This may be Brazil’s dream draw, but only for the group stage really. Neymar and co. might have to face either Spain or Netherlands in the last 16, a matchup too huge for such an early stage in the tournament. Mexico has been struggling since winning the Olympics, while Cameroon is lacking and overly reliant on Samuel Eto’o. Croatia may be tricky and will most likely finish as runners-up to the hosts.
The rematch of the heated 2010 World Cup final will be one of the games of the tournament, and it takes place on the second day. Chile’s exciting young side, spearheaded by Alexis Sanchez, may prove to be one of the surprise packages of the tournament, and if Netherland’s form from the last Euro carries on into next year’s tournament, Chile may pip the Dutch to runners-up behind Spain.
All to play for in this group. Even the defensive Greeks have some chance of making it through. However, it will probably be a tough fight for the two qualifying slots between Japan, Ivory Coast and Columbia – three offensive and exciting teams to watch. A potential subplot could be Falcao vs Didier Drogba. Ivory Coast’s supreme quality across their team should see them through, with the final group game between Columbia and Japan determining the runners-up spot.
Really bad draw for England. They have to face Italy and Andrea Pirlo/Mario Balotelli at Manaus, known for its high humidity and far distance from Rio de Janeiro, before dealing with Uruguay’s twin threat of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani. Roy Hodgson’s men face Costa Rica in their last game but qualification might be out of sight by then. England’s best chance really is to attack, since their defence will be severely tested anyway. Their potential last 16 opponents will not please Hodgson either, Ivory Coast, Japan or Columbia all will pose massive problems for England’s current static play.
Dream draw for Didier Deschamp’s France after almost not making the World Cup altogether, but they will have to be wary of an up-and-coming (seeded) Switzerland side. Honduras will be the whipping boys of this group, while Ecuador might put up some fight, but the main issue in this group is who finishes top, which both the French and Swiss will want to avoid a potential showdown with Argentina.
Argentina should win their group comfortably, with Iran the whipping boys too. Bosnia and Nigeria will fight it out for 2nd place. This may be Bosnia’s first and best chance to make the last 16, and they will hope their talisman Edin Dzeko gets more game time for his club or leave for regular football in January.
The other group of death alongside group D, this will be one of many story lines for Germany. Their game against Ghana will see the Boateng brothers, German Jerome and Ghanian Kevin-Prince, potentially go up against each other. Their last game against the USA will see former player and manager Jurgen Klinsmann face his homeland. And then the small matter of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in their first game, one of the match of the group stages. Ghana and USA are very dangerous sides, and Portugal might miss out on qualification.
Belgium’s young and talented squad will be happy with the draw. With South Korea current team a pale comparison to their 2002 4th place squad, Algeria a below average team and Russia the only real challenger with Fabio Capello at the helm, Marc Wilmot’s side should be able to finish top and avoid Germany in the last 16, giving them a good chance of making it into the quarters. If Belgium manage to sneak into the quarter finals, who knows how far the dark horses could go in 2014.