Team By Team Predictions for the 2014 Mundial!
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is here! From June 12 through July 13th the world will hear the samba everytime they turn on their TV's or walk into a busy sports bar. This iteration of the greatest sporting event on the planet promises to be special. With political chaos and dissatisfaction swirling throughout the host country, the atmosphere is certainly electrically charged.
Here's to hoping the brilliance on the pitch and the passion of fans can help unite all those who love the beautiful game. Brazil-- the world, really-- needs something to cheer about.
Brazil 2014: KESTA's World Cup Preview
Brazil- To say the pressure will be on for the host country is an understatement as massive as superstar Neymar's talent. When a sizable chunk of soccer-obsessed Brazil's populace is furious and protesting over the money being spent to provide infrastructure for the World Cup, you know the political situation is bad. That said, this team has the talent at virtually every position (save perhaps at goalkeeper with a slightly declining Julio Cesar minding the nets) to keep home-field advantage from turning into a pressure-cooking nightmare.
The task is tall: Anything less than complete victory will probably be seen as a failure. But oh how sweet a victory would be. For Brazilian soccer. For Brazil.
Croatia- The Blazers were far from inspiring in qualification, needing a play-off with Iceland to make it to Brazil. The pivotal match here will be their June 23rd meeting with Mexico which will likely decide Group A's runner-up. Tough, talented, and possessing top-tier stars in the form of the phenomenal Luca Modric and Mario Mandzukic, Croatia is a strong competitor.
Mexico- Narrowly avoiding absolute disaster after losing their must-win final game of qualification, only to be bailed out by the US National team-- their fiercest rivals-- Mexico seems to have recovered somewhat from a dismal qualifying campaign. When they are on, the Mexicans are capable of downright embarrassing teams with their talent. The flip side is the team's seeming vulnerability to catastrophic meltdowns when things aren't going their way.
Cameroon- Mexico and Croatia overlook the Indomitable Lions at their own risk. Samuel Eto'o may be aging, but Cameroon's squad is packed with players plying their trade in the world's best leagues.
Who Goes Through: Brazil goes top of group. Mexico advances as runner-up after wars with Cameroon and Croatia thanks to Miguel Herrera going Super Saiyan (if you don't get this reference see below....)
Miguel Herrera aka. Mexico's Manager and secret weapon...
Spain- First of all, this group is absolutely brutal. Even so, Spain remains unimaginably dominant on the world stage. Their squad selection is an embarrassment of riches. It's a herculean task to repeat as World Cup champions, but it's hard to imagine Spain not advancing to the second round, "group of death" or not.
Netherlands- The Dutch are insanely stacked with talent but not enough to take out the Spaniards for the group's top spot. How Van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and the rest of the squad square up against a strong Chile will likely determine the group's runner-up.
Chile- Consistent and tough, Chile has the skill to make a deep run in Brazil. Alexis Sanchez is a serious threat. La Roja is the type of hard-fighting team NO ONE wants to play.
Australia- Hard luck for the Socceroos but they just don't have the talent to compete against 3 of the world's best footballing nations.
Who Goes Through: Spain. Chile, bolstered by the home-field feel of a South American World Cup, surprises the Dutch to take second in the group.
Colombia- No Falcao, no problem? I think so. After a brilliant qualifying campaign (only losing two games) in the fierce gauntlet that is CONMEBOL, Colombia has proven they are a force.
Greece- It is not easy to play against the defensively disciplined Greeks. Group C doesn't necessarily have the sexiest names but the sheer evenness among all four very talented teams promises to make these group's games some of the most engaging of the tournament.
Ivory Coast- An aging Ivory Coast is still a dangerous Ivory Coast. Led by the legendary Didier Drogba, the sun is setting on the Elephants' golden generation, but don't expect a lineup of some of Africa's best talents to go quietly. In addition, there is plenty of fresh talent in the pipeline.
Japan- The Blue Samurais round out the very competitive Group C. Their talent level matches up well against any of the group's squads and their discipline as a team makes them a tough match. The attacking prowess of Okazaki, Kagawa, Honda promises to make this iteration of Japan as entertaining as any.
Who Goes Through: Colombia on top. Japan in second.
Uruguay- Another very tough group (and equally tough to call). The greatness of Luis Suarez (personal antics aside) can't be underestimated. Throw in Edinson Cavani and this strike-force becomes absolutely lethal.
Costa Rica- This is a very tough spot for Los Ticos to find themselves in. Costa Rica's squad is solid, but it won't be enough to topple the other three giants.
