2014 World Cup Group Stage
When: Thursday June 12, 2014 4pm EST
Where: World Wide
by Tim of Predictem.com
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19 Tournament appearances, a record five World Cup titles, only team to appear in every single World Cup, a player who is the all time leading scorer in World Cup history, and another player owning three World Cup Individual medals; Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup! Its ALL HYPE! We love the hype though, with passion and a sense of drama, we love it so! The World Cup Draw is final and the teams and matches are set. Who will meet in the Estadio Maracana finals in 2014? The action begins with Group stage play; thirty-two teams divided equally into eight groups of four. Round Robin play pairing the eligible teams down to sixteen. Upsets, dramatic finishes, and tons of surprises wait! Lets get started assessing the final thirty-two and their chances.
GROUP A: Brazil (10th in the World)(-400 to Win Group, -2500 to qualify) vs. Croatia (16th in the World)(+900 to Win Group, +125 to qualify) vs. Mexico (20th in the World)(+800 to Win Group, +110 to qualify) vs. Cameroon (51st in the World)(+2500 to Win Group, +500 to qualify)
Brazil is the Host country and automatic qualifier. Brazil is extremely talented, as usual, but suffers, as usual, as a collection of individuals on a team instead of team made up of individuals. Brazil lacks a cohesive Team Concept preferring to focus on individual performance and goals with flair than progressing through the fieldas a team—on their way to the Estadio Maracana and the World Cup Finals. In Group play, the Brazilians could find trouble with Croatia but only for a moment; Croatia loses Mario Mandzukic for probably two matches after being sent off against Iceland. Croatia can score and contend—in Croatia—but not away. Look for points with Croatia vs Mexico and Cameroon. The Croatians can slip into qualifying for Knock-Out Stage by playing Mexico and Cameroon tough. The Mexicans El Tri are an enigma. Mexico had to beat New Zealand just to qualify for the World Cup after burping all over their Red and Green in CONCACAF qualifying. Mexico looked tired, uninterested and uninspired for most of 2012-2013 but still have enormous talent to surprise. Cameroon is stuck in controversy and lack of World Class talent. If Chelseas Samuel Eto can figure out who he is supposed to play for then the Les Lions Indomptables might have one World Class player on the roster and a chance for a Draw or two. Doubtfulbut possiblewith a completely pressing defense and a couple of miraculous bounces (see: Swiss vs Spain 2010 Opening Game!).
My Pick to Win: Brazil to Win and Croatia to qualify. Mexico has incredible talent on their team with loads of International experience. What Mexico lacks, and has lacked for the better part of 2 years, is a purpose and a playing style that suits El Tri. Mexico is fabulous but after Drawing Nil against archrival USA in hallowed Estadio Azteca March 26, 2013, Mexico has looked much like a patient suffering a lobotomy on the pitch. The upside for Mexico; Football Manager Vucetich was replaced by Miguel Herrera offering the Mexican side and fans the last possible variable to electrify this dormant but talented club. Croatia is the much safer pick to qualify in this Group UNLESS, El Tri gets their act together. Cameroon should enjoy the festivities for as long as possible in Brazil. Cameroons slippers will turn into flip flops just after the final whistle in the Group Stage matches. NOTE: If Mexico does find their passion just over the rainbow, El Tri is good enough to beat the Brazilians in the Quarters!
