WorldCup 2014: A Brief Preview Of All 32 Teams

World Cup 2014

Its back and going to be bigger than ever! Yes the World Cup is back and this is your guide to every single team and their chances down in Brazil with less than three months until the big kick-off.

Group A

Brazil – Their world ranking position may not accurately reflect their chances in this tournament as they defeated the all-conquering Spain in the Confederations cup many are favouring the hosts to rise above the pressure and expectation of the home crowds and claim their first world cup since 2002.

World ranking – 9

Key player – Neymar

Prediction – First in group/Winners

Predicted starting XI: Julio Cesar/ Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo/ Ramires, Paulinho/ Hulk, Oscar, Neymar/ Fred

Croatia – Croatia were second best in their qualifying group to a strong Belgium side but after coming through in the play-of matches against Iceland we feel that they will just fall short to the two South American sides in this intriguing group.

World ranking – 16th

Key player – Luka Modric

Prediction – 3rd in group

Mexico – After finishing fourth in their qualifying group behind the likes of Costa Rica and Honduras, it is understandable that the expectations are not too high for a Mexico side who have qualified for their 6th consecutive World Cup. However we feel that they will flourish in their own continent and reach the knockout stages.

World ranking – 20th

Key player – Javier Hernandez

Prediction – Second in group/ Round of 16

Cameroon – The Indomitable lions also needed a playoff to reach the tournament in Brazil against rivals Tunisia. However, with such a formidable looking group between them and the knockout stage we feel that the Lions may just be the weakest in this pride.

World ranking – 50th

Key Player – Samuel Eto’o

Prediction – Fourth in group

Group B

spain

Spain – Ranked the best team in the World at the moment and the Spanish are certainly in with a massive chance of winning their fourth consecutive major tournament title despite their humiliating defeat at the hands of Netherlands last night. We believe here at Sports + that they will just fall short in the final against hosts Brazil.

World Ranking – 1

Key Player – Andres Iniesta

Prediction – First in Group / Runners-Up

Predicted starting XI: Casillas/ Azpilicueta, Pique, Ramos, Alba/ Busquets/ Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Silva/ Costa

Holland – After reaching the final four years ago in South Africa, the Dutch will still feel they are in with a shout and should not be ruled out as quickly as they are being. If Van Persie puts his International boots on and takes off his club boots, then who knows how far they could go, however looking at their possibilities beyond the group they will have to beat the best to progress far in the tournament.

World Ranking – 11

Key Player – Robin Van Persie

Prediction – Second in Group / Round of 16

Chile – Chile are another team that should not be ruled out of this group because you saw what they did to England not long ago. They definitely have players that can hurt you in Arturo Vidal, Mark Gonzalez and of course Alexis Sanchez. They could be the dark horse of this group if Holland do not turn up.

World Ranking – 15

Key Player – Alexis Sanchez

Prediction – Third in Group

Australia – The Socceroo’s are the lowest ranked side in the tournament and find themselves extremely unlucky with the draw they have received with three very powerful teams all ranked 15th or better in the world and saying that I can’t see them going far.

World Ranking – 63

Key Player – Tim Cahill

Prediction – Fourth in Group

Group C

Colombia – They finished a close second behind the might of Argentina in South American qualifying and conceded fewer goals than anyone else in the process. The only thing that may hamper their chances of having a successful tournament is Falcao’s race to be fit but we still feel that they will struggle to get to the knockout stages even if the Monaco striker is fully fit.

World ranking – 5th

Key Player – Radamel Falcao

Prediction – Third in group

Greece – The Euro 2004 winners are considered the weakest European team to be going to the World Cup their qualifying campaign has been far from it. They narrowly missed out on automatically going to Brazil on goal difference and only conceded four times in the process, a record that is only bettered by Spain. However with a very competitive group, we predict that Greece will slip up and finish bottom of the pile.

World ranking – 13th

Key player – Kostas Mitroglou

Prediction – Fourth in group

Ivory Coast– The highly regarded African nation were one of only two sides to end their qualifying campaign unbeaten. Despite the fact that some their star players are arguably entering the twilight of their careers, we feel that they will be able to make it to the knockout stages for the first time in their history after being drawn in the so-called “group of death” in the last two World Cups.