England- Popular opinion has seen the Three Lions all but written off as serious contenders for the Cup. That doesn't mean that's how it will go down in Brazil. But, a weak back line and no obvious solution for England's drought of offensive creativity at the top stage can't have English supporters too excited.
Italy- Always dangerous and tough to beat. They'll take advantage of a relatively weakened England and battle it out with Uruguay for the group's top spot.
Who Goes Through: Italy. Uruguay. Not necessarily in that order.
Switzerland- The Swiss dominated a weak qualifying group to make it to Brazil. Ecuador and France are a different story.
Ecuador- Ecuador finds itself in good position to make it the second round in Group E. Their June 25th meeting with France should be a battle for the group's top spot.
France- The French will certainly be looking to make amends after 2010's sad showing where the team imploded while flailing out of a weak group. If recent history is an accurate indicator, this could be a good year for France. After winning the cup in '98, Les Bleus failed to make it out of the group stage. The same fate awaited them in 2010 after 2006's runner-up performance.
Honduras- Los Catrachos are underdogs here, but Group E definitely isn't the worst position for a historical small-fry looking to squeak through to the second to find themselves in.
Who Goes Through: France in first. Then, Ecuador.
Argentina- While no teams in the World Cup are pushovers, Argentina is sitting very pretty for a pass to the round of 16.
Bosnia and Herzegovina- A talented team with a foundation of solid Euro league-playing talent. They may not be a huge name but the Dragons have it in them to make some waves.
Iran- After missing out on South Africa in 2010, the Princes of Persia are back. While Group F is certainly no lion's den, Iran just lacks the talent to compete
Nigeria- The Super Eagles will battle it out with Bosnia and Herzegovina for the runner-up spot.
Who Goes Through: Argentina. Bosnia and Herzegovina runners-up.
Germany- This isn't a group, this is a nightmare experiment dreamed up to torment US national team fans. A victory here would be epic: The US is managed by legendary ex-German national Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann's former second-in-command Jogi Löw is the current coach for Die Mannschaft. Partially due to Klinsmann's influence, Team USA is heavily staffed with players closely tied to Germany-- either through having been born in the country, played in the Bundesliga, or both. Winning would also be payback for Germany's 2002 World Cup victory over the US which was marred by a handball controversy. In sum, beating Germany would be as sweet as it is unlikely.
Portugal- When you have arguably the world's greatest (and arguably most handsome) player on your team, you're bound to be dangerous. This Portugal might not be as well-rounded as the golden generation squad led by Luis Figo, but Ronaldo makes them fearsome.
Ghana- The Black Stars have been a thorn in the US' side for multiple World Cups. After seeing the thrashing they gave to a Bob Bradley coached Egypt squad to qualify for Brazil, it seems they are as tough and talented as ever.
United States- "El Equipo De Todos" is in for a dogfight to say the least. After a strong qualifying campaign, the team's recent inconsistency may suggest the Yanks peaked too early. Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley's returns to MLS, Jozy Altidore's lackluster form at Sunderland, and Landon Donovan's (in my mind rightful) exclusion are all worrying signs that the team's stars are not performing at optimum levels. The odds are stacked against Team USA, which come to think of it, might be just how they like it. Three straight friendly wins in the buildup to Brazil are going to help momentum and morale.
Who Goes Through: My heart says USA wins the group, the entire tournament, and Jurgen Klinsmann is elected president in 2016. My soccer brain says Germany finishes top and Portugal also advances.
Belgium- A favorite selection for EA Sports' FIFA 2014 aficionados everywhere. They're fun to watch and chock-full of talent. And young talent at that. Hazard, Lukaku, Courtois are all 23 or younger. Witsel, Fellaini, Dembele, and Mirallas are all under 27. This could be a break out year for the talented Red Devils.
Algeria- A solid Algerian squad won't be enough to overtake 3 very good teams in Russia, South Korea, and Belgium.
Russia- Finishing ahead of Portugal in qualifying proves the Russians are a tough draw for anyone. Look for them to contend with Belgium for top dog in the group.
South Korea- Group H is no Group of Death, but Russia and Belgium will require the Reds to dig deep if they want to advance. Korea is always a disciplined and mentally tough squad, but their talent level will be a question against Russia and Belgium. That said, Korea has made it past the group stage in 3 out of the past 4 World Cups.
Who Goes Through: Belgium finishes top of group. Korea upsets Russia to take the second spot.
That is our Kesta Picks round-up for this year's mundial! Who is your favorite team to win the trophy this year? Share in the comments!
May the best team win!