For soccer fans around the world it has been a long wait for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and now the wait is almost over as it is now only days away. The host country has extremely high hopes for its team and they look primed to be one of the favorites of the competition. Brazil is in Group, A which on its surface does not look to be one of the tougher groups, but could potentially cause them big problems.
Group A consists of the host country Brazil, Mexico, Cameroon and Croatia. Mexico has historically been a very good World Cup team. While they have never made a run to the top four of the competition, they have qualified 14 times and have made 2 quarterfinal appearances. The usually very stable Mexican team had a very rough road through qualifying. They were forced to beat New Zealand in a qualifying playoff that they beat handily, but were one of the last teams to make the World Cup. Their striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez who plays for Manchester United and has achieved near hero status in his home country will try and lead them out of the group stage. Mexico starts off playing Cameroon then they have Brazil and finish their group matches with Croatia. The match against Croatia could be the determining factor of which team gets second in the group, with prevailing wisdom saying Brazil will win it.
Cameroon are undoubtedly the underdog of Group A and as an African country they are used to that role. The West African nation are ranked 50th in the world by FIFA and that is 30 spots behind the next lowest ranked country in their group Croatia who is ranked 20th in the world. Cameroon has only made it out of the group stage of the World Cup once, in 1990, when the event was held in Italy. Striker Samuel Eto’o is Cameroon’s longtime captain and unquestioned leader, even with his age creeping up he is still one of the most respected and feared strikers in the world. One of the benefits to their game schedule in the group stage is the fact that they play Brazil in the last match. This is a positive for an underdog like Cameroon, because hopefully for them Brazil has already won their first two matches and won the group, meaning that they might rest some starters for the match against Cameroon.
Croatia is a country that does not have a long history of football but have made themselves into a power over the last 10 years or so. Their best result was finishing third in their first ever World Cup appearance in 1998 in France. Other than Brazil, Croatia is the only other team in this group with more than one world soccer star. Croatia has two players who are stars on two of the biggest clubs in the world Mario Mandzukic who plays striker for Bayern Munich and midfielder Luka Modric, who just won the Champions League with Real Madrid. For Croatia to advance both of them will need to be in top form, which should not be a problem for Modric as he was one of the most consistent and best midfielders in the world this entire club season. Their group stage starts with the opening game of this World Cup when they play Brazil and then they have Cameroon followed by Mexico.
Brazil is not just one of the favorites in Group A, but also one of the favorites to win the entire 2014 World Cup. Brazil is one of the proudest footballing nations and has more World Cup success than any other nation, winning the competition five times. This year the already immense pressure on the Brazil players will be intensified because they are playing on home soil. If they are able to win this year’s World Cup in front of the home fans it will no doubt be one of Brazil’s proudest moments as a nation. The team has the talent to win the competition but some have questioned their lack of experience on the biggest stages in international football. A lot of the talent on this year’s squad is very young and we not even a part of the team during the last World Cup in 2010. In fact most of the starting attackers such as Neymar, Oscar, Willian and Hulk were not even known by most fans back in 2010, but they have now become major stars in the club game and are ready to follow up on their Confederations Cup victory last year by winning the 2014 World Cup. It is largely expected that Brazil glide through the group stage winning it easily, but it will not be a formality. Their toughest group game is the one that starts the entire competition against Croatia. The European nation is very organized and has the most talent next to the hosts. They follow that match up with Mexico next and finish with Cameroon.
Group Standings Prediction: 1- Brazil (7 points) 2- Croatia (6 points) 3- Mexico (3 points) 4- Cameroon (1 point)
Brazil wins the group with 7 points after defeating Croatia and Mexico and drawing with Cameroon while resting starters because the group is already won. Croatia finishes second with 6 points losing to Brazil but beating both Cameroon and Mexico. Mexico finishes third with three points beating Cameroon but losing to both Brazil and Croatia. Cameroon finishes last losing to both Mexico and Croatia and getting a consolation draw with Brazil in the last match.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius