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In an unprecedented act of global hospitality, Brazil will play host to both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

But the country’s star turn actually kicks off this summer with the launch of the eight-team soccer tournament the Confederations Cup (June 15–30). The competition is largely viewed as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup proper, but with a Murderers’ Row of teams, including Spain, Uruguay, Italy and Mexico, expected to field their strongest sides, the contest promises to be as fierce as the celebration will be frenzied.

The Confederations Cup, which opens in the capital city, Brasília, when home team Brazil, led by the impish talent of Neymar, faces Japan, may offer the best chance for the cognoscenti to savor a new, freshly gussied-up Brazil ahead of the thronging crowds to come. The country is, indeed, fast preparing for its time in the spotlight. Eighty-five new hotels are expected to be built in Rio de Janeiro alone over the next three years as the city rushes to overhaul its transportation system with a $2.5 billion facelift. Architect and designer Guto Requena describes the impact these global competitions have had on the city as monumental. “In Rio they are building five new museums, a boom involving international projects from designers such as Santiago Calatrava [the Museum of Tomorrow], Christian de Portzamparc [Cidade da Música Roberto Marinho] and Diller Scofidio + Renfro [the Museum of Image and Sound] that will finally create some contemporary architecture amid the modernist Brazilian skyline.”

Requena has no doubt Cup-goers will like what they see. “Our self-esteem is growing as we develop more interesting buildings. Buildings that truly carry a sense of ‘Brazilianness.’”

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