Brazil: The Beatles
No matter who you are or what type of music you like, you can't have a discussion about the greatest band of all time and not mention the Beatles. The Beatles rattled off one amazing album after another. St. Peppers is considered the greatest album of all time. They are practically unparalleled in their musical genius. Unless you have some harbored anger against the Beatles or you are discussing the greatest bands of all time that don't have drummers named Ringo, you'll likely and justifiably conclude that the Beatles are the greatest ever. It may be boring at this point because you have heard it so much, but it's just true.
In the same vein, if you are discussing the greatest soccer country of all time, you have to answer Brazil. It may be boring because it's so predictable, but it's true. Someone might argue that Italy is the greatest like someone might argue that the Stones are better than the Beatles. You can raise the argument, but you'll ultimately lose. Take the emotions out of it and there is no other conclusion to make. They have won the World Cup 5 times - more than any other country. The 1970 Brazil team is considered the greatest team of all time (they are the team in the blog header). Brazil has never really had a down year. They have never not qualified for the World Cup. If they don't win it all, it's a disappointment. That is the high standard they have set. Fortunately for everyone, Brazil loves to attack and is very exciting to watch. You'll never see them sit back and play defense. Bottom line though: just like the Beatles in the rock world, Brazil rules the soccer world.
Ivory Coast: Outkast
Speaking of exciting soccer. Ivory Coast brings it like Bombs over Baghdad brings the beat before you can even finish saying "Yeah." Really though, who doesn't like Outkast? They are extremely creative and wildly entertaining. They are very talented and they are always in your face with all of their music. But it's so good that you can't get enough of it. Bombs over Baghdad was Rolling Stone's song of the decade for the 2000s. Which is surprising at first, but then when you think about it more, you realize that it really is an amazing song from one of the greatest rap/hip hop groups of all time.
Ivory Coast has a similar high energy. They are an attacking team and very exciting. Unfortunately, all of their talent resides in their offense. Shut down their offense, and you don't have much left. Sadly, that offense was severely handicapped this last week when Didier Drogba went down with an injury. Drogba is easily one of the best strikers in the world. He's really good. It's a devastating blow. It's like Outkast losing Andre 3000. Sure Big Boi is still pretty good on his own, but he's not winning awards like Outkast. With Drogba, Ivory Coast was easily the best African team in the Cup and had a strong chance of advancing out of this group with Brazil. They still have an explosive offense with players like Yaya Toure and Salomon Kalou. But without Drogba, it's not nearly as strong and impossible to know how they will do. We know Portugal is breathing easier now.
North Korea: The Long Beach dub AllStars
If South Korea is Sublime, then North Korea is the Long Beach dub Allstars. Sublime was a great band but few probably know that the surviving members of Sublime formed the "LBDA" after Sublime's lead singer Bradley Nowell died. Few probably know that because the LBDA were terrible and everyone's life is better off not knowing the LBDA. Sort of like North Korea.
For purposes of this post North Korea are the LBDA because they are closely linked with South Korea who is Sublime. In reality though, North Korea could be any terrible band. They have no recognizable players. All but two of their national team players play for North Korean club teams. Probably because they aren't good enough to play for better clubs; and probably because they are afraid they'll get shot if they leave their country and play elsewhere. Bottom line is that North Korea doesn't stand a chance in any group, but especially not in this group. The World Cup doesn't have a mercy rule, but they might institute one before Brazil plays North Korea.
Portugal: Britney Spears
Ten or so years ago, few artists were bigger than Britney Spears in the music world. She was coming off a huge debut album, dating Justin Timberlake, and the fantasy all of all males ages 12 - Bob Dole. Then, K-Fed happened and she turned into a drama queen and a train wreck. Yet somehow, she still remains relevant in the music scene. She may not have reached her complete potential and may have had some major bumps along the way, but she still sold records and even just completed her Circus tour which was a worldwide sellout. She's not what she could have been, but she's not irrelevant yet by any means.
Ten years ago, few teams were hotter than Portugal. They had a strong youth system which had produced a lot of stars who were finally coming of age and were making their first appearances with the National Team. However, they have done anything but live up to the hype and expectations. In 2002, the first World Cup with the elevated expectations, they didn't even make it out of the group stage. They did much better in 2006, but still came up short. Now, although they still have loads of talent, they have been struggling to find the chemistry as a team. That could be for many reasons, but one could be because they have Cristiano Ronaldo. Remember that name. Like Britney, he's a drama queen diva. He also is one of the top 3 players in the world. Incredibly talented, and an incredible hot head.
So there is no real way to know what to expect from Portugal this summer. With the Drogba injury to Ivory Coast, Portugal will likely advance out of the group, but it's not guarantee. Portugal has plenty of talent to make a run in the World Cup but it's probably too late to find the chemistry they need. Although you never know. Most people would have considered Britney a complete thing of the past, but she proved that you can't quite count her out yet. I wouldn't do that with any team that has C. Ronaldo.