The 2010 World Cup has begun in South Africa. Only the Summer Olympics compare with the magnitude of the World Cup.
Whatever your American opinion of soccer (or futbal in the rest of the world) is, remember that over 5 billion living people have played, are playing, or following soccer on a regular basis. No other sport compares. The simplicity of the game allows for all mankind to participate. The complexity of the game makes it riveting to watch. I know many Americans won't agree with that last statement, a reality I think betrays the degraded state of our immediate satisfaction American culture.
Soccer games are epic battles. They are a minimum of 90 minutes long. The average midfielder will run 6-10 miles in one game. Goals are scarce because they are so difficult to score.
Who will win the 2010 World Cup? I would like the 2006 champions to repeat, my beloved Italia. Unfortunately the aging Azzuri squad cannot be considered the favorite though no one should count Cannavaro and crew out. As usual, Brasil is sending a powerful team and must be considered the favorites to win gold for the fifth time in their history, especially led by the magical play maker Kaka'. A wise person will not rule out Espania however, they too send a talented, potent roster. Argentina doesn't boast the overall talent they have had in the past, but they also have the best player on earth right now, Lionel Messi. Will it be Brasil? Germania? Espania? Italia? Argentina? Portugal? Netherlands? Mexico? England? United States? Who knows? All teams and nations come with high expectations and dreams. There is hardly greater earthly glory than World Cup glory.
Does the U.S. have a chance? No. Not really. Not to win the tournament anyways. Tomorrow's opening pool game against England is one of the most anticipated in U.S. soccer history. England is far more talented and experienced, but not more athletic. England is a heavy favorite, but one never knows. That's the beauty of the World Cup. I'd love to see our boys get all 1776 on the Brits!
Over the next month be sure to join the rest of the planet in following the greatest tournament of the greatest sport God ever ordained.