The 2014 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching…and I love it!

THE 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP IN BRAZIL IS DAYS AWAY

The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins on June 12th in Sao Paulo Brazil

The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins on June 12th in Sao Paulo, Brazil

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is now only a few days away, it seems like yesterday when we were glued to our televisions back in December for the World Cup Draw. The big show opens on June 12th at 4pm EST as host Brazil takes on Croatia in Sao Paulo.

The group stages of the the tournament will provide some very intriguing matchups. The second day of the competition features a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa as Spain takes on the Netherlands in Group B action. As we all know, Spain defeated the Netherlands in extra-time in 2010 to win their first World Cup and Holland will be surely looking for revenge. June 13th, the third day of competition, brings us action from another “group of death” as Luis Suarez and Uruguay take on Costa Rica and Wayne Rooney and England take on Mario Balotelli and Italy in Group C action. All four teams in this group believe they can go far in the competition so keep an eye on Group C for some very exciting games.

Andres Iniesta scores the only goal of the 2010 World Cup final to make Spain the World Champions, 11 Jul;y 2010. Pic Neil McCartney

Andres Iniesta scores the only goal of the 2010 World Cup final to make Spain the World Champions, 11 July 2010. Pic Neil McCartney

The 2014 World Cup sees the United States National Team pitted against two of the top three teams in the latest FIFA rankings (Germany #2, Portugal #3) and the team that has eliminated the U.S. from the past 2 World Cups (Ghana). It is safe to say that the United States got the dreaded “group of death” in Brazil.  The U.S. team comes into this World Cup on the back of one of the most successful years in the history of the USMNT.

The first test for the Americans in Brazil will be familiar foe Ghana, who has eliminated the US from the last 2 World Cups..Pictured here is Asamoah Gyan's ET winner against the USA in the Round of 16 of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

The first test for the Americans in Brazil will be against familiar foe Ghana, who has eliminated the US from the last 2 World Cups..Pictured here is Asamoah Gyan’s ET winner against the USA in the Round of 16 of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

Adding to the United States’ challenges, head coach Jurgen Klinsman released his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil on May 22nd, about a week earlier than anticipated. The biggest “snub” in that roster was leaving all-time U.S. Men’s National Team scorer Landon Donovan off the team. Many of you would remember Donovan as the man who scored the goal in stoppage time against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup which led the U.S. to top their group in a World Cup for the first time. After the 2012 MLS season, Donovan took a 3-month long break from soccer (and the national team’s World Cup Qualifying campaign) and has never been on the greatest of terms with Klinsman, but there are still many who believe that Donovan should be on the plane to Brazil in a few days time.  Here at Upper Deck Chatter, we tend to side with the majority and believe that Donovan has deserved a spot in Brazil.

Landon Donovan, shown here celebrating his historic stoppage time goal against Algeria in 2010, has been left off team USA's World Cup roster. Will Klinsman regret leaving the USA's all-time leading scorer at home? We'll find out soon enough.

Landon Donovan, shown here celebrating his historic stoppage time goal against Algeria in 2010, has been left off team USA’s World Cup roster. Will Klinsman regret leaving the USA’s all-time leading scorer at home? We’ll find out soon enough.

The United States open their 2014 World Cup campaign on Monday June 16th at 6pm EST against Ghana on ESPN, their next two group stage games are on June 22nd at 6pm EST against Portugal and June 26 at 12pm EST against Germany.

The FIFA World Cup brand itself is one of the most recognizable brands in the world today.  The World Cup logo can be seen on a wide variety of branded products throughout the world before, during and after the tournament itself takes place.

The television rights of the 2014 World Cup were awarded to ESPN and they have spent much of the last 4 years preparing their marketing plan to expand their exposure as much as possible. In recent days, ESPN hired the extraordinary Brazilian artist Cristiano Siqueira to make a series of unique World Cup posters for all 32 teams involved in the World Cup, these posters feature the team’s nickname along with their star player. Frankly, all of the posters are absolutely fantastic.

CLICK HERE to see all 32 World Cup posters by Cristiano Siqueira.

The 2014 World Cup promises to be one of the most exciting in recent memory! The early favorite are, of course, home country Brazil. Brazil won the Confederations Cup (a pre-World Cup tournament held in the host country) last year and looked great doing it and have not lost a competitive game on home soil for more than a decade. Other strong favorites include 2010 World Cup winners Spain, 2006 winners Italy, Germany and Argentina but also keep an eye out for some nations flying under the radar in 2014 like Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

A reminder of the Groups at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

A reminder of the Groups at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

The entire Upper Deck Chatter team will be rooting for team USA to prove the doubters wrong and emerge from the Group of Death and make a deep run in Brazil (and of course I will also be rooting for Italy to add their 5th World Cup to the trophy case). The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins on June 12th, we’ll be tuned in, will you?

CLICK HERE for a full TV schedule for every match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on the ESPN family of networks.

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About Joe Giordano

I'm a full bred New Yorker, born and raised. I take massive pride in also calling myself Italian as my father was born in Palermo, Italy and moved to the US when he was 15. My biggest passion is sports, all kinds of sports. I'm an avid Inter and Manchester United supporter while also supporting the hometown NY Red Bulls, Jets, Mets and Islanders. Outside of sports I thoroughly enjoy crime shows, my favorite tv show right now has to be Dexter. I have a love for animals, cats and dogs alike. I'm also a music fanatic. I like pretty much every type of music but my favorites have to be classic rock (nothing better than some Led Zeppelin) and the blues.
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