This being the first article I’ve ever written for myself, I wanted to take a minute and share my picks for the World Cup Group Stage. If you don’t care about my writing at all, and just want to see the teams, feel free to scroll to the bottom of the article for the tl;dr version.
DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert when it comes to soccer, nor do I claim to be. This is just a fun little project that I wanted to do for my own writing practice, as well as for any soccer fans out there. Comments and suggestions are much appreciated, so long as they are constructive and respectful. Thank you for reading.
The World Cup is the largest single-sporting event in history. With over 3.2 billion people watching the Cup in 2010, almost half of the world’s population gets directly involved in the action. This year, over 3 million people will be sitting in the stadiums in Brazil, watching teams battle it out for the honor of obtaining the most coveted prize in international sports. Who will rise to the occasion, and end out on top? Will one of the European giants take the cup back across the Atlantic? Or will the South Americans, who live and breathe football more than any others, take it back from the Spaniards? Or, will the United States finally win it all?
Okay, yeah, that last one probably won’t happen…
32 teams are in Brazil right now, ready to make it to the knockout stage. But first, the group stage stands in their way. They must show that they deserve to be in the big dance by placing in the top two within their respective groups. 16 will move on, while the remaining 16 will be sent back home, with disappointment in their hearts. Here’s how the groups look:
With Groups D and G being the most likely to claim the title of “Group of Death”, how will things shake down? Eternal rivals England and Italy will fight for the top, while the USA will have to take its sights off Ghana long enough to keep Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portuguese side from crushing their dreams. Here are my predictions for the 16 teams that will be making it to the knockout stage at the end of June.
The Brazilians have a relatively easy trip to the top of their group, with the only real resistance coming from the Croatians and an inconsistent Mexican squad. The home team should handily defeat their early competition. But, the battle for second place will not be as easy. Trying to differentiate Croatia and Mexico is a difficult task, and will depend a lot upon how easily the Mexicans can handle the pressure. Sadly, I don’t think Cameroon has the discipline to cause much trouble for any of the other teams in their group. In the end, I think the Mexicans will crack, allowing the Croatians to squeeze through, possibly only on goal differential.
With the first match of Group B set to be a rematch of the last Cup’s final, sparks will most certainly fly. You would think Spain and Netherlands would easily go through to the knockout stage, but they will have serious problems holding off Chile’s offense. Poor Australia was given the single most difficult schedule in the Group Stage, and will likely suffer terribly at the hands of the fantastic teams above them. When all is said and done, I think European defensive discipline will hold out for Netherlands and Spain, allowing them to ride out the attacks of Chile, and continue their quest to relive their glory from four years ago.
Group C may not have all the excitement of some of the other groups, but it will be interesting to see who finds their way to the top. With Falcao out of the Cup, Colombia isn’t going to have such an easy time topping off this group, especially with Ivory Coast in there, a team that I believe is the best African squad in the world. For me, Greece is quite overrated in the FIFA rankings, as they’ve never really proven that they can handle the sort of teams that they’ll be up against here, and I don’t think they will. Japan also hasn’t showed me that they’ll be able to elbow their way past either Colombia or Ivory Coast, so I give them the top two of Group C.
With Group D being one of the two “Group of Death” title contenders, you better believe there will be lots of drama involved here. Uruguay, with their strikers Suarez and Cavani, will be looking to overpower both Italy and England in their quest for the top, who may be too focused on each other to worry about the South American side. England has a lot of growing to do, but I still think their raw talent will be enough to see them over the Uruguayans. However, the Italians have too much discipline for the English, and I think they’ll be able to make it to the top of this group, leaving poor Costa Rica in the dust.
The biggest problem with Group E is uncertainty. France is almost always a favorite in the Cup, but they’ve had some problems with performing under pressure and they could easily break down like they did in South Africa. Also, Switzerland was given one of the easiest paths to qualification, leaving many wondering if they deserve their spot in the tournament. The Ecuadorian side has shown that they’re on of the best teams in South America, and I believe they’re a bit underrated. Honduras has shown that they can handle the teams in their conference, but haven’t done the same against stiff competition. I think France will be able to keep it together, and Switzerland will be able to keep up the surprises, to end up in the top half of their group.
Argentina has been blessed with the easiest path to the knockout stage, and they should easily making it to first place in their group. Also, for me, Bosnia should only have mild problems making the hurdle that is the Nigerian squad.
Group G is the other (and most popular) pick for the Group of Death. Between the young and infinitely talented German squad, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portuguese side, Jurgen Klinsmann’s unique American team, and the ever-impressive Ghana, picking a top two for this group was difficult. I think the German’s should be able to hold onto the top spot just fine. They’ve shown their nerve before, and they can do that much at least. But, for the second place spot, I ended up being a little sentimental and picked the Americans. I don’t think Ronaldo will be able to carry Portugal past this team that Jurgen Klinsmann has so precisely pieced together. And, the US will be looking to take Ghana down a peg after their negative encounters with them in both of the last two World Cups.
Yet another pretty easy group for me to pick. The extremely young and talented Belgian squad has already shown that they deserve a spot in the knockout stage, and many have them as the dark horse of this tournament, possibly capable of winning it all. They’ll have no problem dispatching their group’s competition. Also, between Russia, Algeria, and South Korea, Russia seems like a pretty obvious pick to me. The other two just haven’t been able to handle this level of play before, and I think the Russians will be excited to make it through their group with relative ease as well.
Well, there it is. I’ve finally committed to it. That’s my final list of the 16 teams that I think will make it to the knockout stage. I’ll take this little bit of space to tell everyone out there that we’re having a World Cup bracket challenge on the AMP forums. I’m giving away 20 gold in prizes to the top 4 brackets in the competition. If you haven’t already filled yours out, the deadline is tomorrow. You can check it out here for more information: http://www.ampforums.info/forum/thread-655.html
Also, don't forget to vote, sub, shout, and comment. Your support is very much appreciated.
Group A - Brazil, Croatia
Group B - Spain, Netherlands
Group C - Colombia, Ivory Coast
Group D - Italy, England
Group E - France, Switzerland
Group F - Argentina, Bosnia
Group G - Germany, USA
Group H - Belgium, Russia
What is this?You are reading an article written by a citizen of eRepublik, an immersive multiplayer strategy game based on real life countries. Create your own character and help your country achieve its glory while establishing yourself as a war hero, renowned publisher or finance guru.