Tuesday, June 08, 2010

World Cup Fever

My love affair with the World Cup began in 1978 when I was living in New York and heard that this thing called the World Cup was being played in Argentina and that 1 billion people would be watching the final game between Argentina and the Netherlands.

A billion people! This I gotta see. If one out of every four people on the planet were interested, so was I. I couldn’t watch it at home, but a few movie theaters would be showing the game live via satellite. I lived a short distance from one of the locales, the famous Brooklyn Paramount Theater, a huge classic rococo movie palace that opened in 1928. So I went.

The place was packed, mostly with Argentina supporters. And they were in a frenzy. I was sure that if Argentina didn’t win we were in for a riot. Fortunately for the sake of law and order and my well-being, they did win. And I had been introduced to the most popular game on earth.

My interest waned (there wasn’t any football worth watching in the U.S.) but revived again in 1994 when the World Cup was played in this country. In the years since I have become more and more passionate about the game. And now, fortunately, I can watch games from around the world at home.

Which is exactly what I’ll be doing starting Friday. All 64 games will be broadcast live this year from South Africa, ending with the final on July 11. What do I think will happen?

The U.S. should do well. I don’t think we’ll win, but we’ll make it past the group stage. I was happy with the final team chosen by Bob Bradley. Our defense is porous and that could be our downfall.

England, as usual, will underperform. Their defense is also weak, and they don’t have enough offense to compensate for it.

Many expect Brazil to win. I don’t think so. Italy will also disappoint. And so will Argentina, which may have the best players but is burdened with the worst coach. I don’t think any African or Asian team will be among the best.

Who will win? Either Spain or the Netherlands. And if I’m wrong? I’ll enjoy the tournament anyway.


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