It's normal to feel a bit sad at the end of a World Cup — especially one as good as this one was. Four years of anticipation finally climaxing in a solid month brimming with the game's biggest event leaves a void when it disappears again for another four years. But what the usual club football lacks in rarity, it makes up for in the familiar delights of returning home from a great vacation.
So while it might seem bleak at the moment, there are some wonderful things on the horizon that we can all look forward to. Here's a sampling.
A break from the avalanche of overwrought coverage of whether the game will make it in America — The incessant, detailed analysis of World Cup TV ratings, social media figures, wind direction and whatever else was used to try and definitely prove whether soccer has "made it" in the U.S. in the midst of contrarian complaints about its existence and pompous advice for how to make it "better" were all horrible and useless. There are a lot of fans of the game in the United States. Some like the domestic leagues, others like foreign leagues and others still like everything. It's easy enough to watch what you want to watch and in the company of who you want to watch it with (or not at all). The quibbling and the quantifying needs to stop because none of it has any impact on the evolution of the game in the U.S. or anywhere else. It can't be molded to fit specific ideals, it just is what it is and will grow how it grows. And that's that.
The return of Zlatan — Before the World Cup began there was a lot of complaining about its lack of Zlatan. "Yeah, the World Cup is great, but it's not the same without Zlatan," everyone said, including Zlatan himself. France supporters even brought a "Zatan we miss you" banner to their first match in Brazil. Though Zlatan did attend a couple group-stage matches and Nike tried to make his presence felt throughout the tournament with an animated Zlatan, but it just couldn't compare to actually watching him score goals that would melt a Playstation. The return of club play means the return of Zlatan. Be Zlankful.
The incomparable insanity of club managers — The 2014 World Cup featured many truly brilliant managers, but for the most part everyone got on their their work and given the nature of the format, didn't have enough time to hate each other. Over the course of the club season, we get to revel in the mind games of Jose Mourinho, the facial contortions of Jurgen Klopp, whatever Pep Guardiola is doing here, the dancing eyebrow of Carlo Ancelotti and Alan Pardew pushing people away with his head. Over the course of a long season, club managers are driven to depths of emotional instability that make Miguel Herrera look shy.
The Champions League anthem — Brazil provided this World Cup with a tremendous atmosphere, but the one thing the tournament did not have was a stirring theme song that instantly made it feel like the gods were climbing down from the heavens to marvel at the spectacle that was about to unfold on the pitch. The Champions League anthem does that every time.
The slow burn — Watching occasional teammates forced together by nationality scrap for a golden ornament over the course of a single month once every four years can produce great entertainment, but it's rarely football played at its highest level. Club teams are built and welded together day in and day out over months, years and decades. Bonds are formed and fractured, creating a spectacular range of results and emotions that play out on both minute and grandiose scales. It's not necessarily better or worse than the World Cup. It's just different. Except for Luis Suarez biting people. He apparently does that everywhere now.
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