Soccer World Cup

First Impression of All 8 Groups In 2014 World Cup

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First Impression of All 8 Groups In 2014 World Cup


The fear and speculation are over, and now the anticipation can begin. The draw for the 2014 World Cup took place today in Salvador, Brazil, roughly six months before the world’s great sporting event is set to begin. The 32 teams that have qualified and earned the right to participate in the tournament were drawn into eight groups of four, setting in place the matchups for the first round of the tournament as well as potential matchups for the first couple rounds of the knockout stages.

We’ll have six months to pour over these groups, analyzing and ultimately over-analyzing each and every matchup of the first round, but for now let’s just give our first impressions of each group. What’s our gut instinct of how the group will go? Who will advance to the knockout stage? Which players have a chance to make the biggest impact? What are the must-see games? And how have the soccer gods worked their magic in creating intriguing games with interesting storylines on and off the field?

Just remember that these first impressions are just that, initial thoughts, and not necessarily the thoughts we’ll have when the tournament grows closer. After all, it’s a lot easier to feel confident about facing a world power when the game is six months away than it is when the teams are lined up in the tunnel with kickoff minutes away. So without further ado since we’ve all waited long enough, here are the first thoughts upon seeing all eight of the groups for the 2014 World Cup.

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Group A

Nick Turchiaro - USATODAY Sports

The Brazilians received a bit of a friendly home-country draw, as they avoid any European powerhouses. Cameroon could be a dark horse, but that shouldn't be expected. Mexico's play is impossible to predict after all of their struggles during qualifying and all of their head coaching changes. Croatia is a bit of a wild card in this group, but they're a far cry from what they were in the late 1990s.

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Group B

Robert Mayer - USATODAY Sports

Spain and the Netherlands will meet to open up group play after meeting in the finals of the 2010 World Cup, and regardless of the result, both should advance out of the group. Chile is a team that can score some goals but won't defend much, and that will hurt them in this group. Australia stands little chance of getting any positive result.

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Group C

Rob Christy - USATODAY Sports

This is one of the more wide open groups. Colombia is the seeded team, but they have a history of underperforming at World Cups which will open the door for the other teams. The Ivory Coast also has a history of underperforming, but that could change in a group like this. Colombia and Ivory Coast should be the early favorites, but Greece and Japan aren't far behind so this is anybody's group to win.

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Group D

Presse Sports - USATODAY Sports

The seeded team, Uruguay, is easily overshadowed by the presence of European powerhouses Italy and England. The Italians should be the favorite while Uruguay and England battle it out for second place. Costa Rica is hoping to surprise people after a solid qualifying campaign and solid defense.

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Group E

Witters Sport - USATODAY Sports

This is easily the weakest group. Switzerland doesn't come off as a seeded team or an obvious group favorite which opens the door for France to take over, although the French aren't the most reliable side. Ecuador will benefit from playing close to home, but outside of their home stadium in Quito they tend to struggle. As for Honduras, they shouldn't be counted out right away although they still have their work cut out for them even in a tough group.

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Group F

Anthony Gruppuso - USATODAY Sports

Argentina should have a relatively easy path to the knockout stage as Iran, Bosnia, and Nigeria were unlikely to be favorites to advance in any group. Nigeria has plenty of talent and did gain some experience playing in Brazil last summer in the 2013 Confederations Cup. Bosnia is an intriguing side, especially in this group, as what they lack in international experience they make up for with the club experience of individuals.

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Group G

Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

There's no doubt that this is the group of death. Germany is one of the leading favorites to win the tournament while Portugal has one of the top players in the world. The U.S. is good in the underdog role and has a history of pulling off surprises in the World Cup, and Ghana has incredible athleticism and great talent in the midfield. Germany should feel good about advancing, but the rest of the group is a tossup. This should be one of the most compelling groups in the 2014 World Cup.

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Group H

Dave Richard - USATODAY Sports

This is another wide-open group. Belgium is a team on the rise and could be in position to dominate this group if they're as good as advertised. Algeria does bring back some experience from the last World Cup, but they are one of the weakest sides in this tournament. This leaves the door open for either Korea or Russia to advance to the second round and makes an opening match between those two countries of vital importance.