It’s the country of football. It’s the place that the World Cup should be played.
With all eyes on a gorgeous tropical oasis resort called Costa do Sauipe in Brazil, the world awaited patiently to see how 32 global teams would compete for the prestigious Jules Rimet World Cup trophy.
The qualifying fixtures finished and threw up some very exciting play offs. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) won the battle with Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) for a place in Brazil, as well as France who came from 2-0 down to clinch a place in the finals with a sensational comeback to win 3-2.
All the big wits from FIFA and the corresponding National Football Associations were in presence alongside some of the finest footballers past and present to conduct the draw.
The usual opening ceremony rituals started with the story of the World Cup, how the teams had qualified and introductions of the players which included Zinedine Zidane (France), Cafu (Brazil), Geoff Hurst (England), Mario Kempes (Argentina) and Pele (Brazil) to name a few who were picking out the teams from the pots.
The FIFA World Cup 2014 draw is as follows:
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said following the announcement: “It was a really exciting draw. I would say that if you want to win the World Cup you have to win all your matches. It will be a really interesting World Cup. In all the cities after the distribution of the matches everybody is happy in Brazil.”
Let’s take a closer look at some of the teams and the groups. Reigning champions Spain will have a group stage reunion with Holland, the team they beat in the bad tempered 2010 final in Johannesburg. Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque, said:
“It’s just a draw. We can’t say it is easy. We have to define it as complicated but I don’t believe this is the group of death. There are others very hard. But our group is difficult”
As well as facing Holland again, Spain can also look forward to games against Chile and Australia in what many people believe is the dreaded ‘Group of Death’.
Luiz Felipe Scholari, head coach of host and favourites, Brazil, said: “I am satisfied with the draw. But we shall be paying close attention to the opening phase. I am not concerned with the second phase.”
There could be a mouth-watering second round encounter with either Spain or Holland if Brazil top or come second in their group.
So, what of England? It hasn’t started off too well for Roy Hodgson. His comments about not playing in Manaus because of it being in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest and not ideal conditions for football humidity-wise has upset a few people.
The Mayor of Manaus, Arthur Virgilio Neto, responded by saying: “We Amazonians also prefer that England do not come. We hope a better national side comes, with more football and a more sensitive, cultural and educated coach. Here is one of the few people in the world who isn’t curious about the Amazon and doesn’t dream of knowing Manaus.”
On the draw itself, and the prospect of facing Italy, Costa Rica and Uruguay, Hodgson said:
“We won’t fear anybody and in the same way we will respect everybody. The players will be desperate to do well. England will not be intimidated by anyone, not even if they get someone really good.”
England, and in particular Hodgson, did not want to play in the humid conditions of the Amazon rainforest and law and be hold they are drawn to play in Manaus.
The plus side is that their opening fixture will be against a fellow European team in Italy who will be in the same situation as England, followed by Uruguay then what might or might not be a crucial final group fixture against Costa Rica.
Germany will be one the favourites to lift the trophy and as always have a strong team and many teams will fear the Germans.
They face Cristiano Ronaldo, the man of the moment and the player who single handily secured Portugal’s place in Brazil, USA and Ghana.
Joachim Low, Germany manager will come face to face with Jurgen Klinsmann, the man he assisted before taking over the reins at Germany, he said:
“Jurgen and I have had a very good and close relationship for a long time. We have always exchanged ideas on a regular basis, but that will certainly change before the match.”
Arsenal and German international Mesut Özil is excited at the prospect of playing Portugal, he tweeted: “Hey Cristiano (Ronaldo), Pepe and (Fabio) Coentrao: I am happy to see you in Brazil,” as he looks forward to a reunion with former Real Madrid teammates.
Argentina looks to have benefited from the draw with Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria in their group. It won’t be easy for them but on paper it seems that they are guaranteed top spot.
With the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguerro, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and Angel Di Maria surely they have one of the best teams and Argentina tend to always play well in the World Cup.
Nigerian boss, Stephen Keshi is yet again dealing with the prospect of facing Argentina: “We keep getting Argentina at the World Cup! We’ll see how it goes this time,” he said.
One of the underdogs of the tournament and one team that many predict a bright future for is Belgium. The list of quality proven players they possess is frightening. With players likes Courtois, Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Hazard, Lukaku, Alderweireld, and Benteke, surely this team can give anyone a run for their money.
The European teams might struggle with the humidity conditions in Brazil but if they want to win the World Cup then they will have to adapt and change according to the conditions.
It will be every players dream to be part of a team that lifts the Jules Rimet trophy or the World Cup. The hard graft now begins for all the players to be in contention for a place on the 23-man squad.
Over the coming months every player will be showcasing their skills, passion, performance and commitment. The January transfer window is soon to open and many a fringe squad player will be seeking that move to a club that will guarantee them first team football and potentially a place on the plane.
World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane was said: “When I think of Brazil, the words that spring to my mind are ‘party’ and ‘spectacle’. It’s the country of football. It’s the place that the World Cup should be played. Brazil’s inspired me since I was a little boy. Whenever my friends and me would kick a ball around the street, we’d pretend to be the Brazilian players.”
Summer 2014 cannot come too soon for all football-loving fans. The Brazil-hosted FIFA World Cup most definitely promises to be one to remember.