1. Players will complain that the ball is too light/moves weirdly/is part of a conspiracy perpetrated by FIFA.
2. Casual fans will complain incessantly about diving.
3. Hardcore fans will complain incessantly about Luis Suarez diving.
4. There will be reports of arguments in the Dutch dressing room.
5. Someone from the French squad will miss a game after a night of partying and “entertaining female visitors.”
6. People will rejoice at the lack of vuvuzelas.
7. People will miss being able to make vuvuzela jokes.
8. A small team will be denied a heroic win against a big team by a controversial refereeing decision in the last five minutes.
9. Pundits will express regret that “exciting” African teams with “raw talent” are let down by “poor goalkeeping” and it will be dreadful.
10. A major star will get injured in training in the weeks before the tournament and everybody will obsess over whether they’ll be fit in time.
11. They will end up playing, but will be rubbish.
12. The German team will be described as “not up to the standards of previous German sides” but will nonetheless make it to the semi-finals.
13. The Brazilian team will be described as “not up to the standards of previous Brazil sides” but will nonetheless make it to the semi-finals.
14. The Italian team will be described as… you get the idea.
15. There will be unnecessarily in-depth reporting about how hot it is.
16. Sepp Blatter will continue to look and act like Dr. Evil.
17. Maradona will give an impromptu, unintelligible sidewalk press conference.
18. After years of tempered expectations, English newspapers will get excited after a half-decent result in the group stage.
19. England will then choke in remarkable fashion. ::cough:: penalties ::cough::
20. Ronaldo will score (at least) one goal of superhuman caliber.
21. And (at least) one goal that is a complete fluke.
22. Either way, he will lift up his shirt to celebrate.
23. He will have a nine-pack.
24. David Beckham will be shown in the stands wearing an asteroid-sized watch and sitting with someone incredibly important.
25. Countless hours will be devoted to explaining “goal-line technology.”
26. Goal-line technology will not be used.
27. The directors of the TV coverage will spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on female Brazilian fans in the crowd rather than the action on the pitch.
28. Neymar will have a haircut that people will only be able to describe as… experimental.
29. Pundits will make several hundred references to Messi not being the best ever until he wins a World Cup.
30. Belgium will be described as the “dark horse” of the tournament several hundred times.
31. A true dark horse will make it through to the quarter-finals through defensive determination and luck. (Bosnia & Herzegovina?!)
32. There will be a substitution drama in at least one game in Manaus, when every player on the field turns into a puddle and evaporates.
33. Pele will be shown on TV every 10 minutes.
34. There will be protests.
35. Probably a lot of protests.
35. American fans will get tired of the questionable play-by-play and even more questionable color commentary on ESPN and switch to the Univision feed even though they don’t understand Spanish.
36. Franz Beckenbauer will look stately and so will Zinedine Zidane.
37. Every time Spain plays, the cameras will constantly jump to shots of Shakira juxtaposed with Pique.
38. If Spain gives up a goal, her suffering and angst will be our suffering and angst.
39. There will be an unexpected standout (probably a tricky winger or attacking midfielder) who will get scooped up by Chelsea/Real Madrid/PSG immediately after the tournament.
40. Arjen Robben will do that thing where he cuts in from the right and shoots with his left and announcers will be apoplectic that defenders still allow him to do it.
41. He will score.
42. American announcers will utter some version of “you have to wonder how Landon Donovan’s presence could have changed things” every time a U.S. player so much as breathes wrong.
43. Gervinho will have the worst hair at the tournament.
44. Kyle Beckerman will be a close second.
45. It will be incredibly fun and unpredictable and you won’t want to miss a second.