The biggest footballing event is just around the corner and I can’t wait. The World cup and it promises everything us football fanatics are craving; entertainment, drama, wonderful play and of course goals that we will be talking for years. Recently the world cup draw was made for the group stages and my lord are the groups full of great match-ups.
Manager: Felipe Scolari
Main Player: Neymar Da Sliva Santos Jr (Barcelona)
Being on home soil gives Brazil a huge chance of winning their 6th world cup title and having already won the Confederations Cup by humiliating current world champions Spain 3-0, their confidence will be sky-high and they also have the wonderful young Barcelona talent Neymar who if performs as well as he did as the Confed cup, he will really prove any doubters wrong about the former Santos man.
Manager: Niko Kovac
Star Player: Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich)
Although Croatia isn’t one of the stronger European sides, they will definitely put up a fight and with players like striker Mario Mandzukic who’s recently been in fine goalscoring form in the Bundesliga, scoring 10 goals in 16 apps this season, making him 3rd top score and Croatia also have midfield master Luka Modric who has been consistently good over the last couple of years at Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid.
Manager: Miguel Herrera
Star Player: Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
Mexico showed in the summer that they are a forced to be reckoned with in the Confed Cup even though they were knocked out in the group stages, by showing the world how well they can perform against big sides, giving Italy a hard time in both matches as well as at times giving Brazil something to worry about. Mexico’s 2 front men Hernandez and Dos Santos are both clinical in front of goal and will pose an attacking threat when counter attacking and through general play.
Manager: Volker Finke
Star Player: Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea)
Though Eto’o’s best playing days are behind him, the forward hasn’t lost his clinical touch having scored 4 goals and getting 2 assists in both the Premier League and Champions League. Cameroon also have players like Alexandre Song, Nicolas N’Koulou and Stéphane M’bia in their ranks. The 4 time African Cup of Nation winners definitely challenge Mexico for the 2nd spot, as will can all agree that Brazil will take top.
my prediction about Group A: Brazil to top the group with ease, Cameroon or Mexico for 2nd, but I’m leaning more towards Cameroon to make it out of the group stages.
Manager: Vincente Del bosque
Star Player: Andreas Ineista (Barcelona)
The European and world champions are still number 1 from the recent FIFA world rankings but after having had such an amazing run and being the undisputed best in the world, the only way is down for Spain. Having said this, their style of play is unplayable against times and with talent like Isco and Koke still not even in the starting 11 just proves Spain’s amazing depth in their squad.
Manager: Louis Van Gaal
Star Player: Robin Van Persie (Manchester United)
As bitter finalists as the 2010 world cup, Holland would love to beat Spain and even try to knock them out. I personally think Holland could make the final again as their squad is very strong with frontmen like Van Persie and Arjen Robben as well as midfielders like Galatasaray’s Wesley Sneijder and Kevin Strootman. The Netherlands look even stronger than in the last world cup and I think will make it far in next years tournament.
Manager: Jorge Sampaoli
Star Player: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona)
Although Chile aren’t the strongest team in the group, they’ll be most suited to the South American climate and they can use this as an advantage over their European opponents. They also have a talisman in the form of Barca forward Alexis Sanchez who completely destroyed England in a friendly earlier in the season, and have Juventus’ Arturo Vidal. Both Sanchez and Vidal will prove vital in Chile’s world cup run.
Manager: Ange Postecoglou
Star player: Tim Cahill (New York Redbulls)
Australia did actually manage to qualify for Brazil but their qualification was soon followed by a poor run of results in friendly matches and Ange’s failure to replenish the ageing squad with young talent could cost them dearly. But the final squads aren’t finalised till around 2 months before the actual world cup, so this gives Ange time to scout some young talent to being into the Australia team.
My prediction for group B: Holland will top the group and Spain will follow suit although there could be a massive upset caused by the Chileans.
- Ivory Coast
Manager: Jose Peckerman
Star Player: Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco)
Peckerman’s side qualified with easy and the fact that the finals are being held in South America will only benefit the Colombians. They also have the Monaco duo of James Rodriguez and Ramadel Falcao as well as Udinese forward Luis Muriel. Falcao and Muriel could become a strike force the world will learn to fear, especially with James sitting behind them, creating chances that Falcao and Muriel will tuck home as both are clinical in their shooting.
