On June 12, tens of thousands of passionate hooligans will converge in Brazil to take part in what many regard as the greatest party on Earth. That’s right, the 2014 World Cup is not far away, and it’s set to take the globe by storm.
It seems like the perfect time for all the armchair experts, including me, to give their opinions on who the winners and losers will be in Brazil. So, here goes …
Group A features powerhouse and host nation Brazil. Throw in perennially strong Croatia and add Mexico and Cameroon to the mix, and you have the makings of a very entertaining group. It’s hard to see anyone toppling Brazil, who will be driven by passionate fans as well as an array of the world’s most talented footballers. I can see Brazil winning the entire tournament, bouncing back from their last two disastrous World Cup campaigns. As for the remainder of Group A, there doesn’t seem to be much between Mexico and Croatia. However, I think that Croatia will join Brazil in the elimination rounds.
Group B is incredibly strong – arguably the second-toughest pool at the tournament. 2010 World Cup champion Spain will faceoff against 2010 World Cup finalists Netherlands. Throw in a side like Chile, whose ball movement is incredible and possesses unrivaled pace, and anything could happen. Oh, and Australia will be in Group B, too. I can sense an upset in this group, with Spain and Chile progressing.
Group C doesn’t possess the same level of talent as the first two groups, but I expect Japan and Colombia to overcome Greece and Ivory Coast to progress to the second round.
Group D is very dangerous. 2006 World Cup champion Italy will progress, but whether England, Uruguay or Costa Rica follows them is hard to say. England is notorious for failing just when it matters the most, so don’t be surprised if Uruguay finishes second in this group.
Group E seems to be one of the weakest in the tournament. Sure, Switzerland is ranked eighth in the world, but does anyone really believe that they are better than Italy? France is not the powerhouse it once was, Ecuador only seems to be able to get results at home and Honduras is more than likely happy just to be participating. Switzerland and France should progress here.
Group F should see Argentina cruise to victory, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina. Iran and Nigeria should provide a little competition for second place, but I’d be surprised to see them beat either of the two highest-ranked teams in their pool.
Group G. Some would call it the Group of Death. With a German team full of stars, Portugal being led by Christiano Ronaldo and Ghana taking huge leaps in international football, the United States appears to have its work cut out. The U.S. should be able to beat Ghana, but it seems unlikely it will be good enough to finish as one of the pool’s top two teams. Don’t be surprised to see either of these two teams in the semi-finals.
Finally, Group H seems to also be devoid of the talent seen in other pools. Belgium and South Korea will progress, overcoming Algeria and Russia along the way.
It should be a scintillating summer of action in the world’s most football-crazy nation. Expect things to get even crazier when Brazil goes all the way to collect the 2014 World Cup.