Here it is, soccer fans. The Daily Caller’s Ultimate Master Guide To Everything You Ever Need To Know About The 2014 FIFA World Cup In Brazil.
Brace yourself for over a month’s worth of whining from the MLB/NFL/NBA purist who doesn’t understand the offside rule and insists the game “still sucks.” Prepare for some thoroughly embarrassing “expert” opinions from that guy in the bar who thinks the game was invented in 1992. And yes, there will more than likely be some tedious BuzzFeed listicles about the best player simulations, eccentric jerseys and players that look like cats.
All that aside, there should be some great entertainment on the field.
For the entirety of the tournament, Ewan Watt will be providing grizzled, foul-tempered Scottish punditry for The Daily Caller on everything you need to know about the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This will range from a comprehensive background on each team, short posts on the games, and some history, ranging from failed drug tests to a team’s struggle to understand the rules to why an Arab prince halted the game and got a referee’s decision overturned.
In the build up, we’ll be releasing guides to the different groups, so buckle in, study up and become the master you’ve always said you were anyway.
Overview: As the first team to qualify for Brazil, Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan has certainly set the expectations high, and with good reason. Zaccheroni can boast of possessing a solid team unit with the creativity of Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa. Yoichiro Kakitani, who has impressed in the J-League for Cerezo Osaka, may well be far from the finished article, but could be set for a big-money move to England after the tournament.
Despite their straightforward path to qualification, the Japanese experienced some indifferent performances — leading many to question whether they can come close to matching their campaigns in 2002 and 2010. While some even contemplated drawing up a shortlist to replace Zaccheroni after some disastrous results against Serbia and Belarus in a matter of days, his job was saved after a thoroughly impressive victory over Belgium.
Although their group is clearly challenging, the Japanese have come through far more difficult challenges at World Cups with considerably less quality. If Honda and Kagawa can pull the strings and shine, Brazil may well be a tournament to remember for the Blue Samurai.
Best World Cup Performance: Second Round (2002 and 2010)
FIFA Ranking: 46th
Most famous World Cup moment: Japanese fans will have fond memories of their path to the last 16 when they co-hosted the World Cup with South Korea in 2002. However, their 2010 campaign in South Africa was just as impressive, particularly a 3-1 demolition of Denmark. The result included one of the goals of the tournament form Keisuke Honda, a 30-yard freekick that Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen had no chance of stopping. The Japanese would double their advantage through another masterful free kick from Yasuhito Endo, who curled his effort in a similarly impressive fashion. The victory sealed Japan’s second visit to the last 16 of the World Cup, where they were unfortunately defeated by Paraguay on penalties.
… Most infamous: The 2006 meltdown against Australia comes to mind, but so does Japan’s 1998 World Cup debut. Even though the Japanese put in some fairly impressive performances against Croatia and Argentina, their lackluster showing against fellow debutants Jamaica left them bottom of Group H without any points to their name. Two goals from Theodore Whitmore gave the Jamaicans a two-goal cushion, thanks in part to sloppy defending. The Japanese pulled a goal back through Masashi Nakayama, but Jamaica would hold on and inflict Japan’s third defeat on the campaign.
Sound like an expert: “Heading into their fifth World Cup, if the Japanese can put aside some of their inconsistency they could be a force to be reckoned with in Brazil.”