Not the job of hosting of the event, which they apparently aren’t exactly succeeding at right now, though it seems that every host nation of a major sporting event falls behind schedule on stadium and infrastructure projects. But given that over the weekend FIFA held the draw for the Confederations Cup, the World Cup's dress rehearsal, Brazil's host-nation status is as safe as kittens.
No, Brazil lost the World Cup competition. (An impressive feat, considering no games have been played.) They’ve already lost, because they’ve hired Phil Scolari to manage the Seleção, the national football team. Actually, they’ve rehired him.
Perhaps the least surprising surprise at the heart of the traditional “handover” segment of the 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremony — its big reveal — was the presence of the ubiquitous, loved-worldwide or just merely tolerated figure of Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, there to “embrace” the world and welcome the Games to Rio in 2016. At first incognito underneath a rakishly cocked black hat and jacket that were no sartorial match for the brilliant white duds that singer Seu Jorge absolutely smashed out of the Olympic Park, Pelé soon shed both, displaying the familiar yellow-and-green shirt of the Brazilian national team emblazoned with his name and his iconic no. 10. It was, for many, an exciting way to whet the appetite for the surely fantastic spectacle to come four years hence in a Cidade Maravilhosa, but the sight of the Seleção’s jersey on its nation’s most famous footballer was also a reminder of the not-at-all-small affair only two years away, which we all know as World Cup 2014.
Here in the U.K., everybody’s going crazy over Britain’s Olympic Heroes, and with good reason. But Team GB’s performance wasn’t that surprising; they won slightly more golds than predicted, but a few fewer medals overall. A tremendous performance, but not an unexpected one.
So, which nations did pull off a shock? Who exceeded their supposed limitations, and more important, who completely screwed up? We jammed three sets of predictions (from Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and Sports Myriad) into a spreadsheet, worked out the averages, then compared them to COLD, HARD REALITY. Each nation was then assigned a Grantland Scientific Prediction Versus Reality Score (or GSPVRS). You can see the results here. As is right and proper, gold medals carry twice the weight of lesser baubles.
In this year's Olympic basketball competition, there are several teams that are a threat to medal, and maybe even to contend with Team USA. As the Games ramp up, we’ll be providing looks at the strengths, weaknesses, and medal chances of these possible contenders.
Of the five preliminary games that the United States played in preparation for the Olympics, the Brazilian national team may have given the U.S. its biggest scare. Brazil eventually faded after building an early double-digit lead, but they revealed which parts of their game can give Team USA trouble.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
The Brazilian basketball team couldn't capitalize on a strong first quarter, and fell to the United States 80-69 in Washington, D.C. Alex Garcia led the early charge with eight first-quarter points, and NBA star Anderson Varejao finished with 12 points and 13 boards for an impressive double-double. But the team's counter-attacking style grew less potent as the game progressed, and an early 10-point lead vanished as the shots stopped falling and the guards committed a slew of costly turnovers. The loss cast serious doubt on coach Ruben Magnano's controversial assertion that this year's team is better than the 1964 Equipe de Sonho, which won the Olympic bronze medal.
Tuesday saw a ton of international football action, as European nations wrapped up the initial qualifying stages for the Euro 2012 Finals and non-Euro national teams played some high-profile friendlies. So fire up "Sweet Georgia Brown" and let's do some globe-trotting, shall we?