World Cup (Groups A-D)

Published: Mar 03, 2014 15:44pm EST
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 03, 2014 @ 03:44pm EST

 

December 6th saw the draw for the 2014 World Cup. Countries were placed in Groups for the tournament being held in Brazil from the 12th June through to the 13th July. Over the next few days I will look at the various Groups, potential surprises, and maybe even get a good gage as to where the USA will end up and who might go on to actually win the World Cup.

GROUP A

We all knew before the draw was made that Brazil would make up one of the teams in this Group. As host country it is tradition that they not only start in Group A but also kick off the whole tournament. Joining them are the Croatians, Mexico and Cameroon.

Croatia missed out on the last World Cup in 2010 in South Africa and failed to qualify out of the Groups in Euro 2012, although they were in a Group with the eventual winners Spain and Italy. The win against Ireland was followed up with a draw against Italy but they fell at the third game against Spain and Italy progressed at their expense and I think it could be the result of the last game of the Group when they face Mexico which will decide if the Europeans stay for the knockout or if they go home..

Mexico, like the other three, all made it to the last World Cup but Cameroon had a very poor showing four years ago. Three defeats saw them out at the Group stage and, they will certainly need to be a lot better this time around to progress above any of the other three. I have to think that this time around will be no different and although they may get points on the board this time around I doubt they will get that qualification place.

Mexico didn’t have a very good qualification run and in fact have to thank the USA for the fact they are at the tournament at all. Ironically when the two sides were drawn in their respective Groups it was Mexico who looked like they had a chance to get through and America would be three and out, but I will talk about them in tomorrow’s piece. Four years ago Mexico were also drawn in Group A and although they struggled in the opening game they did go on to beat France before falling to Uruguay 1-0. That was enough to secure their qualification and it could be a similar story this time around. They could struggle in the opening game against Cameroon and lose against Brazil but will be well in with a shout when they face Croatia in the final game of the Group.

Brazil of course are hosts and have won the trophy more than any other country, winning it five times. However, one time they didn’t win it was back in 1950 when they again hosted the tournament. Mexico were in their Group that time too and although they did hammer Mexico 4-0 in the opening game they did stumble against Switzerland before securing their progression in a must win game against Yugoslavia. Much depends this time around on how the side handles the home crowd expectations but even if they stutter in the opening game I cannot see any other side than Brazil finishing top of the Group.

Qualification: Brazil, Mexico.



GROUP B

2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro champions Spain were first out in Group B followed by the Netherlands, Chile and Australia. At first you might think that you know which two of these sides will progress but let me give you my take on it.

Australia will be the favorites to go home in this Group and first off they face the other side tipped to drop out at the Group stage but in my mind this is a very important game for both sides. If Australia can win it then it could give them the encouragement they would need to get a point or more against the Netherlands in their next match and an Australian progression could be on the cards.

The scenario that appeals to me though is for Chile to win that opening game against Australia and assuming everyone has a similar result against Spain then their final game against the Netherlands could be a winner takes all. Chile will be more used to the climate and even at that stage will be considered underdogs I think and so all the pressure will be firmly on the Dutch side. Four years ago Chile did qualify from their Group and faced Brazil in the next round. That scenario could play out again this time around.

Two years ago in the Euros the Dutch had a bad start losing to Denmark and never recovered. Defeats against Germany set them up in a must win against Portugal and despite going a goal up they couldn’t do enough for the result and lost. They did do well in the last World Cup however they had a great start and continued that throughout. Their start is vital and this time around they start against Spain, and add to that the fact they haven’t even lifted the trophy in their history.

Spain are a side that will always step it up at major tournaments. That said the core of the squad is getting to the age now where this could be their last time at a World Cup. Will this spur them on to a last conquest or will the heat and humidity sap these aged legs? I think there is enough left in this team to make it to through the Groups but after that I think they could be vulnerable.

Qualification: Spain, Chile.



GROUP C:

To me, this is one of the more open Groups with a case to be made for any team to qualify. Colombia will be favorites for top spot of course but Ivory Coast, Greece and even Japan have the potential to get that second spot.

The problem Japan has is the way the fixtures have come out. First up is the Ivory Coast and traditionally both sides start slow in tournaments. Four years ago Japan did face another African side in Cameroon in the opening game but, as pointed out earlier, Cameroon weren’t exactly dominant four years ago. They did make it out of the Group but then went out at the very next stage on penalties to Paraguay after a goal less game.

Ivory Coast are tough to argue against except for their ability to start slow. It cost them four years ago in South Africa and after the tie with Portugal they lost to Brazil and despite winning their final game they went home while Portugal and Brazil progressed. I will go out on a limb and say if they do not win in their opening game next June then they will face a similar fate.

Greece have the better fixture schedule in my opinion. First off they have Colombia in the opening game. If they can get something from these guys then it will give them confidence when they face Japan five days later and set up a potential winner takes all against the Ivory Coast in the final game.

Colombia should be considered the guys to target in this group. Again, as I said earlier, this Group is still wide open so they still must start well and assured. They will be more used to the conditions I think than their first opponents and as such should have that to their advantage.

Qualification: Colombia, Ivory Coast.



GROUP D

As an Englishman I am not particularly happy with the way the draw went but there is nothing we can do about it right now and let’s face it, it could have been worse. In the English Group are Uruguay, the winners of the whole thing the last time it was held in Brazil, Costa Rica and Italy.

England do not do well in the heat, they are miserable and sweat, a lot! With that in mind consider the fact that the first game is in the rainforest where the humidity is around 90% and you start to appreciate the mountain to climb for the 1966 winners. That first game is against fellow Europeans Italy but the next two games are against Uruguay and Costa Rica, both more used to the conditions in Brazil. England struggled four years ago in South Africa but just qualified before being knocked out by Germany while were eliminated by Group D opponents Italy in the Euro’s two years ago. In 1950 when the English traveled to Brazil for a World Cup they were beaten by a USA side much poorer than the one which will go next year and went out at the Group stage.

Italy actually did worse than England four years ago but of course defeated them in the Euros two years later and made it all the way to the Final before losing to Spain. This opening game will be key for both European sides with the victor having the upper hand for qualification. A tie however might see Costa Rica steal a march into a qualification spot.

Costa Rica play Italy after their opener with Uruguay and no matter that result a win against the Europeans could see them in a final day game against England with a chance of either progressing.

Uruguay are odds on to progress top of the Group and who would bet against them, especially if Suarez can continue his free scoring performances he currently is putting in for Liverpool. Uruguay came close four years ago before being dumped out at the semi final stage. This time around though they could go one better. Will the recreate the final of 1950 in Brazil? Who knows.

Qualification: Uruguay, Italy.



So with these predictions made the first part of the Round of Sixteen will feature these matches:

Brazil v Chile

Colombia v Italy

Spain v Mexico

Uruguay v Ivory Coast.
 

Tomorrow I will look at Groups E through to H and get the other Round of Sixteen qualifiers including the US Men’s National Team and how they might progress in the Group of Death!


 

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Jason Bardwell
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