By Giancarlo Santoro, Sports Writer

There are officially less than 50 days until the opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer, but it’s not yet clear which team is going to bring the world’s biggest sporting prize back to its home country.

Just because everyone is secretly thinking it, I have to get it out in the open — it won’t be the United States.

For those who don’t know, the U.S. was put into Group G, otherwise known as the “Group of Death,” with Germany, Portugal and Ghana.

To put it in perspective: Ghana knocked the U.S. out of the last two tournaments (2006, 2010), Portugal has superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Germany is one of the favorites to win the whole thing.

All hope might not be lost for our hometown heroes though. A contingent of American stars such as Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Eddie Johnson have returned to Major League Soccer over the past two years, giving the team potential to provide a massive upset.

But if not the Stars and Stripes, then who? While there are a number of teams that have the potential to write their names into the history books, there can be only one: Brazil.

It may seem like a safe, bland choice to pick a country thats very name is synonymous with futebol (Portuguese for soccer). Brazil has won the most World Cups in soccer history and this summer looks like it is shaping up to be a good one for the Samba Boys.

Home Field Advantage

“Brazil because of hometown love,” sophomore Mike Arguello, a goalkeeper for the Pacific Lutheran University men’s soccer team, said.

It’s a simple response, but it couldn’t be any truer.

Putting aside the protests, stadium delays and overall pessimism surrounding this summer’s tournament, the Brazilian players will be ready.

With a truly star-studded lineup that features players from teams like Barcelona, Chelsea and Real Madrid, the Brazilian team is full of experience at the top level.

And it is surely an advantage that Brazil’s opponents will have to play in front of a cacophony of drums and screaming Brazilian fans who will make it as difficult as possible for Brazil’s Group A opponents Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon to even communicate with each other.

“Brazil will look to make a statement that they’re back on top,” sophomore Tyler Bennett, a men’s soccer player, said. “Being in front of their home crowd just gives them more incentive and energy to put in good performances.”

Considering the Brazilians haven’t won the World Cup since 2002, failure to win at home will not go over well, and the team will have to dig deep to end its 12-year drought.

Two Horse Race?

While Brazil is undoubtedly the most attractive option, it wouldn’t be doing the other 31 teams justice to think the Brazilians have the tournament wrapped up before it even begins.

Argentina pose a formidable threat in the form of three-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, and it would love nothing more than to win the trophy on its archrival’s field.

It would also be impossible to ignore Spain, which is aiming to win an unprecedented four tournaments in a row starting with the 2008 Euro Cup, the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Euro Cup.

But one PLU student athlete thinks a different team is better prepared.

“I think Germany [will win] because their midfield is basically all Bayern Munich, as well as their goalkeeper,” senior Alex Murray said. “The club chemistry will allow them to control games, and their defense has lots of experience.”

Bayern Munich is a German sports club best known for its soccer team. That team is the reigning 2013 Champions League champion and is almost entirely made up of German international players.

It’s worth noting the German team also has a very good record at World Cups, having made it to the semis in 2006 and 2010.

The last time Brazil and Germany met in a World Cup final was back at the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan. As mentioned earlier, it was also the last time Brazil won.

Germany, on the other hand, hasn’t tasted success since the country was still formally divided by the Berlin Wall, when it won its third trophy in 1990 under the name of West Germany.

As with every four years, the World Cup will capture the imagination of billions around the globe for one short month. Despite all this analysis and predicting who will win and who can’t win, it’s really all about the game.

And who knows, the U.S. could knock Germany out in the group stage and render the Germany-Brazil showdown argument in this article irrelevant. Now wouldn’t that be something. ◼︎

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