World ranking – 24th

Key player – Yaya Toure

Prediction – First in Group/ Round of 16

Japan – This team should be considered one of the dark horses of this group and are able to spring a surprise. They were the first country to qualify for the finals and in the process gained the most points and top scored in the Asian qualifying stage. We think that they will surprise some of the heavyweights they have been drawn against and will make it to the knockout stages.

World ranking – 48th

Key Player – Keisuke Honda

Prediction – Second in group/ Round of 16

Group D

Uruguay – The South Americans are always a danger to any team at a major tournament as we saw four years ago when they reached the semi-final. Uruguay’s key focal point is certainly their frightening forwards with Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani and the ever controversial Luis Suarez.

World Ranking – 6

Key Player – Luis Suarez

Prediction – Third in Group

England – Well well well, who knows how far England will go. Will it be the usually Quarter-Finals out on penalties again? Obviously the squad has not been announced yet but with Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain they have some fantastic young talent. It is a tough group in which England will probably be battling with Uruguay for that second spot in the group however I am sure the whole nation will have great expectations.

World Ranking – 12

Key Player – Daniel Sturridge

Prediction – Second in Group / Quarter-Final

Possible Starting XI: Hart/ Johnson, Jagielka, Cahill, Cole/Gerrard, Carrick/ Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rooney/ Sturridge

Italy – Reached the last major tournament final two years ago in the Euros, the Italians have to be one of the favourites with the immense talent that shines throughout their squad. This is a tough group for them but I still expect them to come out on top and if Mario Balotelli decides to turn up then we will all know about it. They also have the artist in the midfield, Andrea Pirlo and with his passing and dead ball deliveries they will certainly be a threat to every team they face.

World Ranking – 8

Key Player – Andrea Pirlo

Prediction – First in Group / Quarter-Final

Costa Rica– You have got to feel for teams like Costa Rica as you look at their three opponents and a miracle would have to occur if they are to progress beyond this group. However they do have some talented players that you may not have known are from there. For example; Joel Campbell (On loan from Arsenal), Bryan Ruiz (Ex Fulham) and Bryan Oviedo (Everton).

World Ranking – 34

Key Player – Bryan Ruiz

Prediction – Fourth in Group

Group E

Switzerland – With a 1-0 win over hosts Brazil already behind them and a crop of talented young players coming through, the Swiss will be confident of their chances in progressing to the knockout stages. We predict that they will safely accomplish this as they are a tough side to beat and they managed to remain unbeaten throughout their qualifying campaign and kept seven clean sheets out of their ten matches.

World ranking – 7th

Key player – Xherdan Shaqiri

Prediction – Second in group/ Round of 16

France – After qualifying as runners up to Spain in their qualifying group and edging a nervy win against Ukraine 3-2, after losing the first leg 2-0, who knows what France will do. After coming runners up in 2006, they famously imploded at the 2010 World Cup and failed to win a single game so it will be interesting to observe how they will perform this time around. However, we predict that the French will have a strong showing and will reach the quarter-finals.

World ranking – 17th

Key player – Franck Ribery

Prediction – First in group/ Quarter-Final

Ecuador – Whilst they have a wealth of attacking quality, they sadly lack any players of equal quality in their defence. Their qualifying campaign was a mixture of success and failure as they only managed to drop two points at home but then failed to win any away qualifiers. In their last world cup outing in 2006 they were eliminated to England in the second round but we feel that they will just miss out on reaching that stage this time.

World ranking – 23rd

Key player – Antonio Valencia

Prediction – Third in group

Honduras– For the first time in their history they have managed to qualify for consecutive World Cups, but considering their lack of pedigree they will not be expected to even get out of the group stages. They managed to qualify third in their qualifying group and included some memorable moments such as defeating the USA 2-1 at home and winning away to Mexico by the same score line.

World ranking – 36th

Key player – Wilson Palacios

Prediction – Fourth in group

Group F

Argentina – When you look at group F, the Argentines look stone wall favourites to win the group you cannot see it go any other way. We think they will have a good tournament making it to the semis with Lionel Messi stamping his authority on the world stage.

