Having said that, what other sort of fresh faces can we expect to see in Brazil?
Can Ethiopia capitalise on some strong qualification form to reach their first World Cup? Will Colombia make their way back to centre stage after a 16-year absence from the tournament? And will Belgium be able to live up to the hipster tag that’s been placed on their heads for the last two years?
Something that tends to creep up in just about every facet of sport, recent years have seen us develop an insatiable interest in the youth of today, ever seeking out younger and younger starlets.
The fact that Neymar is just 21 years of age yet is already looked upon as one of the best players in the world speaks volumes of our obsession.
With a year to run until matters get underway in Rio de Janeiro and the rest of Brazil’s sunny states, the players of tomorrow are entering their final bids for a place in their international squads, and one can only hope that we discover a bevy of new and previously unknown talent.
Oscar, Raphael Varane, Erik Lamela, Stephan El Shaarawy, Jack Wilshere, Heung-Min Son, Christian Eriksen and a long, long list of other future superstars all have the potential to further cement their status as prodigious prospects next summer, should they make it to the finals.
One very well-publicised aspect of the 2014 World Cup buildup has been jut what its presence means to the people of the host nation and the impact it has on their lives.
While it may sound folly to term such a dimension as “exciting,” that term would be more in reference to merely seeing how the controversy pans out as opposed to seeing such a grim eventuality at all.
This controversy, of course, refers to the protests that could be seen throughout the course of the 2013 Confederations Cup regarding alleged corruption in the Brazilian government.
Masses took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro in order to fight the hikes in economic prices, such as bus fares and other daily costs, in order to fund projects such as the World Cup and Olympics.
With it not looking likely that these debates will be settled in the immediate future, only time will tell if a great deal of Brazil’s poorer population will ever truly regain their happiness in regard to what they feel is a perversion of justice.
2010's Jabulani ball
With a new World Cup brings a new World Cup ball.
In 2010, South Africa’s Adidas Jabulani creation was built up as scientifically being “the roundest ball ever created,” which is never a bad thing for a ball.
For 2014, we’ve been given the Brazuca: a term voted for by the Brazilian people and a word that loosely translates as a term to describe national pride in the Brazilian way of life.
Set to be officially unveiled in late 2013, we can only wait and hope that the latest addition to Adidas’ spherical family causes as much excitement as its predecessors.
Another scientific marvel, no longer will crowds have to deal with the racket that was the vuvuzela; now calls for the age of the caxirola are taking place, per the Guardian.
Revealed way back in April of this year, the Brazil 2014 instrument of choice isn’t even limited by the capacity of one’s lungs but merely by the length of time for which you can shake your own wrist.
Made out of green and yellow recycled plastic, there’s a new racket in town that’s set to take the World Cup by storm in what’s becoming a worrying tradition.
Sao Paulo travel network
Due to the expanse and sheer size of Brazil, Rio and other cities are, as we speak, being fitted with some of the most modern rail, light rail, metro and bus systems that a World Cup has ever seen.
Just another of the many controversial expenses emerging from the competition’s preparation, the travel plans do promise to make for one of the easiest routes in which a visitor can make their way around fixtures.
Porto Alegre and Fortaleza international airports will both have monorail and light rail systems, respectively, that connect them to other parts of their territories, whereas interruptions have meant that the plans at Brasilia and Cuiaba international airports are unlikely to be ready on time.
As is the case with any event of this magnitude, there are other question marks around just what will and will not be ready in time for the World Cup, but what is finished will undoubtedly contribute to a much smoother experience for those in attendance.
Sepp Blatter shoulders a lot of responsibility.
Smashing the previous record by some margins, the 2014 Brazil World Cup will be the most expensive World Cup ever, roaming into the tens of billions of dollars in cost.
Germany, South Korea/Japan and South Africa currently rank as the least cost efficient, having spent $6 billion, $5 billion and $4 billion, respectively.
Brazil are set to smash those sums out of the water. Daniel Bland of BNAmericas explains the current cost of airport and stadium improvements to be closer to $13.3 billion, as of November 2012.
Literally doubling the previous record, Brazil has as much of a financial obligation to deliver the best World Cup yet, as much as any other pressure that may come.
Don’t worry—this isn’t to say that any of the previous five World Cups haven’t lived up to expectations, but more to point out that no country as physically large as Brazil has hosted the World Cup in two decades.
The United States is the only nation geographically bigger than Brazil to have played host to the event, with Russia then set to break that record once more should Moscow indeed welcome the world to its doorstep in 2018.
Both a positive and a negative in a way, the sheer expanse of Brazil’s hosting promises to make it literally the biggest of its kind but also a nightmare for those hoping to get around the fixtures.
Last but most definitely not the last reason to get excited? It’s the World Cup.
The atmosphere, the daily dosage of the world’s best nations clashing against one another and ultimately the prestige of being named the best that out planet has to offer is just an inexplicable feeling to have back in one’s life, if only for several weeks.
At times, the tournament’s four-year cycle can be the most frustrating thing to experience, especially in the days immediately following the event. But it is what ultimately contributes to a more highly anticipated show.
Joga Bonito, or “The Beautiful Game,” is played to its fullest on the international stage, and in that vein, the Brazil World Cup has the potential to reign as king.