GROUP B: Spain (Number 1 in the World)(-240 to Win Group, -900 to Qualify) vs. Netherlands (9th in the World)(+200 to Win Group, -300 to Qualify) vs. Chile (15th in the World)(+400 to Win Group, +110 to Qualify) vs. Australia (59th in the World)(+3500 to Win Group, +1000 to Qualify)
The Spanish look to be on their way towards another World title in this Group. Group B is loaded with possibilities and the most anticipated match Spain vs Netherlands (a rematch of the brutal 2010 World Cup Final) is seen as a catharsis for the sport. Netherlands completely came unglued against the Spaniards in the 2010 Final fouling egregiously and without regard for personal safetykinda like the Old Pittsburgh Steelers defense! The Spaniards play one way: tight three-man triangles controlling the ball with short, crisp passes for around 70% of the match and winning ingloriously 2-0 or 1-0; the style is called Tiki-taka. World professional Club Champ Barcelona (Barca) has used this style to destroy everyone on European soil and throughout the world. Unfortunately for Barca and Real Madrid (and the Spanish National Team!), the rest of the world has adjusted and learned how to beat Tiki-taka! La Liga clubs Barca and Real Madrid employ over half of the Spanish National Team and ALL of the Spanish National Teams Top players (except MessiArgentina and Neymar.Brazil). Case in point: 2013 UEFA Champions League Finals1st Leg, Bayern 3-0 Barca. 2nd Leg, Bayern 4-0 Barca. 2nd Leg, Dortmund 4-1 Real Madrid. Spain will be hard-pressed to put a no-loss run through the World Cup and Netherlands are waiting and can really P-L-A-Y! La Rojas game plan will be to be conservative (as usual) and stay away from a confrontation with Netherlands. Chile can compete in this Group and will have a say if Spain decides to Draw with Chile. Australias GK is absolutely horrible and the Aussies have ZERO chance of making it out of this Group. Look for Spain to play keep away with Chile and maybe a surprising result will occur? El Roja might end up losing to the Netherlands rather than put the club through a painful re-enactment of the South African Final! Theres a good chance Chile can see the end of the tunnel if Spain makes a few mistakesand everyone in this World Cup will be watching tapes of the Bayern/Barca 1st and 2nd legs.
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My Pick to Win: Netherlands to Win Group. Spain to qualify. Chile has a REAL chance to upset the Spaniards here! Spain does not have Chelseas Fernando Torres as a healthy substitute to cherry pick goals. Torres was uniquely spectacular for the Spanish National Team in the past, but his skills have waned along with his mystique and style. Manchester Uniteds Robin Van Persie is a magician Striker for Netherlands pressuring a team wishing to control the ball (the Spaniards) as a quick strike counter-attack threat. Spain should qualify but Chile will be right there in every match!
GROUP C: Columbia (4th in the World)(-150 to Win Group, -400 to qualify) vs. Cote dIvoire (Ivory Coast) (17th in the World)(+400 to Win Group, +100 to qualify) vs. Japan (48th in the World)(+500 to Win Group, +120 to qualify) vs. Greece (12th in the World)(+600 to Win Group, +190 to qualify)
There is no way Columbia is the 4th best football team in the world! The Columbians are back in the World Cup for the first since 1998 boasting nine members that play in the MLS????!!!!!! The Columbians were 9-4-3 in CONMEBOL Qualifying and are led by AS Monaco Striker Radamel Falcoa. Falcoa is a prolific scorer in the French Ligue 1 sitting 4th in total goals, but Falcoa has zero assists to his credit and only 20 goals in 50 Columbia National Team matches. Chile is the number three Team in Group B and the Columbians were down, at home, to Chile 3-0 in October 2013 before Drawing 3-3 in the 2nd half. Columbia got smoked by Uruguay 2-0 in a previous match and squeaked by 23rd ranked Ecuador and Serbia who didnt even qualify for the World Cup! This Group is WIDE OPEN! Japan is a big-time comer. In their last two matches, Japan beat Group H number 1 seed Belgium, in Belgium, 1-0 and Drawing with Netherlands the day before. Japan is technically sound and takes care of the ball quite nicely. Greece is a little overrated but brings passion and desire to each and every World Cup clash. Cote dIvoire is extremely talented but aging. Cote dIvoire has immense International experience which should make them a formidable opponent.
My Pick to Win:Cote dIvoire to Win Group. Japan to qualify. Columbia must go through some growing pains carrying the Andres Escobar legacy. There is no way around it; the intentional killing of a National Team player (Andres) for an own-goal has destroyed Columbias ability to compete internationally. The act was so horrific Columbia may never compete at a high level again. Dont think for one second the current players dont dally about potential repercussions from poor playor a fluke play; they do think about it! Japan has shown they can compete on the International stage and they play intelligent football. Look for upsets right and left in this Group.
