World Cup action starts in 100 days, a number that's pretty and round and excites a lot of football fans who can't wait for the excitement and spectacle. But will Aston Villa fans have anything to cheer about in Brazil?
Obviously, many Villa fans are England supporters, considering the club is, you know, English. And because 7500 to Holte is a blog on an American network, many of you visiting this site are likely fans of the USMNT. So right there, we have things to cheer - or fear. Perhaps others will adopt a country or two to root for in Brazil, simply because they love the World Cup.
But often, club fans will pay special attention to certain countries because that's where their stars hail from. They'll want to see how a player is performing with the national team, compare it to the style of play preferred at the club, determine whether he'll be worth more at the end of the World Cup...and sit in terror at the thought of his getting injured.
Not so with Aston Villa. First of all, forget about the English players getting a call up for the Three Lions. While Southampton is now attracting (deserved) attention from Roy Hodgson, the squad is still filled with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea players. No thinking outside the box for Roy.
Then there are the players that do get called up to represent their country, except that country isn't going to be representing itself in Brazil. Andi Weimann (Austria), Ciaran Clark (Republic of Ireland), and possibly Karim El Ahmadi, although I cannot find a Morocco squad list.
Omissions from this list include Yacuba Sylla (Mali), Nicklas Helenius (Denmark), and Aleksandar Tonev (Bulgaria). Surprise.
However, there are a few teams Villa fans might want to keep an eye on during the World Cup...
Netherlands: Ron Vlaar didn't make it to South Africa but played two of Holland's three atrocious matches in Euro 2012. That's unlikely to be held against him, however, and the Villa captain will likely be starting in defense for Netherlands when the World Cup begins. And will we eventually see Leandro Bacuna getting capped? Not for Brazil, obviously, but it's fun to think about.
United States: Despite Tim Howard looking spectacularly unspectacular as of late, it seems the Everton keeper will remain first choice for Jürgen Klinsmann. But Brad Guzan still has a couple months to show that he's the best choice for the USMNT between the sticks. Can he pull it off?
Belgium: Duh. It's not guaranteed that Christian Benteke will get the starts this summer, but Belgium, dependant as they are on their midfield, have called just two strikers for their friendly against Ivory Coast on Wednesday. The other is, of course, Romelu Lukaku, but the Evertonian has only recently returned from injury, while Benteke showed his worth against Norwich on Sunday. But will Benteke even be a Villan come August? Perhaps it's better to root against him giving impressive performances in Brazil.