Continuing where I last left you in my first 2014 World Cup preview, today we’ll be looking at Groups C and D. The 2014 World Cup, which is being held in Brazil, will feature teams from every continent with exception of Antarctica. From North and Central America we’ve got the United States, Honduras, Mexico, and Costa Rica. From South America you’ll see Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. From Europe there’s Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, Bosnia, Portugal, Croatia, Portugal, England, Netherlands, France, Spain, Greece, Germany, and Italy. From Asia we have Iran, Japan, South Korea, and we’ll include Australia here as well (why not?). Lastly, from Africa the rundown includes Nigeria, Algeria, Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire), Ghana, and Cameroon. If you feel a connection with any of these countries, or they’re in your heritage, support them loudly and join in the World Cup experience! Now, let’s get into the previews of Groups C and D.
Note: At the 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.
Colombia (+2,200), Japan (+12,500), Cote D’Ivoire (+15,000), Greece (+25,000)
Group C is a truly fascinating case, because each team is deeply flawed. Greece, the perennial underdog, has a team with diminishing talent for 2014; despite performing well in qualifiers they simply have nothing standout that could offer them an advantage over other teams. Their redeeming feature is the group they were drawn into. Colombia has the odds in its favour, but has recently lost its best strike, Falcao, to a knee injury. This loss will dramatically hinder the team’s performance in any matches after the group stage. Japan has the most potential upside in this group as it has a strong and capable midfield and defense, but my worry with the team is its ability to put the ball in the net. Okazaki only scored once during qualifiers, and he is the team’s best chance at putting the ball in the back of the net. Lastly, we have the Aging Case of the Ivory Coast. A team that certainly has well-known names (in Yaya, Toure and, of course, Drogba) who can make a difference – but these guys are 31, 33 and 36 years-old, respectively.
Prediction: Incredibly tough prediction, but I’ll take Japan to win the group while Cote D’Ivoire takes the second spot on goal differential with Colombia. Sadly, Greece and Colombia are heading home.
Italy (+2,500), Uruguay (+2,800), England (+3,300), Costa Rica (+250,000)
As an Italian fan, I cannot help but be slightly nervous about this group. However, I imagine the feeling is the same for Uruguay and England fans as well. Either of the three teams could easily win the group, or just as easily come in third place. Uruguay has arguably one of best front lines in the competition, and with a strong defense and serviceable mid they look exceptionally dangerous this year. England seemingly always has problems with egos and talent, but everyone seems to be working better together this year. Joe Hart looks to be playing at his best, while Gerard has been a peak performer as well. Costa Rica should feel incredibly proud to be in the World Cup, and, in truth, if the three major teams stall each other out in ties and low goal games, Costa Rica could pull off the impossible and make it through. As for Italy, as previously mentioned I’m biased considering they are my team – but I cannot help but be anxious as well. Andrea Pirlo is now 35 years-old, while Buffon is 36. Not ancient, but aging. Up front, Gilardino can be streaky and Balotelli, while I love him, is always a wild card.
Prediction: I’m making a tough call here, but I think Uruguay wins the group, while Italy takes 2nd on goal differential. I will also make the prediction that Costa Rica scores a goal but will unfortunately exit early. Meanwhile, England will make a rough exit.
What are your thoughts and predictions for Groups C + D? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.