With only 3 weeks (give or take) to go until the World Cup, here I’ll be previewing and giving my predictions for Groups A and B.
It’s kind of impossible not to see Brazil win this group – and comfortably, for that matter. With so much pressure on the host nation to win the tournament, they’ll be looking to get off to a strong start against relatively weak opposition.
With the exclusion of Kaka and Ronaldinho, head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will be in deep trouble if his younger, less experienced side doesn’t do well. Luckily for him, he has young superstar Neymar to carry the weight of the nation on his scrawny shoulders.
Second place is absolutely up for grabs, however, with Croatia the likely front-runner for that spot. Although they struggled in qualifying and had to squeak by Iceland in a two-game playoff just to get to Brazil, the likes of international superstars Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic should carry this team into the round of 16.
Mexico traveled a similar road to Brazil, also struggling in qualifying and getting through in a playoff against New Zealand but this side - which has underachieved for the last couple of years - looks to be ready to finally turn it around and challenge Croatia.
Finally, in Cameroon, we see a bit of an unknown quantity. It’s difficult to know what to expect from the African side led by an ageing Samuel Eto’o, even though he says he plans on playing in two more World Cups.
I see this group finishing:
I suppose in football no result is ever certain; that’s why we play the games and not just measure results on paper, right? But the closest thing that we can possibly have to a certainty is Australia finishing dead last in this group.
Group G gets a lot of attention for being the dreaded 'Group of Death', but Group B is a close second. It’s easy to say Spain will finish top of this group and win the whole thing (Spain’s bench could probably compete to win it all) but don’t count out 2010 World Cup finalists the Netherlands.
This is a team that went undefeated in qualifying and only gave up five goals over 10 games. For a team that has always had questions asked of its defence, they may have finally answered them.
A healthy Robin Van Persie will be looking to make up for lost time after yet another injury-ridden season and he will feature alongside Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder in one of the world’s most deadly attacking groups.
Chile will be looking to ruin the Dutch party and have a good chance of doing so. Qualifying third in South America—albeit without Brazil in that group—is no easy feat, and with some of the most talented players in the world in Juventus’s Arturo Vidal and Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez, the team boasts a side full of experienced players playing in the top flights of Europe.
However, I think a team with the experience and quality of the Netherlands will be too much for the Chileans to overcome.
I see this group finishing:
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