Jeff Blum

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World Cup Preview 2018

World Cup Preview 2018

Sweden play their home games just outside of Stockholm at the Friends Arena, perhaps the only stadium in the world named after an anti-bullying charity. The big question that faced the Swedish team up until the World Cup was whether they would bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the World Cup. Ibrahimovic, perhaps Sweden’s greatest ever player, retired from international soccer in 2016, but he had been hinting that he would be willing to return. However there were some concerns about bringing back a player with knee ligaments that could snap at any moment, and so arrogant that when teammates play well he attributes it to the benefits of watching him in practice. He will not be on the plane to Russia.

World Cup Preview, 2014

World Cup Preview, 2014

Anything less than a win will be seen as a failure. The last time Brazil hosted a World Cup, in 1950, they were overwhelming favorites but lost to Uruguay in the final, deeply wounding the national psyche. Brazil’s most famous playwright described it as “Our Hiroshima.” Moacir Barbosa Nascimento, the keeper whose mistake allowed Uruguay to score the winning goal, became a national pariah. Women would point him out to their children as “the man who made all of Brazil cry.”