[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Football, Anyone?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Football, Anyone?

The world's most coveted sports championship is about to start.  Billions of people all around the world are placing bets, getting their snacks and favorite beverages lined up, and painting their faces in their teams' colors. 

Wait a second, Robert...aren't you a day late as always?  The NBA Finals started last night! 

Yes, I am aware of that (don't worry fellow Heat fans, the boys will rebound. I guarantee it.)

I'm talking about the World Cup. Soccer.

I can just hear everyone out there go, "phhhhhhhhhhhh".  I also hear the sounds of backclicking to whatever page you visited before you came here.

For the 2 of you who love World Cup soccer as much as I do, thanks for sticking around.  Let's continue, shall we?

In less than 3 hours, Germany kicks off the tournament against Costa Rica.  That's one of the things I love most about the World Cup, it's the unlikely matchups between countries you would never even dream of pairing.  How about Poland vs Ecuador later this afternoon? 

I got hooked on the World Cup back in 1982 when I saw virtually all the matches on TV.  I don't know what it was, but there was something special about it that captivated me.  Perhaps it was the pageantry, or the intensity of the fans.  The intensity of the games, this is the World Cup after all.  I've been a fan ever since.

I do follow world soccer off and on, so I do have a decent knowledge of the teams and the star players.  My far-from-bold prediction for this year's finals matchup will be Brazil vs Germany.  Easy one, right?  Host vs 5-time champs.

How will the United States do?  We have what I think is the best team we've ever had.  That said, it will be tougher than in 2002, not because of the quality of the opponents, but because they are playing 2 tough European opponents in Europe.  In 2002, the US faced 2 tough European teams, Portugal and Poland, but it was in Asia, which acted as a huge neutralizer.  As a result, the US was able to pull off an upset and advance all the way to the quarterfinals.  This year, they will face Italy and the Czech Republic in what is almost their home turf.  Big difference and I'm afraid we will fall just short of advancing to the second round, but not because of poor effort.

One thing that has irritated me the past few weeks is the heavy advertising and cheering that the US Spanish networks, particularly Univision, have given for their home team, Mexico.  It's so obvious that the advertisers and network folks are rooting hard for them and practically promoting them as the "home team".  It doesn't help that Mexico got placed in an easy draw with Portugal, Iran and Angola, which means that they will likely advance to the second round.  Unfortunately, there will be no USA to face them in the second round and send the "Tri" packing with their tails between their legs as in 2002.

OK, enough talk.  Let's get the ball rolling!


Blogger Srcohiba said...

I'm one of the two world cup nuts. Thank god I have a bunch of plasma tv's in my office. I'm going to try to watch it or at least put on Sr. Cantor on XM radio. I'm pulling 100% for the US team once again. It would be a thrill to have them make it to the finals. Last cup they got screwed when the refs did not call the hands penalty kick by the goal, which was clear. We may have upset the germans. If the US does not make it, I'll pull for an american team other than Brazil. I want to see someone else win it for a change. Or I'll pull for the US allies (the UK).

As Andres would say...goooooooooooooooooooool

10:13 AM, June 09, 2006  
Anonymous Marc said...

Robert, the NBA Finals will be over soon enough — Mavs in 4 or 5, I think — and you watch all the soccer you want! - Marc

10:18 AM, June 09, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

Wishful thinking Marc, wishful thinking. Dirk won't be able to get away with having subpar games like last night anymore, trust me.


Mike - I will definitely miss Cantor doing the games on TV, and I refuse to watch the pro-Mexico Univision coverage. It's ESPN for me unfortunately.

11:52 AM, June 09, 2006  

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