Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad
The draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil has finally been settled and we now know who’s going to be playing who, at least at the group stages, and who will probably get out of the groups and go on to win the tournament!
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Ecuador||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Portugal||Algeria|
The opening game of the tournament will be an exciting match between Brazil and Croatia. Brazil will almost certainly win the group, but little separates Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon – all good sides. Whoever emerges from Group A as runner-up however will most likely play the defending champions – Spain – or the 2010 runners-up – Holland – both of whom I’d favour over Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.
A very difficult group. Not only are the World Cup finalists from 2010 in this group (Spain and the Netherlands), but Chile and Australia are also strong sides in contention for the top two spots in the group. Nonetheless, I’d still favour Spain and Holland emerging from the group, but if Spain slips to finish 2nd in the group, we face the prospect of an early knockout match between the World Cup hosts and the defending world champions. Should Spain win the group though, then the only chance they would meet Brazil would be in the final.
Group C is probably one of the weaker groups in the tournament. Colombia and the Ivory Coast are likely to emerge from this group with Japan coming a close third, but I doubt Greece will fare well in this group as one of the tournament’s weaker sides. As one of the weaker groups in the tournament, it is unlikely any of these teams will go far in the tournament, although Colombia could potentially cause a few upsets.
Group D is another very tough group and, unfortunately for England, this is the group it finds itself in. England will be facing seeded Uruguay as well as Italy, who were incredibly unfortunate not to be ranked as one of the seeded sides. On top of that, England will be playing Italy in Manaus, slap bang in the middle of the Amazon rainforest where temperatures will likely be in the mid-thirties and humidity can be at 99%, making it a very uncomfortable match for both the English and the Italians. Alongside them will be Costa Rica who will probably finish last in the group. This will be a very tough group for England but if they do manage to get out of the group, they should beat whoever emerges from Group C, making at least a Quarterfinal finish a real possibility.
Lady Luck is in a full-blown love affair with France, who got placed in by far the easiest group in the tournament. They will face Switzerland, the weakest seed in the tournament by far; Ecuador, the weakest of the South American teams to qualify; and Honduras, the rank outsiders of the tournament. France has absolutely no excuse for not winning this group and considering they should easily beat whoever emerges as runner-up in Group F, France has a clear route to the Quarterfinals. The only thing stopping France from getting out of the group is if they go on strike again. I would bet on Ecuador finishing as runner-up but they would probably play Argentina who almost certainly will win.
This should be a fairly comfortable group for Argentina, who will face Iran, Nigeria, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Either Nigeria or Bosnia could finish 2nd but I would hedge my bets with Nigeria, who perform well at major tournaments. They may come unstuck against France in the knockout stages though, so it could be a disappointing tournament for Nigeria.
This is perhaps the tournament’s “group of death”. Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the USA are all teams that play well in tournaments and there will be a real scrap for the group’s qualifying spots. That said, Germany should win the group and it’s reasonable to hope that Portugal will come 2nd, but it will be very disappointing for the sides that don’t qualify from this group considering how easy some of the other groups are (France…). Germany’s games in particular will be interesting: Portugal, the Germans’ first opponent, will probably provide the sternest opposition; The Ghana game will pitch brother against brother with Jerome Boateng playing for Germany and Kevin-Prince Boateng playing for Ghana; and the USA game will pitch US Coach Jürgen Klinsmann against the country he won the world cup with as a player and the country he once coached.
The last group, which everyone was hoping to get, is another fairly easy group. Belgium and Russia should qualify from the group with South Korea coming a close 3rd and Algeria coming rock bottom, but whoever emerges from this group is unlikely to progress any further than the round of 16, as they will come up against the likes of Germany and Portugal.
Latter stages of the tournament
If England are lucky enough to win Group D, they would probably meet the Ivory Coast, followed by Spain, Argentina or Portugal, and finally Brazil. If England finish as runner up in Group D though, they would probably meet Colombia, followed by Brazil, Germany and Spain in the Final. From an English perspective then, the quarterfinals is a definitely a realistic target but England would have to do something very special to beat either Brazil or Spain to reach the semi-finals, something I doubt will happen in 2014.
As for who I think would win the World Cup? I would say either Spain or Germany due to the fact they have very talented teams who are defensively robust and creative in scoring goals. I don’t think we’ll have an Asian, African nor North American winner this time around. South American teams will do well and score lots of goals, but their defences are leakier than a holey bucket and teams like Germany, Spain and Portugal will really punish the defensive flaws of opposing sides if given the chance. Hosts Brazil will definitely go far though – they’ve got home support and they are certainly the strongest South American side at the moment, although I am still yet to be won over by a couple of their key players and the fact that the Brazilians will have played far fewer competitive games than their rivals in recent years means they might have to slug it out to win the World Cup.
The only thing that will be certain though is that we will be hearing a lot of this during the world cup