Manager: Fernando Santos
Star Player: Konstantinos Mitroglou (Olympiakos)
Goals are the thing Greece are lacking in their game so there will be increased pressure on their forwards like Celtic star Samaras. But their goal scoring worries may be over as Olympiakos who’ve made it into the last 16 of the Champions League from an excellent run of form by Konstantinos Mitroglou. The striker scored 14 goals in the Champions League group stage. If Greece defend like did during qualifying, they should have no serious issues in terms of play.
Manager: Sabri Lamouchi
Star Player: Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
The African side have goals in them within players like Didier Drogba, Gervinho and Wilfried Bony. Having Yaya Toure in their midfield is a great advantage to them as Toure and stay back and do the work as well as bomb forward, the City player is also a prized free kick taker, scoring 3 direct free kicks in the Premier League. Although Ivory Coast never seem to succeed in tournaments.
Manager: Alberto Zaccheroni
Star Player: Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow/AC Milan[Pre-contract made with Milan, joining 3/1/14])
Japan had a very strong and convincing qualification, hardly dropping points. However, Japan had a woeful Confed Cup run, losing all 3 matches in the group stages and left with zero points, also the Japanese narrowly losing 4-3 to Italy after an end to end match. But all hope is not lost when you have players like Shinji Kagawa who can find a pass out of anything and Keisuke Honda who is a deadball specialist.
My prediction for group C: The Group will be very entertaining 3 of the 4 teams could take the top spot and be seeded. Colombia look most likely to top but Ivory Coast and Japan will give them a run for their money.
- Costa Rica
Manager: Oscar Tabarez
Star Player: Luis Saurez (Liverpool)
Uruguay struggled to qualify for next year’s world cup, needing the play-off round to secure their place in Brazil after not being in the top 4 of the South American sector. The climate will suit the players also they also have Luis Saurez who looks unstoppable at the moment who’s the Premier League’s top scorer with 19 goals, despite missing the first 6 matches due to a ban from biting Chelsea fullback Ivanovic.
Manager: Jorge Pinto
Star Player: Bryan Ruiz (Fulham)
Costa Rica are the weakest team in the group and I can’t see them going further than the group stages but the Costa Ricans will not going out without a fight, especially with Bryan Ruiz at the heart of the team.
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Star Player: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
England being England, left it to the last day to qualify for next year, comfortably beating Poland 2-0 to seal their qualification. But soon followed some poor results in friendlies such as losing 2-0 to Chile by an excellent performance by Alexis Sanchez. England have a difficult group but I can see them getting out of the group and into the round of 16.
Manager: Cerare Prandelli
Star Player: Mario Ballotelli (AC Milan)
Italy done well to reach the final of the 2012 Euros and to get to the semi-finals of the Confederations cup, I feel that they were robbed as they were the team and out played Spain. Prandelli has stated that he will leave the Italy job and winning the world cup would be a perfect goodbye.
My predictions for Group D: I think that Italy will top the group and although Uruguay are a very good team, they seem to lack something and I can’t seem to put my finger on it. England will come second in group D and progress to the round of 16.
Manager: Ottmar Hitzfeld
Star Player: Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich)
Switzerland’s squad is full of players who impressed the world with at under-age tournaments such as the U19 world cup in 2009. With the team’s main force being Bayern Munich’s winger Shaqiri, they look very favourable to get out of the group.
Manager: Reinaldo Rueda
Star Player: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
Ecuador finished ahead of Uruguay on goal difference to top the group although 2013 has been a sad year for Ecuador, as forward Christian Benitez died from a cardiac arrest aged 27. Ecuador have since retired his number and would want to progress far in the world cup in his memory.
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Star Player: Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)
Les Bleus. They came so close to not even qualifying as in the in the first leg of the play offs with Ukraine, they lost 2-0 meaning they would have to win by at least 3 goals in the 2nd leg and not concede something no European side has done prior to this. They won the 2nd leg 3-0 and are coming to Brazil by the skin of their teeth. They have such an array of talent in their squad and I hope to see it all being displayed on the fullest.
Manager: Luis Fernando Saurez
Star Player: Wilson Palacios (Stoke City)
Honduras secured their place after a 2-2 draw against Jamaica and look to impress at Brazil but it will prove hard as their opponents are very strong but they have much improved their squad from 2010.
