Friday, June 06, 2014


Expectations to your team are one of the important build-ups of the World Cup. Not only fans' expectations, but also journalists, players, coaches... Entire countries are building up to what their eleven guys will do with a leather ball on a pitch of grass.
Recent comments by Keisuke Honda and Jurgen Klinsmann gave an interesting insight into these expectations.
Keisuke Honda said in an interview that he believed that Japan could win the World Cup. Indeed, he said that nobody expected them to, but that Japan had the players and the style to do it. Personally, I do not believe that Japan will win the World Cup, but there are certain truths to what he says: Japan does have a strong and confident side with which they will defeat anyone who underestimates them. Also, every team, of the 32 that are going to Brazil, have a chance at winning the World Cup. Teams aim at winning every match, and all 32 teams are at this point seven matches away from lifting the World Cup Trophy.
Despite this, Jurgen Klinsmann recently said in an interview that the USA "...cannot win this World Cup". While many in the US press have gone crazy about such a comment, it also rings true when Jurgen Klinsmann clarifies it: "For us, we have to play the game of our lives seven times to win the tournament". Mr. Klinsmann knows that the USA has a chance, but he knows that realistically, it is not possible.

Someone told me that Keisuke Honda's comments were not common for Japanese. Expectations are already low for Japan and they can indeed surprise. Klinsmann's candid comments were considered unpopular in the USA, where the mentality of winning is prevalent, even as unrealistic as this may seem.
But what these comments show the huge diversity of expectations about the tournament. Expectations that are based not only on football quality, injuries, style, etc., but as much on culture and history. Some teams are trying to bring expectations down about their World Cup chances; others have no expectations, while others have too many expectations. The only truth is that many will have expectations confirmed, many will be surprised, and many will be disappointed.

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