Will Brazil's Neymar showcase his skills during the upcoming World Cup tourney?
The 2014 FIFA World Cup will take place in Brazil this June and once again 32 countries will square off for a chance to hold one of them most coveted trophies on the planet. The last time the World Cup was hosted by Brazil was in 1950 and Uruguay took the title in a 2 -1 win over the hosting nation. Brazil certainly has had plenty of time to heal from the wound, winning five World Cups between 1958 and 2002.
This year it seems like every team has the capacity and skill level to win it. While you have your usual favorites: Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Spain and so forth, there are a handful of countries that are ready to win their first title.
Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
A favorite in every World Cup, Brazil has been known as a factory for producing legendary players. As the host, they have an enormous amount of confidence and, not to mention, home court advantage. Mexico has been stumbling along these past few years with coaching issues and playing tactic, but the Aztec squad is still a formable opponent. Croatia surprised everyone in the 1998 World Cup by coming in third place and has a promising squad this year. Cameroon has always been one of the best African teams and proved so by punishing many of the teams during the African qualifiers.
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile Australia
Spain will do whatever necessary to defend their title and with a roster of excellent players, they are among the favorites. The Dutch squad had very little trouble qualifying, but has been more bark than bite in recent World Cups. Chile finished third in the South American qualifiers and tied against Spain in previous match. This is Australia’s fourth World Cup appearance, but they have not been able to get past the Group Stage.
Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
This is Colombia’s fourth appearance and they are a favorite in their group. The Colombian squad showed tremendous talent during the qualifiers and tied 0-0 with Brazil in their last encounter. Greece and the Ivory Coast have both come a long way in the sport, but have not made it past the Group Stage. The Asian Champions, Japan, have a lot to prove and are looking to redeem themselves after an unsatisfactory performance in South Africa 2010. It’s interesting to note that these teams have never played each other in any World Cup.
Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Many people are calling this group the “Group of Death,” and it may be rightfully so, since three of teams have all won World Cups. Uruguay looks to be in good shape and you can expect them to move past the Group Stage. And if history repeats itself, the South Americans could see themselves in the finals. Costa Rica has its work cut out for them, but have grown exponentially over that past decade. England and Italy have a long history of triumphs and disappointments at World Cups and this will the best match to watch in this group.
Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
Switzerland was sensational to watch during the European qualifiers and they are likely to get to at least the Round of 16. Ecuador qualified by the skin of their teeth, but made it to the Round of 16 in 2006. The French have an excellent squad and all the right components to go far, but are still haunted by their Group Stage elimination in 2002. Honduras’s road to qualification was brutal. However, their strong, young squad might become the unassuming underdog in this second World Cup appearance.
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
South American favorites Argentina are likely to move forward and if you read some of the names on their roster, it’s easy to see why. Bosnia and Herzegovina is making their first appearance in a World Cup, and that alone is already triumphant. Iran is a team that is new on the stage and will use this opportunity to grow and define their style. The African powerhouse, Nigeria, is looking to even the score with Argentina and will definitely be one of the toughest teams to beat.
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
The Underdog Group. Germany finds itself in a group with plenty of rivals. But you’re everyone’s rival when you dominate the World Cup the way Germany has done. Portugal was somewhat of lackluster team during qualifiers but they are coming to Brazil with one vital weapon: CR7. Ghana and the USA will settle an old score from 2010 and their match up will be the most exciting game to watch in this group.
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic
This is the most interesting group. Belgium has 11 World Cup appearances and did very well during the European qualifiers. In World Cup history, Belgium was once a feared opponent, and was known for knocking out numerous heavyweights one by one. The South Koreans have been to nine World Cups and have made it as far as the semi-finals. Their performance in 2006 was brilliant and they are a favorite in this group. Russia has also made it to the semi-finals and has had at least one World Cup encounter with Belgium. Algeria has played in three FIFA World Cup Finals, and remarkably, no one remembers that! Russian vs. Belgium will be the match to watch.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins June 12th, with Brazil playing against Croatia in the Arena de Sao Paulo Stadium in Sao Paulo.