World Ranking – 3

Key Player – Lionel Messi

Prediction – First in Group / Semi-Final

Bosnia & Herzegovina– Somewhat an unknown quantity going into the finals but have an excellent chance to nick second place ahead of Iran and Nigeria. They will have to rely mainly on the goals of Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko and the stellar performances of Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic.

World Ranking – 21

Key Players – Edin Dzeko & Asmir Begovic

Prediction – Second in Group / Round of 16

Iran – Iran world ranked 42 must know themselves that they don’t stand much of a chance and is just an achievement reaching the main tournament itself. We picked out their key player as Fulham’s winger Ashkan Dejagah who provides pace and a direct approach.

World Ranking – 42

Key Player – Ashkan Dejagah

Prediction – Fourth in Group

Nigeria – Nigeria are not the side they used to be however they are always going to be a strong side and I have picked out powerful Fenerbahce striker Emmanuel Emenike who could haunt any team on his day.

World Ranking – 47

Key Player – Emmanuel Emenike

Prediction – Third in Group

Group G

Germany – Currently ranked as the second best team in the world and with a considerable amount of strength in all areas of the pitch Germany are one of the favourites to go all the way in Brazil but we believe they will just come up short and gain 3rd place behind Spain and the hosts, Brazil.

World ranking – 2nd

Key player – Mesut Ozil

Prediction – First in Group/ 3rd place

Predicted starting XI: Neuer/ Lahm, Mertesacker, Boateng, Badstuber/ Schweinsteiger, Khedira/ Muller, Ozil, Gotze/ Klose

Portugal – Despite only losing to Russia in their group, draws cost them top spot and they faced a tense encounter against Sweden where a Ronaldo hat-trick saw them creep through to Brazil. Whilst they do rely very heavily on the Real Madrid forward, it would not be fair to assign them as a one man team as they do possess talent in many other areas, however even with the prolific winger firing on all cylinders we do not see the nation progressing further than the second round.

World ranking – 4th

Key player – Cristiano Ronaldo

Prediction – Second in group/ Round of 16

Ghana – Previous World Cup performances would suggest that Ghana are one of the strongest African nations. This was supported by a strong qualifying campaign, culminating in a 7-2 aggregate win over Egypt in their play-off match and a 6-1 victory in the home leg. Despite this, we feel that Ghana will unfortunately finish bottom of a very competitive group.

World ranking – 35th

Key player – Asamoah Gyan

Prediction – Fourth in group

USA – After qualifying four points clear at the top of their qualifying group, and winning all five home matches the USA will be feeling confident about their chances of at least reaching the knockout stage in South America this summer. However, there are certain issues that could detract from all this with continuity being the key. In all, 37 players were used throughout qualifying and this coupled with a group with two very strong European teams lead us to predict that they will fall just short of the second round.

World ranking – 14th

Key player – Clint Dempsey

Prediction – Third in group

Group H

Belgium – Having missed out on the last two World Cups the Belgians are back and look to be better than ever with the incredible mass of talent that will have on show. It is a much different team to what they have had in recent years therefore nobody really knows what to expect but with the amount of talent throughout they could have a good tournament. Kevin Mirallas, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Marouane Fellaini and Vincent Kompany to name but a few that will be on show.

World Ranking – 10

Key Player – Vincent Kompany

Prediction – First in Group / Quarter-Final

Algeria – Most of us will remember Algeria for what they did to England four years ago in South Africa when it somehow ended goalless. However they do have some good footballers to look out for in Porto striker Nabil Ghilas, Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb and ex-Portsmouth player Hassan Yebda.

World Ranking – 25

Key Player – Nabil Ghilas

Prediction – Fourth in Group

Russia – The eastern European side also did not qualify for the last two World Cups but can be tricky opponents as shown in Euro 2008 as they reached the semi-final and finished third overall. Russia have got a good chance in this group as it is wide open and if I had to back someone to pip second I would go with these.

World Ranking – 19

Key Player – Aleksandr Kerzhakov

Prediction – Second in Group / Round of 16

South Korea– South Korea have always been a gritty and determined side and much like the Japanese can easily cause an upset on the big stage forgetting their world ranking.

World Ranking – 60

Key Player – Park Chu-Young

Prediction – Third in Group

 

 

 

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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