Predictions for Group E: France will top the group with little to worry about but it will be a tight battle between the Swiss and the Ecuadorians for 2nd place
Manager: Alejandro Sabella
Star Player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Messi will be looking for the coveted world cup to add to his already mind-blowing trophies and medals and winning the world cup could just make Messi the greatest player of all time. With an attacking force with the likes of Messi,Aguero,Di Maria,Lavezzi and more there are many teams that could defend against that attack,
Manager: Safet Sucic
Star Player: Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)
Since this is the first time Bosnia have qualified for the world cup as an independent country nobody’s expecting them to win it but with Edin Dzeko in your team, goal are almost a guarantee. Bosnia also have Stoke’s Asmir Begovic between the sticks, a keeper who has proven his worth in England since joined Stoke in 2010.
Manager: Carlos Queiroz
Star Player: Ashkan Dejagah
Iran topped their qualification group beating South Korea to first and looking good and even though they have players like Ashkan Dejagah and Javad Nekounam who have European experience, they will find their group very hard to play.
Manager: Stephen Keshi
Star Player: Victor Moses (Liverpool[On loan from Chelsea])
Nigeria have had a good year, winning their 3rd African Cup of Nations title and their squad looks very strong, with Victor Moses who though is only 22, is quickly becoming Nigeria’s go to man and fellow Chelsea team-mate John Obi Mikel holding down the midfield. Expect big things from the African champions.
Predictions for Group F: Messi’s men will cruise through to the round of 16 whilst Nigeria will also put in a strong performance and finish 2nd.
Manager: Joachim Low
Star Player: Mesut Özil (Arsenal)
Germany are probably Europe’s best chance apart from current champions Spain to keep the world cup in Europe with talent everywhere on the pitch from Manuel Nuer in goal, Jerome Boateng and Per Mertesacker in defence, the all seeing Özil in midfield and former Bayern powerhouse Mario Gomez up front.
Manager: Paulo Bento
Star Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Bento’s men secured their place at the world cup after an amazing battle between Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, which the Madrid man won. Their greatest asset could be their greatest weakness however and the Portugal side is majorly dependent on the winger.
Manager: James Appiah
Star Player: Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke 04)
Ghana were robbed of a semi-finals in the last world cup from a disgusting act of cheating from Luis Saurez and prevented the Ghanaians from making footballing history by becoming the first African nation to reach the semis of a world cup. Their squad is very balanced, with the likes of Michael Essien and Kevin Prince in midfield and former Porto man Atzu up front with Ayew.
Manager: Jurgen Klinsmann
Star Player: Clint Dempsey (Fulham[On loan from Seattle Sounders])
Since taking over, Klinsmann has morphed the Americans into a good team with a lot of depth and built a team based around main man Clint Dempsey who has the most European experience out of the team. Quarters or even semi finals seems like a realistic target for the German’s team.
My prediction for Group G: This seems like the group with most entertainment as all 4 teams looks likely to go through. I’d put your money on Germany and Portugal though Ghana or USA could steal that 2nd place spot.
- South Korea
Manager: Marc Wilmots
Star Player: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Belgium qualified for the world cup for the first time in over a decade (last appearing in the 2002 world cup) and have one of the strongest squads in the world with a lot of young talent like Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku and many more. They could easily go to the semi finals, I think it’s too early to call them potential champions, especially with such a young and unexperienced squad international wise.
Manager: Vahid Halilhodzic
Star Player: Madjid Bougherra (Lekhwiya SC)
Algeria scraped though play offs on goal difference against Burkina Faso and they are most likely going to find it hard against their opponents even with experience from players like Bougherra.
Manager: Fabio Capello
Star Player: Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow)
Russia haven’t had the best record when it comes to tournaments in recent years but Fabio may have turned that down, whose side pipped Portugal to the top of their qualification group. The former England manager could have unlocked the door for Russian football to improve as Russian football is increasingly becoming popular domestically.
Manager: Hong Myung-bo
Star Player: Ji (Sunderland)
The Koreans will probably only reach the group stage but will forever wonder if they could emulate the wonders of the 2002 world cup where they finished 4th.