World Cup Draw Review

FIFA World Cup

As most of you know, the draw for the World Cup was held on Friday in Sao Paulo, Brazil in front of dignitaries, glad-handers, and millions of television viewers. Once the “entertainment” and useless blather was completed, (a moment of silence for Nelson Mandela was done with dignity and class, FIFA does deserve praise for that.) the actual draw took place.

To the surprise of no one, it looked nothing like my mock World Cup draw, but I’m OK with that. There will be some fascinating fixtures during the group stage, even though there is no consensus “Group of Death” to speak of. Here’s a look at each group.

Group A:

Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Brazil Soccer

A favourable draw for the hosts. Brazil should win this group, but it won’t be a complete demolition. If Mexico can play up to its potential, (that’s a big if) they can defeat any side in the world. Croatia are a tricky opponent that has had success in previous World Cups, such as a semifinal appearance in 1998. Cameroon are hoping to duplicate their 1990 form as giant-killers. Still, Brazil is the team to beat. The battle for second place will be intriguing. Croatia and Mexico are both expected to advance past the group stage, so the pressure is on.

Match To Watch:

June 17: Brazil vs. Mexico

This fixture could see plenty of goals as talent abounds on both sides. Neymar is looking to be the breakout superstar for Brazil, while Javier Hernandez is a potent striker for Mexico. It also doesn’t hurt that these two sides don’t like each other very much. Two soccer mad nations in the sporting event on the planet. That is the definition of must-see TV.

Group B:

Spain, Holland, Chile, Australia

De Jong kicks Alonso

Quite obviously, Spain and Holland will be favoured to advance to the knockout stage, but don’t discount Chile. The Red Ones did advance past the Group Stage in 2010, with victories over Honduras and Switzerland. While they did lose to Spain, and were knocked out rather decisively by Brazil, the Chileans did prove to the world they can be a force. Forward Alexis Sanchez is a player to watch and knows the Spanish well, as he plays his club football at Barcelona. The Australians will be in tough but will give an honest effort.

Match To Watch:

June 13: Spain vs. Holland

A rematch of the prickly 2010 final that saw Spain won in extra time. But most remember that fixture for Nigel de Jong’s karate kick on Xabi Alonso that somehow wasn’t worthy of a red card. While there is potential for this fixture to be very attractive, there is plenty of bad blood that still resonates from 2010. It will also set the tone for the group as this is the first fixture in Group B.

Group C:

Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Radamel Falcao

No real favourite in this group which could be a good thing. The Colombians will have high expectations of advancing, but their history is filled with bad memories. (1994 will always haunt Colombia.) The Greeks are strong defensively, but have not performed well on the World Cup stage. However, Greece were surprise winners of Euro 2004, so they do know success on the big stage. Ivory Coast is considered the best African side and have a real chance of advancing past the Group Stage. Japan is never an easy out and could sneak up and pull off a surprise or two. Tough to call.

Match To Watch:

June 19: Colombia vs. Ivory Coast

This fixture will feature two of the game’s top strikers. Colombia’s Radamel Falcao, and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba. Both teams like to push forward, so this has the potential of being a very entertaining match. It won’t get the hype like some other fixtures, but it could be very rewarding for those who do watch.

Group D:

Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Italy defeats England

First things first, Costa Rica will be done after the Group Stage. As for the other three countries, it will be a battle to see who reaches the knockout stage. There will be plenty of hype and attention surrounding this group, as well as grudges to be settled. Might be the toughest Group of the tournament.

Match To Watch:

June 14: England vs. Italy

The outpost Amazonian city of Manaus will be the setting for two European superpowers of football. These two sides met in the quarterfinals at Euro 2012 with Italy going through on penalties. The British press will troll out World War II references with glee, while the Italians will counter with reminders of England’s last World Cup success in 1966. Security will be tight as Hooligans vs. Ultras will make it a raucous scene. Honourable mention goes to Uruguay vs. England as Luis Suarez will face Liverpool teammates Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge in a fixture that the hyper British press will salivate over.

