Guest Post by Former Graduate Intern Michele Friedmann
I am an avid soccer fan, and enjoy both watching and playing the sport. I played throughout high school, at the collegiate level, and even managed to find a co-ed team in graduate school to kick around with. It’s no wonder I’m counting down the days (286) until the World Cup in Brazil!
Who are the favorites this year to win? Well, I’d have to say the list seems to be repetitive in that area. Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain…to name a few. Where is the United States on that list, you may ask? They DID recently win the Gold Cup victory defeating Panama in the championships. And they have won it four times since 2002. They’ve had an undefeated run through the North and Central American regional tournament. They outscored opponents 20 goals to 4, and they fielded their B team, leaving many to wonder just how good they can be at full strength. And perhaps even more exciting, the Gold Cup marked the return of Donovan, who took a sabbatical from the game. He exceeded expectations upon his return, and I’m excited to see what he produces in the World Cup! I’m desperately hoping the U.S. can make a run for it’s money and at least end up in the semi-finals. History tends to repeat itself though, and if I were making any bets I’d bet on Spain and Brazil being in the finals.
Despite Spain’s painful 3-0 loss to Brazil in the recent Confederation Cup, Spain HAS dominated international football over the last five years, collecting Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 trophies. Spain currently holds the European titles at the under-19 and under-21 level. Most of the Spanish players play in Barcelona or Real Madrid. They know each other well, and have abundant chemistry.
So are the World Cup holders still favorites to retain their title in Brazil next summer? Brazil would argue against it. Facts tell us that they are the most successful team in world cup history, and they have football icon Ronaldo, who has scored 62 goals in 98 games and is currently the top World Cup goal scorer of all time. But let’s not forget about Spain’s Fernando Torres and David Villa, two key players not to mess with! David Torres also plays for Barcelona.
Brazil won the World Cup in 2002 and they do have home field advantage. They are thirsty to gain a record-extending sixth title. However, Spain dominated the last world cup and there is little rumor denying that they won’t do it again. Despite who wins the World Cup, it will be a spectacle to watch and I’m sure each game will be aired on TV’s all around Spain! I am thrilled to be in Barcelona next spring, and eager to be immersed in all the hype leading up to country’s biggest sporting event. But for now, I will continue to cheer on the U.S. men’s team as they pursue a world cup qualification spot and much more. And I will keep my eyes out for all talented Spain!