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: It’s strange to think that just ten years ago, German soccer had reached its nadir. After two disappointing ties against the Netherlands and Latvia at Euro 2004, the ageing Germans were defeated 2-1 by group leaders Czech Republic and sent home from the tournament. Losing shouldn’t have been that much of a big deal, except Czech coach Karel Brückner’s side had already qualified and therefore fielded a team primarily consisting of reserves.
By equal measure, the improvement in German soccer has been such that it’s hard to fathom that this team has not won anything in the last decade. The four “survivors” of the dark days (Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski) are now flanked by some of the most talented individuals in the game. The Germans also possess a great deal of depth in their squad, including some of the most exciting prospects in the game.
Apart from a 4-4 tie against Sweden, the Germans easily swept aside every team in their qualifying group and scored more goals than any other. Given their impressive performances at recent tournaments and the ease in which they qualified, the Germans will be expected to make significant progress in Brazil. Some countries may put too much pressure on their national team before the World Cup. Even with the loss of Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus to injury, Germany’s quality means expectations to win the tournament are justified. But as a result, so too is the public pressure.
Best World Cup Performance: Winners (1954, 1974, 1990)*
FIFA Ranking: 2nd
Most famous World Cup moment: West Germany went into the 1974 World Cup knowing that they could become the first side to win the World Cup after also winning the European Championship (1972). They were also hosts. With a quality squad (a quarter of which came from the great Bayern Munich side; 2014’s squad is a third Bayern) led by Franz Beckenbauer, the Germans struggled for form in the group stages, losing to East Germany in the two sides’ only ever encounter. After the setback against the East, Beckenbauer led his team to the final where they met a formidable Dutch team under the inspirational Johann Cruyff. History suggests that the Dutch were unfortunate to win the game, a claim that’s questionable at best. The Germans deservedly triumphed over their rivals 2-1 to win their second World Cup.
… Most infamous: This is a toss-up between the West Germans disgracing football and the German goalkeeper nearly killing his French opponent. Both occurred in the 1982 World Cup, so let’s just include that entire campaign. After Algeria defeated Chile 3-2, the West Germans needed just a 1-0 victory over Austria to qualify. After 10 minutes, the West Germans went ahead, and with both sides knowing that if the score remained the same, they’d qualify and force Algeria out of the tournament. What resulted shamed football. In a match that resembled a light training sessions, the Germans and Austrians contrived to play the most boring game of football with neither side creating any chances. They succeeded and the Algerians were sent packing. One Algerian newspaper accused both sides of “Anschluss” — Adolf Hitler’s annexation of Austria.
The other infamous incident was when Harald Schumacher, West Germany’s goalkeeper, decided he’d take out his French opponent, Patrick Battiston, by almost decapitating him. Don’t believe me? The French can take a while to forget being slighted by another country—just ask them about Fashoda and the British. Nobody in France will ever forget the Schumacher incident. Except Battiston, of course, who lost not just his senses but three teeth, as well as damaging vertebrae in his neck and falling into a coma.
Sound like an expert: “Ultimately they’re just a very disciplined side. I mean, it’s Germany, isn’t it?”