With fridges being stocked to the brim in time for Brazil's showpiece event, and as the first set of fixtures begin to take shape, there's been somewhat of a frenzy surrounding the number of big names who won't be appearing at this summer's World Cup due to injury and unfortunate circumstance.
Already, some lifelong dreams have been cruelly shattered through injury, failure to qualify and omission, while others have simply missed out due to a badly timed loss of form.
Some of football's biggest household names will miss the tournament of the year, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Reus, Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri and Radamel Falcao—to name but a few—all absent.
Dropping like flies, there's been just as much focus on the players that won't be present as there has been on those that will.
EuroSport recently reported that the spate of injuries is tantamount to a curse.
However, it could easily be argued that all of these setbacks merely add to the overall intrigue.
In truth, there remains an unbelievable amount of talent set to light the football feast on fire.
No doubt, when the action shifts into gear, it won't take long for many to forget about the woes of sidelined individuals as all eyes begin to turn to national pride and passion—particularly as teams near the latter stages of the competition.
While others might be continuing to fight for fitness in time for kick-off, there's a great chance most of them will recover in time to feature quite prominently.
Portugal's Ballon d'Or-winning Cristiano Ronaldo is one such player.
Broadly acknowledged as the best player in the world at the moment, this could well be his best chance to steal the show and continue to mark the game with his blistering pace, accurate finishing and sumptuous skill.
As reported by Goal.com, Portugal coach Paolo Bento is happy with the recovery from injury being made by the Real Madrid star—even if he doesn't feature against the Republic of Ireland in the lead-up.
Regardless of who features, though, the excitement levels are sure to remain through the roof—World Cup fever wont go away overnight.
If anything, the conundrums faced by managers and tacticians due to last-minute withdrawals only add to the excitement and pull of it all, as pundits and football fanatics right around the world are sure to be scratching their heads, wondering just how teams will adapt.
Will Portugal have a back-up plan should Ronaldo's niggling knee dramatically affect his performances? Can Colombia's Jackson Martinez do enough to make up for Falcao's absence? Will Didier Deschamps' decision to leave the tempo-dictating Nasri at home come back to haunt him?
Formations will have to be altered, new strategies will be thought up and teams' resilience will certainly be tested as many face new problems—the tension has risen tenfold because of it, and there's little wonder some fans are starting to sweat over how negatively they'll be affected.
With that said, tournament wonders nearly always spark into life when the chips are down. Although they don't always develop as their potential promised, there's usually a surprise sprung and big-day magic conjured.
After all, absent names on the roster offer the rare chance for others to fill the void and make a name for themselves.
The added issues of poor planning and social upheaval in Brazil mean that some will go so far as to boycott the contest, while others won't be the least bit perturbed by the heartache of a few footballers in comparison with the financial troubles being faced by the country's poor.
Perhaps it puts the whole occasion into modest context, but for fans with football on the brain and in their hearts, the show will go on—and the euphoria will still prove difficult to extinguish.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!