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Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup: Predicting the 16 Squads That Will Survive the Knockout Stage

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2014 World Cup: Predicting the 16 Squads That Will Survive the Knockout Stage

2014 World Cup
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The first goal of every team participating in a World Cup is to advance to the knockout stage. Some teams set their sights higher, but you can't win it all until you get out of the group stage, which is never easy, no matter how good you are. Only half of the teams participating will advance to the knockout stage, and here is a prediction of the 16 teams that will get there in the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil, Group A

Tottenham and Brazil midfielder Paulinho
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Brazil, Group A

Tottenham and Brazil midfielder Paulinho
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Even with a ton of pressure on them as the host nation, Brazil should cruise through the group stage. The difference in talent between Brazil and the rest of the group is pretty big, and while the Brazilians know they'll have a tough matchup in the Round of 16, the group stage should be a breeze for them.

Croatia, Group A

Luka Modric plays against Spain for Croatia
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Croatia, Group A

Luka Modric plays against Spain for Croatia
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Second place in Group A is a bit of a tossup, but Cameron doesn't have the horses to advance and Mexico has been too unreliable over the past year, and that gives the edge to Croatia to advance as they try to reclaim their its glory days of the late 90's.

Spain, Group B

Predicting Spain's 23-Man Roster
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Spain, Group B

Predicting Spain's 23-Man Roster
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Every World Cup there's usually one world power that goes out early, but it won't be Spain this time around. They may be a little old, but the defending world and European champions have too much talent to go out in the Group Stage, even in a challenging group.

Netherlands, Group B

Robin Van Persie celebrates scoring for Netherlands
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Netherlands, Group B

Robin Van Persie celebrates scoring for Netherlands
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Chile may be tough to deal with, but the Dutch will find a way to advance. The Netherlands will be better organized in the back than Chile and that'll be the difference in advancing out of the Group Stage, and of course, Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben will provide the offense.

Ivory Coast, Group C

Ivory Coast celebrate a goal by Yaya Toure
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Ivory Coast, Group C

Ivory Coast celebrate a goal by Yaya Toure
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The Ivory Coast has had trouble getting out of the Group Stage in the past, but not this time around. In 2006 they had to deal with Argentina and the Netherlands, and in 2010 they were knocked out by Brazil and Portugal, but now there's no world powers that can keep the Elephants down, meaning the most talented team in Africa will make it to the Knockout Stage.

Japan, Group C

Japan fans support team
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Japan, Group C

Japan fans support team
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This is a slight surprise, but Japan played well during the Confederations Cup last summer even though they didn't advance, and with Radamel Falcao out for Colombia, this group is wide open, and it'll be the Japanese that find a way to survive the group and advance to the Knockout Stage.

Uruguay, Group D

Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani of Uruguay
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Uruguay, Group D

Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani of Uruguay
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This group could get tricky, but Uruguay has too much fire power offensively not to find a way to advance to the Knockout Stage, especially since they'll be playing close to home and should have a big fan base in attendance to support them.

Italy, Group D

Italy and Milan striker Mario Balotelli
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Italy, Group D

Italy and Milan striker Mario Balotelli
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The Italians were embarrassed four years ago, but they're not going to let that happen again. England's presence in the group will make things tough for Italy, but at the end of the day they're a more talented team and the Italians will find a way to make it through to the Knockout Stage.

Switzerland, Group E

3 Switzerland team photo
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Switzerland, Group E

3 Switzerland team photo
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The Swiss are organized in the back, and there's simply not enough quality in Group E to break them down, so as long as Switzerland is able to score a few goals, they're going to end up advancing to the Knockout Stage.

France, Group E

France celebrate a goal by Franck Ribery
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France, Group E

France celebrate a goal by Franck Ribery
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France isn't exactly a tournament favorite like many of the other traditional European powers, but in this group they should be able to advance. Honduras and Ecuador will be tough, but the French are the more talented side and they should be able to get the results necessary to advance, even if their performance isn't that convincing.

Argentina, Group F

Soccer: Argentina at USA
Jim O'Connor - USATODAY Sports

Argnentina, Group F

Soccer: Argentina at USA
Jim O'Connor - USATODAY Sports

Argentina has the easiest road to the Knockout Stage of any team in the tournament. They also have one of the most talented teams in the tournament, so if they break a sweat during the Group Stage, it'll be a surprise.

Nigeria, Group F

Nigeria World Cup Preview
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Nigeria, Group F

Nigeria World Cup Preview
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Second place in Group F is wide open, but as the reigning African champions, Nigeria has a slight edge over both Iran and first-time participants Bosnia & Herzegovina. The Super Eagles won't touch Argentina, but they have too much athleticism for the other two teams in the group to handle, and their experience in Brazil during the Confederations Cup last summer will pay off in this tournament.

Germany, Group G

Germany world cup winner
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Germany, Group G

Germany world cup winner
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Even in the mighty Group of Death, the Germans are a little bit ahead of the other three teams. Germany is accustomed to going deep in World Cups, and they have more than enough talent to do so this time around as well. Even in the toughest group, it'd be a surprise if Germany didn't make the Knockout Stage, so they'll find a way to advance.

United States, Group G

Prediction USMNT World Cup Roster
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United States, Group G

Prediction USMNT World Cup Roster
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Don't ask me how, but the U.S. will find a way to make it through. The third time will be the charm for them against Ghana, and after they secure the win, the Americans will find a way to get the results they need against Portugal and Germany to make it to the Knockout Stage.

Belgium, Group H

Vincent Kompany of Manchester City and Belgium
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Belgium, Group H

Vincent Kompany of Manchester City and Belgium
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Belgium has the benefit of not having to deal with any world powers in their group, and with a talented and well-rounded roster, they should be the team to beat in Group H. Even if things don't go perfectly for them, Belgium is too talented not to make it out of the Group Stage.

Russia, Group H

russia soccer team
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Russia, Group H

russia soccer team
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Russia has a nice collection of talent, especially in the midfield, and they're certainly more talented than Algeria and South Korea, so in a relatively weak group, the Russians have a great opportunity to advance to the Knockout Stage.