This year marks the return of the largest and most prestigious soccer tournament in the world, the World Cup. The World Cup is held in the summer every four years and involves 32 countries fighting for the title of the best national team in the world. In order to qualify to make the final 32 teams, countries must go through a rigorous qualifying phase, which takes place in the three years between each World Cup. Only the host country automatically qualifies for the World Cup, which will be held in Brazil this year.
Once the final 32 teams have been decided, a drawing is held to determine the brackets for the first round of the tournament. The first round is a group stage that has eight groups, with four teams in each group. The group stage is in round-robin format, where nations play the others nations in their group once. The top two nations from each group qualify for the next round. The next round, known as the round of 16, begins the knockout portion of the tournament.
The inaugural World Cup tournament was hosted by Uruguay in 1930. Since then, the 19 tournaments have been won by eight different nations. The winners include Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Italy, Germany, England, France, and Spain. The most successful nation is Brazil, with five tournament wins. The reigning champion Spain has won the tournament one time.
In the time leading up to the World Cup, soccer fans have been speculating about which nation will end up winning the tournament. With many strong teams entered in the tournament, there is no clear favorite, leading to many differing opinions.
“I think Germany will win the World Cup. Their team is stacked at every position,” said freshman soccer player Dylan Schulze.
Sophomore Daniel Ramos, an avid soccer fan, believes another team will take the title.
“Brazil will be the winner. They have the advantage of playing at home.”
For USA fans watching at home, there is no denying that the US national team has a tough road ahead of them. The team has been given the challenge of a group containing Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. Germany is the toughest opponent on paper, with good players in every position. Portugal is lead by their captain Cristiano Ronaldo, the reigning world player of the year. Ghana has a history with the US national team, as they knocked out the US in the round of 16 of the 2010 World Cup.
Soccer fans interested in catching the World Cup action can watch the games this summer on ESPN. Live coverage and news updates will be located at the World Cup website fifa.com. If you are a fan of soccer, make sure to check out the biggest tournament of year.