The draw for next summer's World Cup in Brazil was made on Friday afternoon, with a number of tasty ties in store. Here, we take a look at Group A...
Who’s in the group?
Hosts Brazil were automatically assigned to Group A and will kick off the 2014 World Cup against the European side allocated to pot 2 - Croatia. They will be joined by Mexico, who secured the second to last World Cup spot through the combined effort of four managers and a play-off success against New Zealand and Cameroon, who saw off Tunisia in similar circumstances to become one of five African sides who will be at the tournament next summer.
Who are the stars?
Arguably the whole Brazil squad, but World Cup poster-boy Neymar is certainly expected to light up the tournament on home soil after impressing in the Confederations Cup.
Diminutive Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez remains the most notable name in a Mexico side comprised of home-based players, while Samuel Eto’o will similarly be expected to be found on the scoresheet for Cameroon.
Premier League fans from North London may just remember Croatia’s Luka Modric and Eduardo for their time in England’s top flight but the key man remains Mario Mandzukic, who will be looking to expand on a decent group stage in the 2012 European Championships and add to his two goals in tournament football.
Croatia’s Eduardo was born in Brazil and returns for the opening clash of the World Cup with a view of ruining the host’s party. Eto’o will also be up against club mates David Luiz, Ramires and Oscar when Cameroon go toe-to-toe with the hosts and the African nation will be hoping their talismanic striker’s best days aren’t behind him just yet.
Modric will clash with Alex Song in a typical El Clasico battle and it’s those kind of games that will matter as Brazil look to reach the second round with a perfect points total.
Who’s going through?
It is pretty difficult to rule out Brazil and it would hardly be surprising if they dispatched of all their group stage opponents on their way to a nine-point haul.
Cameroon faced a similarly difficult group in 2010 and the same fate probably awaits them this time around as the wait for an African winner of a World Cup extends beyond 2014. Choosing between Mexico and Croatia is difficult, as both have quality but neither are outstanding.
An emerging Mexico may lack the experience of Croatia’s stars of European pedigree and that could be the difference in Group A when the two meet.
Brazil and Croatia to go through.
Can either of them win the World Cup?
Croatia have a few stand-out players, but it is unlikely that they’ll be the one’s challenging to become the first European country to win the tournament on South American soil.
But Brazil are a whole different prospect. Hosting the tournament guarantees a knowledge of the climate as well as torrents of support from the stands. They may not quite be the finished article just yet, but they're certainly a team moving forward.
Their win in the Confederations Cup final over Spain was no mean feat, and they’ll be keen to repeat that a year later regardless of who they face. Backed by home support and a history of success, a semi-final spot beckons at the least.
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