Your Bloguero loves futbol utterly and completely. In that he’s a lot like millions of people around the world. And like them, he knows that beginning on Thursday he will put everything on hold (read: Everything) for a month so that he can bask in the World Cup Finals, broadcast live from Brazil. Ah. Your Bloguero suspects that most Kossacks don’t give a hoot about this. Yes, to be sure, there are others, probably a vocal minority, who are fanatics (like your Bloguero), but in general, those of you who don’t care, really don’t care.
I know, I know. It’s a democratic blog. WTF does the World Cup have to do with that? Eh? There’s no reason to get an attitude about this. Really. Your Bloguero is thrilled to explain it a bit. And he knows that the faithful from across site will join in.
The simplest explanation. The entire world is going to be glued to these games. Other things are important, but nothing is more important across the continents. Want to understand the world? Understand this event.
Join your Blogero on the otherside of the goal.
Ten things to know:
1. There are 32 countries playing in the finals. This does NOT mean that ONLY 32 countries are involved. The 32 had to beat out all the other countries to get here. They played elimination games for about 2 years to accomplish that. There are lots of football loving countries that are watching on TV and saying they will be back next time, those guys who are there don’t deserve it, they’re not that good. Ooops! They are really good.
2. The greatest footballers in the world are playing in this tournament (unless they are injured). Your Bloguero spares you the litany of names. They have a level of skills and smarts that is positively astonishing. This is not your eighth grade gym class. These guys have mad skills. And they are playing for their home countries, not their usual club teams. This is nation v. nation. It is not, e.g., Barcelona v. Madrid. In that sense, it represents a war between nations. In another way, it’s about worldwide bragging rights.
3. FIFA the governing body of soccer is totally and irredeemably corrupt, with a capital C. For a brief exposition of this watch this John Oliver video. He nails it.
4. The World Cup has probably ruined Brazil’s economy for decades to come. They do not need a 100,000 seat football stadium in Manaus any more than your Bloguero needs a klezmer in toochis. And they do not need increases in the cost of living brought about by the games or the damage to their economy. And they will demonstrate about this, fiercely, until the first ball is kicked. Then, your Bloguero assures you, things will get really serious. About getting the ball in the net, or preventing that at all cost. Brazil about all else is about football.
5. Productivity throughout the world is going to take a beating. You cannot watch 3 or 4 90 minute-long games each day and do your job. Part of this may be drinking beer for the entire time while watching. Part of this may be the arguments that these games provoke. Everybody can kick a ball. Everybody is a futbol critic. Some of these critics need a dope slap. Others are to be revered. Can you tell the two apart? Can you tell the two apart when you’re not sober?
6. The first two weeks is “group play.” You have to be in the top two teams of your group after 3 games to advance. The United States is in a group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Will the US advance? Does a chicken have lips?
7. Your Bloguero’s favorites, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Cameroon, Germany, Portugal, Algeria will advance (he hopes) to the elimination rounds. Here’s how this goes: in the elimination rounds lose and you go home, win and you can stay.
8. Things will get more and more and more intense as the elimination rounds go on. Your Bloguero thinks this will end up with Argentina playing Brazil in the final game, the championship. Messi’s team against Neymar’s team. But it doesn’t matter: these games are incredible games, full of strategy, drama, skill, and alas, the most important thing, luck. It’s about all of these things and more. Nobody can make a sensible prediction of how it all comes out. Although ESPN will let you fill in a bracket if you want to.
9. Mexico had an enormous problem getting to this stage. The greatest player probably won’t start for the team. No matter. On Thursday no business will be conducted in this nation, and everyone will focus on the games. It doesn’t matter whether Mexico is playing: all of the games are very important.
10. The United States is not up to this level of play. Expect the US to be eliminated in the first round. This is not a national disgrace. It’s just an indication of what it takes to win this tournament.
Your Bloguero confesses: there's more that's important. Fill it in, please, in the comments.