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This article was originally published before the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
It’s that special moment again. You know, the time when everyone around you becomes a football fan — like your buddy who just learned to pronounce American striker Jozy Altidore’s name (“al-tuh-door”) or your boss who suddenly knows all the intricacies of 4-3-3. It was during this time that Neymar and Özil vied with LeBron and Durant for the headliners of sports sections across the country.
Oh, what a glorious time it is.
World Cup season is upon us, and not only does that mean we have an excuse to hit the pub during working hours, it also means we have an officially licensed game to play with. Yes, EA Sports has released a full 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil title on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (played here) for our viewing pleasure.
And with this advanced software (ignoring the fact that it only applies to the latest generation consoles) at our disposal, we decided to simulate the upcoming tournament.
Read on to find out which pixelated predictions knocked us out of our seats.
1. USA will find a way out of the first round
Now here’s something that will ignite die-hard Sam’s Army fans. According to our simulation, USA will beat Ghana, draw Portugal and, in one of the biggest upsets of stage one , will face the eternal German juggernaut to win their group.
Unfortunately, the Americans’ fantastic run came to an end in the first round of the qualifiers – a step away from the quarter-finals – when the Belgian dark horse knocked them out of the competition.
But hey, it’s a show worth singing about.
2. Holland will be the tournament’s underachievers
Dutch national team coach Louis van Gaal once said, “I cry almost every day. There is always something that touches me. Well, if the World Cup game simulation is any good sign, van Gaal better have a handkerchief ready as the men in orange will lose their three matches in the initial group stage, without even advancing to the knockout stages. .
The 2010 finalists even lost 2-1 to Australia. Hey Australians are playing a mean game of cricket. But when it comes to (spherical) football, the Socceroos of Down Under bring a knife to a shootout. As we know, however, it’s a pretty big knife….
3. Neymar will win the Golden Shoe and the Ballon d’Or
While many have crowned Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo as the best players in the world, Brazil’s Neymar might be the most talented. And the simulation says the 22-year-old wonderkid will score six goals, earning him the Golden Boot as the Cup’s top scorer and the Golden Ball as the number one player.
It’s a very juicy prediction, as Neymar has an incredible legacy to uphold which includes icons like Pelé, Garrincha and Romário. He will be playing in his home country and will face extraordinary pressure.
If the virtual football gods are right, 2014 will be a special year for the young striker.
4. Brazil and Italy will meet again in the final
Imagine the two most successful footballing nations stepping onto the pitch in a World Cup final… nine championships between them… soon to be 10.
FIFA couldn’t script it better.
Our little experiment pits Brazil against Italy in the final game, which would be the third time the two teams have met in the final meeting of the biggest sporting event on the planet.
The question is, will Brazil lose again at home, repeating the Maracanaço tragedy of the 1950 final?
5. The Brazilians will add a sixth star to their crest
If our sim becomes reality, the Seleção (Portuguese for “selection”) will exorcise the ghost of 1950 and hoist the World Cup to home soil. After a 2-0 victory, the virtuosos of the beautiful game will fight their way to an unprecedented sixth championship – fulfilling the footballing fantasies of a raucous fan base.
South America’s greatest nation will explode in a cloud of green and yellow mingled with joy and adulation.
So what does this tell us?
We don’t know yet, really. After all, we made this simulation for fun. And that’s why we watch football – and play titles like the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
That’s all for fun …variety filled with screams and passion.
The real answers will start coming when the real thing begins on June 12. Until then, let the Cup speculation – and the bar debates – begin.
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