June 11, 2014
By Michael Lewis
32 things that are bound to happen at a World Cup
There have been more than enough World Cups -- Brazil 2014 will be No. 19 -- to notice a number of trends and stuff repeating again and again -- the good, the bad and the ugly.
So, after a while you get a gut feeling of what just might happen.
Here are 32 things that are bound to happen at a World Cup:
* A Third World soccer country will upset a soccer power with a victory or a tie.
* A player will blow up at his coach and will be sent home.
* A team will go undefeated in the group stage, but will not reach the second round.
* A gaffe by a referee or his assistant will decide a close game at a crucial time (ok, that is a given).
* A star player will miss a penalty kick at a crucial juncture of a match or during a shootout.
* One country will offer its team a horde of riches if it advances or does well.
* A coach will be dismissed from a game.
* A local newspaper will severely criticize the performance of the host country.
* Brazil's fans will samba for 31 days.
* Brazilian fans will die while celebrating a victory or mourning a loss.
* When the host team wins a game, its fans will party all night.
* The broadcast signal for a particular country will be sent to the wrong nation -- at least once.
* A player will be suspended for taking drugs.
* After his team loses, someone will propose some ridiculous rule changes.
* A relatively unknown player -- at least to the rest of the world -- will be given international acclaim for scoring a game-winning goal.
* A coach will be fired a day after his team is eliminated.
* A coach will be axed during the competition.
* A player will score an own goal to decide a close game.
* A superpower will "somehow" finish second in its group, but it will get an easier route through the second round and beyond.
* A superstar will experience a miserable World Cup.
* Another superstar will be severely injured after a brutal foul.
* An eliminated team will return home amidst a hostile crowd and get vegetables thrown at them.
* A teenager will make a dynamic debut for his country.
* A veteran will play in his final international match in an emotional farewell.
* There will be reports of an incident in which a friend kills a friend over an argument about a match or a husband killing his wife over the use of the TV or vice versa.
* A star player will be benched for no particular reason at all.
* There will be at least one incident in the airport concerning the media and arriving teams.
* At least one country will accuse another of spying on its training session.
* A team will threaten to go on strike unless it receives more bonus money.
* A star will miss a game because his stomach has not adapted to the environment.
* A team that has done poorly during World Cup warm-ups will surprise the experts.
* A team will win or tie while playing with only 10 men after a player is red carded.