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World Cup Memorabilia

This year's FIFA World Cup matches are in Brazil.  This summer the world wide football fans are rooted to the television.  It matters not, the time zone difference. Many sleeping hours will be lost.  Many office and factory hours will be lost and worldwide production will face a one month decline.  The eight group Stages have been dissected and depending on your nationality you are hoping for the outcome to be in your favor.  Group A has the host Brazil, who should win that group with Croatia and Mexico left to fight for the other spot.  Group B has the tournament's top seed Spain who should emerge at the top of the Group with Chile and the Netherlands fighting for the other spot in the next stage.  Group C has Columbia as the obvious winner with probably Greece moving on also.  Group D is a big question mark.  Uruguay is the group favorite with England slotted to move on.  Italy is in this group, and you can never count them out.  All the group games will be tightly fought affairs with the top two probably decided by goal difference.  What out Costa Rica!!!!!.  Group E is another hard fought group.  Switzerland is expected to top the group although France and Ecuador are expected to give them a battle for top spot.  The Swiss and Ecuador will probably advance.  Group F  will see Argentina advance no problems with Bosnia-Herzegovina , or Nigeria accompanying them to the next round.  Group G will see Germany advance.  Portugal, Ghana, and the USA will battle for the coveted second spot.  These three will all play second fiddle to Germany, and Portugal will probably advance with them.  Group H should see Belgium and Russia advance to the next round. 

There is a very good reason they play the games.  Upsets are not unknown.  In 2010, the salmon rose up and bit the bear.  Tiny New Zealand, with a proud sporting heritage, yet unknown in the world soccer scene,  held world giants Italy, to a 1-1 draw.  Other upsets have had national and International ramifications.  When the USA beat England in the 1950 World Cup the English newspapers did not believe the reports and many reported the score as England 10 USA 0,  rather than the actual 1-0 USA victory.  That same year Uruguay, surprisingly defeated Brazil 2-1.  In 1954, West Germany defeated Hungary 3-2, and many believe it gave the German nation the confidence so desperately needed after World War Two.  Italy, always seems to struggle against teams they should easily beat and they succumbed to lowly ranked North Korea during the 1966 event, 1-0.  1974 saw the two German teams meet in International competition when it for real and the East surprisingly beat the stronger West 1.0.  See the pattern here?  most upsets are closely fought one goal affairs.  The 1982 World cup saw an African nation, suddenly taken very seriously.  Algeria beat West Germany  2-1 in a huge upset.  The African teams continued to emerge as threats as Cameroon beat Argentina in 1990 1-0,  and Senegal beat France in 2002, 1-0.  Small national can take down the giants and Northern Ireland stunned Spain 1-0 in 1982.  In a rare instance of rising to the occasion the USA beat Portugal 3-2 giving hope to a nation better known for many more sports other than "football".

Everyone has their favorite sports memories of the FIFA World Cup. Some are fond memories and some stir the passion of misgivings and misdeeds.  Incredible skill is acknowledged and less than favorable moments are vilified.  In the 1986 World Cup one player was applauded for his skill by all and then vilified by the English fans.  The "Hand of God" became a euphemism for punching the ball into the goal.  Four minutes later he has scored a goal using flare and skill seldom seen. Abused by half the crowd one moment and applauded by all shortly after.  In 1966, Geoff Hurst was awarded a goal that should not have been given.  Yet the momentum from that moment allowed England to beat Germany  in extra time for the Trophy.  In the 2006 Final, French midfielder and team leader,  Zinedine Zidane, head butted Italian Marco Materazzi in the chest, knocking him off his feet.  His provoked error allowed Italy to win its fourth world Cup.  Zidane was so distraught at his actions he retired from the 'Beautiful Game".  In 1974 Johan Cruyff showed his skill turning defenders every way but which way and in many instanced outfoxed his team mates with his flare and skill on the ball. Moments of pure joy are exhibited during matches as National pride is on the line.  In 1982 Italian Marco Tardelli's goal against West Germany to seal the winner's trophy that year finally sunk in, and his unbridled joy, was shared with all in the stadium as he ran amuck, tears of joy, arms raised, his team mates desperately trying to catch up with him.  A second string goalkeeper saved Argentina against Brazil, and Yugoslavia. They finally succumbed to Italy in the semi final.  Without their unknown goalkeeper Goyocochea, stirring the crowd and his teammates with his skill and expertise, they would have failed to get that far.  Portugal and Eusebio strode through the 1958 World Cup, beating Hungary, Brazil, until they met underdogs North  Korea.  Falling two goals behind mid way during the first half.  Eusebio carried Portugal both the team and the Nation on his back for the remainder of the game scoring all four of Portugal's goals.  A new Star was born.  In the 1970 World Cup against England, Pele found himself on the end of a cross from Jairzinho and headed the ball down in a text book move by Pele.  As soon as the ball left his head he went into celebration mode.  The England goalkeeper, Gordon banks was able to get to the ball and tip it up over the bar...... using just his thumb.  Rightfully called a "Miracle Save" Banks and Pele shared a wry smile, an acknowledgement by them both of the excellence each had exhibited. 

Now we speculate.  Now we discuss.  Now we hope.  Hope our chosen team, and players, perform, as we hope they should. This year's World Cup in Brazil with showcase the talent of the Soccer world,  Bars will be crowded and tempers may flare from the supporters.  Exuberance will be exhibited by the winners, despair from the losers.  But when the final game arrives the whole world will be in front of a television to watch "The Beautiful Game".



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