Many things have changed since the last World Cup. The game is now finally graced with goal-line technology so there will be no repeat of the tragedy that befell England when Frank Lampard's strike clearly crossed the line, only to be ruled out by the Uruguayan referee that day.
But Lamps will be a lot happier at the advance in ball technology. There's always a new ball that's somehow better than the last. 2010 was the year that introduced the 'Jabulani' football to the world. 'The best ball ever created' they called it, the 'roundest a ball has ever been'. Well done scientists: you made a ball round.
However, whether they're playing with a pig's head or a bowling ball, it's difficult to stifle the talent this World Cup will have on show.
Excusing the obvious for the moment...
Many are backing Belgium to be dark horses in Brazil. With the shear quality they have it’s no surprise why. Belgium is enduring what is described as their golden generation. A culmination of the best talent they’ve produced in years and many tip them for a good finish in next year’s competition.
Also Bosnia deserves a mention. Despite years of political troubles off the pitch Bosnia and Herzegovina have, for the first time as an independent nation, qualified for the World Cup. But they won’t just turn up for show, they aren’t the worst players you could put in a team and although their defence’s credibility is to be questioned, they have the attacking talent to hurt a few teams over the course of the competition.
A World Cup wouldn’t be a World Cup with something unpredictable happening. Something controversial just has to happen and there will undoubtedly be one or two rip-snorting goals scored.
Luckily England are extremely unlikely to feature Peter Crouch. I say luckily because it saves our TV screens from the questionable ‘robot’ celebration. Although his England record is impeccable, his dance moves could do with a brush up. I’m sure we’d much rather put seven past Italy than one Italian give us a ‘SEVEN’.
Crouch can go dancing but it’ll be the crowd singing away and I, for one, am hoping to keep the vuvuzelas away from this year’s competition. In South Africa 2010 they inspired minnows Ghana to the heights of the semi-finals but to most other countries they were down-right annoying and should be banished from Rio.
Many young Brazilians will use sticks in the ground and jumpers for goalposts but the national team get slightly better treatment. The final of the World Cup will be played in the remarkable Maracana stadium, a coliseum for footballing excellence and a majestic home for the World Cup final.
The stadium, not to be confused with the ‘Macarena’, once held 200,000 people until it had to be rebuilt due to safety issues. Nonetheless it now holds 90,000, an intimidating sight to the most experienced of footballers.
The winners? Tough to call. I think Brazil are in with the best chance and being at home will give them the nudge to go on and win it. However you can’t count out Spain or Germany and maybe even Argentina. Who do you think?
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