The group stage of the World Cup involves each country in their group playing against each other. With four teams in each group, that means that each team plays three games. Two teams from each group move on from the group stage. The results (and the goals for and against) are incredibly important to determining who moves on. A win nets a team 3 points, while a draw earns 1 point. Obviously, the two teams with the most points will move on, but if two or more teams have the same number of points the selection on who moves on comes down to goals. The first thing that is considered is goal differential: if Team A has 3 goals for and 1 against, their goal differential is +2, and if Team B has 3 goals for, and 0 against, they have a goal differential of +3 and thus Team B will move on. Lastly, imagine a situation where Team A has a goal differential of four goals for, and 1 against, while Team B has three goals for, and none against. In this case, both teams have a +3 goal differential. The tiebreaker moves to the team with most goals for; in this case Team A would move on.
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 2014 World Cup.
France (+2,000), Switzerland (+10,000), Ecuador (+15,000), Honduras (+250,000)
France won the lottery when they saw the other countries drawn into the group with them. The team started horribly and rallied to qualify, but are definitely a very imperfect team. Ribery up front and upcoming midfielder Pogba should find room to play with in an uncrowded environment, much to France’s benefit. This space is going to be most apparent against Honduras, which lacks any outstanding talent – closest one being striker Carlos Costly. Honduras really should be thrilled to have even made the cut two years in a row. If you’re looking at an offensive minded team (who oddly, struggle at scoring), Ecuador has to be top of mind. The team has the weakest defense I’ve seen, but in this group they might not need it. Conversely, Switzerland has a lockdown defense that managed to beat Brazil in August of 2013 (1-0). The team does struggle with goal scoring though, but perhaps Hitzfeld can come up with something to improve those chances.
Prediction: It’s no surprise really that I think France will win the group. I don’t think they are going to do it in spectacular fashion though – probably involving a tie with Switzerland. As second position, I think Ecuador takes it on goal differential with Switzerland.
Argentina (+450), Bosnia (+15,000), Nigeria (+25,000), Iran (+75,000)
Messi gets an easy by in this group as Argentina has all the talent to dominate with ease. Let’s just hope that Messi shows up for once and can get the ball into the net! Nigeria has strongly improved in recent years, and under the sound coaching of Stephen Keshi the team has continued to develop. Enyeama, Ideye and Amoebi can all score, while the lynchpin of the mid, John Obi Mikel, will certainly help make that possible. Iran made its way into the competition with 30 goals in 16 games, but likely will not be a real threat to any of the other teams in the group. I personally think their Vegas odds are excessively high. If nothing else, keep an eye on Ghoochannejhad as he could be a standout player. Lastly, we have the Bosnians making their first appearance at the World Cup, and they are coming with strong goal scoring potential. In qualifiers, they scored 30 goals in 10 games, and 18 of those came from Dzeko and Ibisevic. The team’s downfall is certainly going to be its weak defense, though.
Prediction: Argentina naturally comes through on top, while the Bosnians continue their strong run and make it through as well. Iran and Nigeria compete for third, but alas, that is none of our concern.
What are your thoughts and predictions for Groups E + F? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.