World Cup 2014 Preview
The World Cup will be upon us before we know it. This means that four years of restless impatience is nearly at an end. It also means that discussion and speculation regarding Brazil 2014 is at an all-time high. Here’s our group-by-group preview complete with betting odds and predictions:
Group A features a relatively weak Cameroon squad, a Mexico team that barely eked its way through qualifying, and a Croatia team that at its best could be quite competitive. However, the group is headlined by host nation Brazil. And according to the latest early odds from Bet Fair, Brazil has the best chance to win the group with overwhelming 2/7 odds. The same site features fixed odds for each nation’s shot at winning the whole event, and Brazil is the favourite in that regard as well, at 3/1. The truth is, Brazil is nearly a shoe-in to win Group A (provided the recent injury to young superstar Neymar isn’t more serious than we’ve been told), and the real drama should be who comes in second. Our prediction: Brazil takes first, with Croatia advancing as well.
One of the most top-heavy groups in the draw, Group B features Australia and Chile. The headlines, however, will go to Spain and Netherlands. Spain is the group favourite (4/5), but some have suggested the Spaniards may step down a bit from there ridiculous run of world dominance. The 12/5 odds for the Netherlands to win the group may be a risk worth taking, as it’s not inconceivable for the Dutch to take the group given their ability to run up the score. Should they earn a draw or win against Spain, goal differential could assist them. Our prediction: Netherlands first, Spain second.
A strong Colombia squad headlines a group featuring the fairly evenly matched Greece, Ivory Coast, and Japan. This group is one of the hardest to figure behind Colombia, whose 8/11 odds to win seem about right. Our prediction: Colombia will take first, and Japan, who may be the steadiest of the remaining three teams, will take second.
Labeled by some as the “group of death,” Group D features England, Italy, Uruguay and a surprisingly strong Costa Rica team. Italy is the favourite to advance and certainly look poised to present a strong side for the World Cup. England look to be on a bit of a downward trend, and Costa Rica can struggle away from home, so seeded team Uruguay is a co-favourite with the Italians. But again, any of these four teams has the raw talent to win the group. Our prediction: Italy first, Uruguay second.
Switzerland—the weakest seeded team—received arguably the weakest group as well. France, Honduras and Ecuador round out the group, and the truth here is that the European teams ought to have little trouble advancing. Our prediction: France will be keen to make up for a humiliating showing in 2010 and should take first with Switzerland taking second.
Argentina (second to Brazil with 5/1 odds to win the whole event) headline a group that also features Nigeria, Iran, and the very capable Bosnia & Herzegovina. It’s not the biggest batch of names, but there’s real strength in this group. Nigeria boasts a talented (though inexperienced) roster and Bosnia has played quite convincingly through most of qualifying. Our prediction: Argentina is an easy first, with Nigeria taking second.
Group D’s competition for “group of death” status is Group G, which is a powerhouse consisting of Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the United States. Germany is the favourite to advance and should compete for the World Cup trophy, but beyond the Germans each team seems to have a real chance. The U.S. may have its best team ever; Cristiano Ronaldo can win any match for Portugal nearly by himself; and Ghana has been fierce in recent Cup competition. Our prediction: We agree with Yahoo Sports: Germany takes first, and the U.S. finds a way to take second.
Belgium, Algeria, Russia and South Korea make up the final group, and once again the European teams should be the favourites. Belgium is an inexperienced team, though it also boasts a roster absolutely packed with talent and could actually be a threat to win the whole thing. Russia, meanwhile, won’t turn any heads but is a world class squad compared to the Algerian and South Korean teams that are likely just happy to be in the draw. Our prediction: Belgium first, Russia second.