GROUP D: Italy (7th in the World)(+190 to Win Group, -330 to qualify) vs. Uruguay ( 6th in the World)(+190 to Win Group, -490 to qualify) vs. England (13th in the World)(+220 to Win Group, +350 to qualify) vs. Costa Rica (31st in the World)(+5000 to Win Group, +1100 to qualify)
Uruguay is a strong team in this Group led by Liverpools Luiz Suarez who has 13 goals in 9 Premier League matches. Suarez most recently had a four goal night against Norwich City and is on a tear! Italy is another European team believing too much in their own invincibility while their last four National Team matches have ended in Draws; Denmark 2-2, Armenia 2-2, Germany 1-1, and Nigeria 2-2. Leave it to the Azzurri to make a spectacle of the unspectacular as Italy limps into the Group Stage. The Italian side is still unsure of who will play for the team in Brazil (caused by the 2-2 to Armenia!)? England has under-performed and under-whelmed in internationally play losing to both Germany and Chile in unspectacular fashion. Still, England has a lot of pressure off of them from fellow UK fans and their lack of expectations in the World Cup with a geriatric assortment of the Same Ole Blunts invading the pitch. I believe the English Lads will do quite nicely in this Group! Costa Rica is definitely a tall order for any points in the Stage.
My Pick to Win: Uruguay to Win Group, England to qualify. The Italians are just too full of themselves. Yes, Italy has won four World Cups but Italy was also bounced out of Group Stage in the 2010 World Cup in 26th Place, and most recently were 3rd in the Confederations Cup (out of six teams) after Drawing with Uruguay in a lackluster effort. The Italians seem to be overly concerned with family matters and not at all concerned with focusing for the 2014 World Cup. England has an axe to grind after a few disastrous escapades internationally. England may not seem to be prepared and that is EXACTLY what England needs; just play football! The English side have the talent and know everything there is to know about Luiz Suarez and Company. Italy gets bounced once againand deservedly somaking this Group upset heaven!
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GROUP E: France (19th in the World)(-110 to Win Group, -500 to qualify) vs. Switzerland (8th in the World)(+275 to Win Group, -162 to qualify) vs. Ecuador (23rd in the World)(+400 to Win Group, -110 to qualify) vs. Honduras (41st in the World)(+2000 to Win Group, +800 to qualify)
France scares the crap out of me! In the 2010 World Cup, the French decided to literally quit and lost 2-0 to Mexico and 2-1 to South Africa as the number 1 seed in their Group. France absolutely quitas the 9th best team in the World making a farce out of their football federation, their country, and themselves! No way would I place a nickel on the French to do ANYTHING other than embarrass each other and their country one more time! Ecuador is no slouch and Switzerland is highly overrated as 8th in the World! The Swiss side qualified for the World Cup in UEFA Group E with Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Albania and Cyprus bringing up the rear. Those are the 50th, 29th, 54th,57th and 127th ranked teams in the world. Cyprus, the 127th ranked team, Drew Nil-Nil with Switzerland in Round Robin play! Ecuador came thru the most competitive Group (South American) and finished 4th one spot ahead of Uruguay! Ecuador is loaded with Barca Players and should make for a very difficult matchup. The Honduras National Team will be a surprise in this tournament and have already started by drawing 2-2 with Ecuador November 19, 2013 in Houston, Texas.
My Pick to Win: Ecuador to Win Group, Honduras to qualify. Switzerland is way over rated and Ecuador is a tough squad with a lot of scoring power. Honduras is used to the humidity and the team is close to home. I have a rule concerning France; Once a Quitter, Always a Quitterand I dont bet on Quitters!
GROUP F: Argentina (3rd in the World)(-400 to Win Group, -5000 to qualify) vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina ( 21st in the World)(+600 to Win Group, -110 to qualify) vs. Nigeria (36th in the World)(+900 to Win Group, +175 to qualify) vs. Iran (45th in the World)(+3300 to Win Group, +500 to qualify)
Argentina is the beast in this Group and in the tournament. Naturally I have Argentina winning the Group because I have Argentina winning the whole enchilada! The Super Eagles played Spain and Uruguay tough in the 2013 Confederations Cup before pressing the attack against both teams at inopportune times creating a vacuum on defense with breakaway goals. If the Green Eagles can stay patient, they could easily hop into the 2nd transfer position. Iran has virtually no chance of moving thru Group Stage play. It isnt because the Iranians are not talented enough; the Iranians have enormous talent! The reason the Iranians wont move on is because Iranian football is entirely cloistered inside the Iranian protectorate making experience with better players and different styles an impossible scenario. The Iranians will pay the price for political disease by falling short in the World Cup Group Stage. Bosnia-Herzegovina (BH) is also highly talented team but also suffers from limited international experience. BH isnt quite the political fortress Iran is, but BH is a newcomer to the World football stage and should experience more than their share of nervousness in the tournament.
