While each World Cup is unique in its own right, with the host country's culture always offering a unique spirit to the tournament, there are a few phenomenons that remain the same, no matter where the event is held. Whether it's based in South Africa, Germany, South Korea or any country in between, you can always expect immaculate goals, sublime tackles, the supremacy of the human spirit, and, well, a variety of excuses coaches will trot out during post-match press conferences.
"The pitch was in a terrible state."
"It was simply too hot; the match should have been postponed."
"Our hotel did not offer water beds."
With that in mind, we thought it an appropriate time to focus on the World Cup venues and the related rationalizations each manager will brandish after an unexpected loss.
Stadium name: Estadio Mineirao (Belo Horizonte)
The City: One of Brazil's most prominent cities, Belo Horizonte is well-known throughout Latin America for the quality of life local residents enjoy. A triumph of modern city-planning, with natural environments blended inconspicuously alongside the metropolis, Belo Horizonte is a visual treat. Travelers to Belo Horizonte can expect balmy weather, with temperatures likely to top out in the high 70s throughout June and July. Don't worry about a thing. It's a paradise.
Notable matches: Costa Rica vs. England
Likely excuse: "The weather was too good. Half the team didn't show up! Rooney slept through the match on a park bench!"
Stadium name: Estadio Nacional de Brasilia (Brasilia)
The City: A relative youngster when compared to other well-known cities throughout the world, construction of Brasilia began in 1956, with the city selected to replace Rio de Janeiro as Brazil's capital city. As a result, the city hosts the majority of the country's federal administration. Nevertheless, it is well-known for supporting avant-garde architecture and design. Weather wise, the region will be in the midst of it's dry season, with high temperatures during the day, low temperatures during the night, and plenty of humidity expected. Be careful if you plan to paint your face before a match. No one likes to step in face paint-run off.
Notable matches: Colombia vs. Ivory Coast
Likely excuse: "The humidity was too much! Did you see Didier?! He wilted on the pitch! Wilted!"
Stadium name: Arena Pantanal (Cuiaba)
The City: Curiously located in the exact center of the South American continent, Cuiaba is an ecological joy with access to three of Brazil's most important environments: the Pantanal wetlands, the Cerrado savannahs and the Amazon. It's no wonder, then, that the city is known as the 'Green City,' a location where environmental sustainability is emphasized. Thankfully, the tournament falls outside of the region's rainy season, but high temperatures during the day and extremely low temperatures at night should be anticipated. No one will judge you if you skip matches for a zip-line through the Amazon.
Notable matches: Russia vs. Korea Republic
Likely excuse: "I intended to call Andrei Arshavin to the team, but he was busy canoeing through the Amazon. We would've won if he had played."
Stadium name: Arena da Baixada (Curitiba)
The City: The most populated city in the Southern region of Brazil, Curitiba is culturally diverse. Throughout the 19th century, the city experienced an immigration boom, with significant populations of Germans, Italians, Ukrainians and Polish moving to the city, playing a significant role establishing the culture that underpins the region. It's going to be cold, with daily temperatures expected to sit between 49°F and 68°F. Don't be the person who doesn't bring a jacket because "Brazil has perfect weather."
Notable matches: Australia vs. Spain
Likely excuse: Excuses are unlikely. Spain is going to hammer Australia.
Stadium name: Estadio Castelao (Fortaleza)
The City: One of the premier tourist attractions in north-east Brazil, Fortaleza offers miles upon miles upon miles of perfect beaches. And with perfect beaches comes a population preoccupied with seafood and water sport activities, including several speed-slides recently created to attract even greater numbers of tourists. Located almost exactly on the equator, Fortaleza is typically hot, so expect to spend plenty of time at the beach. Do be careful playing volleyball though; we all know your back hasn't been the same since the incident...
Notable matches: Brazil vs. Mexico
Likely excuse: "Hulk is stuck in a slide. We're still coordinating with the local authorities to get him out."
