For the developed world, rubbishing underdeveloped and developing countries is nothing new. Yet, in four days’ time, when the brand new Adidas Brazuca ball is kicked when Brazil meet Croatia in Sao Paulo, the FIFA World Cup will roar to life.The hype over Brazil as host has been very high but in recent months, a lot of negative stuff has been written about some venues still not being ready and security being a concern.Today, when most of the top football leagues are in Europe and offer ridiculous salaries to professionals, one tends to forget the nationalities of players. It’s the star value which matters if your favourite club wins or loses.There is no club football for the time being and it will be a matter of pride as the best 32 teams in the world strive to win the world’s most coveted trophy.There could not have been a better venue for football as Brazil symbolises the romanticism of the beautiful game. To borrow a famous line from a former player, after kicking around for 90 minutes in the field, only one team wins. Likewise, for the champion to emerge on July 13, it will require skill, style, guts and immense energy.For romantic relics like me who grew up first hearing about Brazilian football and then seeing it on television, this is a wonderful chance for the hosts to win the World Cup.The last time the World Cup was held in Brazil in 1950, they lost the decider 1- 2 to Uruguay. The entire nation went into mourning and till date they have not been able to come to terms with the loss on home turf.advertisementThere are any number of books which have been written on Brazilian football, yet the ones written in the local language after the 1950 loss vilifying goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa define what passion is all about, even in a negative sense.Today’s young generation of fans who watch satellite TV channels may need to do a Google search on Barbosa, but Brazilians know how the innocent goalkeeper was riled till death.This is indeed a good chance for Brazil to exorcise the ghosts of 1950 as they have a good team.The Samba flavour is essentially about fast pace, attacking style and excitement.Just to jog the readers’ memory, in 1982 when Brazil had giants like Zico and Socrates, they failed to defend against the Italians. A 2- 2 draw would have sufficed but they chose to attack and messed it up. That Brazilian side was probably the best one not to win the World Cup.In 1994, when the World Cup was played in the United States, again Brazil discarded the aggressive style and chose a mixed strategy where players like Romario and Bebeto caught the eye.The fifth World Cup win came in 2002 when they showed what Brazilian flair was all about with Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho hogging the limelight.Nothing can be more special for Brazil than winning at home. Agreed, Spain is the team to beat and their style has been very successful in the last World Cup as well as in two European championships.But if one flips through the annals of history, the strong European teams have struggled when they are playing outside their continent. To discount the chances of Spain or a solid German team would be stupid but you could be sure England does not have the class to go the full distance.Apart from Brazil, another Latin American team to watch out would be Argentina. Playing in familiar conditions, the Argentine side has a fine line- up which boasts of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria.Messi has looked low key in club football recently but who knows, he may be preserving the best for the most vital burst in Brazil.At home, even though our own football languishes deep down in the FIFA rankings, the interest level is very high. The World Cup will give many homes from Jammu to Kanyakumari sleepless nights as high voltage football awaits us.Today, you can even pick up World Cup merchandise of various teams through online shopping and not wait for some friend to get you jerseys from abroad.One aspect which cannot be ignored in this World Cup is how many star players are not fully fit. From Franck Ribery to Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi to Neymar, injuries have taken their toll with Ribery ruled out.And lastly, when one talks of who will win the Golden Boot award this year, some of the names which come readily to the mind still include Messi, Neymar, Arjen Robben, Luis Suarez, Ronaldo and Mario Balotelli.advertisementUnlike a sport like hockey, football is very easy to follow. Even if you are not a regular junkie who watches the EPL, Serie A, La Liga or Bundesliga, you can fall in love with the FIFA World Cup. It sure gives you a kick.s.kannan@ mailtoday.in
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Popular on Variety ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 HBO’s website remained blocked in China Monday for the fourth straight day following a recent segment on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” that took a critical look at the country. That’s according to data from Greatfire.org, a website that frequently tests popular websites to determine their availability to Chinese internet users.Oliver had spent some 20 minutes in the June 17 edition of his show to take a closer look at China’s economic rise, the Chinese government’s crackdown on dissent and the ever-expanding power of China’s president Xi Jinping. Oliver also put the spotlight on some memes used by China’s dissidents, which includes comparing Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh.That apparently didn’t go over well with China’s government censors. HBO’s entire web presence became unavailable to its internet users late last week, and has remained blocked ever since, according to Greatfire.China has long tightly controlled the content its citizens can consume on the internet. The country does so with the help of what’s known as the “great firewall,” which allows state-run ISPs to monitor and censor all internet traffic entering the country. However, China’s internet users frequently regain access to blocked content with the help of VPN services and other tools meant to circumvent internet censorship.