My Pick to Win: Argentina to Win, Nigeria to qualify. Argentina is the choice of anyone sensible to win this Group. The Nigerian National Team is a team surrounded by incredible support, talent, speed, size, and strategy putting the Super Eagles team as my second choice to move on.
GROUP G: Germany (2nd in the World, )(-200 to Win Group, -600 to qualify) vs. Portugal (5th in the World)(+260 to Win Group, -200 to qualify) vs. Ghana (24th in the World)(+1100 to Win Group, +250 to qualify) vs. USA (14th in the World)(+1200 to Win Group, +250 to qualify)
Germany is a HUGE favorite to move forward in this Group. Cristiano Renaldo leading Portugal is a very difficult 2nd choice team to overlook. Ghana has proven they can play in Africa but not Win It ALL in Africa last winning the African Cup of Nations in 1982. The Black Stars did reach the 2010 World Cup Quarter-finals against Uruguay but after Drawing 1-1, the Black Stars were eliminated on penalty kicks. Coincidentally, the USA also made the KO Round of 16 in 2010 and was beaten 2-1 by the Black Stars. Dont look for Ghana and the USA to qualify out of this Group. In 2010, Ghana and the USA were treated to very weak Group teams like Slovenia and Algeria (for the USA), and Australia and Serbia (for Ghana) although Serbia was a relatively competitive team at the time. If either team makes it out of Group Stage play, it will be Ghana. Why? The best athletes/competitors in the USA simply do not play World Cup football! Until NFL wide receivers, NBA power forwards and point guards, and MLB center fielders start playing futbol, the USA will be watching the World Cup Finals from Row C of a Boeing 757!
My Pick to Win: Argentina to Win Group and Portugal to qualify. Argentina is an easy choice but some believe Portugal is not as good as most people believe. I suggest this: If Cristiano Renaldo is on the pitch for Portugal, every team except the Top 4 seeds will be beaten by Portugal if Renaldo wills it. Ive seen the show too many teams with Real Madrid and the Portuguese International Team!
GROUP H: Belgium (11th in the World )(-150 to Win Group, -700 to qualify) vs. Russia (22nd in the World)(+175 to Win Group, -275 to qualify) vs. South Korea (54th in the World)(+900 to Win Group, +190 to qualify) vs. Algeria (26th in the World)(+3300 to Win Group, +650 to qualify)
The Belgians have good waffles, great chocolate, and a respectable league (Belgian Pro League), and now they own the top spot in Group H after going Worse to First in international football. 7 years ago, Belgium was the 71st ranked Team in FIFA and somewhere between 11th and 6th (depending on FIFAs mood for the month). Frankly, the resurrection of Belgian football has been nothing less than spectacular! Just 12 years ago Belgium hosted the European Championships and was thoroughly embarrassed by horrible play. The Red Devils decided Enough is Enough and mandated to ALL feeder clubs (Under 17, Under 18etc. etc. etc.) to institute a 4-3-3 system which has paid off dramatically! In Belgium, the mind has changed, the system has changed, the expectations have changed, and the results have changed! Russia comes to the World Cup extremely experienced and well-conditioned and should be your solid number 2 seed. South Korea and Algeria make up a great one-two punch for World Cup Cinderella, but if either makes it out of Group Play the clock will start ticking for their departure from Brazil. Algeria is here as more of a political reckoning within FIFA. Algeria has always put up a good fight on the pitch, but the talent and style along with Goalkeeping is just not up to the level required for World Cup success.
My Pick to Win: Belgium to Win Group, Russia to qualify. Belgium is for real! Russia is also for real but a step behind the major European powers and 2 steps behind the Argentineans. If a few bounces go the right way for these 2 squads, either team could find themselves in the semi-finals!