Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Fever

32 Nations - 1 Cup!
The biggest extravaganza in the sporting world is about to begin. As the countdown timer moves from 'Days' to 'Hours', the excitement is mounting to higher levels.
A tournament bringing together the best players of the most-played sport in the world is all set to make new records this time. To list a few, this is the first time the Cup Finals is being played on African soil. 2010 World Cup offers $ 420 million as the total prize money, a 60% increase on its 2006 version [Source: Wiki]. WC 2010 is expected to become the most viewed sporting event in the world, exceeding the Olympic Games also. The cumulative audience of 2006 version is estimated to be over 26 billion, which is bound to rise this time [Source: Wiki].
The first part of the '2-day' opening ceremony has just wrapped up, featuring a list of musical bands, Shakira, K'naan and Black Eyed Peas being the most known (to me). Personally, the opening ceremony failed to impress me as it kept everybody waiting for K'Naan and Shakira. The earlier performances became monotonous and the short speeches in the changeover time felt useless and redundant. A better finish could be given by putting in more technology and mixing the tradition and culture intelligently. (Compare: Beijing Olympics opening ceremony)
Okay, now let me stop the critical part of me, and let the excited part take over. As the world went frenzy over the last month with countdowns and analysis running across all media, expectations and speculations building up, claims and quotes from the people who matter (coaches and players), the D-day is here. Even the internet giants - Google and Twitter have coloured themselves in the festival.

Why it has aroused so much interest into me, I accredit it to my growing interest in Football (with Cricket growing boring than ever) over the last year. Having followed the EPL and Champions League last season, I'm now aware of the big names in the sport. Football, being a club game largely, doesn't feature many International matches (compare to cricket). But, thats what makes the World Cup more exciting - to see the best fighting their way to glory with their club teammates (e.g. Kaka & Ronaldo) turning to opponents, and arch rivals turning to teammates (e.g. Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney). Unfortunately, many big names would be missing the competition due to injuries; Beckham, Ballack, Essien, Ferdinand, Nani, Obi Mikel, to name a few with doubts hovering over the fitness of Drogba, Robben and Pirlo. Some of them form the backbone of every team they play for, and their absence certainly would mean a loss in the quality of game we're expecting.
Now, coming to my personal favourites, I consider Spanish team to be the strongest contender. Not only is the team star-studded with a line-up with all of the players playing in the top European Clubs (Barcelona, Real Mardid owning most of them), but their strongest advantage is their understanding of each other's game due to their sticking together in the club football either as teammates or opponents (Leaving the exception of Torres, Fabregas and Reina, all of the team plays in Spanish League). But, the South American giants - Brazil (FIFA ranking 1) and Argentina (the duo of Messi and Maradona) have all the caliber to lift the world-cup again. (Brazil already holds the record with 5 cups).
Among the players, Messi has been my favourite, due to his skills on the ball and movement off the ball. This short man has spearheaded Barcelona's attack for long now, but has been criticized for not-so-good performance on Argentina's side. I hope he changes history with some clinical finishes, spectacular dribbling and accurate crosses in this World Cup.
But, all this is on paper and champions are created on the field. What matters is the 90 minutes of game-play.   All predictions may fail as some magical moments of brilliance strike or luck plays hide-n-seek with talent.
Sorry for the loooong post. More to come as the tournament progresses and the champion gets crowned a month later (11 July). Meanwhile, enjoy the videos as we approach the kickoff of the inaugural match in a few hours (strongly advised for those who are still not pumped up with energy, excitement and enthusiasm).



    How in hell can the viewership be 26 billion

  2. Cumulative audience: total number of viewer summed up over all matches. e.g. If you watch 10 matches, then you would be counted 10 times in that figure! :)


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