This next World Cup could be one of the most competitive in history
The qualifiers are complete. The teams are set. The final draw is coming up. The World Cup is on the horizon.
I’m getting giddy just saying that.
With most countries wrapping up their calendar year with this international break and everyone recovers from a whirlwind of a day in qualifiers, one thing has become clear - this coming World Cup is going to be fantastic.
Insane. Wild. Epic. Crazy-go-nuts.
Those are a few of the words we can pretty much guarantee will be pertinent to describe the 2014 World Cup once it’s finished.
Why do I offer up such a guarantee? Take a look for yourself at the teams that have qualified. Then look at the FIFA world rankings.
Whatever your opinion happens to be on the FIFA rankings, one thing is for certain - they got ‘em right this go around. 23 of the top 24 teams in the FIFA rankings have qualified for the 2014 World Cup (assuming Uruguay and Mexico complete their upcoming cakewalks). Wow.
Obviously much of what the rankings are based upon are how the qualification rounds fall. However, look at the results from this most recent international break:
#14 Portugal beat #25 Sweden. #18 Croatia beat #46 Iceland. #15 Greece beat #29 Romania. #32 Algeria beat #52 Burkina Faso. #17 Ivory Coast beat #64 Senegal. #33 Nigeria beat #95 Ethiopia. You get the idea.
The only upset? Try “upset.” #21 France beat #20 Ukraine.
Ok, not a fan of the ranking system still? Understandable. Forget it. Just look at what we have to look forward to.
The storylines are pretty much unlimited. The usual powerhouses are there. There are young, up-and-coming countries looking to make a name for themselves. There are old powerhouses looking to get back to the glory days. There are countries with a view towards more worldwide respect in the soccer community.
The star-power is undeniable. It’s unfortunate that we were forced to bid Zlatan Ibrahimovic adieu today, but there is still no shortage of name drops on just about any team in the competition.
When we get the official draw on December 6th, there will be no easy group, no easy win, no guarantees. The old cliché applies: anything can happen.
So get excited, people. One for the ages is almost upon us. As one of the best in the description business once said, “Go crazy folks, go crazy.” Seriously though, what more could you want?
But don’t just take my word for it:
Can I tell you how excited I am for the World Cup?— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 20, 2013
Teams qualified for the 2014 World Cup: In order of FIFA ranking Spain Ivory Coast Germany Croatia Argentina Russia Colombia France Belgium Ecuador Uruguay* Ghana Switzerland Mexico* Netherlands Costa Rica Italy Nigeria England Algeria Brazil Honduras Chile Japan United States Iran Portugal South Korea Greece Australia Bosnia and Herzegovnia Cameroon
*Assuming Mexico and Uruguay complete their playoff second legs without giving up significant leads