Group E:

Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

French Soccer

Another group that is difficult to call. If the French play up to their capabilities, they should advance. Problem is, France have been very inconsistent in their form, and the issues of dissension on the team still remain. The Swiss are a solid team with no true superstar. Ecuador could be a sleeper. Honduras are a long shot.

Match To Watch:

June 20: Switzerland vs. France

A very interesting fixture. This could be for first place in the Group, or it could be for mere survival. With both sides coming in as favourites and mysteries at the same time, this could either a match to remember, or a match to forget. No matter, the match will have implications on the Group and possibly the entire tournament.

Group F:

Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Argentina Soccer

This is a very favourable draw for Argentina. The only question for the Argentines is will Lionel Messi be fully healthy come June? If he is, Argentina should steamroll its way through Group G. The real battle will be for second place. Bosnia and Nigeria are the likely contenders for that spot. This is Bosnia’s first ever trip to the World Cup as an independent nation and hopes are high for the likes of Edin Dzeko and company. Nigeria have been here before, but have failed to live up to expectations in the past. Iran’s hopes are slim at best.

Match To Watch:

June 15: Argentina vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina

This could be fun as Messi and Dzeko are two of the premier strikers in the world. Argentina will have strong support as their following won’t have far to travel for the World Cup. This will be Bosnia’s first match and how they adapt to the pressure could be telling.

Group G:

Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States

Portugal Soccer

Some are calling this the Group of Death and they may have a point. That said, the Germans and Portuguese will be favoured to advance. There is no shortage of talent in this group. Germany have the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil and Phillipp Lahm at their disposal. Portugal have arguably the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo. Ghana have the versatile Kevin-Prince Boateng. The Americans still have veteran Landon Donavan on their side. Plus, there are grudges abound. Former German superstar Jurgen Klinsmann is now the head coach of Team USA. Germany have defeated Portugal in three recent International competitions. (2006 World Cup, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.) Portugal are still smarting from their defeat at the hands of the Americans in the 2002 World Cup. Ghana have been a nemesis to the Americans, eliminating the Stars and Stripes in the last 2 World Cups. Let the fun begin.

Match To Watch:

June 22: United States vs. Portugal

You could make a strong argument for other fixtures, but this one has special meaning to the Portuguese. In 2002, Portugal were considered one of the favourites to hoist the World Cup. However, the Americans shocked the world by defeating Portugal 3-2 in the opening match. Portugal never recovered, and failed to advance past the Group Stage. Times have changed. The Americans didn’t have to face a player of Ronaldo’s quality back then, and there is less pressure on Portugal to win the tournament. This could very well be an elimination match as each team will have played one fixture heading into this important encounter.

Group H:

Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea

Eden Hazard Belgium

Many observers are keen on Belgium being the darlings of the World Cup. A very talented side, that play eye-catching football, Belgium won’t have the easiest road to the knockout stage, but should advance. Russia are a dangerous side, if they can put everything together. That has been a problem with Russian teams in the past. South Korea are a tricky opponent that can defeat higher-ranked sides. They will be no pushover. Algeria will be in very tough.

Match To Watch:

June 22: Belgium vs. Russia

This has real potential. Both teams like to play attacking football, and both are highly skilled. How fitting that this match will take place at the cathedral known as Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. This could be a breakthrough match for either side.

You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973


About Jsportsfan

Covers the Winnipeg Jets for Likes many but not all sports. I'm loveably annoying. You can also follow me on Twitter @jstar1973
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3 Responses to World Cup Draw Review

  1. Reblogged this on UnSportsMenMic and commented:
    World Cup baby

  2. To be the best, you gotta beat the best.

    Here’s hoping the good ol’ USA can make that happen.

  3. Pingback: world cup 2014 | ITV News | ITV News

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