It’s almost here! The 2014 Brazil World Cup! Yes there is no better way to set up your World Cup excitement than watching an overly long presentation which seems to go on and on and on and on and in the end any excitement it could have had has been beaten out of it by a bunch of old men slowly opening balls, not exactly what I want to watch on a Friday night…
I could sit here and complain about the FIFA World Rankings and how it is ridiculous that a team like Switzerland (who would struggle to make the top 8 European teams if you were to rank them) and Uruguay (who scraped through their qualification system). Anyway, we have our 32 teams and we now have our 8 groups. Some are good, some are bad, and some are darn right yucky (yes yucky). So let’s get ahead and break down the groups.
This group consists of Brazil, Cameroon, Mexico and Croatia; which I would rank as the 4th, 7th, 5th, 8th in their respective pots.
The hosts Brazil were always going to be drawn into Group A and I’m sure they were more than happy to see Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon join them. Brazil would genuinely have struggled to pick an easier group than they received and I’m sure the other teams are quite chuffed as well. Croatia was the worst team that qualified from Europe, Mexico were lucky as hell to qualify from North America and Cameroon are an average African team. Brazil will walk this group with ease and maybe go for some chips half way through the third match.
The other spot is very much up for grabs, toss a coin with three sides and pick one (not sure if there is such a thing…a triangle maybe?). You have to think that Mexico and their big tournament experience will probably help them more than the other two. It really is a shit group.
Group B is a hell of a lot more like it; Spain, Chile, Australia and Holland (ranked at 2nd, 2nd, 6th and 1st). I would say that this is the toughest group of the draw (possibly Group G), and that’s what happens when you get two Europeans and a South American in there. Australia are totally out of their depth and will be lucky to get a point in this group, so it is down to the other three to battle it out between themselves.
It is interesting to note that we have the 2010 World Cup finalists in the same group, and I think that only one is going to make it through. I think that Spain are on the downswing of a golden generation, and could struggle quite badly in this World Cup, although they are still competitive. I also think that Holland are on the downswing of what was a good but not great generation of players and are going to seriously struggle this World Cup. With that in mind, I think that we may see a big scalp at this early stage. Chile have a good team and with the old European’s struggle in South America adage, I think that they will progress to the next stage.
Due to this I think that Spain will finish top of the group, but Holland will miss out to Chile for the second slot, seeing their World Cup dreams destroyed for another 4 years (can’t be easy being Dutch, although I’m Scottish so we’ve got it worse).
Group C sees Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece drawn together in what can only be called the group of boredom; these teams rank out at 6th, 5th, 3rd and 6th.
This can only be described as an incredibly weak group; it isn’t that Colombia are necessarily a bad team, but rather that they are a weak team in their pot. I think that Colombia could well be a dark horse for the World Cup (the Belgium of South America). Colombia have good players, have had a strong year and most importantly are South American. The last point is potentially the most important, with European teams tending to struggled in humid climates (not a problem for Colombia) and that is why the statistic is thrown about that a European team has never won in the America’s (you can add Japan/Korea to that as well), that would imply that a South American team is bound to win, and Colombia are the third best South American team. Historical data plus a good team mean Colombia are dark horses.
The other spot is a toss a three sided kind of thing (wait haven’t I used that joke?) because it really could be any of the three. Japan have at best an average side, Ivory Coast’s golden generation is past its best and they are perennial under achievers and Greece is Greece. Based off the fact that Greece have a tendency to over achieve and are a tough team to beat, I think of the three they are probably the most likely to make it through.
Group D consists of Uruguay, Italy, Costa Rica and England which would rank them out at 7th, 1st, 2nd and 3rd in their respective pots.
This is an incredibly interesting group, with the number one seeded team being on the low end of the quality scale and the other three teams are at the top end of their own respective scales. Naturally Costa Rica are out of their depth in this group, but could provide a banana skin for the other three teams if they are not careful. Italy are probably the best team in the group, but Italy have the tendency to either be outstanding or awful in major competitions, so it is never a certainty with them. The other spot is up for grabs between Uruguay and England, neither is particularly good nor will either team challenge for the trophy, but both teams do have outstanding players (Rooney and Suarez). England are generally an under achieving nation, and Uruguay are generally an over achieving nation. However it is due to Uruguay’s greater number of game winners that I think they will take the second spot in the group and go through with Italy.
Group E is….. How can I put this nicely? Absolute shit. We have Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras and France which would rank at 8th, 6th, 7th and 5th.
I’m sure all four teams are delighted with the draw, because each will believe that they have a great chance of making the knockout stage. Group E is the worst group of the World Cup draw, and will see two very weak teams make it through. France somehow find themselves the quality of a group (which is hard to believe because they aren’t a good team) and will qualify to the next round because of that. Switzerland will probably take the second slot, with the other two teams not being all that good. Even though it is unlikely that Ecuador and Honduras will be able to get through the group stage, if they are going to do it, this is the group to do it in.
