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The World Cup Is Here!
updated: Jun 10, 2014, 12:00 PM
By K. Prieto
The time has come and the wait is over. The most coveted and excitable global sporting event is here: The
World Cup. It has been four long years with many changes and much anticipation to the countries squads
and coaches. Every four years we get an opportunity to see the best of the best compete, to determine who
will be the World's champion and who will get to hold that title for the following four years. For most
participating countries, soccer is more than a game; it's an identity. They eat, breath, and dream of a time
when their country's colors are being represented on the largest platform for the sport.
I am here to do the same. Ed and the Dedicated Staff have so kindly allowed me to write a column during
the 4-5 weeks the World Cup airs. If you haven't guessed by now soccer is a sport I hold near and dear to
my heart. I have played since I was 4 years old and it has afforded me so many opportunities. From playing
competitively with a club team to a state, regional, national, and collegiate level, soccer was what I dreamt
about nightly. It provided me with a sense of camaraderie, responsibilities, and lifelong friendships that I
am forever grateful for.
I have read many articles and followed as much press as possible, leading up to the start of the tournament
and I am here to provide my two cents. I have broken down the brackets and picked my two favorites from
each category. ESPN.com has a great interactive bracket.
My Predictions for Second Round Qualifiers: Brazil and Mexico
Brazil, although considered overrated by most analysts, should have no problem moving out of this
bracket. As a host country expectations are set high. Mexico, if they can incorporate their young additions
and stay focused moving on to the second round should be no problem.
My Predictions: Spain and Netherlands
Skill and composure alone will be more than enough to help Spain move on. The Netherlands are being
called overrated, but I wouldn't settle with that. Between Robben and van Persie, opponents will have a
hard time tracking and keeping up with their pace, both on and off the ball.
My Predictions: Colombia and Japan
Both teams come in as underdogs and heavily underrated. Japan has two things other countries lack:
patience and discipline. Chile has one of the strongest midfields of the tournament. Will they win the cup,
not likely, but they are a solid opponent.
My Predictions: England and Italy
Italy will always be a strong contender. The sport runs thick in their blood. If they can stay cool and not
flop they should go far in the tournament. England is a personal favorite of mine. All of my favorite players
are English. However, they are presented with challenges. They will heavily rely on Rooney to put up the
most points. With Steven Gerard holding down the midfield, England's defense will really need to step up
and make a presence early on.
My Predictions: France and Honduras
France is an all or nothing team. If they are all in, they could make it very far. Honduras has the entire
nation supporting and pulling for them to advance. That alone has the entire squad hungry to succeed.
My Predictions: Argentina and Nigeria
Argentina has Linoel Messi. Need I say more? The second spot, I think, is really up for grabs. I picked
Nigeria bc they have speed and a physicality that generally is difficult to match.
Group G (or the group of death):
My Predictions: Germany and Portugal
This was a difficult selection to make. Germany is all skill and all brut. Portugal is crafty and skillful. Ghana,
is Ghana. They are continuously underrated, but have so much to offer. Strength, speed, and skill. The US
has a lot of new talent and that hasn't necessarily translated well during qualifying matches and the
friendlies. I don't think the absence of Landon Donavon will make a significant difference, however his
experience and knowledge on a national and international level will be greatly missed. He will go down as
one of the all time greatest American soccer players, but it's clear Coach Klinsmann had other things in
mind for his roster.
My Predictions: Belgium and South Korea
What most don't know about South Korea is, like Japan and a lot of your Asian style soccer, they clutch a
sense of discipline and patience that's unattested. For that reason alone I think they will be successful
offensively. Belgium has one of the more solid and fierce lineups of the tournament. Don't sleep on them,
they went 10 for 10 for their qualifiers.
Where I'll Be Watching
Press Room (15 E Ortega St.)
Dargans (18 E Ortega St.)
Uptown Lounge (3126 State St.)
Or watch from the comfort of your own home. The first game is on Thursday, June 12th at 1pm (PST)
and games will be broadcasted on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2.
June 21, 2014: World Cup Group Match
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K. Prieto is a UCSB alum and former Gaucho midfielder. You can usually find her at the Press Room with
fellow England fans analyzing Italian flops.
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