Aliet Arzola Lima, Granma (June 19) – When it was announced that Brazil would host the 2014 World Cup, many thought of what the celebration would mean for Latin America, not only serving as the location of the world’s second most momentous sports event after the Olympic Games, but also for the opportunity to see the continent’s main teams battle for the world title.
Past tournaments have been held in Uruguay 1930, Chile 1962, Mexico 1970 and 1986, Argentina 1978, the United States 1994 not to mention the unforgettable competition of 1950 which took place in Brazil, scene of the famous Maracanazo, one of the biggest upsets in football history, when Brazil were defeated 2-1 by Uruguay.
Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have all shared the World Cup title, sometimes due to the collective effort of their teams, at others, due to the individual performance of certain players who have gone down in history as the greatest footballers of all time.
The Latin American players participating in the 2014 World Cup are looking to achieve the legendary status of Pelé and Maradona, or Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia, protagonists in the definitive 1950 World Cup final between the “Sky Blues” (Uruguay) and the “Green and Yellows” (Brazil).
Until now, various Latin American squads have shown their potential, while others haven’t lived up to expectations so far, among them Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Argentina won its first match, but only due to Leo Messi’s brilliance, whose task in the World Cup seems titanic given the fact that he has to carry a poorly formed team. The path for Brazil isn’t an easy one either, opting for a more restrictive style of play, a complete betrayal of their traditional style also known as the jogo bonito or “beautiful play”. It’s true that they don’t have the same stars as before, but maintaining their identity should be a fundamental objective in a nation which has – for almost a century – been identified by its attractive, creative, free-flowing style of football, with the goal always in the line of vision, no matter how the game is going.
The case of Uruguay is more critical, given their spectacular loss against another Latin American team: Costa Rica. Such a colossal disaster is currently one of the greatest surprises of the World Cup, which doesn’t bode well for the team, managed by Óscar Washington Tabárez, who must still face Italy and England.
But let’s talk about the Costa Ricans, who won on Brazilian soil playing an ambitious and face-paced game. Their strengths lie in goalie Keylor Navas – who conceded the fewest goals in the Spanish League last season – and young left-footed striker Joel Campbell, who holds a lot of potential and has launched his candidacy for World Cup 2014 “newcomer.”
Colombia also performed well in their first World Cup appearance in 16 years, beating Greece 3-0, despite the absence of their world-class strikers Radamel Falcao (out of the tournament) and Carlos Bacca, both injured, and are in a magnificent position to advance past the group stage.
Mexico has constructed a strong defence holding both Cameroon and Brazil to a 0-0 draw, ties which have placed the team at the doors to the final 16, but they will have to win a ticket in their last group match against Croatia.
Finally, Chile and the United States are off to a good start, but their selection in difficult groups with Holland, Spain, Germany and Portugal, will keep them waiting until the final moment to discover their fate in the Brazil World Cup 2014, in which Latin American teams are attempting to maintain the tradition of keeping the trophy on the continent.