Stadium name: Arena Amazonia (Manaus)
The City: Located at the exact point where the Black and Amazon rivers meet, the city - I CAN'T BREATHE IT'S SO HOT AND THE HUMIDITY WHY WOULD THEY PUT A MATCH HERE SEND HELP OH GOD SEND HELP!
Notable matches: England vs. Italy
Likely excuse: No one will survive this city.
Stadium name: Estadio das Dunas (Natal)
The City: The epitome of a coastal city, Natal was a quiet town until investment throughout the 20th century provided much-needed infrastructure. A tourist trap for Brazilians and foreigners alike, the city is proudly known as Cidade do Sol (Sun City), with locals enjoying 300 days of sun per year. Have fun scuba diving, but when enjoying the night life, remember, one community college dance class doesn't make you an expert.
Notable matches: Ghana vs. USA
Likely excuse: "Jurgen was busy under a cabana. He never told us what to do."
Stadium name: Estadio Beira-Rio (Porto Alegre)
The City: As a city, Porto Alegre shares more with neighbors Argentina and Uruguay than with the rest of Brazil, including a focus on barbecued meat. A city with a sub-tropical climate, the region has more than one million trees spread throughout its limits, making it one of Brazil's greenest cities. That said, temperatures should be fairly cool, so bring a jacket. You're not going to listen, but I'm going to say it anyway: pace yourself at the churrascarias. You really don't need to eat 14 pounds of steak in one sitting. It'll seem like a great decision at the time, but you'll regret it later.
Notable matches: Nigeria vs. Argentina
Likely excuse: "Leo seemed slow. Maybe it was because he ate 14 pounds of steak yesterday..."
Stadium name: Arena Pernambuco (Recife)
The City: A coastal city, Recife has much in common with relatively nearby Natal. While long stretches of sandy beaches and an exciting nightlife are characteristics to make the most of, Recife also caters to those with a thirst for history. A region in which the Dutch were influential throughout the colonial period, Recife is well-known for city streets populated by classic architecture. That said, Recife will be in the midst of its rainy season throughout the World Cup, so YOUR DREAM BEACH VACATION IS RUINED! Seriously though, just take a windbreaker. It'll probably be fine.
Notable matches: USA vs. Germany
Likely excuse: "I made a mistake. We needed Landon..."
Stadium name: Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador)
The City: Looking back, the history of Salvador is a dark one. One of the first urban areas to be settled in Brazil by the Portuguese, the city initially acted as a hub for the slave trade in South America. While that heritage should never be overlooked, it also contributed to the rich culture that underlines the city in its modern form, with African and Indigenous conventions a major influence. Colorful, bright and affecting, Salvador is a city that shouldn't be missed, especially since the city has plans to organize a miniature carnival during the course of the tournament. Don't pack glitter. You'll probably be able to buy some once you land.
Notable matches: Spain vs. Netherlands
Likely excuse: "The last time we saw Fernando, he was doing the samba with a Papier-mâché armadillo. Thank God his parents signed the permission slip."
Stadium name: Arena de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo)
The City: One of the most populated cities in the world, Sao Paulo is Brazil's financial and business hub. As a result of this industrial outlook, Sao Paulo has persistently attracted immigrants from across the globe, with the city home to more than 100 different ethnic groups. The city will offer plenty to visitors, including museums, art galleries, theaters, concerts, and, well, impenetrable traffic. Similarly, weather conditions are unclear, as the average day in Sao Paulo can shift from Summer highs to Winter lows in a matter of minutes.Bring plenty of disposable mittens.
Notable matches: England vs. Uruguay
Likely excuse: "The stadium wasn't finished. The game was canceled."
Stadium name: Estadio Do Maracana (Rio de Janeiro)
The City: Rio! Do you really need a description of Rio de Janeiro? Fine. Just imagine everything you could ever want in a city; got it? Okay, yeah, that city would be Rio. With a diverse culture, a rich history, gorgeous beaches and a positive outlook towards its future, Rio is a fantastic city ready to show its best side during the World Cup.
Notable matches: THE WORLD CUP FINAL
Likely excuse: "We were eliminated in the group stage. Why are you asking me about the final?"