FIFA World Cup 2014, Brazil: Final Draw overview.
Brazil supporters - World Cup 2006, Germany
The World Cup has returned to Brazil for the first time since 1950, and the hosts hope this time they will win their sixth trophy and their first on home soil.
There will also be a return of the World Cup in South America for the first time since 1978 when the tournament was held in Argentina, who went all the way that year.
To continue with the novelties, in Brazil 2014, the goal-line technology will be used for the first time at the World Cup Finals.
A total of 31 national teams will be joining the hosts in the final tournament that is scheduled to take place from 12th of June to July the 13th.
The matches are to be played in twelve cities across Brazil, either on new stadiums, or on renovated ones, like the famous Estádio do Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro.
And of course, according to tradition, the final tournament has it's own ball, called the Brazuca, it was designed by Adidas, the official FIFA World Cup match ball supplier since 1970. There will probably be a gold version of the Brazuca in the final, to keep the tradition started in 2006 with the Teamgeist Berlin and continued in 2010 with the Jo'bulani, although the name and design of the match ball that will be used in the final is still unknown.
So, apart from the match-fixing news that are circulating on tweeter, the 2014 World Cup is shaping up be an interesting and exiting final tournament, now let's take a look at the group stage and fixtures.
Brazil supporters - 2010 World Cup - South Africa
The final draw:
We'll start by analyzing the "big teams", the teams that are rated among the favorites to win the trophy, but first, let's see how the groups look like.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The opening match of the tournament will be played between Brazil, the host and the favorite team to qualify from group A, and Croatia. The last and only time these two teams came face to face at the World Cup, was in 2006, in the group stage and Brazil won 1-0.
Group A has a clear favorite in Brazil, but all of the other teams have enough talent to cause a major upset to the hosts. Croatia will put all of their hopes for a good tournament in Luka Modric the Real Madrid play-maker, Mario Mandžukic the striker from Bayern Munich, and the Wolfsburg pair of Ivan Perišic and Ivica Olic.
The Mexico squad is also not short of talent, with a lot of young and talented players in its composition, and with the ex-Barcelona player Giovani dos Santos and Manchester United striker Javier Hernández, they can can pose problems to any team. Let's not forget that Mexico Olympic team defeated Brazil's similar representative, a team containing players like Neymar, Hulk, Oscar and Thiago Silva, in the final of the 2012 Summer Olympics Football Tournament.
Also, the Cameroon national football team is in no way a push over. With players like Schalke's Joël Matip, Barcelona's Alexandre Song and Samuel Eto'o from Chelsea, which with 55 goals is the Cameroon's all time top scorer, they will certainly be a hard team to beat.
FIFA World Cup Trophy
In group B we have another team that is high-rated to win the trophy in the form of defending champion Spain, we also have the 2010 finalist the Netherlands, and the team that had reached the last 16 stage at the same 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and met Spain in the group stages of that tournament: Chile.
The meeting between Spain and Chile at the last World Cup in 2010 ended with the prevail of the Spanish team at the scoreline of 2-1. Also Spain has met Netherlands in the final at the same 2010 World Cup, and won after extra time, with the only goal of the match scored by Iniesta in the 116th minute.
The outsider of group B must be Australia, especially after they lost 0-6 in consecutive friendlies against Brazil and France in September and October 2013. Those two matches showed that Australia usually crumbles under though opposition, and Spain, Netherlands and Chile are exactly that.
Group F contains another team that is among the favorites to win the World Cup 2014, Argentina. In a group with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria they are clear favorites, but Argentina shouldn't underestimate these teams as all have quality in their respective ranks.
The only teams from this group that have met before at a World Cup are Argentina and Nigeria, who played in the group stages in South Africa 2010 and the South Americans won 1-0.
Germany is the highest-rated team in group G to win the trophy, but the Germans will have to work hard if they aim to top this group. With Portugal, Ghana and the United States which is coached by Jürgen Klinsmann, the Mannschaft will have its work cut out for it.
There were a few games between the teams in this group in the previous World Cups, but I will mention only the recent ones, as they are the most relevant. In 2010 Ghana defeated and incidentally knocked USA out of the last 16 round, winning 2-1 after extra time. At the same tournament the Black Stars lost 0-1 to Germany in the group stage.
So these are the groups of the "big boys", the teams that are expected to be in the higher stages of the 2014 World Cup.
World Cup poll no.1:
What team is more likely to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup?
But we shouldn't forget the other teams, as we all know, that in every edition of the World Cup, there are quite a few surprises.
In group C we have Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan. Now this is a tough group to call as all of the four teams play different styles of football and they are quite close in terms of form and ability.
Everybody will be talking about the importance of Falcao and Drogba in their teams and in big matches, but I have the feeling that Japan and Greece have the ability to reach the last 16 as well.
Group D has three teams with great history at the World Cup, and with a lot of talent in their ranks, in the form of Uruguay, England and Italy. So why aren't this teams among the favorites to win the trophy?
Well, the answer to this question is simple, all three teams have been terribly inconsistent so far. Uruguay managed to qualify to the World Cup via a play-off after finishing only fifth in the CONMEBOL qualification group under Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador. On a more positive note the South Americans won the 2011 Copa América, and reached the semifinals at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Another inconsistent team in this group, England, has fluctuated in form thruought the World Cup qualifiers and in friendlies too. After an impressive 2-2 against Brazil in Rio, they lost 0-2 and 0-1 to Chile, respectively Germany in November 2013.
