This group may not have the flair of the so-called ‘Group of Death’, but this is probably the most balanced group in the tournament. Especially with the loss of Falcao, group favorites Colombia are in big trouble offensively.
This is a very solid European-based side with the likes of Fredy Guarin of Inter and James Rodriguez of Monaco running the midfield, but the pressure will be piled on FC Porto striker Jackson Martinez to fill the goalscoring void left by the injured Falcao.
Greece are a never-say-die type of team with plenty of European experience in Georgios Samaras from Celtic, Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund and Giorgos Karagounis from Fulham.
Don’t count out the Greeks, who seemingly love the underdog role like in 2004 when they won the European Championship in Portugal. The Ivory Coast are a side that have constantly underperformed despite having the likes of Didier Drogba, the Toure brothers, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, Cheick Tiote and in-form Swansea striker Wilfried Bony.
But after an incredible season that saw Yaya Toure score 20 goals and notch nine assists in the Premier League yet still not win the Player of the Year award, the midfield general will have a chip on his shoulder heading to Brazil and will be looking to prove his worth on the international stage.
Finally Japan is a side that has an opportunity to surprise a lot of people. They are consistently the most dominant side coming out of Asia. With the likes of Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Atsuto Uchida and Shinji Okazaki - all of whom play with some of the top sides in Europe - the underdog role could really help their chances of getting out of this balanced group.
I see it finishing:
2. Ivory Coast
Boy is this a tasty group. Uruguay struggled in South American qualifying but the frontline of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan is one of the most fearsome ever assembled.
This is a very similar side to the one that got to the semi-finals in South Africa and Suarez is coming off the back of a career year. A very organised side with lots of goals just waiting to be unleashed, they certainly have to be favourites.
Costa Rica will be cursing their luck with this group, but Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz highlight an inexperienced squad that features four MLS players.
Is this the year England finally live up to their potential? It seems every four years, the pressure is piled on for England to win the whole thing by their press, but for some reason this year the media is a little bit softer spoken.
But this is a side that has the potential to do some serious damage, assuming they can get out of this tough group. They have a great balance of experience and youth with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard leading the young talents of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw to name a few.
Despite their lack of international experience, the younger players on this side have plenty of experience playing at the top levels in Europe and could surprise the world this summer.
Italy are a side that seem to be stepping down from international football dominance, with an ageing squad that includes Andrea Pirlo and Gigi Buffon. But they boast one of the best young talents in Europe in Lorenzo Insigne and of course have super Mario Balotelli leading the line. Italy are a team that are built for going deep into tournaments like this with their organisation and simplistic style.
How I see it finishing up:
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: https://gms.to/1a2u3KU
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms