Expectations for the FIFA World Cup 2014 - part I
The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is close at hand and I’m already very excited about the most important sporting event of the summer. I want to take a look at the different groups and teams and analyze their strengths and weak points and point out some expectations regarding a final result. Obviously, I’m not a clairvoyant and all these things are impossible to predict. It’s just my own personal opinion based on what I think to know about soccer. You can add your own comment and I also invite you to vote for the team you think is going to win this year’s World Cup: http://kluseba.eklablog.com/who-will-win-the-2014-fifa-world-cup-in-brazil-s158050
Here is my first part:
Group A: Brazil
Strengths: Host nation Brazil is a country that adores soccer. It’s almost some kind of religion. No nation has won more World Cups than Brazil. They have won it five times: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. In my opinion, chances are elevated that Brazil will add another title to its impressive collection this year. Why? First of all, the players have an entire passionate country of soccer maniacs behind them and an obvious home advantage. Secondly, they have clearly beaten actual World Cup and Euro Cup champion Spain during last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup. My third reason is that the country has a balanced squad of experienced players (goaltender Julio Cesar of Toronto FC, defender Maicon of A.S. Roma and defender Maxwell of Paris Saint-Germain) and young shooting starts (above all FC Barcelona’s Neymar). In addition to this, many players play in different international top leagues from Russia over Germany to Spain and know many of their potential opponents in other squads very well. A look at recent results is also very clear: Brazil has won its last seven games against opponents such as Chile, Portugal and South Korea. The team has scored 25 goals in these seven games while their different opponents only scored 2 goals.
Weak points: If Brazil has some kind of weak points, it might be their goaltenders. Julio Cesar and company are very good players but not as excellent as the rest of the squad. In addition to this, expectations from their fans are elevated and might build up a lot of pressure. The instable political situation in Brazil might also affect some of the players after all.
Expectations: Brazil will win the World Cup! Neymar could become the star player of the tournament.
Squad from October 15, 2013 against Zambia (copyright: The Globe and Mail)
Group A: Croatia
Strengths: Croatia or ancient Yugoslavia always had many great players. The country’s current squad also includes a few famous players such as Real Madrid’s midfielder Luka Modric, Sevilla FC’s midfielder Ivan Rakitic and a promising trio from the German Bundesliga: midfielder Ivan Perisic and striker Ivica Olic (both of VfL Wolfsburg) as well as striker Mario Mandzukic (FC Bayern Munich).
Weak points: Some players still lack international experience and are playing in Eastern Europe. The team is not constant enough either. Out of its last five games, Croatia has only won once and had to deal with two draws and two losses.
Expectations: They will have trouble surviving the group stage this year.
Croatia's squad on November 19, 2013 against Iceland (copyright: Darko Bandic/AP)
Group A: Mexico
Strengths: After a complicated qualification and two tough playoff games, Mexico’s squad really stands together as a team and has gone through all possible challenges. Many players are still playing in Mexico, know each other very well and may develop a strong team spirit.
Weak points: Just as Croatia, Mexico had some trouble to qualify for the World Cup and had to go into playoffs where they defeated New Zealand. Mexico has also one of the oldest squads in this year’s World Cup with seven players in the regular squad above the age of 30. Many players lack international experience as sixteen players are currently still playing in Mexican’s top league called Liga Bancomer MX.
Expectations: They will have trouble surviving this year’s group stage.
Mexico's squad on April 2nd, 2014 against USA (copyright: www.goal.com)
Group A: Cameroon
Strengths: Cameroon has regularly qualified for World Cups. In the last 24 years, the consistent squad has only missed the World Cup in Germany back in 2006. The squad features a couple of star players such as FC Barcelona’s midfielder Alex Song, FC Chelsea’s striker and experienced comeback player Samuel Eto’o and shooting star Maxim Choupo-Moting from Bundesliga club 1. FSV Mainz. The current German manager Volker Finke is a very experienced and clever manager and has a lot of experience with African players as well.
Weak points: Two years ago, Samuel Eto’o refused to play for his country as he complained about an “amateurish and poorly organized” national team set-up. In the past five years, the team had six different managers and went through some important changes. The atmosphere within the squad has not always been the greatest. Earlier this year, Cameroon had to endure an embarrassing 1-5 defeat against Portugal.
Expectations: The team will make it to the round of 16 but won’t go any further.
Cameroon's squad on March 5, 2014 against Portugal (copyright: www.237sports.com)