We are a mere 57 days from the start of the most popular, biggest international tournament in existence-- the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  There are several things we do know will happen in Brazil-- host nation of this year's tourney.  We know that Brazil brings its usual star power as they do every four years to the World Cup.  We know that Spain and the Netherlands bring loaded teams and, even if they are in the same group, both are among the favorites to win it all-- and become the first European team to do so in the Western Hemisphere.  We know that there will be thousands of citizens outside the stadiums, protesting the corruption of the Brazilian government and the displacement of many from favelas to build some of the facilities being used for both this tournament and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic games.

What we don't know is what teams will make it out of the group stage to the knockout rounds. Of the 16 that will make to the knockout stage, what team will come out victorious at the end of it all?  Will all the stadiums be completed by the time the World Cup begins?  Several reports show not all of the stadiums have been completed and some need a lot of work, less than two months from the tournament.  Will the protests become violent, either because law enforcement goes too far or because dissidents within the protests try to take advantage of the situation to loot properties?

One guarantee that any of us can make is that there will definitely be plenty of drama happening in this year's World Cup both on and off the pitch.  Inside the stadiums, the drama will come from all the great saves, close calls, and goals scored.  The drama on the field will engulf us with dramatic endings that will make or break the a team's chances of advancing.  While there is officially only one "group of death," there are more groups in this tournament that can see a contender heading home after the group stage than in World Cups past.

Outside of the stadiums, thousands if not millions of Brazilian citizens will be in full force protesting the billions of dollars used to built all the facilities being used for the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Money the citizens felt should have gone to helping the impoverished of the country, to improve the economy, create jobs and improve the overall quality of life in Brazil.  At the end of the day, the vast majority of Brazil's citizens don't think hosting the World Cup will do enough to help Brazil's economy.  Instead they see both the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Games costing billions more than will be brought in by tourists and the nations involved in both events.  Either way you look at it, both inside and outside the stadiums, we are in for quite a dramatic run in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Over the next several weeks leading up to the start of the tournament, yours truly along with my fellow soccer aficionados-- Duke Keith and Chad Middleton-- will breaking down each team and group in the tournament and we will reveal who we think will win it all.  We will be doing this through podcasts on 600espnelpaso.com and through blogs that I will be including as companions to the podcasts.  Hope all soccer fans tune in to listen to our opinions, read the blogs, and share your opinions with comments.  Stay tuned.

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