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2014 World Cup Preview

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So my original plan was to do this huge World Cup preview.  I watch a good amount of soccer, and although I don't consider myself an expert, I know more than the typical American who stops playing soccer when they stop serving orange slices.  But life got in the way, and with 32 teams to break down and analyze I just ran out of time.  So instead, here are my World Cup predictions, from order of the group to the championship.  You can pretty much consider these locks.


Group A


1) Brazil

2) Croatia

3) Mexico

4) Cameroon


This isn't as dominant of a Brazil team as we are used to seeing, but still the best team in this group.  The second spot comes down to Croatia or Mexico, but Mexico's inability to score consistently during qualifiers gives Croatia the edge.  Cameroon may give a team or two a scare, but they just have to much drama surrounding them over the last 4 years to come together as a unit and play spoiler.


Group B


1) Spain

2) Netherlands

3) Chile

4) Australia


Spain is the best team in the world.  They have won every tournament that has mattered since 2008, and I don't see that changing.  The Netherlands were in the finals last World Cup, and although they looked awful in Euro 2012, they have come back around and should be a tough team.  It wouldn't shock me if Chile snuck into the two spot... They got the offense to do it.  I just don't know how if they have the defense.  As for Australia?  Good job making the tournament, but this isn't your year.  I doubt they even tie a game.


Group C


1) Columbia

2) Ivory Coast

3) Greece

4) Japan


This group frustrates me so much, because a team like Chile or the Netherlands isn't getting out of their group when they'd probably be the favorite in this one.  Columbia is missing superstar Radamel Falcao, but have a really good defense and should still emerge on top of the group. I'm going with Ivory Coast in the second spot, and although it may be a tad optimistic, I really like the offensive ability of this squad.  Greece has a really good defense, but you got to score to win, which I don't believe Greece can do.  I don't really know much about Japan, but if history means anything than we shouldn't expect much.


Group D


1) Italy

2) England

3) Uruguay

4) Costa Rica


Don't listen to anyone complaining that the US is in the Group of Death.  Group D is a much more difficult group.  All four teams are better then the US and Ghana.  Jest because a group doesn't have a huge favorite doesn't make it less impressive.

It wouldn't shock me if any of these teams advanced.  I'm going to pick Italy to win, just because I think they are the deepest team in the group, and of the most technically skilled.  England was an overrated team for so long that now they are sneaky underrated.  People are sleeping on this team which is a big mistake.  They don't play fancy, but have the talent to be effective.  Uruguay is really strong up front with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavini, but have red flags every where else.  In any other Group Costa Rica is in the discussion to advance thanks to it's teller defense, going just under 500 straight minutes without allowing a goal in CONCACAF.


Group E


1) Switzerland

2) France

3) Ecuador

4) Honduras


The Swiss are a team that isn't a popular pick to win the group, and I'm not sure why, as they have been playing some amazing soccer.  They didn't allow a goal in 7 of their last 10 games, and have only lost 4 of their last 29 competitive games.  The more popular pick is France, who are looking to rebound from last World Cup's atrocious performance.  But they have struggled in the past against lesser opponents, and without Ribery may have trouble scoring in the group stage.


Ecuador- Ecuador has played it's last 4 friendliest against World Cup qualified teams, so they should be able to hit the ground running.  That paired with being used to the South American temperatures may be their saving grace, as they have struggled to find consistency on the back line.  And Honduras? Well their goal should be too just score a goal.


Group F


1) Argentina

2) Bosnia and Herzegovina

3) Nigeria

4) Iran


No questions who is winning this group.  Argentina has the best player in the world with Lionel Messi, and even with a questionable defense this group should be a wall in the park.  For Bosnia, the second spot is theirs to lose.  After being hyped as a dark horse all spring they are almost overrated now, but they have a lot of talent on offense to make up for an inexperienced defense.  The theme of weak defense carries over to Nigeria, who unlike the teams listed above, doesn't have the offense to make up for it.  And Iran?  Let's just move on.


Group G Preview


1) Germany

2) Portugal

3) Ghana

4) United States


The Germans are the best team in this group, and unless you ask someone from Portugal I doubt anyone would disagree.  They are stacked, and should control the midfield in all 3 group games.  Portugal was already a few steps behind Germany, but now that Cristiano Ronaldo is battling injury, I can't see how they catch the Germans.  They still have some elite talent though, and should have no issues getting past the rest of the group.  Ghana has some issues in the back 4 and in net, but they have a good group of attacking talent up front.  And more importantly, stylistically they have given the US fits over the years.  I know the US in last isn't a popular pick, but they are not very deep defensively, and outside of Dempsey I don't trust any of their scorers (sorry Jozy).  And don't blame the losses on no Donovan.  This team just isn't that good.  On a side note?  Michael Bradley is the best American player on the roster, maybe of all time, based on talent, not scoring.


Group H


1) Belgium

2) Russia

3) South Korea

4) Algeria


Belgium is the most underrated team in the tournament.  They are talented, deep, and determined.  They have a legit shot at winning this thing, but because it's a team without the historic name (like Brazil or Italy) it isn't getting the hype it deserves.  Russia has really turned it around as of late, only allowing 5 goals during qualifiers after being known as a softer defensive squad.  They have a shot at the second spot, but don't count out South Korea.  They have gotten out if group play 2 of the last 3 World Cups, and have players from the best leagues in the world.  The long shot is Algeria.  They are technically sound defensively, but just can't match talent with the rest of the group.


Round of 16


Netherlands over Brazil

England over Columbia

Switzerland over Bosnia

Germany over Russia

Spain over Croatia

Italy over Ivory Coast

Argentina over France

Belgium over Portugal


Round of 8


Netherlands over England

Germany over Switzerland

Spain over Italy

Belgium over Argentina


Semis


Germany over Netherlands

Spain over Belgium


Championship


Spain over Germany


So those are my picks.  Hope you enjoy and follow me on the twitter @michaelrooney26



Big Country

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 



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