Welcome back to part two of my analysis of the draw for World Cup 2014. I’m going to continue on in the same vein as the first half of the draw running through my opinion of the group picking a winner and a runner up and highlighting some players to look out for, however, much like Nostradamus, I plan on predicting a winner for everyone who likes to have a little bit of a sprinkle on the World Cup nearly a year in advance, so lets get cracking!
Switzerland | Ecuador | Honduras | France
As I said in the first column, there is no “Group of Death” at this World Cup. There is however, a “Group of Life” and Group E is that group. The FIFA rankings have the Swiss as the top team, but they’ll need to be at their absolute best to live up to their ranking, and I don’t think they’ll be able to. Most people will say that France should walk the group and well they SHOULD. However, there’s a little thing I call Gallic indifference, it’s on display bi-weekly at Newcastle, the national team has suffered from this since a man name Zidane headbutted a man named Materazzi, so it won’t be the proverbial cakewalk. As a Canadian I refuse to talk about Honduras (there’s some history) and Ecuador were a well organized outfit in the South American qualifiers.
Winner: France (I currently hate myself for typing that)
Runner Up: Ecuador
Match to Watch: Ecuador v Switzerland
Players to Watch: Monsieur Ribery will be the key to France, unless of course they get some absolute “worldies” from Paul Pogba, which we all know he’s capable of (I mean he only scores “worldies”). The Ecuadorian’s will look to their skipper Adolfo Valencia to guide them through the tournament. While Honduras have Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson to hopefully power them to the second round. The Swiss will rely on their midfield destroyer Gokhan Inler, and he’ll have to be at his very best if they’re to compete.
Argentina | Bosnia | Nigeria | Iran
For me this is the easiest group to handicap. The Argentines coached by Alex Sabella, will walk the group, they have far and away the best squad. The Bosnian’s have arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, but I refuse to name him because he turned his back on the country which gave him and his family a life (hint: plays for Stoke City) and also a great goalscorer in Edin Dzeko. I don’t think Nigeria or Iran can compete. But hopefully I’m surprised.
Runner Up: Bosnia
Match to Watch: Bosnia v Nigeria
Players to Watch: Messi but that is obvious. Man City man Edin Dzeko is another player too look out for but, the key for the debutantes Bosnian’s will be their goalkeeper who I refuse to speak about! Victor Moises and John Obi Mikel will be the players Nigeria will be relying on to play out of their skin to try and sneak a second place spot.
Germany | Ghana | Portgual | USA
The group most of our readers are wondering about. The group MLS seems to think is “The Group of Death” (they sent me an email saying so), problem is it isn’t, there really isn’t a “Group of Death”. Sure the US are in tough, Germany, Ghana, and Portugal are all great teams. However, only the Germans are PROVEN performers on the world stage. For all their pomp and flair Portugal always disappoint in major tournaments (remember when they were supposed to win EURO 2004), Ghana are still unpredictable, one minute incredible the next diabolical. The major problem for Sam’s Army is you have the wrong coach. When Jurgen Klinsmann led Germany to third place in 2006, I wondered allowed who was doing most of the work, him or his assistant Jogi Low. Since 2006 when he took over Jogi Low has consistently been one of the best international managers (outside of whomever has been Spanish manager), and his record shows that it was he and not the incumbent US manager who was handling the brunt of the work during the 2006 World Cup, but then again we’ll see whether or not I’m right when the two sides face off. So America, you’ve gotten a tough draw but it’s hardly as bad as it could be!
Runner Up: USA
Match to Watch: Germany v USA – So we can find out who the actual manager of the 2006 German side was!
Players to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo, you should probably watch him, I hear he’s really good! Portugal will live and die by what their Captain can do next summer. The main man for Germany will be Mesut Ozil, the Arsenal man is a ridiculously skilled playmaker and when you consider the tools he has at his disposal with Die Mannschaft he’ll be downright scary. The Ghana’s will look to their hit or miss Captain Asamoah Gyan to hopefully be a hit. And last but not least Sam’s Army will be relying on Landycakes, he’s by far the best player you have and will have to be at his tip-top best for you to snake the runner up spot I’ve predicted for you.
Belgium | Algeria | South Korea | Russia
The final group features possibly the most exciting side in the world at the moment, Belgium. So much youth and skill coming through at the same time, they’re like the Spain of 2008-2013, and they’re going to shock the world and win the World Cup! But who’s coming second out of the group? I’m going to go against all good judgement I have and say the Fennec Foxes will be this World Cup’s surprise African package (there’s always one).
Runner Up: Algeria
Players to Watch: Belgium’s strikers Romeli Lukaku and Christian Benteke are going to show the international game what they’ve shown the English game, that their incredible goal scorers. Valencia man Sofiane Feghouli will be looking to ping in some killers balls to make me look like a genius with my runners up prediction. South Korea will look to Mizuno Morelia wearer Park Chu-Young who can’t get a game at Arsenal but scores at a 1 in 3 clip internationally. While the Russian’s will rely on striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov to try and fire them into the second round and further.
So there you have it! What I took from the World Cup draw, and what I think will happen. We’re six months out from the greatest show on earth, and I urge you all to get on the Belgium bus, IF you’re of age to make a wager while the getting is good as I truly think we’re seeing a new Spain here!