Friday, December 6, 2013

World Cup 2014 Brazil Groups My Take

So the draw took place today and the teams I really want to see do well had mixed results. I'll explain as I tackle the groups and predict what will happen in the group stage.  Overall history states that a South American team will win the World Cup this year since it is being played in this hemisphere. However, I have a feeling this will not hold. My top 5 picks to win the world cup (in no particular order) are:

  • Holland
  • Brazil
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Argentina
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are my group analysis and picks:
Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon

The host team is always in the first group and gets to play the first game. Most times if the host is a team that is highly ranked, the drawing is very favorable for an easy path to the round of 16. In this case it isn't as easy as hoped. Brazil will advance, but they will get a test from at least Croatia and Mexico. Cameroon could play spoiler to Croatia and Mexico's chances of making the round of 16. In the end here's how I see it:

Winner: Brazil
2nd Place: Croatia (by either one point or goal differential)
3rd Place: Mexico
4th Place: Cameroon 

Group B: Spain, Holland, Chile and Australia

Once Chile and Australia came up Spain's path to the round of 16 was clear. The best match will be the rematch  of the World Cup Final between Spain and Holland. Chile could prove tough for the European teams, however I don't think it will matter in the end. The group should fall into a neat order as follows:

Winner: Spain (by either one point or goal differential)
2nd Place: Holland
3rd Place: Chile
4th Place: Australia  

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Cote D'Ivoire and Japan

Colombia should have easy sailing through this group. However, Greece is unpredictable and Japan plays hard. Not sure if Cote D'Ivoire will make a splash or not. We should see our first non South American/non European round of 16 qualifier from this group. My take:

Winner: Colombia
2nd Place: Japan (by beating Greece and Cote D'Ivoire)
3rd Place: Greece
4th Place: Cote D'Ivoire  

Group D Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

As the draw was happening, I had this pegged as the Group of Death. I'm calling it the "Group of Death'" (Group of Death Prime for those not mathematically inclined). Costa Rica is the real loser here and should expect to play the role of spoiler as the other three teams will be too much for them. England was one of the teams I was hoping to get a good draw. They did not and a battle awaits them in this group. The group will provide for lots of commentary and second guessing, but at the end of the day I think it will fall as follows:

Winner: Italy (by virtue of beating 2 of the three teams and drawing the other)
2nd Place: England (goal differential over Uruguay)
3rd Place: Uruguay
4th Place: Costa Rica 

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

This group should be easy for the European teams. The question is which one will take the group? Looking at it I believe that it will come down to goal differential to determine the group winner. This will also be the first group where a South American team finishes last. My picks:

Winner: France (by goal differential and I hate saying it)
2nd Place: Switzerland
3rd Place: Honduras (by goal differential)
4th Place: Ecuador  

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Could it be any easier for Argentina? Yes, they could have been the top seed in Group H. Messi is going to have a field day with this group and may secure the golden boot after the group stage. The battle for second should be interesting and I think that Nigeria has the edge. Picks:

Winner: Argentina
2nd Place: Nigeria (by beating Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran)
3rd Place: Bosnia-Herzegovina
4th Place: Iran  

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

The real Group of Death. Any of these teams could win the group and any of them come in last place. This is really a poor draw for the winners of the CONCACAF region. FIFA should look at it's "1st Pot" rules and let the winners of the conference be in that group. Seems only fair, but I digress. The group has some very interesting story lines. When Germany plays Ghana we will see brothers play against each other (Boatengs). The USA beat Portugal in the 2002 World Cup and essentially denied them access to the round of 16. Ghana beat the USA in the 2010 World Cup round of 16. This is going to be a tough group to call. Here goes:

Winner: Germany (win, draw, draw - goal differential)
2nd Place: USA (win, draw, draw)
3rd Place: Ghana (draw, loss, loss - goal differential)
4th Place: Portugal (draw, loss, loss) 
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea

By far the easiest of the groups. Hand Belgium a place in the round of 16. The other three will put up good fights against each other, but in the end whoever ends in second place can thank the draw for getting to the next round. Picks:

Winner: Belgium
2nd Place: Korea
3rd Place: Russia
4th Place: Algeria

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