With the 2014 World Cup less two months away, it’s time to start getting hyped for the biggest single sport event in the world! The World Cup qualification begins roughly 3 years prior to the event. Teams compete in qualification matches to slowly distill down to the best 32 in the World, while the host country team always automatically qualifies. The 32 teams are then drawn into groups in a manner that ensures wide-reaching geographic areas. Over the coming weeks, I will introduce you to all of the teams in each of the groups and offer you a preview of what is to come as a lead up to the World Cup 2014, kicking off on June 12th, 2014.
Note: At time of writing, rosters are not finalized. Also, the numbers are Vegas odds; a higher number indicates a worse likelihood of winning the World Cup.
Brazil (+300), Mexico (+15,000), Croatia (+20,000), Cameroon (+75,000)
Mexico really needs to thank the Football Gods they were drawn into this group. Struggling during qualifiers (with poor performances from players that matter, like Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos), Mexico will need to perform their best against the two teams they can beat. Brazil, playing at home, will have the country behind them and the voices in the stadiums, but with this much pressure certain players may crack. Neymar burst into the limelight and has become a global icon over the last year, but the 22-year-old will play his first World Cup and will need to perform on that level with help from Oscar at midfield if the team wants to live up to expectations. Croatia limped into the World Cup with a rather unimpressive qualification run, while Cameroon’s Eto’o is past his prime and leads an under equipped team.
Prediction: Brazil easily wins the group while Mexico returns to form for the main stage – sending both Croatia and Cameroon home early.
Spain (+700), Netherlands (+2,800), Chile (+4,400), Australia (+75,000)
Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and the Euro in 2012, but the team itself has lost a pace or two over the last couple of years. However, Diego Costa is certainly a more dangerous player up front than the Spaniards have had in years, and with continuous quality from Xavi and Fabregas they will certainly still be quite the competitors to win it all. Meanwhile, the Netherlands have fielded a strong team – perhaps a little too strong as egos may be their biggest worry. Van Persie will need to rally the Oranje if they want to go deep. Chile, on the other hand, has a team that just feels right; a mix of old and young that has been in top form. I am skeptical of their defense though, which means keeper Claudio Bravo will have his work cut out for him. Personally, though, you have to root for the small guy: Australia. The aging Socceroos will be in trouble with star player Robbie Kruse likely out of the lineup with an injury.
Prediction: Spain sweeps the group. Netherlands and Chile battle for that second spot, but ultimately the Oranje win out knocking both Chile and Australia out.
Don’t forget to check out our preview for Group C+D!
What are your predictions for Group A + B? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.