Group F sees many peoples favourite for the tournament Argentina joined with Nigeria, Iran and Bosnia which would rank out as 3rd, 3rd, 8th and 7th.
Quite a clear cut group with one excellent team, one good team and two teams that are out of their depth. Bosnia aren’t a bad team, but just making it to the tournament for them is a huge achievement, I think anything beyond would be optimistic. In Nigeria you have the best team from Africa and in Argentina you have a serious contender for the trophy.
Personally I think that Group G is the group of death, it is full of quality at all slots; pitting Germany, Ghana, USA and Portugal together; ranking out at 1st, 4th, 1st and 2nd.
For me, Germany have the best group of players in the world by quite some distance. It really is incredible when you look at the depth and quality of players that Germany can choose from, to the extent that some players won’t make it to the World Cup despite being good enough to play for most other teams. Germany should win the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean they will, but are they the team to break with tradition and win in humid conditions?
The second place spot is very much up for grabs, although it is hard to not think that Cristiano Ronaldo will drag Portugal through to the next round. Both Ghana and the USA are more than capable of finishing above Portugal (because they are a one man team) but often having one outstanding player can be the difference in tight games, and it just happens that Portugal have what is probably the best player in the world (at the current moment). For that reason (and if you haven’t got it, because of Cristiano Ronaldo) I think Portugal will sneak through.
Our final group sees Belgium, Algeria, South Korea and Russia meet up to finish off of World Cup bonanza, which ranks out as 5th, 8th, 4th and 4th.
In a common theme in this post, it seems as if we will see another two European teams going through to the next round. I think Belgium could potentially be an outsider to do well in the tournament, although it does have a feeling that they are on a slight downswing currently and they have a very light squad which will need to stay fit if they are to have a chance. Russia will probably take the other spot, although they do have a tendency to underperform in major competitions. Algeria are totally out of their depth and South Korea aren’t nearly as good as they were 10 years ago.
Round of 16
So there you go if you have been counting here are the winners and runners up in each group (in that order):
Group A- Brazil & Mexico
Group B- Spain & Chile
Group C- Colombia & Greece
Group D- Italy & Uruguay
Group E- France & Switzerland
Group F- Argentina & Nigeria
Group G- Germany & Portugal
Group H- Belgium & Russia
This equates to 9 European teams, 5 South American teams, 1 North American team and 1 African team. I’m sure there will be some shocks and I will have got some wrong, but just in case you wonder who the two most dominant continents in world football are, it is clear what I think.
I’m not a big fan of predicting beyond this stage normally because everything depends on the draw, however the World Cup is a fully set out tournament so I will go on and give you how I think the rest of the tournament will go (expect to see lots of mistakes to what actually happens in the real tournament, because if I could predict this stuff I’d be loaded). I’m not going to fill out the last 16 part because it is just the winner vs runner up from the groups which are next to each other (A-B, C-D, etc). The best match of my last 16 is either Brazil v Chile or Belgium v Portugal, both could go either way.
Brazil v Colombia
Nigeria v Germany
Spain v Italy
Argentina v Belgium
These look like four delicious quarter finals, with all but one being highly competitive. Here are the Semis I think will come out of those four matches.
Brazil v Germany
Italy v Argentina
I really believe that the quarters (as I have predicted) could go either way quite easily (excluding the Germany game). I think that Italy will post the shock of the round by putting out the defending champions with a shock win.
Germany v Argentina
Yes I have the home town heroes missing out by just one game to those pesky Germans. I think that Germany and Argentina are best and third best teams respectively in the world, and both are deserving of playing in the World Cup final. Germany play all their group matches in the north of the country, and all their knockout stage matches in the bottom half of the country, this lack of travelling will help the Germans throughout the tournament, when other teams (Brazil especially) travel large distances across what is a massive country. Argentina have an even more favourable fixture list, with all of their matches being played in the south of the country, which is a huge advantage. So who will be the 2014 FIFA World Cup winners?
Germany have been threatening to win a major competition for years now, and with their squad starting to come of age, this is the European team to break the ‘no European team has ever won in the America’s’ rules of thumb. Germany have so much depth and quality, they are built to win tournaments and I think this will be the first of what could be the beginning of a Spain like dominance of international football.
These are my opinions on how the World Cup will go in six months’ time; however six months is a long time in football, and many things can change very easily. Who knows maybe next June I will be talking about how England could put in a feasible challenge for the title….I would have been committed, but you never know what will happen in six months. Personally I think that there are at most eight (being generous) teams that could feasibly win the World Cup, everyone else is just there to take part.
So leave a comment about what you thought of the 2014 World Cup draw, and what teams you think will have a chance of lifting the most coveted trophy in sport. Plus find all the latest update for bm23sportsreviews on Facebook and Twitter.