The World Cup is nearly upon us and as the anticipation is ramping up for the biggest sporting event on the planet, so will the debates, talking points, narratives and clichés. No doubt soccer fans from all over will gather together with like-minded friends and discuss everything there is to talk about regarding the World Cup. In the course of a conversation people may throw out some statements that seem reasonable at first, but are also worth looking into in more detail.
Here are a few things that you may or may not hear in the run up to the 2014 soccerpalooza otherwise known as the World Cup.
1. No European team has won a World Cup in South America:
This is completely and utterly true, but ask yourself how many times has the World Cup been held in South America? The answer is four. And when was the last time South America held a World Cup? It was 1978, in Argentina. The only times South America hosted the World Cup were: the inaugural tournament in Uruguay in 1930, Brazil 1950, Chile 1962, and Argentina 1978. It’s worth noting that the 1986 World Cup was supposed to be held in Colombia but a mixture of politics and earthquakes prevented the tournament from being held there. Indeed, the Colombians gave up their right to host the tournament in 1983.
The last time the tournament was in the Americas was USA ‘94 whilst Mexico held the event in 1970 and 1986. In total the tournament has been hosted seven times in the Americas. So the next time someone points out that no European team has won the World Cup in South America, it’s worth saying that the tournament hasn’t been hosted there since 1978, and just four times in the region.
2. Belgium are “dark horses” for the World Cup:
Apparently the earliest mention of the term ‘dark horse’ was in Benjamin Disraeli’s novel “The Young Duke.” He wrote, “a dark horse which had never been thought of and which the careless St. James had never observed in the list, rushed past the grandstand in sweeping triumph.”
So effectively, the term means unexpected winner. Now Belgium have been mentioned as potential dark horses, but let’s have a closer look at them. Are they favorites? No, that tag, according to the bookies, is reserved for Brazil. Second, third and fourth favorites are Argentina, Germany, and Spain respectively. Who are fifth favorites to win the World Cup? That’s right: Belgium, and given the squad they have it is no surprise they’re up there in the odds list.
With Thibault Courtois in goal, they have one of the best young keepers in Europe, if not the world. Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertongen and Toby Alderweireld help make a solid base in defense. The Red Devils’ midfield is strong with the likes of Axel Witsel, Stephen Defour, Moussa Dembélé, Nacer Chadli, Kevin De Bruyne, and even the much-maligned Marouane Fellaini beefing up that area of the pitch. And let’s not forget the attacking talent that the Belgians possess in abundance with Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin Mirallas, and even the newly-pledged Adnan Januzaj providing the goal threat. Belgium certainly have a squad good enough to make the latter stages in Brazil.