World Cup Takes Center Stage
by James Maguire on Friday, June 6th, 2014
Next Thursday, June 12th, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Croatian soccer team will play the Brazilian soccer team to kick off the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This month-long event features thirty-two teams from across the world, split into eight groups that battle it out for arguably the most important sports trophy in the world. The top eight teams are seeded and placed into different groups lettered A through H. The remaining twenty-four are assigned randomly to one of these groups. Once groups have been solidified, each country plays the other three countries in its group. After this round robin, the top two teams from each group advance to the round of sixteen. In this next round, the winner of one group plays the runner up of the next group. These games are single elimination, with a win leading to quarterfinals. Down to eight teams, the tournament converts to a simple four bracket format. In this style, the winner of one game advances to play the winner of another in its bracket. This bracket holds form for the remainder of the tournament.
Brazil, the host country, is a favorite to win the World Cup this year. If Brazil emerges victorious, it would be the first host country to do so since France in 1998. Other favorites to take the cup include Argentina, Germany, and Spain.
The United States, whose team has struggled to compete with such teams in the past, will need to step up to the plate to overcome a challenging group stage. The team will need to beat out Germany, Portugal, or Ghana simply to advance to the next round. The U.S. will need to rely on strong leadership from veteran midfielder Clint Dempsey as well as strong play from some of its less experienced players. Though the United States is not likely to emerge victorious from the tournament, it will certainly play some exciting games in the first few rounds. The World Cup is one of the most anticipated athletic events on the planet, and this year’s lineup promises an incredible month of soccer.
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