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Revving Up for the World Cup

DaMarcus Beasley, center, and the U.S. national team ran laps Thursday, their first day at World Cup training camp in Cary, N.C.
Sara D. Davis
/
AFP/Getty Images
DaMarcus Beasley, center, and the U.S. national team ran laps Thursday, their first day at World Cup training camp in Cary, N.C.

The upcoming FIFA World Cup soccer tournament will feature the best teams the world has to offer -- and arguable the most devoted fans of any global sporting event. The quadrennial tournament is being held in Germany, where the home team will be coached by retired star Juergen Klinsmann.

The championship game will be played in Berlin on July 9. But along the way, the matches among the 32 qualifying nations are expected to generate a worldwide television viewing audience measured in the billions.

While fans of many national teams are nervously anticipating the first match, and their side's first victory, none are more anxious than the English, whose team is in danger of becoming international soccer's version of the Boston Red Sox -- before their breakthrough win. The English have not won a championship since 1966.

In Europe, the European Champions League is holding its final next Wednesday, between Barcelona and Arsenal in Paris. After that, many national teams will be at full strength, and they will play friendly matches to tune up for the World Cup.

The United States team, currently training in Cary, N.C., will face Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia on its home soil in the coming weeks before leaving to train in Hamburg.

Robert Siegel talks with Wall Street Journal sportswriter Stefan Fatsis.

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