For a pretty good portion of the world’s sports fans, being borderline-insanely obsessed with soccer is a year-round, full time job, with supporters of a second league Belarusian team just as fervently loyal to their squad as the legions across the world flying the colours of Manchester United.
For most of us here in North America, though, maniacal soccer fanery really only reaches its zenith once every four years with the onset of the month-long bender of nationalism known as the FIFA World Cup. 2014 happens to be one of those years (duh), and with this quadrennial’s incarnation taking place in one of the most soccer-mad and talent-blessed countries in the world, Brazil, this go-around promises to be one epic on every front.
With Brazil only three or four time zones ahead of us here on the West Coast (depending on which Brazilian city is hosting which match), the opportunities to get out there and get day wasted while screaming through a television at your favourite team (or, whatever team happens to be playing, because it’s sunny out and hey let’s party) are numerous and potentially crippling to your love and professional lives.
But whatever, man. The World Cup only happens once every four years, and whether you’re a fresh Vancouverite with a foreign passport still in your pocket or fourth-gen local who needs to ask Gramps what the origins of the last name “Valentino” are, it’s time to dust off your heritage and wave that flag, kid.
As far as storylines go…yeah, there’s a couple. For starters, there’s host squad Brazil. Brazil has the most World Cups of any nation, with five, and is the only country in history to qualify for every iteration of the tournament. They won last year’s Confederations Cup and are considered by many to be favourite to lift the trophy again in 2014. If they were to do so, they would be the first host nation to win since France did it in 1998, and in the process probably go a long way towards helping a hurting country at least temporarily forget the fact that their government spent $11B it didn’t really have to let rich people kick a ball around within their borders.
2010 World Cup winners Spain will again be one to watch. 2010 was the first time La Furia Roja won the most coveted trophy in sports, and only the second time the squad had ever made it into the top four. The Spaniards have taken three major internationals since 2008, but many of their top stars from 2010 are at or nearing the twilights of their careers. Also, winning seven matches by only scoring eight goals as the squad did in 2010 seems like unlikely occurrence in this year’s tournament. Basically, don’t bet on Spain becoming the first repeat winner in World Cup history, but count on them to make a run towards the final four.
Argentina is the dark horse in 2014. With the indelible Lionel Messi at the helm, the Argentinian squad will be relying on a offensive firepower and a nearly unequaled attack to power to the finals. As for defence…*yawn*
Germany has made it through to at least the quarter final round in eight straight tournaments and, like with everything Deutschland does, you can expect clockwork precision and workmanlike determination to get them at least that far again this go-around.
Brazilian legend Pele tagged Columbia to make it through to the quarters in Brazil, but last time he did that they went out in the first round. So, stay tuned to see if they shit the bed and we can bear witness to the advent of the “Curse of Pele.”
Uruguay is the darker horse to Argentina’s dark horse. With Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan as one of the most formidable 1-2-3 striking forces in the tournament, “Brazil’s Shoe” has a pretty good shot at making some noise in the next month.
England…keep calm and carry on with nearly 50 years of futility.
And, obviously, anything can happen come game time (kinda). The opening round is full of hope for all teams (except for Australia, who are totally fucked), and you if you’re repping someone like say Greece or Bosnia-Herzegovina, you should get out there and revel in the fact your team made it at all. Lord knows we’re not going to see a Canadian entry again anytime soon.
While there are regional hotspots designated as ‘official’ national headquarters all over the city where fans can get together with fans sharing similar allegiances, know too that just about every bar with a TV will be showing an endless stream of games over the next month. While falling into the street party that is Commercial Drive during any game featuring Italy, Spain, Portugal, and/or Germany (and/or pretty much anyone else, rally), can be fun, sometimes you want to be able to actually sit down in a chair and actually order a beer that actually arrives before the first half is over.
While none of the bars listed here are recognized as the official house of any particular national team, what they all do have going for them are at least a few high-definition televisions that will be playing the premier matches as they happen, while also offering the luxury of at least semi-clear sightlines so you can, you know, actually watch the match while you drink an actual beer.
A few choice selections courtesy of us here at Blueprint:
After nearly 30 years as a beloved neighborhood hangout, Kits Billiards finally closed in late 2012. The early months of the following year saw the room stripped bare and rebuilt as the comfortable, well-appointed and inviting bar known as Colony. An instant hit with locals, Colony has become the go-to spot in Kitsilano for casual drinks, dinner, live comedy, trivia and all major sporting events – Including the FIFA World Cup 2014! $5.50 Heinekens & $7.50 doubles? Sounds good to us.
The Charles Bar literally supports the ground floor of the famous Woodward’s building, a perfect metaphor for the way the popular bar holds down residents and neighbours in their socializing and entertainment needs. The room’s airy, modern design and unique V-shape allow for simultaneous trivial pursuits – guests can crowd the bar watching a game on the 9′ HD screen while around the corner others can be enjoying well-crafted food and drink menus in low booths, which makes it the perfect destination for World Cup game time. Head down to our Gastown haunt for viewing the matches!
Crosstown’s growing community now has a local bar that they can proudly call their own. Bismarck is located in the middle of one of the oldest and most culturally diverse areas of downtown Vancouver. Intimate at 60 comfortable seats, what Bismarck lacks in size it boasts in hand-crafted menu items, tastemaking music, a warm, modish atmosphere and a staff of well known industry figures. Bismarck will be viewing the World Cup 2014 for all Crosstown (& outside) locals, so make sure you head down to our newest location and get familiar with what we have to offer.
Since 1975, The Dover Arms Pub is an iconic space located on the laidback Denman Street strip close to beautiful English Bay and the Downtown Vancouver business district. This venue accommodates up to 100 guests and is the perfect spot for a variety of events from dinner functions to networking receptions. Take advantage of the large LCD TV screens all around the space to catch the FIFA World Cup events. Game on!