2014 World Cup Brazil Preview

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32 countries.

32 teams.

736 players competing to represent their nation with one of the most honorable awards in the world.

The 2014 World Cup is less than a year away, and the World Cup picture has finally come together.

Out of Europe, the following teams have qualified:

  • Belgium
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Croatia
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • Switzerland

The one major letdown out of Europe is Sweden. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s striker, will miss out on the tournament, being the one major player to miss out on the trip to Brazil.

Sweden superstar striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Sweden superstar striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

 

The following nations from Africa have qualified for the World Cup:

  • Algeria
  • Cameroon
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Ivory Coast

CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football,) will be sending the following to Brazil:

  • Costa Rica
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • United States

South America will be represented by:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Uruguay

Lastly, Asia will be sending:

  • Australia
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • South Korea

The groups for the first round of the World Cup have been announced. Two of the four teams in each group will advance. Each team in the group will play each other once within their group. A win gives a team 3 points, a tie gives each team 1 point, and a loss gives a team 0 points. The 2 teams with the most points in each group move on to the next round.

Group A features Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. The easy favorite here is Brazil. The World Cup hosts have home field advantage, and one of the most talented teams in the tournament. Led by 21 year old phenom Neymar, Brazil is not only a favorite to advance out of this group, but a favorite to win the entire tournament. The other team to advance is up for grabs. Mexico probably has the strongest team, but they have been struggling mightily. If I had to guess, I would say Croatia advances.

21 year old Brazilian sensation, Neymar Jr., hoists the Confederation Cup trophy

21 year old Brazilian sensation, Neymar Jr., hoists the Confederation Cup trophy

Group B consists of Spain, Netherlands, Chile and Australia. Spain joins Brazil as a World Cup favorite. The Spanish team that is coming off 3 consecutive major tournament victories should have no problem in this group. Netherlands is easily the second favorite. They are an experienced team that faced Spain in the 2010 World Cup final.  Chile is a young team that could shock the Netherlands, but it would be impossible to pick anyone but Spain and Netherlands advancing out of this group.

The Spanish team hoists the 2010 World Cup trophy

The Spanish team hoists the 2010 World Cup trophy

Group C showcases Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan. This is a very weak group. None of these teams are very exciting. If I had to pick 2 teams I would go with Ivory Coast and Japan, because every World Cup has an Asian and African team that makes it deep into the tournament. There different, quick style proves difficult to beat.

Group D has Uruguay, Costa Rica, England and Italy. This is a very difficult group. Italy, Uruguay and England are three primetime teams. One of these teams will be eliminated. Costa Rica is a team on the rise, and can also be tough to beat. I think that Italy and Uruguay will emerge from this group. Both Italy and Uruguay have had recent success, while England and Costa Rica have not reached those levels. England would advance in almost any other group, but I do not think they can get it done against these teams. Italy has a long history of giving England problems. They are a defensive team that always seems to play better when it matters. With the exciting Mario Balotelli leading the Italian attack, they should be very hard to beat. Uruguay is a complete team that has a beautiful mix of youth and experience and should be a threat deep into the tournament.

Italian superstar striker, Mario Balotelli

Italian superstar striker, Mario Balotelli

Group E features Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras. This is another weak group. France is the only team with a substantial pedigree. For that reason, I think France will advance. I will go out on a limb and say Ecuador is the other team to advance. They are a young team that might have just enough to advance out of a weak group.

Group F consists of Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria. Argentina and Nigeria are my favorites here. Nigeria has a tough, quick team, and should be able to make it out of this run of the mill group. Argentina is the obvious favorite. With superstar player Lionel Messi leading them, he should be enough alone to beat everyone else in this group.

Argentina's Lionel Messi, one of the best players in the world

Argentina’s Lionel Messi, one of the best players in the world

Group G fields Germany, Portugal, Ghana and United States. Wow! Poor United States. This is a very tough group. Germany is a top 3 favorite with Spain and Brazil. Portugal has one of, if not, the best players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo. Ghana is probably the toughest team in Africa, and has knocked the United States out of the last two World Cups. The United States is a very talented team on the rise, and should also be very tough with one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Tim Howard. I would have to pick Germany and Ghana. Believe it or not, the second team to advance is up for grabs. While Portugal has Ronaldo, they do not have much else. Ghana is a tough, annoying team to beat, but they are not an unstoppable force. The United States have shown that they play the best as underdogs. Each of these teams should lose to Germany. The second team to qualify would be the one that can beat anyone other than Germany. This could easily be anyone.

United States goalkeeper, Tim Howard

United States goalkeeper, Tim Howard

Lastly, Group H has Belgium, Algeria, Russia and South Korea. Another weak group. This one is a toss up, and whoever advances out of this group would most likely only play one more game before being knocked out. I cannot even pick a favorite, because it is simply a toss up.

Brazil hosts the World Cup, and in my opinion they are the favorite. They won the Confederation Cup this past Summer, and they are a young team with a bunch of phenomenal players budding at the perfect time. With the fans roaring for them at every game, I think they will be extremely tough to beat. Knocking off teams like Spain and Italy in the Confederation Cup let them build confidence. It showed them that they can play with some of the most veteran, savvy teams in the world. It showed the world that Brazil is ready.

Germany seems like the most talented team that will be at the World Cup. They have had this talent for a long time. Even in the 2010 World Cup, they seemed dominant at times. Maybe they were too young. Even at the Euro Cup, they dominated but were shocked by an Italy team. There is no question as to how talented Germany is, but the question has always been if they can get it done when it matters. They seem to really struggle when they play classically poised teams like Italy and Spain. Will they be mature enough to come out of Brazil with a win? Maybe, but because of their struggles in big games I will give the nod to Brazil.

Who will be the star of the tournament? Neymar seems like a good choice. He is the face of the Brazilian team, and at 21 years old his success is an amazing story. The obvious choices are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the two soccer heavyweights. Mario Balotelli of Italy may also be a hero in this tournament. The exciting Italian striker always brings a show, and while he is already a star, he may take an even bigger step in Brazil.

So, what do you think? This is exciting. The World Cup happens every four years. Leave a comment! Let us discuss who we think will win this tournament. Tell me who your top 3 teams are. Do you agree with me? Disagree? Let me know!

Are you ready?!

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About Nick Cocchiaro