The World Cup kicks off on Thursday with the host country, Brazil, taking on Croatia.
Over the ensuing month, 32 teams will compete in 64 matches across 12 venues in Brazil. The U.S. team will travel almost 8,900 miles all together, as they move from their training camp in São Paulo to Natal for the match against Ghana, to Recife to take on Germany, and to Manaus to face Portugal.
Spain enters the tournament as the defending champion and No. 1 ranked team in the world, looking to be the first repeat winner since Brazil turned the trick in 1958 and 1962. Other favorites include Germany, Brazil and Argentina.
Sometime in the early evening of July 13, one team will lift the World Cup trophy.
We’ve gathered a panel of soccer enthusiasts to talk about which games and players to keep an eye on, and try to figure out who will walk away with the sport’s ultimate prize.
Murray Alexander is an Arsenal fan living in Glasgow, Scotland. Follow him on Twitter @SadFactory.
Dr. Ralf Borrmann is a native of Mainz, Germany, a longtime soccer coach and chair of the Modern & Classical Languages Department at Western Reserve Academy.
Ash Day is a London-based Arsenal fan. He can be found on Twitter @AshDay29.
Craig Lyndall is one of the founders of Waiting For Next Year. Find him on Twitter @WFNYCraig.
Tom Moore is a Liverpool fan (and proprietor of this site) who realized what all the fuss was about after watching the U.S. draw with Italy in the 2006 World Cup.
Adam Yankay is a longtime soccer fan, a founding member of the soccer program at the University of Texas-Dallas, and a member of the Mathematics Department at Western Reserve Academy