The Festival is here! The first of eight groups in the 2014 World Cup will include the host country plus three others from different parts of the world. This may prove to be a rather competitive group even though the host country is heavily expected to win the group.
Brazil automatically qualified into the World Cup as the host country. Brazil has some strong experience heading into the World Cup, having won the FIFA Confederations Cup recently. Led by Thiago Silva, the team’s biggest weapon this year may by Neymar, who recently got a hat track in a friendly with South Africa as well as four goals in the Confederations Cup. Julio Caesar is expected to be the goalkeeper for the Brazilian team once again.
Brazil is expected to be a tough out as Brazil has only needed two matches since 1982 to get into the knockout phase of the World Cup as they compete. The team is also listed as the #4 squad in the world according to FIFA. The Brazilians will be looking to win their sixth World Cup title in this year’s event and their first since 2002.
Cameroon will particualrly be led by team captain Samuel Eto’o. Eto’o, who has played in 115 matches for the squad, has 55 goals with the team. Cameroon got into the World Cup after winning in the third round of the CAF tournament. However, Cameroon is one of the lowest-ranked teams in the World Cup as the squad has a FIFA ranking at just #50. Cameroon has never made it past the quarterfinals of any World Cup that the side has ever competed in either.
Croatia is expected to be highly competitive for the second place spot in Group A this year. Niko Kovac is the team’s new coach as the side had to get through a tight play-off in order to actually make it into the World Cup this year. Mario Mandzukic and Luka Modric will be particualrly important players to watch this year. Stipe Pletikosa will also be one of the oldest goalkeepers in the World Cup this year. At 35 years of age, he has played in more than a hundred for the national team.
This year’s cup marks a return for Croatia after the team was absent from the 2010 edition. They had to go through a UEFA play-off to make it in although the team has a FIFA ranking of #20.
Mexico also got into the tournament through a play-off. Coming in from the CONCACAF v OFC series, the squad had gone through a number of coaching changes. The team had four different coaches during the 2013 calendar year with Miguel Herrera being the current coach at this time. The team has won four of the five matches that it has played while under Herrera’s control. Raul Jiminez will be a star in the making as the America star has already gotten four goals in 22 matches with the national team.