World Cup Group Projections

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Group A

Brazil, of course, is the strong favorite to top this group. They have two things going for them: a ton of skilled players as usual, and they’re playing at home. Only South Africa four years ago failed, as a host nation, to get out of their group. Cameroon has had considerably better WC teams in the past. Unless ageless Captain Samuel Eto’o pulls a Roger Milla, they are three games and out.

If there is a team capable of winning or losing any given game, it’s Croatia. They lost twice to Scotland in qualifying, yet are loaded with studs, including Mandžukić, Srna, and Modrić. Mexico will need to beat either the home team or the Croats to get out of this group. I can’t see that happening.

1. Brazil
2. Croatia
3. Cameroon
4. Mexico

Group B

Australia is considered one of the weakest teams in the tourney. In a group like this, it’s a stretch to think they even finish third. Chile has been very impressive the past year, beating England and Uruguay, while earning draws against Brazil and Spain. Argentine Manager, Jorge Sampaoli, will have them playing an attacking brand of football; they will not be intimidated by any team in this group. The Netherlands arrive at the World Cup like they do every major tournament – with high expectations and some of the best collection of talent. Runners up four years ago, this is a seasoned club poised for a deep run again. Winners of the last three major tournaments, Spain has shown some rust as of late. Expect them to turn it on as needed.

1. Netherlands
2. Spain
3. Chile
4. Australia

Group C

Every major tourney usually has a Group of Death. This is the Group of Dearth. I am not overly impressed with Columbia, but within the year they have won at Belgium and played Holland even in Amsterdam. I expect another letdown. Greece is one of those teams that performs better than their talent suggests, especially in these sort of occasions. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got to the quarters. I see the Ivory Coast as the most dangerous African team in Brazil. Yaya Touré was the best two-way player in the Premier League, and Captain Didier Drogba is capable of moments of brilliance. Nobody wants The Elephants in the knockout stage. I don’t necessarily think Japan is the worst team in the worst group, I just feel that their run of overachieving at the World Cup comes to an end in Brazil.

1. Ivory Coast
2. Greece
3. Columbia
4. Japan

Group D

Costa Rica has not looked particularly strong in the last few months after finishing second in CONCACAF qualifying. They’ve only beaten Paraguay out of six matches in the run-up. That doesn’t bode well in a group where they are considerable underdogs. For a change, England is not burdened with huge expectations in a major tourney. If Wayne Rooney seizes the spotlight, and they can get a spark from one of their talented youngsters, The Three Lions can get to the quarters. In another tourney at another time, I would tip Italy to do well; I have zero confidence in The Azzurri’s ability to score enough goals. Uruguay is the chic pick to do damage in Brazil, and I am drinking the Kool-Aid, too. Luis Suarez’s form is at an amazing level, and this team storms through the group.

1. Uruguay
2. England
3. Italy
4. Costa Rica

Group E

Ecuador is the least accomplished of the South American teams, and I don’t see them winning a match in this group. France has a history of either master displays of football or disastrous under achievement. This team is plenty talented but a lack of chemistry may be problematic. The time for a third CONCACAF team to make some noise in the WC is upon us; Honduras has gradually built their national team in to a respectable club. Often overlooked and underestimated, look for Switzerland to excel in Brazil. This is accomplished manager Ottmar Hitzfield’s swan song, and he will have the Swiss ready to play. They beat Brazil in August and have lost once in the last 15 matches.

1. Switzerland
2. Honduras
3. France
4. Ecuador

Group F

Argentina seems to be the second favorite after the host. I like them also, but I don’t see the toughness needed for a significant run. Bosnia-Herzegovina is a quality club, and this is a relatively easy draw for the WC newcomers. Nigeria has been average in the run-up to the WC, and I do not see star quality in the current squad. B-H is the much hungrier team and their matchup will decide the #2 spot. Iran is a terrible side and will be lucky to even earn a point in this group.

1. Argentina
2. Bosnia-Herzegovina
3. Nigeria
4. Iran

Group G

There is not a Group of Death in Brazil. But this group has four good teams. As much skill and experience the Dutch, Spaniards, and Brazilians have, Germany has more. Anything less than nine points from this group would be surprising. Ghana is an accomplished side, but does not matchup well with the Germans or Portugal. For years, A Selecção underachieved before falling to eventual champs Spain at Euro 2012. No team’s success hinges more on one player, and I believe Cristiano Ronaldo is a few years away from carrying this team to a major trophy. There is not a team in the draw that is more athletic or more fit than the United States. Count on Jurgen Klinsmann having this team believing that anything is possible and performing as such. Project 2010 was created to put the USMNT on the map; don’t be shocked if the 2014 version gets to the quarters.

1. Germany
2. United States
3. Portugal
4. Ghana

Group H

Algeria is along for the ride and will be lucky to secure a point in a tough draw. Belgium has an embarrassment of young starlets in Courtois, De Bruyne, Lukaku, Hazard, and Januzaj to go with veterans Kompany, Dembele, Vermaelen, and Fellaini. Their time is NOW. South Korea, per the usual, will not go quietly and make you play their brand of football. Russia is a similar team to the Koreans, but I will give them the nod because they are unbeaten in their last ten.

1. Belgium
2. Russia
3. South Korea
4. Algeria

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