World Cup poll no.2:
Which group is the toughest at this edition of the World Cup?
Let's not forget Italy, which has won its qualification group for Brazil 2014 without a single defeat and finished on 3rd place at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Things look good for the Azzurri, right? Wrong, with a 4-3 against Japan and a 2-4 against Brazil at the Confederations Cup and 8 goals conceded in the last 5 games, the Italian air-tight defense is starting to become a punchline.
And then there's Costa Rica, a good team, considered the outsider of this group, but a team that has won 3-1 at home to USA and has taken four points from Mexico in two matches at the World Cup Qualifiers. Given the nature and recent form of the other three teams in group D, I expect Costa Rica to produce some major upsets at this World Cup.
Moving along, we reach group E, containing Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras. It has unpredictable teams in the form of Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras and a France that produces mixed results. I'm sure you still remember Les Bleus FIFA World Cup Qualifying Play-Off against Ukraine when they lost 0-2 away and qualified to the World Cup by winning 3-0 at home.
Honduras are considered to be the outsiders in group E, but let's not forget that they have finished in front of Mexico in the World Cup Qualifiers.
The last group, alphabetically speaking, is group H. Another tough group to call, it contains teams like Belgium, Algeria, Russia and South Korea. Belgium and Fabio Capello's Russia are favorites in this group to go trough, but Algeria is an interesting team, and South Korea was quite the pleasant surprise in 2010 when they reached the last 16 and were eliminated by Uruguay after narrowly losing the game by the score of 1-2. In conclusion, this group's outcome is far from being certain.
What players should we look for?
Forget Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Robin van Persie, Falcao, and all of the
other well known players that catch the headlines for club and country alike.
These players can't lose, if they do well in the tournament, then it will rain with appraisals from media, managers and other players, and if they do badly, well, no one will actually care.
I'm talking about the less-known players, the ones that will fight not just for their country, but for their careers also, the players that aim to be on the headlines and on the wish-lists of the big clubs, by the end of the World Cup.
So, who is more likely to impress? Well, the most in-form players, and we see who are those by taking a look at what happened in the qualifiers.
We'll look at strikers, as they are the ones in the spotlight after a World Cup,
and strikers and offensive players that impress in a final tournament have the best
chance of being bought by the best club teams in the world.
In the African Qualifiers, Asamoah Gyan was the top scorer with 6 goals, the same as Mohamed Aboutrika and Mohamed Salah, mind you, the two Egypt internationals have scored their goals on the course of 8 matches, while Gyan scored his in an impressive six matches, even more impressive is the fact that none of his goals came from penalty kicks. Also, as Egypt hasn't qualified at the World Cup, we won't be seeing more of Aboutrika and Salah, but we will be seeing Asamoah Gyan as the Ghana striker, currently playing for Al Ain will probably be pushing hard to get noticed.
In the Asian Qualifiers, Shinji Okazaki the Japanese striker currently playing for
FSV Mainz, has entered into the spotlight by becoming the top scorer with 8 goals
from 14 matches.
Luis Suárez and Gastón Ramírez - Uruguay
In Europe, Robin van Persie is the top scorer in the qualifying stage with 11 goals from 9 matches, unsurprisingly, as he is a top striker and the Dutch national team has breezed trough the World Cup Qualifiers.
What is under him is a pleasant surprise dough, Edin Džeko the Bosnia and Herzegovina striker that is currently struggling to get into the first team at Manchester City, has scored an impressive 10 goals from 10 matches ( none of them from penalty kicks ).
Also, behind him are Mesut Özil, Vedad Ibiševic ( playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina and VfB Stuttgart ) and Cristiano Ronaldo, all of them with 8 goals from 10 matches. So it would appear that Bosnia has a prolific attack duo.
Moving on, in the North/Central America & Caribbean Qualifiers you will stumble across a certain Deon McCaulay, from Belize, the 26 years old striker has scored 11 goals in 8 matches, and is certainly an interesting player, but, as Belize hasn't qualified for Brazil 2014 we'll look to the 2nd position in the top-scorers table.
That is occupied by Oribe Peralta, the Mexican striker that has scored 10 goals in 11 matches, and although 5 goals of the eleven were scored in the CONCACAF – OFC play-off against New Zealand, the fact that all of his goals came in the last 8 games show that he is in a good run before the World Cup, a run that may continue at the final tournament.
In the South American Qualifiers, the top scorer is not Leo Messi, not Falcao, is actually Luis Suarez. I know, Suarez isn't exactly an unknown player, but if he continues his form at the World Cup, Uruguay will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
Just looking at the players Luis Suarez has topped is a dizzying affair, as behind him we have Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Radamel Falcao.
These are a few of the players that are expected to do well at the World Cup
in Brazil, but, of course, a player's performance, no matter how good he is,
depends on the team around him.
So, what team do you think will win the 2014 World Cup, and why? Say your opinion in the comments area below. You can also answer our poll questions and take a look at more statistics from the World Cup qualifying stages, and at other pieces of information about the final draw on FIFA's official web page by following the link below.
More info regarding the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil:
- The Official Website of the FIFA World Cup™ - FIFA.com
The Official Website of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™