By Angel L. Quiles Jr.
Get ready for the biggest tournament in sports. The 2014 F.I.F.A. World Cup is set to begin on Thursday, June 12th at 3pm ET from the samba capitol of the world, Brazil. Brazil will be hosting the tournament for the second time in their history, and are looking to atone for losing the first one they hosted in 1950. A loss that still haunts their followers, and the country until this day. They play the opening match against a Croatian team looking to pull off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Another factor haunting Brazilians beside their 1950 World Cup disappointment is the upheaval by their citizens, leading up to the tournament. Brazilians have been upset over political spending, and unfair wages given to workers as they prepared for the World Cup. Riots, caving infrastructure, and crime have been a huge topic of conversation amongst the competing countries and international visitors that will be entering Brazil during the tournament. However, the countries representatives have assured the international community that things will be under control, and many of the world powers will be sending professional law enforcement to ensure a safe atmosphere.
Nevertheless, this year’s tournament should be good, like ice cream on a hot summer day. Brazil is hosting, and that is great for visitors who love to party. The German team always a perennial favorite will face off against one of their native sons Jurgen Klinsmann, who is coaching the United States team. England, France and Italy who have been champions before, are looking to make up for disappointing performances in the 2010 World Cup. The African teams Ghana, Ivory Coast, Algeria and Cameroon are seeking to become the first African nation to make it to the World Cup semifinal. Stories are a plenty this year, and only one month to finish the book. Let’s take a look at the groups, and who will dance the samba into the elimination round of 16.
Group A- Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
Brazil is the most well rounded team in this group, and has probably the most talented player in the world in Neymar. They also have all of those spunky Brazilians behind them. They will win the group. In second place will be Cameroon. Why? They looked the best during World Cup qualifying out of all the other teams in the group. Mexico made it by the skin of their teeth thanks to the United States. Moreover, trotted out what seemed like every Mexican in the world to be their head coach. Croatia is the dark horse in this group, but they wont get enough points to pass.
Group Survivors- A
Group B- Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, and if you didn’t catch the epic World Cup Final in 2010 between the Netherlands and Spain. You will get your chance again. The rematch will kick off the action in this group. Bottom line in group B is that the Spaniards and Dutch have no competition besides each other. Some experts feel sorry for Chile, and Australia. They will not be able to beat the quality of players that the Dutch and Spaniards bring. The only question is who will score more goals between the Dutch and the Spaniards because that’s who will win the group. Look for that team to be the defending champions Spain.
Group Survivors- B
Group C- Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
This group is more wide-open than the escorts that will be patrolling the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Japan plays a defensive style of soccer that is very rigid. Against Colombia, Greece and the Ivory Coast that will not work. The Ivory Coast can be undisciplined, and because of that can be susceptible to counter attacks from offensively talented teams. Colombia and Greece have the most explosive offenses in the group, and have faced the stiffest competition. Therefore, Colombia and Greece will advance with Greece taking the top spot in the group.
Group Survivors- C
Group D- Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
This is a high-pressure group. Uruguay, England and Italy are former champions, and their fans expect them to advance, and possibly win the cup. However, only two will come out alive. Therefore, every single goal scored will be important because of the tie-breaking system that F.I.F.A. employs. Look for Costa Rica the punching bag of this group to be bombarded with more attacks than the English in World War II. They will be looking to get back to their beach paradise as soon as possible. Diego Forlan of Uruguay lead his team in 2010 to amazing victories, and will do so again. Mario Balotelli Italy’s dynamic striker is talented, and his leadership will be what they need to survive. Leaving England as the odd team out. Italy wins the group with Uruguay a close second.
Group Survivors- D
Group E- Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
Now that France’s best player Frank Ribery is out of this year’s World Cup. This group’s outcome can’t be called like an ex-girlfriend after she breaks up with you. Ecuador played in the toughest place to qualify outside of Europe, South America. Subsequently, look for them to draw on their tough qualifying experience, bring their A-game and make it to the next round. France was atrocious in the last World Cup, and a strong performance is a must even without their best player. Honduras is a sleeper; because they did have a big win in qualifying against the United States. However, will the pressure of the World Cup overwhelm them since they are not a team that consistently qualifies? Switzerland plays a style of football that is risk free, and that is never a good quality in a team that is looking to advance. Therefore, look for Ecuador to win the group, and France coming in second by a hair.
Group Survivors- E
Group F- Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
World Cup fans want to know whom Argentina paid to end up in this group? They will face absolutely no resistance from their competitors in group F, and should advance easily. Lionel Messi Argentina’s “golden child” and the best player in the world will abuse this group. Bosnia and Iran are teams with plenty of heart but limited skill. Leaving the hungry, and talented Nigerian team as the odds on favorite to finish second.
Group Survivors- F
Group G- Germany, Portugal, Ghana, U.S.A.
This group has been touted the “group of death” by experts. However, it may only be because of the respect countries have for the cultural importance Americans place on sports. The Americans have undergone a change in their soccer philosophy under German-American coach Jurgen Klinsmann. However, Klinsmann who won a World Cup with the German team in 1990 believes that for the Americans “Winning a World Cup is not realistic” So what are the Americans to expect? In their group they have Germany winners of three World Cup’s, and favorite to take it all. Ghana, a squad who has eliminated them in the last two World Cups, and does not get caught up in the American hype. Oh did I mention Portugal? Who has one the best soccer players in the world, and one of the biggest global icons in Cristiano Ronaldo. This will be the most watched group, and look for Germany to finish first. The new U.S.A. philosophy will surprise Portugal, and Ghana ending up in an American upset and second place finish.
Group Survivors- G
2- United States of America
Group H- Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea
This is a sexy group like the Pussy Cat Dolls, or NSYNC. All these teams have different soccer ideologies, and that could make for a lot of goals. Korea is a disciplined team, and will attack when they need to. Belgium is creative on offense, and should score the goals needed to get points and advance. Therefore, look for South Korea to show up big, and win the group. Belgium will place second, and be part of the sixteen who advance to the elimination round.
Group Survivors- H
1- South Korea